John Piper and Divine Command

I’ve been hearing a lot about John Piper recently. He’s a pastor at of Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and along side Mark Driscoll he seems to be the voice of Reformed Christianity in America. He recently called for Christianity to have a “masculine feel,” and his steadfast support for patriarchy has earned him many detractors. Rachel Held Evans is acting as the hub for many of the responses.

The America Jesus recently pointed me towards one of Piper’s editorials at The Christian Post, in which Piper responds to the question, “Why was it right for God to slaughter women and children in the Old Testament?” His response is pure and unadulterated Divine Command Ethics: What God does is good, period. It’s gorgeous in its simplicity and horrifying in its content:

It’s right for God to slaughter women and children anytime he pleases. God gives life and he takes life. Everybody who dies, dies because God wills that they die. God is taking life every day. He will take 50,000 lives today. Life is in God’s hand. God decides when your last heartbeat will be, and whether it ends through cancer or a bullet wound. God governs. So God is God! He rules and governs everything. And everything he does is just and right and good. God owes us nothing.

However, it gets complicated when humans are the ones doing the killing. Piper wobbles a bit here:

So I would vindicate Joshua by saying that in that setting, with that relationship between God and his people, it was right for Joshua to do what God told him to do, which was to annihilate the people.

I’d love to see a debate between a modern Islamic terrorist and someone like Piper. I suspect that when it got down to fundamental issues, the only difference between them would be a difference in opinion about what God wants at this moment.

  • Paul D.

    It really surprises me sometimes how, with the amazing strides in Biblical studies over the last few centuries, leading pop “theologians” and clergy like Piper can have such hopelessly naive views of the Bible — not to mention such repugnant senses of morality.

    • Custador

      “amazing strides in Biblical studies” = “finding ever more creative and tenuous ways to link what the Bible says to your existing preconceptions”.

  • UrsaMinor

    Well, Piper’s approach does at least implicitly address the Euthyphro dilemma. But sadly, he takes the position that violence, pain and suffering inflicted by sentient beings on other sentient beings are not intrinsic evils.

    • Jus

      Well, without an absolute moral standard, there are no intrinsic evils.

  • Voluptas

    Look, if what Piper says is correct, then all abortion is god’s will, too. Nothing happens unless god wants it to happen. Why is that so difficult for people like Piper to understand?

    • UrsaMinor

      In my experience, most Christians reject the more inconvenient logical implications of their own arguments.

      • Elemenope

        In my experience, that phenomenon is hardly restricted to Christians.

        • DMG

          +1 to all three of the above. :)

    • D’n

      They bring in the free will thing there. Which of course has its own logical problems but they don’t think about those ones.

      • Azel

        Amongst these problems is the fact we are talking about an omnipotent & ominscient being…At times, I’m wondering if they think before exposing their opinions

  • vasaroti

    No excuse for killing noncombatants. Ever.

    • Paul

      No excuse for being a combatant either

      • Johan

        Plenty of excuses. Unless you advocate not fighting back against agression.

        • Brian K

          Define “aggression”. One can always be persuaded that one is a victim of aggression. By politicians.

          We are not talking about individual bullying and self defense. We are talking about conglomerations of people controlled by venal politicians and “leaders” who can always justify war.

  • Josh Stewart

    My favorite question to ask proponents of the freel defense:
    “Is there free will in heaven?”

    • http://pambg.blogspot.com PamBG

      Facetious. No, there is no free will in heaven, because everyone knows that God coerces our love from us.

      • Brian K

        Isn’t it more accurate to say that in heaven, we are “perfected” by God’s love to the point that we are no longer even able to conceive of sinning? In other words, we would no longer be even human. Which brings out the question: if such perfection were possible, why even create the vast drama of The Fall and The redemption and all that? Unless the Demiurge is just playing games with us for some venal purpose of amusement?

        • Kodie

          Because humans can observe and invent a conveniently supernatural explanation for our lack of perfection. Life is the way it is, and it’s dissatisfying and brutal in so many ways – perfection is not possible in this world, and so we must have lost it somewhere, and we must live in such a way as to achieve it again. If it were our automatic due, we would still have it! The belief in god is the belief that perfection is possible for egotistical creatures that we are, and that life is for enduring until that time comes, because god says “play by my rules.”

  • Leland Somers

    These people are consistent, logical and take the text as meaning what it says. Hence they don’t understand any of it.
    The God of the first five books of the Old Testament is a tribal war deity who has little interest in anyone but those whom he has arbitrarily chosen as his “own tribe”.

    Aside from that it is pretty much all fiction and fictitious characters from God, to Adam and Eve, to Noah and the flood, to the captivity in Egypt and the 40 years being lost in the desert (they didn’t have a TomTom). There is no actual evidence for any of this stuff, there is some made up out of whole cloth stuff and some other stuff that is just shit that fundamentalists like to parade around as proving their religious nonsense.

    There is no God that has left any indication that he/she/it exists.

  • Mahousniper

    And then people wonder what the harm of religion is.

  • Rich Wilson

    Sounds remarkably like William Lane Craig.

  • Jus

    I read the article and I like Piper’s closing statement. He reminds us of the better word of the new testimony:

    …God has his times and seasons for when he shares his authority to take and give life. And the church today is not Israel, and we are not a political entity. Therefore the word we have from the Lord today is, “Love your enemy. Pray for those who abuse you. Lay your life down for the world. Don’t kill in order to spread the gospel, but die to spread it.”

  • Jus

    We don’t truly understand the Divine Command Ethics. We think it’s something capricious and totally arbitrary. We readily dismiss the possibility that what was commanded could actually be “natural” for that time. Or even “good” for that time, in a plain, common sense, despite its religious sense. I mean even if there was no God.

    How “bad” were the people that they wiped out? What if they were so wicked, that it would nauseate us if we knew what they did? For example, performing postnatal abortion, like burning kids alive, or even raping children? And what if there was no way of reforming these people or even the kids, and the only way for the cycle of these detestable actions to stop was to wipe out the entire culture? (in the time of Joshua)

    (Side thought: was Abraham doing a pretty common thing when he placed Isaac on top of the pile of wood? Or at least, it wasn’t something “totally insane”? Did he think, “It’s natural. YHVH is just requiring from me what the other Gods are requiring from the other peoples”?)

    But how about the kids/infants? Weren’t they innocent? Shouldn’t they have been saved? Possible excuse #2: what if they all had an infection? an incurable smart bug like HIV e.g.? passed down to them from their wicked parents? And saving them would mean the eventual death of the Hebrew race, or even the whole human race? (in the time of Joshua)

    (Side thought: was the “plague” in the Phinehas story caused by a biological case like this? only it wasn’t a “smart” bug because the people died right away?)

    Of course all this is just hypothetical. Because God himself gave them the reason for driving out those nations. In fact, he kept telling them the reason again and again and again. Does it all boil down to idolatry? which reminds me of his jealousy? which sounds like an insanely passionate lover? and thus the impossible Divine Command (Ethics) of love:

    You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.

    • http://fugodeus.com Nox

      I always find it interesting that those who defend Torah-based ethics are so comfortable simultaneously saying god is the objective source of morals that never change and what god did was okay because the morals of the time were different.

      The most detestable actions mentioned anywhere in the bible are either carried out by god or carried out by god’s people under the direct command of god and his prophets.

      It wouldn’t make genocide right if the people in question were evil, but the primary stated reasons god gives for commanding the israelites to indiscriminately slaughter entire civilizations is that they worship other gods (I’m unclear on how that’s any worse than worshipping yhvh), or that they are on the land that yhvh has promised to the israelites.

      I also find it interesting that you claim child sacrifice as one of the evils of these societies in the same post where you say god commanding Abraham to sacrifice his child doesn’t seem wrong to you. (also you use the example of raping children which at one point in the story Moses actually endorses on behalf of god. Odd example).

      And since god was bothered by seeing all these children killed his solution was to order they be killed? That makes less sense than that time in Genesis when he was bothered by all the violence on Earth and drowned everyone.

      What you are trying to say here is that god was upset because he saw children being killed (which again is not even close to what the book says), and his solution was to order someone to kill those same children to stop them from being killed.

      That is what you’re trying to argue for here right?

      If at any time in history, someone tells you to sacrifice a child, the right answer is always no.

      If at any time in history someone tells you to wipe out a neighboring tribe sparing nothing alive that breathes because they pray to the wrong god, the right answer is always no.

      I suspect you already know this on some level. You’d be in prison if you actually believed in the morality of the old testament.

      I think that if you were just reading some book and you saw one of the characters say something like “Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt offering” or “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.” Or “He that curseth his father, or his mother, shall surely be put to death” or “whosoever doeth any work in the sabbath day, he shall surely be put to death.” Or “go and smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and spare them not; but slay both man and woman, infant and suckling.” or “Put every man his sword by his side, and go in and out from gate to gate throughout the camp, and slay every man his brother, and every man his companion, and every man his neighbour.” Or “Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live.” Or “When Yhvh thy god shall deliver them before thee; thou shalt smite them, and utterly destroy them; thou shalt make no covenant with them, nor shew mercy unto them.” Or “Of the cities of these people, which the LORD thy God doth give thee for an inheritance, thou shalt save alive nothing that breatheth: But thou shalt utterly destroy them.” you would probably not conclude that the characters saying these things were the good guys.

      But this isn’t just some book. This is some book you’re supposed to believe. And that fact has warped your ability to understand basic morality.

      It’s strange. I don’t believe in objective morality or intrinsic evil, and yet somehow I’m able to say that genocide is wrong. But because of your view of “objective” morality you can’t bring yourself to say that.

      • http://fugodeus.com Nox

        Was almost sure I put a [/a] there.

      • Jus

        This is some book you’re supposed to believe. And that fact has warped your ability to understand basic morality.
        Yes, I do acknowledge that my ability to understand “basic morality” has been warped. But I don’t believe it is because of reading this book. In fact, I believe reading this book plays a big part in helping me to begin to see how truly warped is my morality.

        I don’t believe in objective morality or intrinsic evil, and yet somehow I’m able to say that genocide is wrong.
        Nahh. You’re just saying that. Because if you believe that genocide and child sacrifice are always wrong, then you do believe that some things are intrinsically evil.

        But because of your view of “objective” morality you can’t bring yourself to say [genocide is wrong].
        God or no God, atrocities happen. Written down or not, they happen. If the command had not been given, would atrocities have happened? Yes it would have, as it still is happening today, and will be happening in the future. And because all this evil happens, do we blame it on God? Yes we do. (Epicurus argument). But could we be wrong?

        We insist that we do understand and know how to tell the difference between good and evil, moral and immoral. But what is our standard of morality? What do we turn to for our most basic moral questions? Is it “whatever we feel is right”? Or is it “logic & the philosophers’ ethics”? Or is it “the majority voice”? Do we really have an all-encompassing standard within ourselves, amongst ourselves? What if our standard is wrong? Is it possible that we do not have, and will never have, a standard that is all-inclusive (because it will exclude people who love a God who supposedly commands atrocities)?

        …saying…what god did was okay because the morals of the time were different.
        If God needs an “okay” from you, then he is not God, but you are. But if God is God, like Piper said, he owns and rules and governs everything. Everything he does is just and right and “okay”. He owes us nothing.

      • Jus

        What you are trying to say…god was upset…children being killed…his solution was to order someone to kill those same children to stop them from being killed. That is what you’re trying to argue for here right?
        No, not really. Sorry if I was so unclear. I was trying to give some examples from an atheistic perspective. “I mean even if there was no God”, some excuses are still conceivable that what happened could be “good”. And like I said in closing, the examples I gave were merely hypothetical, purely conjecture. They’re pretty lame I admit, but I was just saying, you can think of some beneficial reasons if you try, even without God.

        …not even close to what the book says…
        This is an excellent attitude that I totally appreciate. Sticking to what the Word says. This is why I said those things in closing. God himself gave the reasons. And he doesn’t need excuses.

        …the primary stated reasons god gives…is that they worship other gods…
        Very close, but no. What he mainly cares about is not what the other nations worship. What he cares about is that his chosen nation worships him and him alone. This is the heart of the matter. The Lover is longing passionately for His Beloved, because He has chosen Her to be His treasured possession, even though He knows His Beloved has an adulterous and rebellious heart.

        If we accept this, then we can see that his primary aim is not genocide at all, but love relationship. He is the rightful Husband, and He longs jealously for His Betrothed to stay faithful. “Drive out the nations, because if you don’t, they will seduce you to turn away from me to worthless idols”.

        This is the heart of the matter. That’s why Jesus said the foremost commandment is that of love.

        You shall have no other gods before me… You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the LORD your God am a jealous God…

        Because:

        You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Torah and the Prophets.

        Those “bad guy quotes” that you gave from the Torah and the Prophets, they depend on the law of love (thanks by the way for gathering them up!). So we must view them from this perspective of love/mercy. That’s why Jesus did NOT say it’s wrong to stone an adulteress, but instead he said “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her”. I think this is like saying, “Let him who loves the LORD our God with all his heart and with all his soul and with all his mind, let him throw the first stone”.

        One example of “the morality of the Old Testament” that I think shows God’s mercy is the case of the Gibeonites. They were Hivites, one of the tribes named specifically by God for destruction. They tricked Joshua and Israel into sparing them. And later they gave the reason for tricking them:

        Because it was told to your servants for a certainty that YHVH your God had commanded his servant Moses to give you all the land and to destroy all the inhabitants of the land from before you—so we feared greatly for our lives because of you and did this thing.

        If genocide was the real aim, why would God spare them?

        • UrsaMinor

          The real problem here is the unexamined assumption that the Bible has any moral authority in the first place. It is in serious conflict with Hindu and Buddhist moral philosophies, to name but two examples. If humans cannot judge the Bible’s moral authority, then neither can they judge any other religion’s moral authority, or distinguish which one of them, if any, is correct and true. One is left to make an arbitrary choice of which authority to follow.

          • Jus

            @UrsaMinor, I think the serious conflict is in theology, not moral philosophy. I was a practicing Zen Buddhist in my “past life”, and from my understanding, out of the 8 “folds” (Eightfold Path), only the first fold differs radically from the Bible. Well yea I guess in that case you’re right, because Right Understanding really determines the meaning of “rightness” of the whole path. Because the concept of Anatta is totally opposite of Universal Judgment at Resurrection Day:

            And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment, so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him…

            Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. From his presence earth and sky fled away, and no place was found for them. And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done. And the sea gave up the dead who were in it, Death and Hades gave up the dead who were in them, and they were judged, each one of them, according to what they had done. Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.

        • trj

          Jus, it doesn’t matter if God commanded genocide for its own sake or in order to achieve another goal. It’s still genocide, and the suffering is just as great, no matter the reason used to justify it. And it’s still immoral.

          • Jus

            @trj, of course it doesn’t matter what is God’s purpose, if we think we already have an independent moral standard that’s apart from him, better than him. Even if he sacrificed his own Son to prove his love, we wouldn’t care. That’s not right. That’s still immoral.

            “God will provide for himself the lamb for a burnt offering, my son.”

            • Kodie

              Surely there would be a less violent way for god to achieve his goals? I think we can discount goals, as goals being human-based, as easily as we can discount morality of an invisible friend, when really anything can happen, did and does happen. The story you weave around and through reality to rationalize anything – attempting to rationalize it by anthropomorphizing it is not really something you can take sometimes and leave sometimes. If you notice what you’re doing is making up whatever you want and whatever plug you can find to stop the questions from bothering you. God has human qualities when it’s convenient and is incomprehensible to humans when it’s convenient.

            • trj

              I surmise you’re using the good old “God’s morality is different from human morality” argument, aka “we can’t judge God”, which you use to say we can’t claim that God commanding genocide is bad.

              Justifiable by God being inscrutable and working in mysterious ways, the Israelites just had to kill everyone and everything and take over their land. It was all perfectly moral, in some obscure way which is impossible for us to fathom.

            • Jus

              @Kodie, did you mean to say “God…is incomprehensible to humans when it’s inconvenient”?
              I think convenient or not, it is obvious from Scripture that God is pursuing His glory, by giving mercy to people who don’t deserve it.

              For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.

              …let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the Lord, that he may have compassion on him, and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon. (Isaiah 55)

              I think there was no less violent way because humans are the violent ones.

              “The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually… Now the earth was corrupt in God’s sight, and the earth was filled with violence.”

            • Custador

              I think the point you’re repeatedly missing here is that, unless you’re indoctrinated to believe it from a young age, the only thing that’s obvious from scripture is that scripture isn’t true. There are many stories in the Bible that are proven beyond any doubt to be false (Exodus, Noah’s flood, etc.). Not that it matters to believers, of course – Every time another one is proven wrong, they’ll either claim that the disproof is a lie, or they’ll claim the story itself is a metaphor for something totally unrelated. Arguing with believers is a constant game of punching fog and shifting goal-posts, as they retreat further and further into a shroud of denial and cognitive dissonance, all to preserve a faith which, at some deep-down intellectual level, they must know is as infantile as it is erroneous.

            • Jus

              @trj, as I said earlier (in response to @Nox), atrocities happen whether there’s a God or not, whether it’s written down or not. If you want to blame God, then you can even blame him for all the evils in the world.

              I believe God’s morality is not “different from” human morality, but a “superset of” it. I believe that’s how we get our sense of morality in the first place.

              It’s when we try to use our given “subset” to judge the “superset”, that’s when we get in trouble and fall into “some obscure way”.

              With the merciful you show yourself merciful; with the blameless man you show yourself blameless; with the purified you show yourself pure; and with the crooked you make yourself seem tortuous.

            • Custador

              Those of us who don’t believe in your fictional overlord have got no problem in stating that killing an entire tribe except for the virgin girls (and taking the latter as slaves) is morally repugnant. You can rationalise it any way you want, but your rationalisations are immoral and wrong.

            • trj

              @Jus:

              Custador already said it, but I’ll boil it down:

              Genocide is immoral. Humans who commit genocide are immoral. A god who commands genocide is immoral.

              Your only defense is denial; that somehow God’s genocides are actually perfectly moral, although you can’t explain how. No doubt you’ll conveniently brush it off as being impossible to understand for us mere humans.

            • trj

              Actually, on re-reading your previous comments I see that instead of opting for God’s actions being ineffable, you go for the other option: all the people were eeevil and so deserved to be slaughtered – including the children, suffering for the sins of their parents.

              How incredibly unreflecting and detached from reality one has to be to: 1) believe such obvious hyperbole, 2) see genocide as a moral solution to evil.

              I’ll be sure to give your Christian morality a wide berth.

            • Jus

              @trj, thanks for trying to understand me. I’ll try to clarify some more things here.

              you go for the other option
              Actually if you re-read my comments again, you’ll notice that I didn’t really choose one option over the other. Because I believe both of those things. I believe that God’s actions are always right, AND I also believe that all the people are eeevil. (yes I acknowledge I am one of the worst)

              The LORD… is righteous; he does no injustice; every morning he shows forth his justice; each dawn he does not fail; but the unjust knows no shame.

              As I’ve already mentioned a couple times, God doesn’t need our excuses because he himself gives us the reasons for his command.

              He even says that this is his plan from 400 years earlier. He is going to punish the Amorites because of their evil. He tells Abram that his offspring will be slaves for 400 years, but then they will come back.

              …your offspring will be sojourners in a land that is not theirs and will be servants there, and they will be afflicted for four hundred years. But I will bring judgment on the nation that they serve, and afterward they shall come out with great possessions… And they shall come back here in the fourth generation, for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet complete. (Genesis 15:13-16)

              He could’ve wiped them out. But not yet. Yes they’re evil people, but they’re not eeevil yet. Wait 400 years and you’ll see they will not change, and then they will be ripe for punishment. Just in time for Abraham’s offspring to arrive. And this is all part of God’s plan to show his glory.

              400 years later, we see the fulfillment of that prophecy. And God says a similar thing to Pharaoh at the seventh plague:

              …by now I could have put out my hand and struck you and your people with pestilence, and you would have been cut off from the earth. But for this purpose I have raised you up, to show you my power, so that my name may be proclaimed in all the earth. (Exodus 9:15-16)

              He could’ve wiped them out. But not yet. And the reason is again, his glory. There must be a tenth plague, there must be a sacrificial lamb.

              But this doesn’t mean that the Chosen People are morally superior than the “infidels”. If you read further in Judges, some of the Israelites had become exactly like the “infidels”. Genesis 19:1-8 vs Judges 19:22-24. You can’t really tell the difference.

              genocide as a moral solution to evil
              Again, genocide is not the solution. God did not intend it as a solution. There is no solution to evil except Christ. The foremost command is to Love the LORD because the only solution is the LORD himself.

              If genocide is God’s solution, then all the races on the earth would be wiped out.
              Oops how about Noah and the Flood?
              …completely, I mean wiped out completely. :)

            • Jus

              @Custador, honestly I didn’t know the Exodus and the Flood were already proven beyond any doubt to be false. Would you please share the links/documents for the proofs? Thanks!

            • Custador

              When I finish work this afternoon, I will compile you a list so that you can ignore it and claim it’s all lies.

            • Custador

              Okay.

              First of all, let’s examine the mathematics of the Great Flood. We roughly know how much water need so be involved, because be know the volume of a sphere – 4/3*Pi*r^3. The Bible says the water covered all the land, so if we assume that means enough water to fill the volume between sea level and the highest mountain – 29000 feet, or 8850 meters.

              So, how much water is that? The Earth has a radius of 6,380,000 meters, therefore it has a volume of 1,087,803,985,034,691,764,979 liters. Now, the radius of a sphere with the same radius as the Earth to sea level PLUS the height of the highest mountain is 6,388,850 meters, and that sphere has a volume of 1,092,337,100,520,688,186,908 liters. The difference between those two (rather large) numbers tells us how much water needed to fall to cover all of the lands of the Earth:

              4,533,115,485,996,421,929 liters. That’s approximately 1.2 quintillion US gallons, in case you struggle with metric.

              Now then. The Bible also says that in order to achieve the global flood, God made it rain for forty days and forty nights. That’s good; we now have a time-frame and a volume (as well as a depth), so we can determine a rate:

              Forty days and nights = 40×24 = 960 hours.

              4,533,115,485,996,421,929 / 960 = 4,721,995,297,912,939 liters per hour. Or, if you want to go by depth: 8860 / 960 = 9.23 meters per hour. That’s about 360 inches of rainfall per hour. Thirty feet of rain per hour. Six inches of rain, every single minute, across the entire surface of the Earth, for forty days and nights.

              Sounds pretty impressive, right? Well, it would if it was true anyway.

              The Bible tells us that the flood happened at some point in the last 5,000 years. That being the case, we should have very good geological, archeological and biological evidence for it – But we don’t.

              Then there’s the fact that, if the big reset switch had actually been hit and humanity was really reduced to a single family, we should be able to work out how many people would be on Earth today (hint: It’s a lot less that 7 billion). Likewise, we can trace population trends backwards and have a reasonable idea how many humans were actually on the Earth just after the flood was supposed to have happened – About 35 million, give or take.

              Next, the sudden arrival of 1.2 quintillion US gallons of water would certainly have killed off most of the planet’s sea life – Except there are seagrass meadows in the sea known to be 200,000 years old, so how could it have done? And how could any land-based plant or animal life have survived? Again, it couldn’t have done – But there are trees which date to before the flood was supposed to have happened. In fact, the oldest known tree has been shown to be 9,950 years old.

              Then there’s the ice-caps – They should have melted under such a deluge of liquid water. Instead, ice-core records going back 750,000 years show absolutely no sign that any such thing happened. Bear in mind that you can tell from a simple visual inspection of more recent cores when the Clean Air Act was passed.

              Finally (for now), there’s a complete and utter absence of any geological evidence whatsoever. You can twist this and try to claim that things easily explained by plate tectonics are actually evidence for the flood, but that’s bullshit and you know it.

              I’ll address Exodus later, this went on longer than I was planning already.

            • Custador

              No reply to this, huh?

            • John C

              The flood? The Exodus? Been there, done that. I was there on both accounts. All of you were also present at the flood but the Exodus is a personal event although every provision has already been made for your safe passage ‘out’.

            • Kodie

              Pics or it didn’t happen.

            • trj

              Sorry, Jus, I don’t think much of a god who bases his glory on genocide.

              And it doesn’t matter if genocide was God’s solution to evil or the means to another end. It doesn’t change the immorality of it.

            • Jabster

              @Custy

              Why are you posts appearing out of order … that’s more than once I’ve noticed that. Of course I realise the the English should of course go first due to their superior character but maybe not in this instance?

            • Custador

              If I reply from the commenting dashboard it puts my comment first in the list. I sometimes do that when replying from my phone because it’s a better interface.

            • Jus

              @Custador, thanks for typing up all that for me! I assure you, I’m a seeker of Truth myself. And I try to never ignore or brush aside any reasonable truth claims.

              Actually you forgot to add the height of 15 cubits ≈ 7m on top of the 8850m. So there’s an extra 3,590,490,345,578,392 litres of water if the earth was a perfect sphere.

              The waters prevailed above the mountains, covering them fifteen cubits deep. (Genesis 7:20)

              You can twist this and try to claim that things easily explained by plate tectonics are actually evidence for the flood, but that’s bullshit and you know it.
              Actually I don’t know any of this plate tectonics stuff. But how can I twist this simple math? Your solution is very easy to understand and there’s no way out of your conclusions, if your assumptions are correct.

              The thing is I’m not so sure about your assumptions, and I think there might be missing variables.
              - What was the height of the tallest mountain at that time?
              - How flat was the earth’s surface at that time?
              - What was the average elevation of the land?
              - What was the median elevation of the land?
              - How dense was the ground? What was the average density?
              - How much sea was there?

              So I think doubt is still possible for your offered proof, because of those missing variables. Considering that it didn’t use to rain yet on the earth, and people lived to 600 years old or more, I think the earth might be pretty (catastrophically) different back then.

              Now no shrub of the field was yet in the earth, and no plant of the field had yet sprouted, for the LORD God had not sent rain upon the earth, and there was no man to cultivate the ground. But a mist used to rise from the earth and water the whole surface of the ground. (Genesis 2:5-6)

              For after seven more days, I will send rain on the earth forty days and forty nights; and I will blot out from the face of the land every living thing that I have made. (Genesis 7:4)

              In the six hundredth year of Noah’s life, in the second month, on the seventeenth day of the month, on the same day all the fountains of the great deep burst open, and the floodgates of the sky were opened. (Genesis 7:11)

              I guess the water didn’t only come from the rain only, but also from “the fountains of the great deep”. I wonder what that was?? Also, what is the plate tectonics stuff you were talking about? I was wondering what that passage means about “the earth was divided”. Was it talking about the physical earth? something like plate tectonics?

              To Eber were born two sons: the name of the one was Peleg, for in his days the earth was divided, and his brother’s name was Joktan. (Genesis 10:25)

        • http://fugodeus.com Nox

          “Very close, but no. What he mainly cares about is not what the other nations worship. What he cares about is that his chosen nation worships him and him alone.”

          Yeah I got that part. Your god, the god who most christians believe to be the omnipotent only real god that actually exists, the god who most christians and jews (jews in the religious sense) believe communicated with the israelites and did miracles right in front of them, was worried that if the israelites were exposed to other religions, they might decide the other gods were better than him. Whether it is a preemptive killing motivated by god’s insecurity doesn’t change that what we’re talking about is ordering that people be killed because they pray to other gods. This doesn’t just paint god as evil, it suggests the only way he could win a religious debate is to have his followers murder the competition.

          “If you believe that genocide and child sacrifice are always wrong, then you do believe that some things are intrinsically evil.”

          Totally objective and totally subjective are not the only two possibilities.

          As humans we have a responsibility to other humans. Part of that responsibility is concern for human life. As we have developed better sets of morality, we have gradually come to the understanding that humans of different races, tribes, and religions are actually human. With this comes the dawning realization that killing people because of their race, tribe or religion is wrong.

          Even most brands of christianity have already evolved to pretending these passages aren’t in the old testament. As you just saw with John C, those who believe god is love tend to read these passages metaphorically if at all.

          In a way, your view is technically more honest than the other one, but it is still profoundly broken. Like John Piper, Paul Copan and William Lane Craig, you are able to admit that these things are commanded by god in the bible. But you are not able to understand that these things are wrong (even within the limited subset of morality contained in the old testament, which I believe says something along the lines of “thou shalt not kill”).

          You’re actually doing atheists a favor by arguing for mass murder in the name of god. Next time some more enlightened christian comes here and claims that modern christians don’t really think genocide is right, we can link them to this thread and say, “apparently as recently as 2012, some christians still do think genocide is right”. So thanks for putting your words on record.

          “God or no God, atrocities happen. Written down or not, they happen.”

          I don’t blame god for atrocities. I blame the people who commit atrocities for those atrocities. It is still significant that the worst atrocities in history were motivated by a belief that these things were god’s will. But the atrocities in the old testament probably never even happened. They are not the result of winners writing the history books and claiming divine command to justify their violence. They are the results of people making up a war and declaring that they won.

          The problem is not that a fictional character told some fictional characters to kill some other fictional characters. The problem is associating the slaughter of civilians with perfect morality.

          • Jus

            But you are not able to understand that these things are wrong…
            No, I do understand why we say these things are wrong. What I am questioning is our basis of morality. You say that we have developed “better” sets of morality. “Better” according to whom? What standard are you using? How do we know this standard is “right” or “wrong”??

            Now I am saying our morality comes from God, that’s why we are able to say these things are wrong. (I’m not saying it comes from the Bible. The Bible only shows that we have this “law” written in our hearts.)

            For when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law. They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness, and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them…

            And since our morality comes from God, then he is the ultimate judge, not us. He’s the one who invented “fairness”, not us. Then why does he “command immorality”? Or at least, why does he make himself look immoral??

            The problem is associating the slaughter of civilians with perfect morality.
            Again, that “the slaughter of civilians” is not the focus of the command. It’s not the heart of the matter. What he wants is for the people to turn to him, he doesn’t want them dead. Like I mentioned earlier, if the ultimate purpose is the slaughter, why were the Gibeonites spared? Another example is Rahab in Jericho. Why was she and her whole family spared?

            • Azel

              Even admitting God is the source of morality, why should it be morality’s judge as well ? We shouldn’t (and often don’t) let legislators judge any civil or penal matter in the name of the separation of powers, why should it be otherwise in moral matters ?
              And that’s worse concerning sin, that’s supposedly a moral crime against God…So it is legislator, judge and party. I don’t know how you call that, I call that a situation ripe for abuse at best, more likely a kangaroo court.
              And last, sparing some doesn’t make the act any less of a genocide: it’s still an “act committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group” (cf. Convention on the
              Prevention and Punishment
              of the Crime of Genocide
              )

    • John C

      None of this has anything to do with morality, ethics, etc. That’s all in the natural realm friend but God is Spirit and the things of God are spiritually discerned (1 Cor 2:14). This is not some heinous ‘genocide’ but descriptions of eternal, spiritual processes taking place within the constitution of regenerate man himself, ie ‘Israel’. All these ‘ites’ (Canaanites, Jebusites, Hittites, etc) who were ‘standing in the way’ of the ‘Promised Land’ (knowing Christ as life, Christ who is our life, Col 3:4) represent remnants of the fallen, flesh man and nature in us that must be ‘killed’, that we must ‘die to’ as we progress in the Spirit-led life (Rom 8:14). The NT says of those OT stories that they were all ‘examples (types) for us’. Paul says it this way in Col 3:5 ‘put to death that which is ‘earthly’ in you (our base, lower nature, that which is not heavenly).

      That’s all it is.

      • Jus

        John, thanks brother for the good words. I totally agree with you regarding the Spirit and things that are spiritually discerned. The Promised Land of Abraham itself pointed to a much greater reality that was promised to all peoples, which is the Spirit.

        Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree”— so that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promised Spirit through faith. Gal 3:13-14

        What I was wondering about was the events as recorded in the Bible. Aside from the metaphor, did God actually, in real history, command people to wipe out whole tribes? If he did, how can we truly say that he is good, without sarcasm or hypocrisy? Is it only through faith? But if none of those things happened in history, then is God’s Word only true in its metaphorical sense? Especially the Old Testament?

  • Kodie

    My take on some religious declarations lately is to hear the word “chance” when someone says ‘god.’ A lot of religious belief seems to understand, in its own way, we are all at the “mercy” of coincidence. I don’t know if I have to make quotes around mercy, just that whatever happens doesn’t have the capacity of mercy or decision when it is your time to die and from what cause. So when I hear stuff like this, I don’t agree there is goodness in bad things, or some unknown moral reason for it. That is an unnecessary layer on top of accepting that life begins and must end.

    By calling it good or moral, rather than just “is,” does add the danger of removing personal responsibility, however. People who claim that god made them do something or called them to do something: people go nuts when someone says the voice of god commanded them to kill all their children, while they stand by the voice of god who matches someone up with their spouse. I think whatever happened in the bible may be historical fact, and basically the winners think they have god on their side, someone in charge said god told us to slaughter a population who is not us. That happened so long ago that people who read it accept it without really blinking. When the same thing happens now, they hold the leader responsible and call him sick, and claim that god would never take part in something like that, at least not now. Similarly, if they drop to their knees to pray and look for a sign to take a job in another city and uproot their family, that’s a normal thing, maybe a difficult thing, to do. If someone falls to their knees to pray for a sign to walk into an office building and shoot everyone, that person is obviously crazy and god would never say to do something that awful.

    How do they know? God is “good,” so that everything that happens is by his design, or by chance, people find the sign in anything to confirm what they wish to do anyway, and if they are angry and had a mental shift allowing for the plot to massacre, isn’t that god too? Or when it hurts people, messed up brain chemistry is suddenly back on the table? Well, not even so far – I do notice a lack of compassion for people who are sick in the head, especially if their will allows it to surface and cause harm. Their will to destroy is evil, and absolutely not a voice from god. That person is responsible for willing his brain to not tell him to kill, not that god should have known him better than he knows himself, and told him to take up cross-stitch to release stress. God did not guide him to an institution prior, to heal him and protect the rest of us, so by deduction, he must have wanted it to happen as much as he wants you to transfer your family to another state to work. Yes?

    It’s just things that can happen and sometimes do.

    • Jus

      I think whatever happened in the bible may be historical fact, and basically the winners think they have god on their side, someone in charge said god told us to slaughter a population who is not us.
      I really like what you said there. I was trying to say this but you said it better. I think this is very possible. And I think this is what makes the Bible really strange and wonderful (and terrifyingly wonderful). Because, even if the things written were “made up” by people, intentionally or not, God allowed it (you can substitute “chance” if you like) to be made up in such a way that it all points to Jesus. To me, this is one of the biggest miracles. All divine commands culminate in Jesus. He is the One Thing that “chance” made sure WOULD happen, written down hundreds of years before It Did Happen.

      For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy. — Apostle John

      No prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit. — Apostle Peter

      The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. — Jesus (as recounted by John)

      All flesh is grass, and all its beauty is like the flower of the field. The grass withers, the flower fades when the breath of the Lord blows on it; surely the people are grass. The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God will stand forever. — Prophet Isaiah

      Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away. — Jesus (as recounted by Matthew)

      • Kodie

        I did not imply that it all leads to Jesus. That’s ridiculous and a quaintly remarkable miscomprehension that you have of my post. Sorry if my words confused you.

        • Jus

          @Kodie, of course you didn’t imply Jesus in your post. Sorry I didn’t mean to make it sound like you did.

          It’s just that one thing you said, about the possibility of “winners” thinking that God is on their side, and then writing things down as commanded by God. I also thought this was a possible scenario.

          And I thought, (not you), if this is really what happened, then it would be a mind-blowing miracle, how all those barbaric peoples writing things independently from different periods in history, sometimes with totally differing agendas, and the end result was a prophecy book pointing to Jesus.

          • http://fugodeus.com Nox

            A bunch of barbaric people with conflicting agendas wrote a barbaric book with conflicting agendas. It must be a miracle.

            “The end result was a prophecy book pointing to Jesus.”

            No. It isn’t that either.

            • Jus

              @Nox, I’ve read your posts (1)-(8). Man, those are excellent issues that you discussed! If Christians (and atheists) do come here for a visit, I hope they visit and study your “short list”! I mean REALLY study it and not just take anybody’s word for it. Because I have studied some of those issues myself and the result for me is the opposite of yours.

              Your questions made me even more sure about the authenticity of the gospels, that they are not made up. At least, the people were trying their best to tell “the true story” from their differing perspectives. They didn’t get together and discuss, hey what should we say in the story? Hey we should agree on this, this and this. They independently came up with their own perspectives, just like Luke said about his own efforts to write down the story.

              Inasmuch as many have undertaken to compile a narrative of the things that have been accomplished among us, just as those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word have delivered them to us, it seemed good to me also, having followed all things closely for some time past, to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, that you may have certainty concerning the things you have been taught.

              I like your analyses too, though some of them are misguided I think. Let me get back and try to share a couple of
              ideas.

            • Jus

              @Nox, there are too many good things to discuss from your posts, so right now I’m just going to respond to the one you directed me to, post (3).

              Impossible: Very detailed transcription of sermon on the mount.
              Possible: Don’t underestimate the memorization skills of oral-based cultures. Also, there were a bunch of people listening. They could share.

              Impossible: The author wasn’t even an eyewitness.
              Possible: The actual eyewitnesses could’ve shared with others and others and others. What Herod said to the wise men, they could’ve told Joseph and Mary. What the devil told Jesus, could be recounted by Jesus himself. etc.

              Impossible: Jesus is absolutely ruled out of Isaiah 7 Immanuel prophecy.
              Possible: Why can’t a word of prophecy be fulfilled by more than one person? Is there a fine print that says “Valid for one person. Non-refundable and non-transferrable”?
              Example: the Temple of God will be built by the Son of David.

              When your days are fulfilled to walk with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring after you, one of your own sons, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build a house for me, and I will establish his throne forever.

              Everybody understood that it was fulfilled by Solomon. But then came Jesus, claiming he would build the Temple in 3 days.

              Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” The Jews then said, “It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and will you raise it up in three days?” But he was speaking about the temple of his body. When therefore he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this, and they believed the Scripture and the word that Jesus had spoken.

              Impossible: Micah 5 prophecy requires military leader.
              Possible: This is one of the reasons that Jews give for not believing Jesus was the Messiah. What they can’t accept is, the Suffering Servant and the Messiah are the same person. Like what John saw in his vision. The elder said, “Look, the Lion!” And when he looked he saw a Lamb that was slain.

              …one of the elders said to me, “Weep no more; behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has conquered, so that he can open the scroll and its seven seals.” And between the throne and the four living creatures and among the elders I saw a Lamb standing, as though it had been slain…

              Problem: Matthew 4:14-16 misquotes Isaiah 9:1-2.
              Solution: Not if you look at the Septuagint.

              Problem: Matthew 8:17 misquotes Isaiah 53:4-5.
              Solution: He probably paraphrased.

              Problem: Matthew 9:13 misquotes Hosea 6:6.
              Solution: Look at the Septuagint again. Though “חסד” is often translated “mercy” too.

              Problem: Matthew 12:17-21 misquotes Isaiah 42:1-4.
              Solution: Yes, LXX again.

              Anyway, I think the prophecy book still points to Jesus. And confirmed by the gospels at least. Even if you think they’re so confused and irreconcilable to each other, you can’t deny that from reading those 4 books, that they are trying to tell a same story, about a man who claimed to be the Promised Messiah, and that is the reason why he was crucified and died. “The King of the Jews”

            • http://fugodeus.com Nox

              Are you still here Jus?

              Saw your response a few days ago and have been working on a post to clarify some of this stuff about prophecy. But it is getting a bit out of hand. At around 2/3 done it is already way too long to post here without taking over the thread. Since we already have an inactive thread on the forums related to this topic, and since the bible seems to come up in every thread anyway, I figured I’d break it into parts like the other one and post it there for future reference.

              Anyway will be back sometime tomorrow to kill this “prophecy book pointing to Jesus” meme.

            • Custador

              Wall of Nox text incoming? Sweet.

            • Nzo

              WoNox is always welcome, and should be permanently archived.

            • Jus

              @Nox, it’s cool that you see how complicated these issues are, and that you are treating them with respect, not flippantly like some do. Can’t wait to see the Wall of Nox, and how you’re going to actually “kill” the 2000-yr old meme.

              For I tell you that this Scripture must be fulfilled in me: “And he was numbered with the transgressors.” For what is written about me has its fulfillment. — Jesus of Nazareth

            • http://fugodeus.com Nox

              Nzo and Custador,

              Thanks guys. This one is mostly bible quotes and is going over ground that has already been covered (sort of). Covering it in a little more detail and hopefully for the last time (apparently just mentioning that a thing is in the bible and then telling the reader exactly where they can see this thing for themselves is not sufficiently convincing).

              It does lag a bit in the middle. Unavoidable I’m afraid. Narrative structure dictated by already existing canon. Also, analyzing Isaiah is a little like analyzing John C. A point can be extracted, but you still have to expect some gibberish. Larger aesthetic concerns demand that all of these passages should be included and in the order Matthew mentions them.

            • http://fugodeus.com Nox

              Jus,

              “Man, those are excellent issues that you discussed! If Christians (and atheists) do come here for a visit, I hope they visit and study your short list”

              Thank you. I’m glad you enjoyed it. And thank you for more of a direct response than these points usually elicit. You’re still wrong about some things (I’ll get to that in a moment). But you did actually try to respond to the actual point. A thing some of your christian brothers on other threads have completely refused to do. Between you, the Santorum fan, and the guy who sees Jesus in his cereal, you’re probably the best chance for a reasonable discussion (if you’re still here).

              For the moment, I’d like to put to one side the debate on the ethics of murder (we can get back to that later, for now here’s a thing I wrote earlier relating to where morality comes from and why it is not completely objective or completely subjective) so we can break down this “prophecy book pointing to Jesus” thing and really study it.

              “I mean REALLY study it and not just take anybody’s word for it. Because I have studied some of those issues myself and the result for me is the opposite of yours.”

              I don’t ask anyone to take my word for anything. I cited chapter and verse for everything I said there, and I encourage anyone who is interested to check my quotes for themself and observe for themself that they are 100% accurate. If your study has already included reading the passages in question then you have already seen for yourself that these problematic statements are in the bible.

              If you’ve studied these specific issues and came up with the opposite result, I’d be quite interested to hear your rationalizations for that. I’ve checked my work. Also I’ve read several apologetics books which claim to explain these exact problems and I’ve checked their work. The standard rationalizations are as flimsy as the book they try to defend, and are often as directly in conflict with that book as they are with basic reason. Apologists can continue to assert that these are only apparent problems, but they can’t change the ink on the page.

              So you’re still welcome to try to prove me wrong.

              But let’s be entirely clear on this part.

              I’m not wrong.

              If you presuppose the bible to be the innerrant word of god, I can see why you would presuppose the bible couldn’t have any actual errors. ‘How could there be any actual errors? It’s not the errant word of god right? There’s no way he could really be misquoting himself?’.

              But that presupposition is wrong (as is the presupposition that it is all written by one entity with one message). The errors are there. It is not a misunderstanding. The bible says wrong things. Many wrong things. You can’t get nineteen verses into the first chapter of Genesis without encountering a statement so flagrantly wrong that even young earth creationists don’t interpret it literally.

              There are at least a thousand false statements in the bible. On top of that there’s at least a hundred which look definitely false at first glance, but maybe aren’t in context. Perhaps that’s where some of the confusion comes in.

              I didn’t include anywhere near all the errors (would it really shake anyone’s faith in the bible even the slightest f*cking bit if they had to admit an error in Nahum or Habakkuk).

              I didn’t include anything that isn’t actually an error (for example, at one point the bible says pi=3, but it doesn’t really say that).

              My selection criteria for that list was (a) the parts of the bible that are most central to the story and which christians care the most about (Genesis and Jesus), and (b) things the bible clearly says which are clearly wrong. And by those standards that’s still the short list.

              As I’m about to demonstrate to you, it is not a matter of misunderstanding context. You have to badly misunderstand context to think anything in the old testament is about Jesus. It is by examining the context of these passages that we can see Jesus is not there.

            • Jus

              @Nox, thanks so much for your response. I finished reading the 2 links you gave, and as before, they are excellent. Your model of how morality arose without God is very nice, and your prescription of the Enlightened Self Interest Principle is very clear and attractive. Actually, it’s very similar to what I thought before, and very close to Buddhist teaching. Also, the Wall of Nox has lots and lots of good stuff in it. I really appreciate your willingness to share with me and I hope we can be friends, even if we disagree theologically. I’ll try to come back later and share some ideas.

            • Jus

              I’m not wrong.
              Of course, if you use your own standard, you are not wrong. But do you have the right standard?

              The Sadducees searched the Scriptures (Old Testament only) and came to the conclusion that there is no resurrection of the dead. Were they wrong? Of course not, according to their own standard, which was backed 100% by the Scriptures. Even we will arrive at the same conclusion if we follow their standard. In that sense, they were “not wrong”.

              But listen to what Jesus said to them:

              Is this not the reason you are wrong, because you know neither the Scriptures nor the power of God?… (Mark 12:24)

              What? He said they didn’t know the Scriptures?? Didn’t they arrive at this conclusion by examining the Scriptures? Didn’t they quote to him Scriptures to prove their point? Looks like the problem was not in the Scriptures, but in their way of reasoning. Because if you look at what Jesus said in conclusion:

              And as for the dead being raised, have you not read in the book of Moses, in the passage about the bush, how God spoke to him, saying, “I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob”? He is not God of the dead, but of the living. You are quite wrong. (v26-27)

              What?! Aren’t Abraham and Isaac and Jacob dead people?! Isn’t it written in the Scriptures when they died, and even where they were buried? What kind of wacko reasoning was Jesus using?

              Yes you can search the Scriptures and find the places where it says specifically when they died, how old, and where they were buried. But according to Jesus, this is not how you are to treat the Word of God. This is the context of Jesus. This is the context of the Teacher.

              For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy. (Revelation 19:10)

              No prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit. (2 Peter 1:20-21)

              The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. (John 3:8)

              You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me, yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life. (John 5:39-40)

              Again and again and again in the New Testament, you see these guys quoting the Old Testament so much.
              Not because they were trying to prove their point.
              But because that’s what their teacher did.
              They’re saying:
              Wow.
              This really is the meaning of Scriptures.
              This really is the right way to understand Scriptures.
              The teacher really did tell the truth.
              Because it happened exactly as he said.
              Because he told us before it happened.
              Because we have been touched by what he did.
              Because we have heard what he taught.
              Because we have seen what happened.
              And all we are testifying is true.

              As I’m about to demonstrate to you, it is not a matter of misunderstanding context. You have to badly misunderstand context to think anything in the old testament is about Jesus. It is by examining the context of these passages that we can see Jesus is not there.
              Again, whose context are we talking about? If it’s the context of the New Testament authors, Jesus is everywhere. In the end, it’s your word against theirs Nox. You can reject their context, but I don’t think you have proven anything beyond what the Pharisees and Saducees and teachers of the Torah had proven since 2000 years ago.

            • Jus

              I encourage anyone who is interested to check my quotes for themself and observe for themself that they are 100% accurate
              This is an excellent attitude! I wish people DO listen to you to check the quotes, because it even involves “unicorns”. :)

              The errors are there. It is not a misunderstanding. The bible says wrong things. Many wrong things… There are at least a thousand false statements in the bible.
              Wow. I’d appreciate it if you could tell me just 10 of those false statements.

              error in Nahum or Habakkuk
              Actually I’m interested to see these errors too.

              problematic statements are in the bible
              Yes. I totally agree with you here. But problematic statements don’t necessarily imply falsehood. I agree problems could mean errors, because the authors were human, and humans make mistakes. But those human errors were somehow “allowed” by God who is Sovereign over everything. Why?

              “There’s no way he could really be misquoting himself?”
              Have you considered the possibility that those things you call “misquotes” are actually on purpose and not misquotes at all? And when I say “on purpose”, I didn’t mean by the human authors. But by the Spirit of God, for designs that are way beyond our understanding. It is not a dead book, whose fountain of meanings have stopped to flow, and we have completely mined all its semantic components, exhaustively. No. I believe it’s impossible to do that. Because the Word of God is “living and active”. It is Living. And it is Active. Teaching and guiding every one of God’s people some very personal things for their daily lives.

              Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night. (Psalm 1:1-2)

              He meditates on the law of the LORD, including the problematic statement. He meditates on the Word of God, because the puzzling “misquote” draws him near, and in the end always resolves itself into a greatest delight, which is beholding the revealed glory of God in the face of Christ. The glory of the Maker of heaven and earth, that he has “hidden from the wise and understanding and revealed to little children”.

              Judas (not Iscariot) said to him, “Lord, how is it that you will manifest yourself to us, and not to the world?” Jesus answered him, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him…” (John 14:22)

            • Jabster

              @Jus

              “Have you considered the possibility that those things you call “misquotes” are actually on purpose and not misquotes at all? And when I say “on purpose”, I didn’t mean by the human authors. But by the Spirit of God, for designs that are way beyond our understanding.”

              Which is a cop out of the highest proportions – you’ve pretty much said it doesn’t matter how many errors in the Bible are pointed out to you to as you have a ready made answer to hand. Find me a holy text your can’t play this game with …

            • Sunny Day

              “He meditates on the law of the LORD, including the problematic statement. He meditates on the Word of God, because the puzzling “misquote” draws him near, and in the end always resolves itself into a greatest delight, which is beholding the revealed glory of God in the face of Christ. ”

              Which is just a long winded way of saying, “I’m just making stuff up and it feels right to me.”

              When two different people “Meditate” and come to different conclusions on gods word, how do you tell which is correct?

            • Sunny Day

              “But those human errors were somehow “allowed” by God who is Sovereign over everything. Why?”

              We’re not in the business for justifying the actions of your imaginary deity, you are.

            • Jabster

              @Sunny

              It never ceases it amaze may how believers can’t see the weak arguments they put forward for what they are. Let’s just imagine that Jus was shown the same type of arguments from a Muslim … would he suddenly convert? Of course not, he would point out that just asserting statements as true because you desire them to be true doesn’t mean that they are.

              So the question is why does he believe that non-Christians should some how find the same argument style for his religion true why he would dismiss it when applied to a different religion.

            • Sunny Day

              @ Custy

              I know one of the funniest and saddest things I’ve seen was a apologetic Christian and apologetic Muslim arguing with each other using the scriptures from their holy books trying to prove a point to the other. It seemed to go on forever and It occurred on the christer’s blog and I think his last message in that thread was something to the effect of “my replies will be slow cause im really busy doing other stuff”. Funny how he still found the time to post other masturbatory crap on it but somehow never found the time to reply to the Muslim. I guess it counts as a win for Mohamed. .

            • Jus

              @Jabster, @Sunny, thanks a bunch for your responses. I’ll try to answer them best as I can.
              @Nox, my comments below refer to your posts a lot.

              @Sunny: When two different people “Meditate” and come to different conclusions on gods word, how do you tell which is correct?
              Of course the one that came to the conclusion that “it all points to Jesus” is correct. :) haha

              But seriously, I don’t think Christians are so contradictory and incompatible with each other, like some people say. Because if we really care about the conclusion that truly matters, they all have the same conclusion. Jesus is the Promissed Messiah, and he died for our sins, was buried and rose again on the third day, according to the Scriptures. This is how Paul put it:

              …I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus the Mashiach and him crucified…

              For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that the Messiah died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me. (1 Corinthians 2:2, 15:3-8)

              I think your question is really good though, because it is also asked by believers, who want to become disciples. I myself struggle with this A LOT. But now, this is a different sense of “meditation”.

              For disciples, we ask this question because we want to live our lives as pleasing to our Lord and Saviour. This is the sense of “meditation” I described above. The Word of God is living and active, and guides us to discern how we should live.

              The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things that are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law.

              The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul… by them is your servant warned; in keeping them there is great reward.

              Who can discern his errors? Declare me innocent from hidden faults. Keep back your servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me! Then I shall be blameless, and innocent of great transgression.

              Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O LORD, my rock and my redeemer. (Deuteronomy 29:29, Psalm 19:7-14)

              In this case, the Word functions like a guide for the traveller who is actually walking on the ancient path. He desperately needs it every day, because he would be lost otherwise. But it’s a different matter for those who are not actually travelling on the path (including those who “believe” but are not actually walking in the Way). The non-traveller can theorize (or believe) all he wants with his logico-philosophical musings about the traveller/path/destination, but in the end it doesn’t really matter to him. Because he doesn’t really have any intention of going on the path himself (and continuing on it).

              I think, to your question “how do you tell which is correct?”, Jesus would answer something like this:

              So Jesus answered them, “My teaching is not mine, but his who sent me. If anyone’s will is to do God’s will, he will know whether the teaching is from God or whether I am speaking on my own authority.” John 7:16-17

              If you really want to do God’s will, you will know “which is correct”. I think this implies, you will never know “which one is correct” unless your will is to do God’s will. And I believe this applies also to the teachings of his disciples, which resulted from their “meditations”, because they keep his word.

              So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” John 8:31-32

              But the anointing that you received from him abides in you, and you have no need that anyone should teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about everything, and is true, and is no lie—just as it has taught you, abide in him. 1 John 2:27

              If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you. John 14:15-17

            • Jus

              @Jabster: cop out of the highest proportions – you’ve pretty much said it doesn’t matter how many errors in the Bible are pointed out to you to as you have a ready made answer to hand
              Sorry guys I didn’t mean to give the impression that @Nox has proven real errors and I’m just ignoring his proofs. No, he has not shown real errors, and I am not ignoring his post. I was just agreeing with him that problematic statements “could mean errors”: the real ones, the ones where the author was not aware was a mistake. (Actually, I really appreciate his post, which I think deserves a thoughtful response)

              I was simply acknowledging the fact that I don’t know everything. I have many questions. Most of the time, I eventually find the answers to my questions. But there are still some questions that I don’t know the answer to, even till today. Is it possible that those problems (some, or all) are simply errors committed by the human author? Yes, it’s possible. This is what I was trying to say. But I have NOT found many like this. And I do NOT think @Nox’s problems are like this. Because I believe Matthew was aware of what he was quoting. I don’t think they’re accidental/mistakes.

              If you read my comments carefully, you’ll see that I was trying to show the problem of @Nox’s standard thru Jesus’ words to the Sadducees. Because I think he is trying to force a standard of literal meaning that Matthew was not using at all. The Teacher himself often spoke in a mode that is not literal, because it’s common among Jewish rabbis. They use a system called “PaRDeS”, which has 4 categories.
              1. P’shat – literal, simple meaning.
              2. Remez – hints, deeper meaning.
              3. Darash – seeking, meditational/personal meaning.
              4. Sod – secret, hidden meaning.

              As I’ve hinted before with “meditation” and “hidden”, I believe this is Matthew’s context. It’s a “Jesus-ized” Jewish context. Yes you can reject the “Jesus” context, but you cannot reject the Jewishness of it. This is the reason why so many times the rabbis were dumbfounded at Jesus’ teaching: it’s because he was “playing by the rules”. Their rules.

              As he went away from there, the scribes and the Pharisees began to press him hard and to provoke him to speak about many things, lying in wait for him, to catch him in something he might say…

              …And he was teaching daily in the temple. The chief priests and the scribes and the principal men of the people were seeking to destroy him, but they did not find anything they could do, for all the people were hanging on his words

              …And they were not able in the presence of the people to catch him in what he said, but marveling at his answer they became silent. (Luke 11:53-54, 19:47-48, 20:26)

              Please note. They DID NOT accuse him of faulty reasoning. Because he was reasoning with them in a way that was perfectly valid in their Jewish context. Yes they tried to catch him in what he said. But they could not. If they used @Nox’s standard, then yes they would have caught him definitely. But they couldn’t do that. “…the people were hanging on his words…” These were Jewish people hanging on to Jewish words. Even Luke (who’s probably Greek?) could see this in what he wrote above.

              In fact, according to Luke, in the Sadducees incident I quoted above, they were even acknowledging that Jesus was correctly handling the Scripture. This is what Luke said happened after Jesus answered them:

              Then some of the scribes answered, “Teacher, you have spoken well.” For they no longer dared to ask him any question. (Luke 20:39-40)

            • Jus

              @Jabster: [while] he would dismiss it when applied to a different religion
              I have not dismissed any of these religions, because I have found none! So far, I have found NO religion that quotes so much from an EXISTING book, and keeps pointing to THAT book, and saying: “Yes, THAT book is true! THAT book is the proof of what we are saying! Everything that has happened, have been written down in THAT book! You guys should check out THAT book for yourselves!” Look at what Luke said about the Jews of Berea:

              Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so. (Acts 17:11)

              The only similar religions I found are Judaism and Islam, because they both also place so much emphasis on Scripture: the Tanakh and the Qur’an. But they each only have one book, which only points to itself. But the New Testament is so different in that it keeps pointing so much outside itself, to the Tanakh (Old Testament).

              The Qur’an is different because it claims the Bible is corrupt, including the Tanakh (Al-Araf 7:162, Al-Ma’idah 5:14-15, Ali Imran 3:78). “THAT book is not good anymore”. But the New Testament says exactly the opposite thing, “THAT book is perfect as it is”. So I really don’t see how they can use a “same argument style” to compare their religions. You will very early come to the conclusion that either God is a two-mouthed liar, or one of the books is telling a lie: the Bible or the Qur’an.

              Because the Qur’an claims Jesus didn’t die on the cross (An-Nisa 4:157, Al-Ma’idah 5:110). While the New Testament claims this is the central point of all Scripture (and even of all creation), because it’s the only hope of all humanity, and it’s the only thing that truly matters.

              …if there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified about God that he raised Christ, whom he did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised… And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. 1 Corinthians 15:13-17

            • Jus

              @Nox, a little note on your morality post.

              You mentioned 2 things there (among others): the model of “how morality arose”, and the prescription of “how to live our lives”. Regarding your prescription of “loving your neighbour as yourself”, I agree with you so much. (Though if you expand the definition of neighbour to include all living things, I think that’s just Buddhist practice). But regarding your model, I still don’t see how you can use it to claim that anything they did was immoral. We still don’t have a standard that’s independent of the times. Because those things happened “at that time”, before humans had “the dawning realization” yet. And it is only “at this time, today”, that we can say those things are wrong. Because we have had a few thousand years more of evolution to perfect this “Selfish Empathy”.

              But who are we to say that we are now at a level of morality that is absolute and unchanging? How do we know what other “dawning realizations” will come in the future? How do we know that those future “even better” sets of morality will not contradict our current sets? So the question remains, “better” according to whom?

              Honestly, I don’t think we are getting better and better. Outwardly, we may look better. But inside, I think we are just the same as those people we call “barbaric”. The difference is, today we have science and technology that allows us to build on infrastructures. Like “the boat” you mentioned: we share the same boat, even with your annoying neighbour Dick. :) It is because of “the boat” that we are able to have civilized discussions and be nice to each other. But what will happen if we take “the boat” away?

              When I look at the atrocities committed in the past century, or even when I look within myself, I seriously wonder, are we getting any better, or are we actually getting worse? Because with “the boat” also comes “the gun”. And I don’t think we have risen above the tribal cohesion purpose you mentioned. When “the boat” is gone, how fast will “the gun” become the Moral Authority? When “the electricity” is gone, won’t it all boil down to just the Self Interest Principle, without any possibility of Enlightenment?

              Many a man proclaims his own steadfast love, but a faithful man who can find?

              Who can say, “I have made my heart pure; I am clean from my sin”?

              Every way of a man is right in his own eyes, but the LORD weighs the heart.

              The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it? (Proverbs 20:6,9, 21:2, Jeremiah 17:9)

            • Jus

              @Nox: You can’t get nineteen verses into the first chapter of Genesis without encountering a statement so flagrantly wrong that even young earth creationists don’t interpret it literally.
              Do you mean the fourth day of creation? When God created the greater light and the lesser light? Because it was after he created light three days earlier? I often thought about that too.

              What does it mean for God to “create” light? Did God cause the photons to start moving? Did he really have to “separate” it from darkness? Isn’t light automatically separated from darkness? Or did he cause the space-time continuum to separate from dark energy/dark matter, thus allowing movement/vibration of the photons, and thus light can be visible?

              In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters. And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. And God saw that the light was good. And God separated the light from the darkness. God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day. (Genesis 1:1-5)

              Or is it again pointing to the True Light somehow?

              …The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world…

              …In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it…

              …Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”…

              …”Are there not twelve hours in the day? If anyone walks in the day, he does not stumble, because he sees the light of this world. But if anyone walks in the night, he stumbles, because the light is not in him.”…

              …”The light is among you for a little while longer. Walk while you have the light, lest darkness overtake you. The one who walks in the darkness does not know where he is going. While you have the light, believe in the light, that you may become sons of light.”… (John 1:9, 1:4-5, 8:12, 11:9-10, 12:35-36)

              Also, another interesting thing is, why did he use the words “greater and lesser light”? There are Hebrew words specifically for “sun and moon” (shemesh and yareach), but why did he use “the greater light and the lesser light” (hamma’or haggadol and hamma’or haqqaton)? Could it be because, again, the Spirit chose the words carefully to “leave room for prophecy”?

            • Jabster

              “I have not dismissed any of these religions, because I have found none!”

              Which is just proving my point … you have dismissed other religions and as far as I can tell on a set of grounds that can as easily dismiss your own religion. So let’s take your next statement …

              ‘So far, I have found NO religion that quotes so much from an EXISTING book, and keeps pointing to THAT book, and saying: “Yes, THAT book is true! THAT book is the proof of what we are saying! Everything that has happened, have been written down in THAT book! You guys should check out THAT book for yourselves!”’

              Ignoring the fact that as an arbiter of what is true saying ‘those that shout the largest’ is rather ridiculous, there is still the subject matter of this argument. I’m mean really, you think that Muslims don’t look to their holy texts and keep saying that their book is true? It would seem that you either know very little about other religions or are just so desperate to re-enforce your belief that you can’t see just how ridiculous this is as an argument. If a Muslim said the same thing would you find it a persuasive argument and if not why do you expect me to?

              “The Qur’an is different because it claims the Bible is corrupt, including the Tanakh (Al-Araf 7:162, Al-Ma’idah 5:14-15, Ali Imran 3:78).”

              “Because the Qur’an claims Jesus didn’t die on the cross (An-Nisa 4:157, Al-Ma’idah 5:110). While the New Testament claims this is the central point of all Scripture (and even of all creation), because it’s the only hope of all humanity, and it’s the only thing that truly matters.”

              The Qur’an is wrong because it doesn’t say the same thing as the Bible – you do realise how stupid that sounds don’t you? Yet again you can use the same argument to say the Bible is wrong.

              “You will very early come to the conclusion that either God is a two-mouthed liar, or one of the books is telling a lie: the Bible or the Qur’an.”

              Or maybe god doesn’t exist and they’re both wrong or even god does exist and another religion is correct … are you really this closed minded?

              “What does it mean for God to “create” light? Did God cause the photons to start moving? Did he really have to “separate” it from darkness? Isn’t light automatically separated from darkness? Or did he cause the space-time continuum to separate from dark energy/dark matter, thus allowing movement/vibration of the photons, and thus light can be visible?”

              … and again you are just proving my point. If this type of argument was put forward in support of a different religion then you would be quite capable of pointing out how weak it is but as it’s in support of your religion in somehow makes it a strong argument. This is really what it boils down to – there’s no point in trying to argue with logic and facts against someone whose beliefs aren’t based on them. It is incredible clear that you first believed the Bible contains no errors and then use tortured ‘logic’ to show that it’s true.

              You can carry on posting the same type of thing again and again and again but until you realise that your arguments are only convincing if you believe in the conclusion in the first place then you really are wasting your time.

              You’re a really good example of what’s wrong with religion as you would seem to be of at least average intelligence yet in defence of your beliefs you’re happy to put forward arguments that even a ten your old can see through.

            • http://fugodeus.com Nox

              @Jus

              Sorry I’ve not gotten back to you yet. F*cked up week. Not had time to really compose a substantial response to all your points yet, but I’ll be with you shortly.

            • Jabster

              @Nox

              Well good luck with that … ;-)

            • Jus

              @Nox, no worries dude. Take your time. Actually, it’s me who haven’t really responded to your posts in the forum.

            • Jus

              @Jabster, you misunderstood. Sorry if I wasn’t being clear enough.

              The Qur’an is wrong because it doesn’t say the same thing as the Bible
              I wasn’t trying to prove that the Bible is right and the Qur’an is wrong. What I was trying to say is, I haven’t found any religion with the “same argument style” as the Christians of the New Testament. When I said, “I have found NO religion that quotes so much from an EXISTING book, and keeps pointing to THAT book”, I meant to refer to the New Testament pointing to the Old Testament (“THAT book”). Not me pointing to the Bible.

              The Jews have the Talmud. The Muslims have the Hadiths. But they are not Scriptures. Not in the same category as the Tanakh and the Qur’an. Now the Christians have the New Testament, and IT IS in the same category as the Tanakh. That’s what I meant. And so far, I have not found any other “holy book” like this.

              Or maybe god doesn’t exist and they’re both wrong or even god does exist and another religion is correct
              Yes you are right. Those are all very real possibilities. But that was not what I was talking about either. When I compared the Qur’an with the Bible, I was again trying to show you that we cannot use “the same type of arguments”. We would very soon use different types of arguments.

              It is incredible clear that you first believed the Bible contains no errors and then use tortured ‘logic’ to show that it’s true
              You know, I might not even reach your standard of “average intelligence” yet. Because honestly, I don’t see how my logic is tortured. Though yes I acknowledge that we have opposite presuppositions. You come from the standpoint of “If the Bible is false, what can I find in it that shows it’s false?” And I come from the standpoint of “If the Bible is true, what can I find in it that shows it’s true?” But I really don’t see how logic has got anything to do with it. (Also, honestly, those questions I posed regarding “light” are my real, unanswered questions)

            • Custador

              The Lord of The Rings frequently references The Silmarillion, but that doesn’t make either of the the word of God. One collection of fictional stories quotes another collection of fictional stories. So what? What reason is that to think they’re special?

  • Theory_of_I

    @Kodie:

    Your comments are quite clear and cogent. Unfortunately for the inculcated like Jus, such rationality triggers the psycho-convulsions which result in the demonstrated inability to understand the actual meaning and intent of what is being communicated to them. They suffer from involuntary cognitive distortions,, otherwise known as Apologetics, which apply multiple layers of imaginary excuses in a pitiable effort to explain what is delusional in it’s original form. Of course, you know that as well as anyone, the question is how to get help for them.

    • Kodie

      It’s like he didn’t even read the rest of the post. Quote-mining on the go. Now I’m “on record” for having said that parts of the bible are likely to have happened, ergo… Jesus.

      As far as prophecy, it’s only been 2000 years, not forever. He doesn’t even understand words that he’s lifting from his bible.

      • Theory_of_I

        Tsk. Now you’ll have to repent to get your record expunged. =)

        He’s getting black brain disease from all the mining.

      • Jus

        :) Wow I didn’t realize that I had such powers to put people “on record” for saying things. Awesome! :) (I did read the rest of the post by the way).

        As far as prophecy, of course 2000 years is not forever. But you can’t deny that 2500 years or 2800 years IS!!

        • Custador

          Oh you fucking idiot…. The universe is AT LEAST fourteen BILLION years old, and the Earth is at least four BILLION. If you want to argue that’s not true, then: a) You’re wrong, and b) you’re an ignorant fool. 2500 years or even 2800 years is a drop in the ocean.

  • Theory_of_I

    Reply button…..hello?????


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