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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.
Bravo! That’ll do, pig.
When I was a Christian one of the things I was troubled about the most was the conflicting nature of God vis-a-vis the Old Testament vs the New. The Old Testament God was cruel, murderous, petty and vain while the New Testament God–represented by Jesus–was forgiving, kind, loving, etc. But yet Jesus himself supposedly said that he and the Father are one. How does one reconcile such two opposing visions of God? Doesn’t that make God schizophrenic? How do you reconcile a God who says “Kill everyone in that city!” in the Old Testament with Jesus saying “Love your enemies” in the New? It made no sense to me. It was like talking about 2 totally different Gods.
When I would express my doubts my fellow church members would say, “We are to focus on Jesus. His example is the one we must follow.” Ok, but that didn’t answer the question. I found that Christians are very reluctant to talk about the cruelty of the Old Testament God and either ignore what he did or make excuses for it–i.e. “God really didn’t mean that Moses should have had EVERYONE killed. Moses just THOUGHT that was what God wanted.” Seriously, I was told that. Or “Moses HAD to slaughter all the >fill in the blank< because they were so wicked and disease ridden that had anyone been allowed to live it would have destroyed the Hebrew nation." And when all else fails there was always: "We are not to question God's ways."
Like it or not Christians are stuck with the Old Testament. They both love it and hate it. But for me the Old Testament was one of my major reasons for rejecting Christianity. I could not worship a God who was a monster.
Apparently the OT wasn’t selling that well, so they wrote the NT with hippie jebus to attract at least some public.
Interesting that Jesus never uses the Jewish name for the OT God but talks about one called Father God. He uses every chance he gets to refute OT teaching and tells the religious leaders of his day they worship Satan
My favourite philosophical conundrum: If Gos id omnipotent, could he lift a rock so large that hitting himself in the head with it could explain the difference in personality he underwent between the OT and the NT?
It was like talking about 2 totally different Gods.
But of course, they are two different gods. One religion morphed into another, and a new god was invented. This has happened countless times over history. The extreme dissonance in the case of Christianity is its unusual need to preserve the writings of the older religion as scripture. Most new religions just throw out the old stuff, or keep it around in some arcane form, not taken very seriously. Or the old god simply becomes a lesser god.
What is bizarre about Christianity is that when the apocalyptic Jewish cults and people like Paul were inventing their new God, they forgot to get rid of the old one. And by choosing to remain monotheistic, that introduced an intractable problem.
What the early followers of Jesus should have done was to start a whole new religion altogether. But yet, they needed the Old Testament to “prove” that Jesus was the coming Messiah. (You know, the whole “born of a virgin in Bethlehem” thing.) So they were stuck with have a raving loon God as “‘The Father” and decided that he and Jesus were the same God yet different. And then they threw in the Holy Spirit as yet ANOTHER God who was seperate but equal into a mix they called “The Trinity.” To this day no one has ever explained to me how you can have 3 seperate Gods who are really ONE God. No wonder Christianity is so F’##ked up.
To this day no one has ever explained to me how you can have 3 seperate Gods who are really ONE God.
Because it’s unexplainable. Apologists have spent the last 2000 years playing word games to make sense of it all, and that’s all it is- games. The concept is utterly absurd, and there’s no getting around that.
Interestingly, the concept of the Trinity is not actually in the bible. It was kind-of added in suplemental materials by theologians. When you are in the business of making things up, you are only limited by your imagination.
That’s because the notion of the Trinity is inherently paradoxical. Even that most exalted of thinkers, Thomas Aquinas, thought that the concept would only be explicable at the beatific vision (IIRC).
I think you have a troll killer there, just ask them to explain the trinity, or this god-Jesus thing, how does it work exactly?
That’s kind of like saying that the 19th century United States and the 20th century United States are two different countries. It’s true in some sense, and untrue in other senses.
I think that’s a poor analogy. A country is a human construct; you’d expect it to change with time. The Abrahamic god is presented as a perfect being. How can it change at all, let alone as radically as we see between the OT and NT? In the case of a country, it’s the same country, but its culture has changed, that’s all. That doesn’t help in understanding the absurdity of a dualistic god (or worse, the Trinity).
Marcion noticed that contradiction in the 2nd century already and proposed a dualistic belief system with the OT god being a separate being. Of course he was declared a heretic for that
And, of course, we’re completely ignoring Jesus own speech about ”
I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I came to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and a man’s enemies will be the members of his household.” Who was that, his separated at birth twin?
If you switched belief systems because you thought God was a monster, where does that put you now?
To me, it seems you were looking for a way out, an excuse to leave. God wasn’t fitting in your box as you believed the Creator of the universe should. Yeah, other imperfect, uninformed human beings who are likely not truly deeply studying every detail of the Scriptures gave you poor answers to your questions about a being who far surpasses them and you in every conceivable and inconceivable way. But did you seek out the Lord and these answers for yourself in the Word or by reading books by those who have studied these things in-depth? When did you expect an answer to your questions? Did God not meet your deadline?
So now you worship, what, humanity? ‘Cause we’re doing a great job of being so kind to one another. Or do you worship mother nature now? ‘Cause she certainly is a gem with all of those earthquakes and tsunamis. Or is it science because it will save us? Will it? Or will it just give us more efficient ways of killing each other? “Hey, we cured cancer, but we also found a really effective way of causing cancer. Let’s turn this into a weapon.” Or maybe evolution? Hmm…animals continue to brutally kill each other in a ruthless system of self-preservation. How are they doing? But that’s OK because we’ve evolved into man; thankfully we don’t brutally kill each other anymore. Well, none of those are working. Perhaps worshiping atheism will solve the problem. Remove all religions from society and life would be great, just as long as we can avoid repeating the mistakes of the atheistic dictators throughout history or not following the path of increasingly secular Europe with its utopian societies free of greed, sex trafficking, murder, hate, and so many other problems that we used to have only when Christianity was predominant. It’s a good thing Europe is becoming less Christian because they are on their way to perfection, unlike that wannabe-perfect God. Well, we’ll keep working on that secular utopia thing, but in the meantime, how about we worship self because each of us individually is subjectively perfect while that crazy “God” was a schizo monster. Not us, though. If each of us bases his or her moral code, including no code at all, on self, we can all be perfect in our own eyes. Then there will be no more monsters. Don’t tell me you can find a single system of belief, or so called “non-belief” that is free of monsters.
How dare you call El Shaddai, Jehovah Jireh, Jehovah Rapha, Jehovah Mekoddishkem, El Elyon, Abba a monster. And how dare you spit in the face of Christ. Yeah, God is love, but God demands righteousness and vengeance is His, so He said, and He doesn’t have to explain Himself to you at all. But He gave you an anthology about Himself.
I say again, if you switched belief systems because you thought God was a monster, where does that put you now, O, man of greater morality and wisdom than God?
Enough with the sequels, maybe it is time for a ‘reboot’ to the series.
You mean like Mormonism?
I think the Book of Mormon is more like fan fiction.
near the end of the Power of Myth series, (late 80s, MS-DOS days) Joseph Campbell tells Bill Moyers:
My computer is like an Old Testament God. Lots of rules and no mercy
I gave your comment a “like” because you quoted Joseph Campbell. More people should.
I’m withholding my Like until Rich fixes the link!
Damned Disqus. Work of Satan I tell you!
Like the New Testament is anything any moral person could possibly condone. Love Jesus or burn forever… yeah some great morality there. I guess we should all be praising abusive partners throughout the land for their Jesus like behaviour. I mean if those abused people would just love their partners more then maybe they wouldn’t suffer so.
Exactly. The Old Testament God only killed you. The New Testament God keeps you in some perpetual existing state so you can be tortured for all eternity. I’ll take the Old Testament God in choosing between the two.
And assuming that God is perfect, the torture you receive will be perfect. An eternity of perfect agony. For committing a sin that he condemned you to in the first place. But he loves you.
I think there’s a fair bit of nuance.
In what way?
God’s love is nuanced by hate, perhaps nuanced isn’t the right word, how about consumed by. Must be hard when you think about it, a perfect being, yet his greatest accomplishment turned out to be an almost complete failure.
OIC. Well, to be fair we don’t know that this planet is his greatest accomplishment. We could just be food for a far greater race of beings that are on their way and will require a snack on their pilgrimage to a meeting with Him.
Maybe organised religion is just His way of keeping us busy while they make the journey. Maybe that’s why so many religious people are keen on annointing with oils; it’s to keep our skin nice and crispy. Maybe we should switch to BBQ sauce in Jesus’ name.
But I digress.
I realized a horrible thing about the Heaven/Hell myth.
Folks in Heaven, however…that’s actually worse. It’s not like the big guy hasn’t kicked people out of Heaven before, right?
Which means he can do it again, and given infinite time WILL do it again, eventually to everyone in Heaven.
I’d rather have Hell and be done with it rather than an eternity on pins and needles.
Torturing and executing someone else to have your faults forgiven is also extremely immoral
“Have I any pleasure in the death of the wicked, declares the Lord God, and not rather that he should turn from his way and live?” (Ezekiel 18:23).
They don’t think it’s evil. They think it’s just. They think everyone got what they deserved in the Old Testament. All the rape and murder and genocide and oppression. Those were good things, done by a just, good God.
Remember that not everything recorded in the Bible is condoned by God; it is simply recorded. I don’t argue that God instructed the Israelites to wipe out the Canaanites, but show me the passage where God instructed them to rape. The Bible has detailed instructions on how to fairly engage in warfare (e.g., offering a truce of peace first) and how to treat the foreigner justly and with compassion. But the Bible is riddled with people who don’t do what God says. And remember, God waited over 400 years before he brought down his judgment on the Canaanites. That’s ample time for a society to try to become moral.
But whatever a person of any faith says doesn’t matter because you (referring to all atheists) will continue to rage and rage and rage at something you say you’re sure doesn’t exist so that you can attempt to stifle the ever-present doubt that this material world isn’t all there is; that there is an emptiness in you that you cannot fill with career, relationships, knowledge, food, sex, travel, saving the planet, art, intoxication, etc. You yearn for something more and will always create something to worship. You are not an atheist because you worship atheism. Atheism is your god and science or humanism or evolution or “going green” or other secular system is your religion. Your theories (not proven laws) about how the universe came to be, how you came to be, is a system of faith, and you will strive to impose that faith on other people, even at the cost of others’ freedom, because you tolerate intolerance when others don’t believe as you do. It’s no more ludicrous to believe that a conscious, intelligent being created the universe than it is to put your faith in the theory that a complex cell — and every other intricate and vastly complex aspect of the universe — spontaneously came from absolutely nothing. Let people have their faith — you have yours. Go do something more constructive.
I don’t rage at a god that isn’t there. That would be pretty silly. I rage at some of the things believers do in hir name, because they do great harm in the world. I am immensely angry that people can look at verses ordering people to commit murder and rape, verses telling people how to do slavery “right”, and not see that this is not in any way, shape, or form a moral guide of a book.
Look up scientific theory, please. The atomic theory of matter and the germ theory of disease are also just theories. Evolution has as much evidence as those other two for its accuracy- do you think the four humors theory of disease or the four elements theory of matter should be taught as alternatives? Because ID or creationism are even less accurate than alchemy when it comes to describing our world.
They would have been better off creating an original deity – Yahweh has too much baggage.
But staring from scratch would have meant other problems. Who is Jesus the son of? Never heard of him.
Think hard before launching your own religion. Leveraging pre-existing work may give you the boost you need and help keep things familiar, but it does come with strings attached.
There actually was an attempt at this in early Christian history. Marcion of Sinope had his following who believed that the god of the Old Testament was a lesser and lower god than the “true god” of the new testament. Jesus is the son of this god, not of Yahweh.
That’s interesting stuff. I like learning about the history of how religions came to be, and what they might have been.
People who believe their stories are non-fiction are missing out on all sorts of things! (Watch once for the story, once again with the commentary track on.)
I’ve always thought Jesus and the OT God were the antithesis of one another .. and whaddaya know this Marcion actually wrote something called Antithesis about this very notion. I always summed it up to the OT God actually being a Satan like figure and from what I’ve skimmed through so far [ on your link and then some more places] this Marcion fellow basically thought that too — except he credited the OT God [Yahweh] with creation and sin and didn’t junk the works of the OT. He considered them to historical texts to be taken literally and didn’t think Jesus [Isu Crestos as he called him] came as the Christ for the Jews but for the rest of the world and that the Jewish messiah would come at a later time. This rings of the recent Evangelical Baptists belief , except ironically they practically worship Jews and Israel whereas this guy wasn’t too keen on the Judaizers. But neither was Paul and I guess that’s why this Marcion liked him so much. Again ironic being that Paul was an uber Jew before being knocked off his donkey or w/e happened to him. I guess maybe this Marcion and Paul were just all the way or no way type of people. I guess they won’t have to worry about being spewed from their Gods mouth for being luke warm.
The image consultant did a good job with the makeover, shame they didn’t over write the OT with the NT, or wipe the memory!
But it’s OK that he’s a petty, genocidal maniac because he’s God.
The William Lane Craig school of barbarism
The folks in OT are more like little children that are uneducated that needs literal instructions while in NT folks are generally better educated need less literal instruction.
As I see it, everything is God’s plan good and evil; if there are no conflict and challenges there would be no need for God. Hence God allowed conflict and perhaps created conflict so that we we have a need for God.
Afterall, where would be the fun in having robots worship at your feet? You would want an independent mind to willingly submit to your will and worship you and depend on you for every need. If I were GOD, then this I would do; afterall I created everything it is my divine right.
God created conflict so we would have a need for him? Do you not find that a bit malicious? Why would the creator of the universe have a need to be worshiped by our particular species on this planet on the edge of one galaxy out of billions? I sure hope he cuts other civilizations that may be out there some slack.
The whole story seems to me to be that Jesus came to save us from God. That makes sense. But then they throw in that he is God… and he saves us by getting killed… but…
My Heavenly Father, & His Son, Jesus are not nor have they ever been evil. Jesus died for everyone, to give them the choice of weather to accept Him as there personal Savior & Lord and live one day with Him forever. Or you have the choice to reject Him, and you go to hell. God does not send people to hell, they choose to go by not accepting the free gift of Salvation, that Jesus paid the full price so no one would go to hell. Christians are to love, because love is of God, and God is love! Jesus paid a dept that He did not owe, because we owed a dept that we could never pay. don,t make fun of my Heavenly Father or Jesus my Savior & Lord. One day your knees will bow & your tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the Glory of the Father. And you will wish that you had believed and lived & trusted Jesus. But when it,s too late, it,s too late!
to give them the choice
One day your knees will bow & your tongue confess
The fact that you don’t see the obvious contradiction here blows my mind.
God does not send people to hell, they choose to go by not accepting the free gift of Salvation
An abusive spouses don’t hit their victim. Their victim chooses to get hit by not accepting the abuser’s gift of true love.
I tell you, you fuckin atheists talk about god more than the religious freaks do! It’s like you numb nuts are more obsessed with what other people believe in than what your own beliefs are…..maybe one of you champions can start I DONT BELIEVE IN BIGFOOT, BUT LETS GO BACK AND FORTH ABOUT PEOPLE WHO DO forum!!
Yeah, but nobody is trying to legislate or meddle with education or social policies in the name of bigfoot.
Abrahamic religions are so not original! The “first” monotheism religion was supposedly founded by Abraham with his so-called god Yahweh. But then, came Christianity. And came Islam. They are all about the same religion but with modifications. COPYCAT, if u ask me.
The most SILLY thing is that all of them claim their religion and god are the original one! Clearly, only one speaks the truth… or they’re all liars! There’s NO possible way that all gods from Abrahamic religions r true unless they live in alternate realities.
Btw, I’m an atheist. I used to be a Christian. “Thanks” to homophobia in Christianity, I now see the LIGHT!
Jesus Christ came to change those plants which Our Father had not
planted. Time and time again scripture from Jesus in the New Testament
references the OT, and changes it, because the traditions of men had
taken over. Don’t be deceived, God is Love, Forgiveness, Patience, Come to Him, ask Jesus Christ to come into your heart, and the Holy Spirit will guide you in the Truth.
The most righteous person in Sodom, was Lot, who offered his daughters to be gang-raped. Can you imagine living in a society where the most “moral” person is willing to let his daughters be fuck toys?
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