Shoveling For The Faith
From the email@example.com email list
DOUG If God wanted people to turn from sin, why didn't he send Jesus or send bibles?
JASON I think the bottom line too is that he also (through Adam and through Cain and through Abel) told the very first people on this planet exactly what he wanted and if they chose to rebel and if they didn't teach their family and if they didn't keep within the tradition then they're accountable...
DOUG Wait, hold on, Moses came after Noah, right, I mean he's [God is] drowning everybody before he sent any prophets, right?
JASON No, there's actually prophecy before Noah, but I'm saying that these people...
DOUG Well no, I mean "prophets," show me the "prophets" that came around before Noah. Before he [God] drowns everybody in the world (according to your story), okay, where are the prophets going around telling people to change their ways?
JASON Uh, you know, they didn't need prophets because there was such a short time from God creating Adam...
DOUG What do you mean they didn't need prophets!? They were about to drown! And you're saying they don't need to turn from their sin?
JASON I never said they didn't need to turn from their sin, I'm saying they rejected the God of their fathers, so they're being judged and it's just as simple as that.
DOUG Okay, so nobody...there were no bibles, no Jesus, no warnings that you have any inkling of here, or "best case scenario" for you, there certainly weren't any large-scale warnings, okay, and yet so the entire world drowns and you don't see that as a bad thing or something like that?
JASON Well if you didn't...all warnings aside, the bottom line again is that God told them in the garden--and it's obvious with Cain and Abel exactly what he wanted--and people weren't doing what he wanted.
DOUG The people that drowned in the flood were not there, [in the garden] okay, and...
JASON It doesn't matter, they didn't have to be there because Adam lived for 900 years old [sic], he told these people what God wanted and they didn't care.
DOUG There's no evidence that Noah told anybody what God wanted, except for the people he was going to put on the boat.
JASON Yeah, well that's a common misconception by atheists and their thinking the bible concludes [sic] every word of God...which it doesn't, and it doesn't include every word of Cain and every word of Abel, every word of Adam...
DOUG One of the things which is not a misconception is that many people make up things that they want to see in the bible to try to save their God from the charge of being a bad person.
JASON Well, some things are just obvious. If Noah was a righteous man, then he told people about God.
DOUG Well, I think we've already covered that. You have no foundation for that at all. I'm disappointed that your seminary was actually telling you otherwise about this chapter here, but, in any case, don't you believe that people should only be punished for their own sins and not the sins of their fathers?
JASON Oh, I believe that...wait, are we talking about God's punishment or human punishment?
DOUG Well, just punishment.
JASON Yeah, well you'll have to differentiate because those are two very different things.
DOUG Well, why should they be? Doesn't God want us to be more like him so that he would give us similar rules?
JASON They're just different because if you trespass against God or if you trespass against the law of your city or your country there would...they would deserve different punishments.
DOUG Well maybe there is a different punishment, but the question is whether somebody should be held morally responsible for things that they didn't do, but that one of their ancestors did.
JASON Well, since Adam, there is imputed sin, but really, imputed sin is a non-issue when you realize that every human being--as soon as they are able to make a decision--they sin themselves and then they're accountable for that action.
DOUG Well, so would you say that if someone believes that people should only be punished for sins that they themselves perform, that that is incompatible with what you're calling imputed sin?
JASON <pausing to think the question over If you...
DOUG Right? Well look, Deuteronomy 24:16 and Ezekiel 18:19-20 say that the offspring should not be punished for the sins of their parents, right?
DOUG So why is your God doing all of that, and why is there so much of your bible based on God breaking these rules that he himself is giving to other people?
JASON Um, this is obviously a command for humans and you're misinterpreting it; it's not a command for God. God is telling humans that they should not be put to death for their children nor shall children be put to death for their fathers. A person should be put to death for their own sin.
DOUG Well, so do you think that it's morally acceptable for someone to be killed for something that their ancestors did, like if somebody came up to you and said, "your great, great grandfather once shot my great, great grandfather" and so they stab you to death?
JASON I don't think that it's right for a human to enact a retribution like that...
DOUG Well why not?
JASON Why not? Because scriptures say that God is life and that we shouldn't take other people's lives like that.
DOUG Well, why not? What's "wrong" with it?
JASON I suppose it abuses life and he is the giver and taker of life like it says all throughout the bible.
DOUG Wait a second, it "abuses" a life?
JASON No, no, no, no, I said...I have a page on my site that's against abortion, and it's pro-life, and I've got scriptures from all over the bible that are obviously saying how God is the giver and taker of life.
DOUG How can you call yourself "pro-life" when you just affirmed the morality of drowning the entire world?
JASON There's a difference between God's judgment and human action. Don't you understand that there's a big difference between what God does and what humans do?
DOUG Yeah, God kills more people according to your story.
JASON Yeah, well you just want to keep putting them on the same level and they're just simply different.
DOUG I mean God is far worse than any human being has ever been according to your bible, of course fortunately, fortunately there is no such being.
JASON You don't believe in God, but just for a minute, I think you could at least understand that if there were a God who did create everything and who was righteous, that he should have more privileges than humans do.
DOUG Well, wait a minute, if I see him drowning people for things that their ancestors did; ordering the deaths of men, women, and children like in first Samuel 15:1-3 where he says "Go and slay the Amalekites; slay every man, woman and child, infant, suckling, cattle, donkeys," you know, and so on and so forth, "everything that breathes" (that's his order), I wouldn't call that righteous! And do you know what he's asking...
JASON So are you against war altogether?
DOUG He's asking Saul to slay them because 400 years earlier the Amalekites had attacked the Israelites when they were crossing...when they were getting out of Egypt and they were crossing the desert.
JASON So now you think that you know exactly God's ways and it's interesting how sometimes you're really confused about what God wants and what he says and what his methods are, and now you know exactly what he wants and says. I mean, he probably had hundreds of different reasons for why he asked those people to do that. It's not just one simple little reason. Are you saying you don't believe in war? Is war "bad" all the time no matter what?
DOUG Well it's bad when...it IS bad when you're killing people for things that their distant ancestors did. I mean 400 years earlier would be like somebody saying that they're going to kill everybody in your region because of things that happened at the time of Christopher Columbus.
JASON Well the Am-elekites [sic] were definitely unrepentant people and God was trying to clear them out of the way for the Jews...obviously.
DOUG There's nothing in there about "unrepentant." God is ordering these deaths and he states specifically why he does it.
JASON Well you just haven't traced the history of the Ameklalites [sic].
DOUG God says that he wants them to be killed because of what these ancestors did 400 years earlier.
JASON Alright, which verse does it say it [sic]?
DOUG And God says several times in between, that his anger continues to burn against the Amalekites and so on, okay, because--and the reason is given, I'm not guessing--he says, "because of what they did when the Israelites crossed the desert."
JASON Okay, well that's probably even more evidence and reason for God to do this since he obviously gave them 400 years to make "good" or to repent, and obviously, since there's no mention of their righteousness, then they have chosen wickedness.
DOUG No, no, no, he's not saying that they should be killed because they don't repent, he's saying they should be killed because of what their ancestors did...
JASON Ahhh, but they do need to repent though.
DOUG ...a principle you just got finished endorsing...
JASON But they didn't repent.
DOUG ...that people can be killed for what their ancestors did. Now supposedly then, this should not strike you as an immoral act to kill people. I mean, suppose these people were righteous and fine and repentant: according to you, that makes no difference because they can be held responsible for things that their ancestors did.
JASON Alright, well let me look up the verse you're mentioning. If we should talk any further about the verse you're mentioning then we need to read it.
DOUG Okay, you want to read the stuff in 1 Samuel?
JASON Just the one about God killing them because the sins of their fathers 400 years before.
DOUG Right, well it's the order, right, he gives the order in 1 Samuel.
JASON Um, what's the chapter and verse?
DOUG 1 Samuel 15 I believe, let me check right here...yeah, 1-3. Okay it says, uh, "Samuel said to Saul"...well this is the NIV but it's all similar in you're thinking...
JASON Yeah, that's fine.
DOUG "I am the one the Lord sent to anoint you king over his people Israel; so listen now to the message from the Lord. This is what the Lord Almighty says: 'I will punish the Amalekites for what they did to Israel when they waylaid them as they came up from Egypt.
So first of all, the reason is given.
DOUG And there's nothing about being unrepentant or anything like that. There's nothing about the people presently living that is referenced here.
DOUG And it says, "Now go, attack the Amalekites and totally destroy everything that belongs to them. Do not spare them; put to death men and women, children and infants, cattle and sheep, camels and donkeys.'"
DOUG So there you go.
JASON Okay, well if you say this contradicts Deuteronomy I don't think you have any case for a couple of reasons. One is...
DOUG Well I'm asking you whether you think this is a bad thing?
JASON Okay, I could address that, I could address that.
DOUG Should he really kill people for things that their distant ancestors did?
JASON Well, because Deuteronomy is obviously a law for the Jews (the Jewish people), and now this is God's intervention for some "other" people. This is a different scenario.
DOUG Well I don't know how you're calling it an "intervention." This is out and out genocide! Well, look, don't you find in what you would call your "soul" some sort of impulse that tells you that this kind of wholesale slaughter of innocent people (who have nothing to do with the reason given for their slaughter, they are not involved with that reason at all except to be descendents), don't you think that's immoral?
JASON Well I think you're just missing a study on these people between the time when their forefathers did this and when they were judged and you're assuming that they were just either not doing anything or "hanging out" but I think what they were doing...
DOUG Well whether they were or not, that's NOT why they were being killed.
JASON That's not true, that's not true. You're harping on an omission, that God mentions one reason why he's judging them.
DOUG So once again you want to insert some verses in there to try to save your God.
JASON Well that's not true, but even if you don't want to go that route, you can still understand that even Cain and Abel were accountable to God for what God told Adam. Now these people are accountable to God for what their forefathers did and because they didn't repent.
DOUG So you think it's okay? Well, let me ask you this too: why are they killing the animals? Are the animals also accountable for what these ancestors did?
JASON I think God asked them to kill the animals because, typically, if you kept different things and stuff and loot from other villages then they would end up just getting in the way, or it wasn't right for the Israelites to have them.
DOUG <chuckling Oh come on! This is plunder! This is stuff...okay, when Moses and his troops were raping these virgins as we saw yesterday...
JASON Uh, there's nowhere in the bible, no scholar would ever agree with that statement, but go ahead.
DOUG You can't find any reputable one that would disagree! Okay...they're taking the animals too! They're listing them as plunder! I mean it's just absurd for you to say that the animals would "get in the way." This makes them rich! If they take animals, it makes them rich! That's wealth in the ancient world, alright, taking sheep, camels, donkeys and stuff, that's wealth! Land and animals and women were also property back then, alright, that's how you have wealth!
JASON So you just don't like God's command here, is that it?
DOUG Well you know, no, I think that this is an immoral command. It's just a source of amazement to me that there's so many people that can't see that this kind of wholesale slaughter of other human beings is immoral, and it's thinking like that...that you're producing right now, that gets airplanes run into buildings, alright, because if someone says, "Gosh, don't kill those people, they're innocent people," someone like you (but maybe in a different country and a different language) can give them the very same explanation that you just gave and say, "Oh, well don't worry about that, God says it's okay."
JASON Uh, I disagree. I see what you're saying.
DOUG It's time for human beings to grow up and say, "No, this stuff is not okay! Slaughtering people who didn't do anything to you and haven't tried to do anything to you...slaughtering them is immoral." And until people learn to distinguish what is moral from immoral, then we're going to continue to have people doing the sorts of things that have been getting on the news and the sorts of things, unfortunately, that we see endorsed in your bible. I have the same problem with the bible that I have with Mein Kampf by Hitler, okay, it's very similar in its outlook in that it's got a certain people that are better than others somehow inherently; a cetain group; a certain race; and it says it's okay for them to slaughter all these other people (although Hitler didn't initially have the genocide in Mein Kampf and so on, it was just sort of implied), but it's the same kind of outlook, and it's a bad one, it's a bad one.
JASON I think one thing also that you'll have to realize about the Old Testament is that God had a plan--had a prophetic plan--and one of the things was that Jesus the Messiah was to come from Bethlehem; from Jerusalem, and these areas were not occupied by the Israelites when these things were predicted, so God had to go in there and make a way for the Israelites to have this land. He promised them this land.
DOUG Well, first of all, why didn't he just predict that they would be in some other lands where they wouldn't have to kill large numbers of people to make God right?
JASON Uh, there's probably hundreds of reasons: God's providence; he wanted to show people, uh, God's judgment on the sinners and the unrepentant people...
DOUG Well, unfortunately, it shows him to be a monster.
JASON Just to some, maybe 10% of the people; 90% of the people don't see God that way.
DOUG Well, let me ask you this: what's the difference between your God and an evil demon?
JASON Uh, God is good and righteous and demons are evil.
DOUG Well, wait a minute, how is he good and righteous? If he's ordering the wholesale slaughter of people just so people can take their land, that's pretty pathetic!
JASON Nah, I wouldn't use the [sic] generalities; why use the word "people?" Why not be specific? Because this is an historical record of God dealing with the Jews and the surrounding peoples so Jesus could come through the promised land, and it's just that you're acting like it's something for us to be doing today, and it's something you should be afraid of.
DOUG Well, look, if I were a god or something, you know what? I'd bet you anything that I could come up with a much more humane plan than deciding to kill large numbers of people for no other reason than to take their land.
JASON I doubt it. I don't think that a human would do a good job. I just don't think that humans could judge and do things God does anywhere close to the way he does.
DOUG Well what standard are you using to judge anything? What is your standard?
JASON Yeah, that's a good question. I believe we've raised a question about truth. Is there absolute truth outside of humans?
DOUG Well, I don't...no, I don't think that makes any sense...
JASON Would the truth change?
DOUG Well yeah! A moment ago it was true that I was standing; now it's true that I'm sitting. So truth changes.
JASON Hmmmm....and who comes up with truth? Is truth made up by people? By the community? By majority opinion? What is it? How do we get our laws and our truth?
DOUG Well, mostly, I think when fundamentalists talk about "truth" they have no understanding of what the word means. I prefer to see the word "truth" to refer to a "propositional property" like a "statement" is true. Like, if I say the cat is on the mat, that is made true by there being a cat and a mat and a cat standing in a certain relation to the mat, namely being on it, okay, that's what makes something true.
JASON Okay, well that was general. Let's get more specific: how about killing somebody? Is killing somebody wrong or right...and will that ever change?
DOUG Will that ever change? Well sometimes it's wrong and sometimes it's right. If it's in self-defense, like if someone is trying to kill my whole family, I might be--in some cases--justified in using lethal force. In Arkansas that's practically encouraged, but...<mutual chuckling
JASON I was in Virginia a while; it's encouraged out there too. <more chuckling>
<Snip rest due to Jason changing the subject to the morality of cannibalism and such >
The full debate can be found here:
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