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Is God a Moral Monster?


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#1 Ken Gilmore

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Posted 01 March 2011 - 02:12 AM

Anyone who has read Richard Dawkin's best-seller "The God Delusion" would hardly be in any doubt as to how he views the God of the Bible:

The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous, and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser, a misogynist, homophobic, racist, infanticidal genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capricious malevolent bully.

I am puzzled by the adjective 'sadomasochistic' as one will struggle to find any reference in the Bible where God could be described as a masochist, as well as a sadist. Florid prose such as this does give the sophomoric atheist a few memorable quotes to hurl around discussion forums, but it hardly inspires confidence that the book will be anything other than a relentlessly polemical screed.

Having said that. there are genuine questions that arise from a disinterested reading of the Bible with respect to the morality of God and Israel. Joshua 10 and 11 describe what appears to be a relentless campaign of terror, where the entire population of Canaan is put to the sword, and destroyed down to the last infant. The law of Moses gives instructions on how to sell one's daughter as a slave. David - a man described as one after God's own heart - is freely described as an adulterer and murderer who on his deathbed instructed his son to murder his enemies. The New Atheists may well argue from a position of theological illiteracy and ignorance of the broad cultural context of the Bible, but it is hard to contextualise verses such as these so as to make them - to our eyes at least - morally acceptable.

Paul Copan - a philosopher and theologian who is currently a professor at Palm Beach Atlantic University in Florida - has weighted into this debate with his latest book "Is God a Moral Monster? Making Sense of the Old Testament God." This book has received positive and negative reviews, so it clearly isn't winning everyone over. Irrespective of its ultimate worth, it should serve as a springboard to examine some of the more contentious parts of the Bible. Over the next few weeks, I'll be posting my reactions to the book as I read my way through it. Comments needless to say are more than welcome.
“I do not feel obliged to believe that the same God who has endowed us with sense, reason, and intellect has intended us to forgo their use.” - Galileo Galilei

#2 Ken Gilmore

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Posted 28 April 2011 - 03:51 AM

I'm over halfway through the book. Once finished, I'll post my thoughts on each chapter. I have to admit that I am not as taken with the book as I had thought I would have been. For example, his explanation of Deut 25:11-12 relies heavily on Jerome Walsh's <1> argument that "that the most likely translation for Deut. 25:12a is ‘you shall shave [the hair of] her groin’." The motivation for this is the use of kaph rather than yad for "hand". The former, Copan argues" can be used to refer to the palm, sole, curve of the hip or concave object. Certainly, as HALOT notes, kaph does have this semantic range:

(ca. 200 times; → II אַף), SamP.M119 kaf, kabb-: older pronunciation kapp presupposed by Greek καππα, > kap/f (Harris Development 76, §59; Sept. χαφ, Nöldeke Beitr. 124ff.); MHeb. JArm., Sam. (Ben-H. 2:487; also Arm, sole of the foot, socket of the hip. Syr. Mnd. (Drower-M. Dictionary 200a) כַּפָּא; Ug. kp, pl. kpt (Gordon Textbook §19:1286; Aistleitner 1364), Arb. kaff, Eth. kaf, Eg. kp, (Lacau Noms 136f.), Copt. ḫop; Akk. kappu (AHw. 444b; Holma Körperteile 117f.): כָּֽף, כַּפִּי, כַּפְּכָ/פֶּֽכָ(ה), כַּפַּיִם, כַּפֵּי, כַּפַּי, כַּפֵּיהֶם, כַּפֵּימוֹ (Jb 2723, Bauer-L. Heb. 253 l), כַּפּוֹת, כַּפֹּתָיו, fem. (ZAW 16:73ff., as Syr.): —1. the hollow, the flat of the hand (:: יָד as member of the body, often however parallel with) כַּף שְׂמָאלִית Lv 1415, כַּף פַּרְעֹה Gn 4011; כַּפּוֹת יָד 1S 54 2K 935 Da 1010, בְּכַפּוֹ in (the hollow of) the hand Ex 44 Is 284 (cj. בַּכִּפָּה, Seeligmann VT 11:211); פָּרַשׂ כַּפַּיִם אֶל to spread the palms outwards, stretch out towards = to pray Ex 929, נָשָׂא to lift Lam 341 (rd. עַל for אֶל); מְלֹא כַף a handful 1K 1712; בְּכַפּוֹ rod Ex 44, fruit Is 284 etc., נָשָׂא עַל־כַּפַּיִם Ps 9112, שִׂים נַפְשׁוֹ בְכַפּוֹ to take one’s life in one’s hand (in danger), meaning to risk one’s life Ju 123 Jb 1314 ( Hölscher 37; Horst 201), נַפְשִׁי בְכַפִּי meaning: I am in danger Ps 119109; —2. as יָד the whole hand (cut off), → Ug., Eg. kp Erman-G. 5:118; Dt 2512 Ju 86 (cj. אַף, BH); of God Jb 1321 (→ *אֶכֶף 337 parallel with cj. אַמָּה); ? cj. Jr 234 (with Pesh. for כְּנָפַיִךְ); —3. expressions בּוֹא בְכַף to come into one’s power Pr 63; to save מִכַּף 1S 43 2S 1416; הִרְחִיק כַּף Jb 1321; מָחָא כַף Is 5512 Ps 988 and הִכָּה כַף 2K 1112 Ezk 2213 and הִכָּה כַפּוֹ עַל־כַּפּוֹ 2122 to clap one’s hands; שִׂים כַּף עַל־פֶּה Jb 299; תָּקַע כַּף to slap hands (when trading) (→ יָד 3 with נָתַן) Pr 61 (rd. sg.) 1718 2226; תָּקַע כַּף to clap one’s hands Ps 472 (joy), Nah 319 (malicious joy); שָׂ/סָפַק כַּפַּיִם apotropaic Nu 2410 Jb 2723 Lam 215; שָׂכַךְ כַּפַּיִם עַל (God) to interlace protectingly over Ex 3322; —4. a) כַּף רֶגֶל sole of the foot (Arb. foot of the lizard, paw of the lion, WKAS K:242; cf. Eg. Lacau Noms 136) Dt 25 Jos 313 (priest) Gn 89 (dove), הֹלֵךְ עַל־כַּפַּיִם walking on their paws Lv 1127; מִכַּף רַגְלוֹ וְעַד־קָדְקֳדוֹ Jb 27, מִכַּף רֶגֶל וְעַד־רֹאשׁ Is 16; pl. כַּפּוֹת רַגְלַיִם 6014; כַּף פְעָמַי my foot-prints 2K 1924; —5. metaph. for objects resembling (the hollow of) a hand (fem. pl., Gesenius-K. §87o; Dhorme Emploi 150; also Akk., Arb.): a) כַּפּוֹת הַמַּנְעוּל handle (cf. יָדוֹת, :: KBL: hollow for the door-bolts) Song 55; כַּף הַיָּרֵךְ hollow of the hip socket Gn 3226; כַּף הַקֶּלַע hollow of the sling 1S 2529, Arb. kiffat of the catapult (WKAS K:243a); b) כַּף metal bowl (Ug. Arb. scales WKAS K:243a) Ex 2529 Nu 714.84.86 1K 750 Jr 5218, orig. in the shape of a hand (Kelso §47; BA 4:30: Akk.; Wright 140: spoon); כַּפּוֹת־תְּמָרִים Lv 2340 כִּפָּה.


The plural of kaph is used in Song 5:5 “I arose to open to my beloved; and my hands dripped with myrrh, and my fingers with liquid myrrh, on the handles of the bolt." The argument here is that this is a euphemism for the curve of the female genitalia:

"This language alludes back to the "locked garden" in 4:12 "You are a locked garden, my sister, my bride; you are an enclosed spring, a sealed-up fountain" (NET). Scholars generally agree that the garden language is a metaphor for a woman's sexual organs, and its being "locked" implies her purity/virginity." <2>


There is also the assertion that 'the specific Hebrew qal verb form in (Deut 25:12) has a milder connotation than the stronger, intensified piel verb form, meaning "cut off" or "(physically) sever [qatsats]." Whenever it appears in this milder form (Jer. 9:26; 25:23; 49:32), it means "clip/cut/shave [hair]." ' <3> In short, Copan, leaning on Walsh's argument, says that Deut 25:12 refers to forced shaving of the female genitalia as a punishment.

I would like this to be the correct reading for two reasons:

* This verse as traditionally read is the only example of mutilation as punishment in the OT
* Unless there is evidence that the man has suffered permanent genital damage as a result of the woman's action, amputation would appear to violate Lex talionis - there is something decidedly asymmetrical about amputation as punishment for that offence. Humiliation for humiliation would better fit Lex talionis than amputation.

However, from what I can see, Walsh's reading hasn't been universally accepted. While Song of Solomon can be cryptic at times, and the erotic subtext does make the reading plausible, Copan's argument comes across as a little too good to be true.

This isn't to say that I think the book is unhelpful - there are a number of valuable points, but there are also elements which do strike me as forced, and I would call myself a sympathetic reader. Thom Stark has in fact written a book-sized review criticising Copan's book - I won't read it until I've finished my series of posts - which suggests that as I said before, not everyone is convinced.

References

1. Walsh JT "You Shall Cut Off Her...Palm? A Reexamination of Deuteronomy 25:11-12"Journal of Semitic Studies 49 (2004): 47-48
2. Copan P Is God a Moral Monster? (2011 Baker Books) p 121
3. loc cit

Edited by Ken Gilmore, 28 April 2011 - 03:52 AM.

“I do not feel obliged to believe that the same God who has endowed us with sense, reason, and intellect has intended us to forgo their use.” - Galileo Galilei

#3 Fortigurn

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Posted 28 April 2011 - 09:55 AM

Unconvinced, and permanent damage to the testes would seem to legitimate application of the lex talionis. However, I will look at this further.

Edited by Fortigurn, 28 April 2011 - 09:55 AM.


#4 Mercia2

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Posted 28 April 2011 - 02:11 PM

Having said that. there are genuine questions that arise from a disinterested reading of the Bible with respect to the morality of God and Israel. Joshua 10 and 11 describe what appears to be a relentless campaign of terror, where the entire population of Canaan is put to the sword, and destroyed down to the last infant. The law of Moses gives instructions on how to sell one's daughter as a slave. David - a man described as one after God's own heart - is freely described as an adulterer and murderer who on his deathbed instructed his son to murder his enemies.


They have to be intentional paradox Ken, to force a spiritual meaning in which the literal meaning is totally tranferred. The alternative to that would be slightly worrying. The book of Daniel says those who are wise and "know their God", will lead many to righteousness and salvation, this surely implies we should filter such verses through the example and teachings of Jesus (the Divine image/character) I see as revealing or atleast hinting at this highly symbolic reading of parts of the OT and I would say was a manifestation of the spiritual or symbolic sense of it "the Word made flesh".

There is no doubt God also gives in first impression, for example, the idea a pagan style hell exists, but it rather seems to represent what will be burnt away or abolished, like death, papal catholicism etc. So we must conclude from that this first impression which the likes of Dawkins cannot see past is in the context of fearing the Lord being the begining of the road to wisdom and understanding?

Thanks for the info above was very interesting.
"If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” = "Are not all angels ministering spirits sent to serve those who will inherit salvation?" = "Bless the LORD, O my soul. O LORD my God, thou art very great; thou art clothed with honour and majesty. Who maketh His angels spirits; his ministers a flaming fire" Psalms (104:1) = "They saw what seemed to be flames of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them." Acts 2 - the secret is over, your ministering angel you need to be saved is the Holy Spirit.

Who Is the Holy Spirit?
http://www.btdf.org/forums/topic/20950-holy-spirit-mercia/

Mark Of The Beast - his Name is the charachter/image of the medievil popes (now modern man)
http://www.btdf.org/forums/topic/4997-mark-of-the-beast/page__pid__439951__st__120#entry439951

Historicists - Dual Fulfillment (seven thunders = more literal warning)
http://www.btdf.org/forums/topic/14248-historicists-revelation-has-a-dual-fulfillment/

#5 Ken Gilmour

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Posted 22 May 2011 - 03:15 AM

Interesting post (from the man with the same name as me) :). I have a few questions about the original post. I've never read the book you've referred to so I am completely neutral but I would just like to ensure the publishing of unbiased Fact, especially if it comes from a website called "The Bible Truth".

I am puzzled by the adjective 'sadomasochistic' as one will struggle to find any reference in the Bible where God could be described as a masochist, as well as a sadist. Florid prose such as this does give the sophomoric atheist a few memorable quotes to hurl around discussion forums, but it hardly inspires confidence that the book will be anything other than a relentlessly polemical screed.


Saying whether the Bible explicitly mentions a certain word or not is really irrelevant. The Bible (especially when translated to a different language from the original and read by someone with a different cultural understanding) is open to interpretation. This is why we have many different Christian denominations. Therefore saying that the Bible doesn't explicitly say something doesn't mean that it's not that way.

For example, some serial killers are sadomasochists, authors of books about such people may not have used that exact word to describe them but it is implicitly understood that someone who receives pleasure from inflicting pain on people and seeing others in pain is most probably a sadomasochist. It is what it is.

If someone told you to "Sacrifice your children on an altar in order to please me" then is it not probable that that person is either a sadist, a masochist or a sadomasochist? Regardless of the reasons for them asking you to do so.

Topic in hand (question being "Is God a Moral Monster"). Depending on your denomination, if you ignored the teachings of Jesus on morality (and the teachings that Jesus is God) and focus on other parts of the Bible there are lots of things suggesting that God is a moral monster such as passages in both the old and new testament which discriminate against virtually anything that is not a man. If it's true that Jesus is God then some times he is a sadomasochist and some times he is not.

I think the Bible in general (based on the number of stories about doing bad things versus the number which were about Jesus doing good deeds) teaches about being a "Moral Monster" where you should discriminate, that God is not always love, even leaving the rapture open to questioning.

In my opinion, morality, good, bad, love, hate, etc are all a matter of opinion. In the past (and even in some of today's religions), it was / is considered morally acceptable to beat your wife to the point of death if she refused to obey your commands. It was considered morally acceptable to rape women from another tribe and take them as your slave while you beat and kill their husband, just because she was from another tribe. The teachings of this have not changed, only people's understanding or interpretation of them, or their decency.

In summary, in my opinion of morality, and what I know from over two decades of reading the Bible, I do think that God is a Moral Monster.

Regards,

Ken

#6 Fortigurn

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Posted 22 May 2011 - 03:24 AM

If someone told you to "Sacrifice your children on an altar in order to please me" then is it not probable that that person is either a sadist, a masochist or a sadomasochist? Regardless of the reasons for them asking you to do so.


That depends on whether or not they really wanted you to do it, for a start.

In summary, in my opinion of morality, and what I know from over two decades of reading the Bible, I do think that God is a Moral Monster.


Since you have already committed to moral relativism, that judgment doesn't carry much weight. By the way, is this your honest opinion?

Both Christianity and Islam seem to exclude women from heaven:

Then I looked, and there before me was the Lamb, standing on Mount Zion, and with him 144,000 who had his name and his Father's name written on their foreheads. And I heard a sound from heaven like the roar of rushing waters and like a loud peal of thunder. The sound I heard was like that of harpists playing their harps. And they sang a new song before the throne and before the four living creatures and the elders. No one could learn the song except the 144,000 who had been redeemed from the earth. These are those who did not defile themselves with women, for they kept themselves pure. They follow the Lamb wherever he goes. They were purchased from among men and offered as firstfruits to God and the Lamb. No lie was found in their mouths; they are blameless. (Bible, Revelation 14:1-5)

So women are impure, who aside from defiling men; by implication do not get to go to heaven. This was the opinion of the Christian saints.


That's your argument for claiming that Christianity excludes women from heaven?

For example, this passage could be interpreted to mean that if you are a woman married to a psychopathic, violent husband, you must submit to him, obey his commands, allow him to abuse and beat you regularly, at the same time as you try to change his ways by means of the example of your long-suffering obedience, purity, and piety.


But how could you honestly interpret it that way? There's a difference between interpretations which are valid and interpretations which are invalid, and this is not a matter of guesswork.

It seems that women are the ones who bring down men and lead them to sinning and subsequently Hell. According to the Bible, this is one-way, the woman led the man to sin in this example:

Many are the victims she has brought down; her slain are a mighty throng. Her house is a highway to the grave, leading down to the chambers of death. (Bible, Proverbs 7:26-27)


This passage is not talking about women in general. Look at the context.

Women are considered by this verse as sinful, and many other verses in the Bible also tell us that women are also unclean, such as this example:

Man that is born of a woman is of few days and full of trouble. He cometh forth like a flower, and is cut down: he fleeth also as a shadow, and continueth not. And doth thou open thine eyes upon such an one, and bringest me into judgment with thee? Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean? not one. (Bible, Job 14:1-4)


Could you show me where this passage says that women are unclean? And while you're at it, could you demonstrate that this is a divinely commanded teaching? This wasn't said by God at all, nor is it presented in this chapter as a belief which God wants people to hold. On the contrary, it's the record of a speech by a man concerning whom God said that he had spoken wrongly about God.

In the book of Deuteronomy in the Christian Bible, as well as in the old Jewish Torah, God gave Moses clear instructions as to when the followers of Judaism and Christianity could rape captive women after slaughtering their families:


This claim is highly confused. Moses didn't write anything for 'the followers of Christianity'; Christianity didn't even exist. Contrary to what you claim, a range of scholarly commentary (including several feminist commentaries), acknowledges that this is 'anti-rape' legislation. [1] [2] [3] [4] [5] [6] [7] [8] Since this is a scholarly view, it's interesting that you have a different view; interesting, but irrelevant. One of the important differences between the scholarly literature and your view is that the scholarly literature actually appeals to evidence.

As if this were not enough, killing infants and ripping open pregnant women during wars is also encouraged:


The verse you quote does not encourage any such activity, still less in the generalized manner you claim.
________________________________________
[1] 'It also requires a compassionate dealing with a captive woman who is physically desirable. Rape is not a rule of war, not even humiliation of women.', Miller, 'Deuteronomy', p. 159 (1990).

[2] 'This law was undoubtedly for the purpose of cutting down on the incidence of rape in warfare, as well as emphasizing the importance of family in Israelite culture.', Mills & Wilson, Pentateuch/Torah: Volume 1; Volume 8', p. 205 (1998).

[3] 'The laws of war (enumerated in Deuteronomy 20 and 21) also spell out the conduct expected of Jewish troops in victory: rape of captive women is forbidden; women captives must be given proper time to mourn their dead, then they must either be taken as wives or set free.', Robinson, 'Essential Judaism: a complete guide to beliefs, customs and rituals', p. 239 (2001).

[4] Commentators frequently understand the purpose of this law as a prohibition against rape on the battlefield.', Pressler, 'The view of women found in the Deuteronomic family laws', p. 11 (1993); Pressler herself disagrees with the majority of commentators on this issue, disputing that this is anti-rape legislation.

[5] 'Although this text imay not intended primarily as anti-rape legislation, the text is very clear on the proper sequence of events. He is not to touch her until he has taken her into his home, cared for her and given her a month to grieve.', Jossberger, 'Between rule and responsibility: The role of the 'AB as agent of righteousness in Deuteronomy's domestic ideology', p. 55 (2007).

[6] 'The purpose of this text is clearly to regulate and minimize any abuse against this helpless woman in this patricentic society.', ibid., p. 57.

[7] 'This law prohibits the rape of a female captive of war:', Rofé 'Deuteronomy: issues and interpretation', p. 156 (2002).

[8] 'It is clear that there is some specific interest in this law to protect the woman from wanton abuse, rape, or exploitation.', Ellens, 'Sex in the Bible: a new consideration', p. 71 (2006).

Edited by Fortigurn, 22 May 2011 - 03:33 AM.


#7 Ken Gilmour

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Posted 22 May 2011 - 05:46 AM

Since you have already committed to moral relativism, that judgment doesn't carry much weight. By the way, is this your honest opinion?

Yes. Try not to confuse people with words like "moral relativism" :). Morality is relative to the culture you were born in. The American understanding of Morality is blasphemous to other cultures.

Both Christianity and Islam seem to exclude women from heaven:

Then I looked, and there before me was the Lamb, standing on Mount Zion, and with him 144,000 who had his name and his Father's name written on their foreheads. And I heard a sound from heaven like the roar of rushing waters and like a loud peal of thunder. The sound I heard was like that of harpists playing their harps. And they sang a new song before the throne and before the four living creatures and the elders. No one could learn the song except the 144,000 who had been redeemed from the earth. These are those who did not defile themselves with women, for they kept themselves pure. They follow the Lamb wherever he goes. They were purchased from among men and offered as firstfruits to God and the Lamb. No lie was found in their mouths; they are blameless. (Bible, Revelation 14:1-5)

So women are impure, who aside from defiling men; by implication do not get to go to heaven. This was the opinion of the Christian saints.


That's your argument for claiming that Christianity excludes women from heaven?


Yes, It doesn't seem relevant due to the amount of text I quoted in order to keep it in context. The most pertinent parts if read carefully are these:

No one could learn the song except the 144,000 who had been redeemed from the earth (The ones who know the song will be taken from Earth to Heaven, no one else is mentioned as being taken to Heaven). These are those who did not defile themselves with women (i.e. virgin men), for they kept themselves pure.

For example, this passage could be interpreted to mean that if you are a woman married to a psychopathic, violent husband, you must submit to him, obey his commands, allow him to abuse and beat you regularly, at the same time as you try to change his ways by means of the example of your long-suffering obedience, purity, and piety.


But how could you honestly interpret it that way? There's a difference between interpretations which are valid and interpretations which are invalid, and this is not a matter of guesswork.


Consider the laws of the day. Sarah had well documented obedience during both of her marriages (to Abraham and Pharaoh), they both took her to be their wife according to the law of the land at the time which was:

  • Marriage is a divine institution for the human race, for believers and unbelievers.
  • Marriage contracts are made by men. The father of the bride (or nearest male relative) makes an agreement (the Marriage Contract) with the father of the groom (or the groom).
  • The woman is never consulted about marriage. She does not get a vote even under the New Covenant to the Church.
  • Marriage Contracts were often made between the parents of the groom and the parents of the bride before the bride and groom were adults.
  • Marriages were consummated when the groom and bride became adults. The groom would go to the home of the bride. The bride's father would give her to the groom. The groom would take his new bride to the home of his parents or to a home he had prepared for consummation of the marriage. Consummation of the marriage was sex between the groom and bride and was often accompanied by a week (or more) of celebration with drinking, singing, and dancing.
  • Marriage Contracts were legal and binding documents under the laws of the government.
  • Marriage is administered under authority. The bride does not have authority.

Therefore since you must submit to the husband who you had no right to choose, you must also set an example for him by being obedient, even under extreme conditions. If you did not obey the laws of the day (and were a woman) you would be stoned to death.

It seems that women are the ones who bring down men and lead them to sinning and subsequently Hell. According to the Bible, this is one-way, the woman led the man to sin in this example:

Many are the victims she has brought down; her slain are a mighty throng. Her house is a highway to the grave, leading down to the chambers of death. (Bible, Proverbs 7:26-27)


This passage is not talking about women in general. Look at the context.



It's talking about a man who meets a prostitute and that the prostitute will lead him to hell, not that he's sinning by sleeping with her, but that she is unclean and will lead him astray. So Adam and Eve are in the modern-day garden of Eden and Adam says "I didn't commit any crime because Eve gave me the fruit and I ate it, she is a deceptive devil woman" - same thing.

I am not sure about laws in the US (or wherever you are) but where I live, if you go on to the street and try to get a prostitute you will be arrested for it, and the prostitute will also be arrested (for her protection as well as for breaking the law). This passage refers to the woman leading the man to sin, not the man allowing himself to be led to sin.

Women are considered by this verse as sinful, and many other verses in the Bible also tell us that women are also unclean, such as this example:

Man that is born of a woman is of few days and full of trouble. He cometh forth like a flower, and is cut down: he fleeth also as a shadow, and continueth not. And doth thou open thine eyes upon such an one, and bringest me into judgment with thee? Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean? not one. (Bible, Job 14:1-4)


Could you show me where this passage says that women are unclean? And while you're at it, could you demonstrate that this is a divinely commanded teaching? This wasn't said by God at all, nor is it presented in this chapter as a belief which God wants people to hold. On the contrary, it's the record of a speech by a man concerning whom God said that he had spoken wrongly about God.


Take a look at the last sentence "Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean? not one." If you can interpret that any differently than "Men are unclean because they come out of unclean women" then please elaborate :).

Some Christian denominations take the Bible as the literal Word of God, even parables. They say that God inspired the authors of the Bible to write it the way it was written, therefore God wrote it.

As if this were not enough, killing infants and ripping open pregnant women during wars is also encouraged:


The verse you quote does not encourage any such activity, still less in the generalized manner you claim.


Imagine if this was presented to a Jihadist as a notice from Osama Bin Laden: "Because I have redeemed you, the people of a certain city's women will be chopped up, and pregnant women's babies will be torn to shreds" would you interpret that to mean that Osama is going to go and do that personally? Or that it is a call to arms?

When the old testament was written, the "nomads" were probably no different from Jihadists and probably would see this as an encouragement to carry out such acts.

Edited by Ken Gilmour, 22 May 2011 - 05:48 AM.


#8 Fortigurn

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Posted 22 May 2011 - 06:15 AM

Yes. Try not to confuse people with words like "moral relativism" :). Morality is relative to the culture you were born in. The American understanding of Morality is blasphemous to other cultures.


I don't think anyone here is going to be confused by the term 'moral relativism', and you've just demonstrated you understand it perfectly well.

Yes, It doesn't seem relevant due to the amount of text I quoted in order to keep it in context. The most pertinent parts if read carefully are these:

No one could learn the song except the 144,000 who had been redeemed from the earth (The ones who know the song will be taken from Earth to Heaven, no one else is mentioned as being taken to Heaven). These are those who did not defile themselves with women (i.e. virgin men), for they kept themselves pure.


The problem here is that the only words which support your interpretation are the words you have inserted yourself. It doesn't say anyone goes to heaven, and in the symbolism of the book purity from defilement refers to spiritual purity; this passage isn't supposed to be literal (even if it was, it still doesn't say what you claim).

Consider the laws of the day.


Ok, I've considered them. Now what? Talking about Sarah is irrelevant; Paul isn't talking about the laws of Sarah's day. He also says this (which you carefully didn't quote):

Ephesians 5:
28 In the same way husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself.
33 Nevertheless, each one of you must also love his own wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.

So how can you interpret it that way?

It's talking about a man who meets a prostitute and that the prostitute will lead him to hell, not that he's sinning by sleeping with her, but that she is unclean and will lead him astray.


It's not talking about a prostitute, it's talking about an adulterous woman (verse 5). She is dressed like a prostitute (verse 10), but she is married (verse 19), and entices the man to adultery (verse 18). Quite apart from the fact that you haven't read the chapter properly, your claim was 'It seems that women are the ones who bring down men and lead them to sinning and subsequently Hell'. This is not supported by the chapter at all.

So Adam and Eve are in the modern-day garden of Eden and Adam says "I didn't commit any crime because Eve gave me the fruit and I ate it, she is a deceptive devil woman" - same thing.


Says who?

Take a look at the last sentence "Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean? not one." If you can interpret that any differently than "Men are unclean because they come out of unclean women" then please elaborate


Sure; we can start by the fact that it is not remotely connected to anything about women. Look at the context:

Job 14:
1 “Man, born of woman, lives but a few days, and they are full of trouble.
2 He grows up like a flower and then withers away; he flees like a shadow, and does not remain.
3 Do you fix your eye on such a one? And do you bring me before you for judgment?
4 Who can make a clean thing come from an unclean? No one!

The 'unclean thing' is Job, the 'clean thing' which he can't bring forth is righteousness. Job is complaining to God that it is not reasonable to expect him, a fallible mortal man, to be perfectly righteous before his God.

Some Christian denominations take the Bible as the literal Word of God, even parables. They say that God inspired the authors of the Bible to write it the way it was written, therefore God wrote it.


So what? I'm not interested in what they think it means, I'm interested in you justifying why you claim that's what it was intended to mean.

Imagine if this was presented to a Jihadist as a notice from Osama Bin Laden:


Why? How about you answer my question?

When the old testament was written, the "nomads" were probably no different from Jihadists and probably would see this as an encouragement to carry out such acts.


When this passage was written, the Hebrews hadn't been 'nomads' for centuries. I note you have no actual evidence that they would 'see this as an encouragement to carry out such acts'. In this case it is particularly foolish to suggest that this would be seen as 'an encouragement to carry out such acts', since it is Israel herself which is being condemned here. Your suggestion would mean that the Hebrews reading this would see it as an encouragement to kill their own infants and rip up their own pregnant women. This is the confusion people fall into when they don't check the context.

#9 Mercia2

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Posted 22 May 2011 - 09:41 AM

If someone told you to "Sacrifice your children on an altar in order to please me" then is it not probable that that person is either a sadist, a masochist or a sadomasochist? Regardless of the reasons for them asking you to do so.


The reality is we all have to sacrifice things we love in order to please God, obviously killing or sacrificing literal children is not going to please God. But sacrificing destructive yet pleasurable passions, even our money and material goods to help the poor etc etc.

Bible literalism I believe is often a test and its adherance an abomination to God and a sign of ignorance. It is the reason, for example, that Catholics eat bread that is literally Jesus, they think, instead of consuming His words which is the the non literal meaning. So likewise, God did not require the death of the first born of Egypt in any literal sense to set the Israelites free, although their may or may not be a semblance of historical truth to the story, but God did require the death of our first born nature, the natural man/Egyptian before the Israelite in each one of us can be set free. The plagues I believe correspond with the 10 laws.
"If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” = "Are not all angels ministering spirits sent to serve those who will inherit salvation?" = "Bless the LORD, O my soul. O LORD my God, thou art very great; thou art clothed with honour and majesty. Who maketh His angels spirits; his ministers a flaming fire" Psalms (104:1) = "They saw what seemed to be flames of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them." Acts 2 - the secret is over, your ministering angel you need to be saved is the Holy Spirit.

Who Is the Holy Spirit?
http://www.btdf.org/forums/topic/20950-holy-spirit-mercia/

Mark Of The Beast - his Name is the charachter/image of the medievil popes (now modern man)
http://www.btdf.org/forums/topic/4997-mark-of-the-beast/page__pid__439951__st__120#entry439951

Historicists - Dual Fulfillment (seven thunders = more literal warning)
http://www.btdf.org/forums/topic/14248-historicists-revelation-has-a-dual-fulfillment/

#10 Mercia2

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Posted 22 May 2011 - 09:47 AM

When the Bible talks of abominable things the casual reader seems to assume it therefore supports them. That is why we have to filter the OT through the example and teaching of Jesus, unless we know for sure what in the OT is allegory/intentional paradox or not and few do, I believe.
"If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” = "Are not all angels ministering spirits sent to serve those who will inherit salvation?" = "Bless the LORD, O my soul. O LORD my God, thou art very great; thou art clothed with honour and majesty. Who maketh His angels spirits; his ministers a flaming fire" Psalms (104:1) = "They saw what seemed to be flames of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them." Acts 2 - the secret is over, your ministering angel you need to be saved is the Holy Spirit.

Who Is the Holy Spirit?
http://www.btdf.org/forums/topic/20950-holy-spirit-mercia/

Mark Of The Beast - his Name is the charachter/image of the medievil popes (now modern man)
http://www.btdf.org/forums/topic/4997-mark-of-the-beast/page__pid__439951__st__120#entry439951

Historicists - Dual Fulfillment (seven thunders = more literal warning)
http://www.btdf.org/forums/topic/14248-historicists-revelation-has-a-dual-fulfillment/

#11 Ken Gilmour

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Posted 22 May 2011 - 05:26 PM

Yes. Try not to confuse people with words like "moral relativism" :). Morality is relative to the culture you were born in. The American understanding of Morality is blasphemous to other cultures.


I don't think anyone here is going to be confused by the term 'moral relativism', and you've just demonstrated you understand it perfectly well.

I wouldn't consider my understanding of vocabulary as normal :) I understand lots of things, and I don't understand lots of other things. I was pointing out that most casual readers trying to find "truth" probably won't understand things like that, and it would just cause confusion more than anything.

Yes, It doesn't seem relevant due to the amount of text I quoted in order to keep it in context. The most pertinent parts if read carefully are these:

No one could learn the song except the 144,000 who had been redeemed from the earth (The ones who know the song will be taken from Earth to Heaven, no one else is mentioned as being taken to Heaven). These are those who did not defile themselves with women (i.e. virgin men), for they kept themselves pure.


The problem here is that the only words which support your interpretation are the words you have inserted yourself. It doesn't say anyone goes to heaven, and in the symbolism of the book purity from defilement refers to spiritual purity; this passage isn't supposed to be literal (even if it was, it still doesn't say what you claim).

That's not right. It explicitly mentions 144,000 people who have not defiled themselves with women. Regardless of whether you take it literally or not it means the same thing.

Consider the laws of the day.


Ok, I've considered them. Now what? Talking about Sarah is irrelevant; Paul isn't talking about the laws of Sarah's day. He also says this (which you carefully didn't quote):

Ephesians 5:
28 In the same way husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself.
33 Nevertheless, each one of you must also love his own wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.


Now you are quoting from a completely different book, original quote in the article was from 1st Peter. They were written by two different people (1st Peter was written by the apostle Peter and Ephesians was credited to being written by Paul (although it's unlikely that he actually wrote it)).

However, the point of the article you are quoting is to demonstrate the differences in punishments, which you nicely led to. What I previously quoted was along the lines of: "Women obey your husbands no matter whether or not he is a psychopath, not doing so will lead to death by stoning", but for the men "You must love your wife as if she is your right arm", no consequences or punishments are explicitly mentioned for not doing so.

It's talking about a man who meets a prostitute and that the prostitute will lead him to hell, not that he's sinning by sleeping with her, but that she is unclean and will lead him astray.


It's not talking about a prostitute, it's talking about an adulterous woman (verse 5). She is dressed like a prostitute (verse 10), but she is married (verse 19), and entices the man to adultery (verse 18). Quite apart from the fact that you haven't read the chapter properly, your claim was 'It seems that women are the ones who bring down men and lead them to sinning and subsequently Hell'. This is not supported by the chapter at all.


Check out the KJV version verse 10-12:

And, behold, there met him a woman with the attire of an harlot, and subtil of heart.(She is loud and stubborn; her feet abide not in her house: Now is she without, now in the streets, and lieth in wait at every corner.)


She's dressed like a harlot, she is "without" (poor) and she waits on the corner for a man while her husband is out, probably in order to be able to provide. That looks to me like a prostitute, not just an adulteress... maybe a married prostitute, or a woman who was captured from another tribe.

So Adam and Eve are in the modern-day garden of Eden and Adam says "I didn't commit any crime because Eve gave me the fruit and I ate it, she is a deceptive devil woman" - same thing.


Says who?

Genesis 3:12 "She did it", and then Eve blamed it on the snake.

Some Christian denominations take the Bible as the literal Word of God, even parables. They say that God inspired the authors of the Bible to write it the way it was written, therefore God wrote it.


So what? I'm not interested in what they think it means, I'm interested in you justifying why you claim that's what it was intended to mean.

It has been used by Christians who claim to be from one of the "Born Again" denominations of their ownership of women. For the record, I think that the Bible is one of the most inaccurately interpreted historical books ever printed and was likely copied from earlier books. See this article on the Resurrection for instance.

The idea behind mentioning it is to show that the Bible is open to interpretation (whether or not it be a correct interpretation). If I was to have the same argument with a Baptist, Pentecostal, Brethren, Jehovah's Witness or Seventh Day Adventist I would very likely get very different and plausible answers to the same question. By far the lamest answer that I have had is "I'm not interested in what [others] think it means".

Since I have very limited time-slots to be able to answer all questions quickly I think I missed some of the other questions you asked because it requires time to think and cross-reference other facts, but if you want me to answer them separately in email I would be glad to. You should be able to find me quickly and easily on Google or my blog.

Finally, this argument seems to have strayed a little from the topic. The question was "Is God a Moral Monster?", my answer was that Morality is a matter of opinion depending on your culture, in my opinion God is a Moral Monster, but Jesus was one of the greatest moral teachers that ever lived (you will notice I have declared this publicly at the footer of every page of my Blog as well).

I would like to create a link to this forum post at the bottom of the one you quoted with your permission since I like to publish both sides of the story without bias.

#12 Richard

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Posted 22 May 2011 - 08:43 PM

Why is it unlikely that Paul wrote Ephesians?

#13 Fortigurn

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Posted 22 May 2011 - 10:12 PM

I wouldn't consider my understanding of vocabulary as normal :) I understand lots of things, and I don't understand lots of other things. I was pointing out that most casual readers trying to find "truth" probably won't understand things like that, and it would just cause confusion more than anything.


I'll take that risk thanks.

That's not right. It explicitly mentions 144,000 people who have not defiled themselves with women. Regardless of whether you take it literally or not it means the same thing.


This doesn't make any sense; the literal and figurative meaning cannot be the same. Remember that your argument was that this passage is discriminatory of women, and your claim is that this passage says that only male virgins can get to heaven (women can't). For this argument to be valid, you must prove that this is what the text actually says. The problems are:

* This passage says nothing about anyone going to heaven
* This passage does not say that women don't go to heaven
* This passage does not say that women are defiling
* This passage does not say that women are impure

Now you are quoting from a completely different book, original quote in the article was from 1st Peter.


I'm talking about this quotation you used to support your claim that women are subjected to their husbands without qualification.

Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body. Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything. (Bible, Ephesians 5:22-24)



So where's the evidence for your claim that 'this passage could be interpreted to mean that if you are a woman married to a psychopathic, violent husband, you must submit to him, obey his commands, allow him to abuse and beat you regularly, at the same time as you try to change his ways by means of the example of your long-suffering obedience, purity, and piety'?

However, the point of the article you are quoting is to demonstrate the differences in punishments, which you nicely led to. What I previously quoted was along the lines of: "Women obey your husbands no matter whether or not he is a psychopath, not doing so will lead to death by stoning", but for the men "You must love your wife as if she is your right arm", no consequences or punishments are explicitly mentioned for not doing so.


What you wrote was completely wrong. You claim that what you quoted was along the lines of 'Women obey your husbands no matter whether or not he is a psychopath, not doing so will lead to death by stoning', but none of the texts you quoted said anything like this.

Check out the KJV version verse 10-12:


Why? Why would I use an out of date translation for one thing, and why quote the KJV when it doesn't change the facts to which I've already referred?

She's dressed like a harlot, she is "without" (poor) and she waits on the corner for a man while her husband is out, probably in order to be able to provide. That looks to me like a prostitute, not just an adulteress... maybe a married prostitute, or a woman who was captured from another tribe.


A few points:

* 'without' does not mean 'poor'; it means she's outside (you're being confused by the archaic KJV language)
* 'dressed like a harlot' does not mean 'is a harlot'; on the contrary, the simile proves she isn't a harlot
* She has a husband; she's not a harlot, she's an adulteress.

Genesis 3:12 "She did it", and then Eve blamed it on the snake.


So what? Your original claim was this.

So Adam and Eve are in the modern-day garden of Eden and Adam says "I didn't commit any crime because Eve gave me the fruit and I ate it, she is a deceptive devil woman" - same thing.


You haven't provided any evidence that ths is what the Bible says. Adam didn't say 'I didn't commit any crime', and he didn't say 'she is a deceptive devil woman'. You're just making things up.

Some Christian denominations take the Bible as the literal Word of God, even parables. They say that God inspired the authors of the Bible to write it the way it was written, therefore God wrote it.


So what? I'm not interested in what they think it means, I'm interested in you justifying why you claim that's what it was intended to mean.



It has been used by Christians who claim to be from one of the "Born Again" denominations of their ownership of women. For the record, I think that the Bible is one of the most inaccurately interpreted historical books ever printed and was likely copied from earlier books. See this article on the Resurrection for instance.

The idea behind mentioning it is to show that the Bible is open to interpretation (whether or not it be a correct interpretation). If I was to have the same argument with a Baptist, Pentecostal, Brethren, Jehovah's Witness or Seventh Day Adventist I would very likely get very different and plausible answers to the same question. By far the lamest answer that I have had is "I'm not interested in what [others] think it means".


You are avoiding the issue. The reason why I told you I am not interested in what others think is that I asked you for proof of your claims. Instead of providing proof of your claims concerning what the text means, you simply said 'Well these other people think X, Y and Z'. So what? That doesn't provide any proof of your claims concerning what the text means.

Your page does not say 'Here are some interpretations of what the Bible says', your page explicitly claims:

* 'women may be discriminated against in Christianity and denied an opportunity to get into heaven'
* 'there are some examples of discrimination in the Bible'
* 'Both Christianity and Islam seem to exclude women from heaven'
* 'So women are impure, who aside from defiling men; by implication do not get to go to heaven. This was the opinion of the Christian saints'
* 'There are other texts in the Torah, Bible and Quaran which preach discrimination against women, degradation and subjugation of women, and even violence against women'
* 'In other words, the texts of these "holy books" systematically ensure a second-class status for one half of the world population - women'
* 'Jews, Christians, and Muslims all berate women for causing humanity to be driven out of paradise'
* 'The fault of this first and original sin rests heavily upon the shoulders of a woman'
* 'Indeed, many passages in the Torah and the Bible teach us that women are not only inferior, but also must obey men'
* 'For example, this passage could be interpreted to mean that if you are a woman married to a psychopathic, violent husband, you must submit to him, obey his commands, allow him to abuse and beat you regularly, at the same time as you try to change his ways by means of the example of your long-suffering obedience, purity, and piety'
* 'This is but one extreme example of the many, many instances of discrimination against women in the Bible'
* 'It seems that women are the ones who bring down men and lead them to sinning and subsequently Hell'
* 'According to the Bible, this is one-way, the woman led the man to sin in this example'
* 'Women are considered by this verse as sinful, and many other verses in the Bible also tell us that women are also unclean, such as this example'
* 'In other words, humans are doomed to die because they are born out of unclean women'
* 'As if this were not enough, killing infants and ripping open pregnant women during wars is also encouraged'

These are not lists of other people's beliefs about what the Bible means, they are your beliefs and claims about what the Bible means. I have already demonstrated that these claims are false, and when I ask you for proof that your claims are accurate, directing me to what others say on the subject is simply avoiding the issue.

I would like to create a link to this forum post at the bottom of the one you quoted with your permission since I like to publish both sides of the story without bias.


You're free to create such a link, but what you really want to do (if you want to 'publish both sides of the story without bias', is correct the glaring errors in your page.

#14 Ken Gilmour

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Posted 22 May 2011 - 11:22 PM

Why is it unlikely that Paul wrote Ephesians?


Hi Richard,

Raymond E. Brown "The churches the apostles left behind Paulist Press" 1984. ISBN 978-0809126118, p. 47.

Its authorship has traditionally been credited to Paul, but it is now widely accepted by critical scholarship to be "deutero-Pauline," that is, written in Paul's name by a later author strongly influenced by Paul's thought.

#15 Ken Gilmour

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Posted 23 May 2011 - 12:17 AM

This is getting really long!

I'll answer the quick ones and work on answering the more complex ones in time.

That's not right. It explicitly mentions 144,000 people who have not defiled themselves with women. Regardless of whether you take it literally or not it means the same thing.


This doesn't make any sense; the literal and figurative meaning cannot be the same.


A man predicted we would all be raptured yesterday. He literally prophesied "Everyone will be raptured at 6PM". No one was raptured. In 1994 he made the same prediction, which he then turned around to be a "figurative" prediction stating the end of the church age had begun.

Now Revelation prophesied that literally 144,000 virgin men will ascend to heaven when Jesus comes back on the clouds. Anyone could say he was figuratively speaking. 1 = 2 for greater instances of 1, that's figurative, it doesn't work when you try to calculate 144,000 = 1,000,000,000 for greater instances of 144,000, that's literal.

Remember that your argument was that this passage is discriminatory of women, and your claim is that this passage says that only male virgins can get to heaven (women can't).


Yes, I remember :). Anything which excludes anyone is discriminatory. There is no other way to interpret the verse to mot mean those things.

For this argument to be valid, you must prove that this is what the text actually says. The problems are:

* This passage says nothing about anyone going to heaven

The passage is talking about the people who have been raptured a few minutes beforehand while God gives his angels charge to damn the remaining people on earth.

* This passage does not say that women don't go to heaven

That's right. It doesn't say it explicitly, but it implies it by exclusion. There is no mention of women, only 144,000 virgin men, therefore by exclusion, women are not included in the 144,000.

* This passage does not say that women are defiling

Again, not directly, but it mentions only pure men who have not been defiled by women will be the ones who understand the song.

Now you are quoting from a completely different book, original quote in the article was from 1st Peter.


I'm talking about this quotation you used to support your claim that women are subjected to their husbands without qualification.

Well it was a poor argument. If I took out the book of Mormon right now to quote to you why I think other scriptures back up the discrimination scriptures you would probably laugh at me, however some people view the BOM as more divine than the Bible. In this case you used a totally different book, by a totally different author, completely out of context.

The context was that men should love their wives and receive no punishment if they don't. While women should love their husbands while receiving a stoning to death if they don't. The point is that the Bible does teach to love one another but gives harsher punishments to women than men, which makes it discriminatory.

Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body. Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything. (Bible, Ephesians 5:22-24)



So where's the evidence for your claim that 'this passage could be interpreted to mean that if you are a woman married to a psychopathic, violent husband, you must submit to him, obey his commands, allow him to abuse and beat you regularly, at the same time as you try to change his ways by means of the example of your long-suffering obedience, purity, and piety'?

Already answered in previous posts

Check out the KJV version verse 10-12:


Why? Why would I use an out of date translation for one thing, and why quote the KJV when it doesn't change the facts to which I've already referred?


Because it backs up my point that the Bible is only correct to the reader's cultural understanding of the translation.

So Adam and Eve are in the modern-day garden of Eden and Adam says "I didn't commit any crime because Eve gave me the fruit and I ate it, she is a deceptive devil woman" - same thing.


You haven't provided any evidence that ths is what the Bible says. Adam didn't say 'I didn't commit any crime', and he didn't say 'she is a deceptive devil woman'. You're just making things up.


You missed the "in the modern-day garden of Eden" - i.e. it was a metaphor. Genesis 3:12 shows where Adam blamed the woman, and the woman blamed the snake and then the snake had his feet removed (because it was previously a lizard?... I won't go there just yet).:)

You are avoiding the issue. The reason why I told you I am not interested in what others think is that I asked you for proof of your claims. Instead of providing proof of your claims concerning what the text means, you simply said 'Well these other people think X, Y and Z'. So what? That doesn't provide any proof of your claims concerning what the text means.


My point is that there is no proof of what a prophecy means, which is what this was, it was a prophecy. It is open to interpretation and actively exploited by Christians. I gave my interpretation of it. I can't prove that my interpretation is correct until the prophecy is fulfilled, so I have presented my interpretation of it.

Different translations of the Bible say completely different things for good reason, and they are translated based on the cultural understanding of the time and place.

Example - Jesus said, "Behold I stand at the door and knock, if anyone hears my voice and opens the door I will come into him and fellowship with him and he with me." (Rev. 3:20) To the Zanaki people in Uganda, knocking is considered evil. Only thieves knock on people’s doors. An honest man will come to a house and call the name of the person inside. A good man will identify himself by his voice and knowledge of the people’s names in the house. However, a thief would not want to let people know who he is so he will remain silent and knock. If no one is at home, he will quickly sneak into the house, steal what he wants, and leave.

In this case the correct translation for the Zanaki people is, "Behold, I stand at the door and call!"

Your page does not say 'Here are some interpretations of what the Bible says', your page explicitly claims:

* 'women may be discriminated against in Christianity and denied an opportunity to get into heaven'
* 'there are some examples of discrimination in the Bible'
* 'Both Christianity and Islam seem to exclude women from heaven'
* 'So women are impure, who aside from defiling men; by implication do not get to go to heaven. This was the opinion of the Christian saints'
* 'There are other texts in the Torah, Bible and Quaran which preach discrimination against women, degradation and subjugation of women, and even violence against women'
* 'In other words, the texts of these "holy books" systematically ensure a second-class status for one half of the world population - women'
* 'Jews, Christians, and Muslims all berate women for causing humanity to be driven out of paradise'
* 'The fault of this first and original sin rests heavily upon the shoulders of a woman'
* 'Indeed, many passages in the Torah and the Bible teach us that women are not only inferior, but also must obey men'
* 'For example, this passage could be interpreted to mean that if you are a woman married to a psychopathic, violent husband, you must submit to him, obey his commands, allow him to abuse and beat you regularly, at the same time as you try to change his ways by means of the example of your long-suffering obedience, purity, and piety'
* 'This is but one extreme example of the many, many instances of discrimination against women in the Bible'
* 'It seems that women are the ones who bring down men and lead them to sinning and subsequently Hell'
* 'According to the Bible, this is one-way, the woman led the man to sin in this example'
* 'Women are considered by this verse as sinful, and many other verses in the Bible also tell us that women are also unclean, such as this example'
* 'In other words, humans are doomed to die because they are born out of unclean women'
* 'As if this were not enough, killing infants and ripping open pregnant women during wars is also encouraged'

These are not lists of other people's beliefs about what the Bible means, they are your beliefs and claims about what the Bible means. I have already demonstrated that these claims are false, and when I ask you for proof that your claims are accurate, directing me to what others say on the subject is simply avoiding the issue.


Not really. I believe that the Bible is inaccurate based on evidence (I will write a blog post about historical inaccuracies soon to demonstrate, but it will take a while to do it accurately). I believe that Jesus was a great man who revolutionized thinking.

If you go to court you will find that you are presenting your belief about a circumstance versus another persons understanding. Your lawyer will try to defend you based on his interpretation of the Law and circumstances, and the same with the other person's lawyer. Depending on the type of court-case an outcome or final interpretation may be agreed upon by a majority vote (Jury) or by a single Judge, at which point it doesn't matter what the losing party's interpretation of the circumstance or law is, the common understanding becomes the status quo.

This is the same as the Bible. Some people have been put into jail wrongfully because of the above, and some innocent people have been set free. The translation of the Bible changes with the status quo, therefore we have many translations.

The majority is not always right. Scientists were tortured and executed for saying the earth was not flat. So I have presented my opinion and interpretation as another possible option.

I would like to create a link to this forum post at the bottom of the one you quoted with your permission since I like to publish both sides of the story without bias.


You're free to create such a link, but what you really want to do (if you want to 'publish both sides of the story without bias', is correct the glaring errors in your page.


I still don't think these are erroneous for very complex reasons, which I have offered to explain over email if you _really_ want to want to ask the pertinent questions. Since this discussion is off-topic for the article you are referring to it would be better to create a new article. I simply want to reference this blog to show other people's opinions on the matter.

As much as I try to answer questions diplomatically some matters can be extremely offensive and controversial so I don't want to go into them over a public forum.

#16 Fortigurn

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Posted 23 May 2011 - 03:25 AM

Now Revelation prophesied that literally 144,000 virgin men will ascend to heaven when Jesus comes back on the clouds.


Where does it say that? As I have already pointed out, the verse you supplied doesn't say this at all. Even if you take every word literally, it says absolutely nothing about heaven.

Anything which excludes anyone is discriminatory. There is no other way to interpret the verse to mot mean those things.


But the verse does not exclude women from anything. You need to address this.

The passage is talking about the people who have been raptured a few minutes beforehand while God gives his angels charge to damn the remaining people on earth.


Where does it say anything like this?

That's right. It doesn't say it explicitly, but it implies it by exclusion. There is no mention of women, only 144,000 virgin men, therefore by exclusion, women are not included in the 144,000.


As I keep pointing out, there's nothing in here which says anything about anyone going to heaven; furthermore, you have still not proved that your hyperliteralist interpretation of 'virgin men' is valid. Do you intend to provide any proof for your claim?

Again, not directly...


Exactly. You're making it up.

Well it was a poor argument. If I took out the book of Mormon right now to quote to you why I think other scriptures back up the discrimination scriptures you would probably laugh at me, however some people view the BOM as more divine than the Bible. In this case you used a totally different book, by a totally different author, completely out of context.


No you are wrong. You made a comment about the book of Ephesians. You made a claim about what the book of Ephesians said. I quoted the book of Ephesians, showing that you had quoted selectively from the book to give the wrong impression. This has nothing to do with whether or not we view the Bible as divine, and nothing to do with whether or not the book was written by Paul, it's about the fact that you made claims about the book of Ephesians which are proved wrong by identifying the fact that you were quoting the book selectively.

The context was that men should love their wives and receive no punishment if they don't. While women should love their husbands while receiving a stoning to death if they don't.



You keep saying this, but you haven't provided any proof for it. Where is the passage in Ephesians, or 1 Peter for that matter, which says 'women should love their husbands while receiving a stoning to death if they don't'?

Already answered in previous posts


No it isn't. You haven't provided any proof for your claim.

Because it backs up my point that the Bible is only correct to the reader's cultural understanding of the translation.


Quite apart from the fact that the grammar of this statement is wrong, it doesn't make sense. You originally quoted the KJV to prove your interpretation of the passage was correct. I have already proved your interpretation wasn't correct, and it isn't correct regardless of the version you use.

You missed the "in the modern-day garden of Eden" - i.e. it was a metaphor. Genesis 3:12 shows where Adam blamed the woman, and the woman blamed the snake and then the snake had his feet removed (because it was previously a lizard?... I won't go there just yet).:)


I didn't miss that, the fact is that your claim doesn't make any sense. You claimed 'Adam says "I didn't commit any crime because Eve gave me the fruit and I ate it, she is a deceptive devil woman"', but there is no context in which you have been able to demonstrate that this sentence is relevant to anything in or out of the Bible.

My point is that there is no proof of what a prophecy means, which is what this was, it was a prophecy. It is open to interpretation and actively exploited by Christians. I gave my interpretation of it. I can't prove that my interpretation is correct until the prophecy is fulfilled, so I have presented my interpretation of it.


Thank you for acknowledging that you have no proof for your interpretation. I prefer to use standard scholarly principles of hermeneutics instead of the kind of guesswork to which you resort. The meaning of a passage is not completely up for grabs; there is evidence that a passage means X, Y, or Z.

Different translations of the Bible say completely different things for good reason, and they are translated based on the cultural understanding of the time and place.


What you write here isn't relevant to the topic under discussion, which is whether or not you can provide any proof that your interpretation of a given passage is correct.

Not really.


Yes, really. These are not lists of other people's beliefs about what the Bible means, they are your beliefs and claims about what the Bible means. I have already demonstrated that these claims are false, and when I ask you for proof that your claims are accurate, directing me to what others say on the subject is simply avoiding the issue.

If you go to court you will find that you are presenting your belief about a circumstance versus another persons understanding.


This is irrelevant to the topic at hand, which is whether or not you can provide any evidence for your claims.

The majority is not always right.


No one here has said the majority is always right.

Scientists were tortured and executed for saying the earth was not flat.


Really? Name three.

So I have presented my opinion and interpretation as another possible option.


If your page actually said that, it wouldn't be so bad. But your page doesn't say that. Your page makes the dogmatic claim that your interpretation is correct; you say this repeatedly throughout the page.

I still don't think these are erroneous for very complex reasons, which I have offered to explain over email if you _really_ want to want to ask the pertinent questions.


I really want to know. Please post your reasons here, or on your page.

#17 Ken Gilmour

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Posted 23 May 2011 - 06:03 AM

This is getting far too long to be useful to anyone...

I think I have answered all of your questions as best I can and some of my words have been twisted or context changed. Please re-read all of the above without taking offence and imagine there is a smiley face at the end of every sentence.

I will elaborate on some of the new ones though :)

Because it backs up my point that the Bible is only correct to the reader's cultural understanding of the translation.


Quite apart from the fact that the grammar of this statement is wrong, it doesn't make sense. You originally quoted the KJV to prove your interpretation of the passage was correct. I have already proved your interpretation wasn't correct, and it isn't correct regardless of the version you use.


It's grammatically correct. Religions, cults and sects are founded based on cultural biblical understanding. To them, their understanding of the Bible is correct, just as yours is to you.

If I was to go to Ireland and ruffle my hair up a bit and say "Aww man I am so wrecked" they would take that to mean that I am very tired.

If I was to go to North America and ruffle my hair up a bit and say "Aww man I am so wrecked" they would take that to mean that I have been in a vehicle accident.

If I was to go to Malta ruffle my hair up a bit and say "Aww man I am so wrecked" they would take that to mean that my boat has sunk.

The only way to truly understand the Bible is to read between each line and to understand the culture and laws imposed on the person writing it and at the time it was written.

My point is that there is no proof of what a prophecy means, which is what this was, it was a prophecy. It is open to interpretation and actively exploited by Christians. I gave my interpretation of it. I can't prove that my interpretation is correct until the prophecy is fulfilled, so I have presented my interpretation of it.


Thank you for acknowledging that you have no proof for your interpretation. I prefer to use standard scholarly principles of hermeneutics instead of the kind of guesswork to which you resort. The meaning of a passage is not completely up for grabs; there is evidence that a passage means X, Y, or Z.


Well in lack of the evidence that you have presented I will look at my own evidence, which is what I base my opinions on :). A prophecy is not based on fact, and some times not even on predictions. It is based on what someone thinks that God has told them. There is some times no proof. Can you prove to me that the Apocalypse is going to happen for instance? You can probably give me a pointer to what you think is fact beyond reasonable doubt, but if it doesn't happen, you could probably also give me a different explanation stating that you interpreted it differently (the recent Rapture prophecy for instance).

Scientists were tortured and executed for saying the earth was not flat.


Really? Name three.


Well, that's as easy as naming four people who died for our sins (Jesus, Horus, Mithra, Krishna). I will rephrase that sentence above to say "Scientists were tortured and some were killed for saying that the world was flat and that it revolved around the sun, contrary to the Church's teachings:
Galileo was given the second degree of torture (threat with exposure to the instruments of torture) and sentenced to house arrest for life. He was not executed.

Copernicus was on his death bed when his book was published, so nothing was done or could be done to him.

Giordano Bruno was burned at the stake in 1590 for affirming the Earth's motion and for claiming a multiplicity of worlds around other stars.

I still don't think these are erroneous for very complex reasons, which I have offered to explain over email if you _really_ want to want to ask the pertinent questions.


I really want to know. Please post your reasons here, or on your page.


Ok I have lined up two articles to write on my site. I will post a link here once they have been written.

#18 Flappie

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Posted 23 May 2011 - 06:27 AM

Giordano Bruno was burned at the stake in 1590 for affirming the Earth's motion and for claiming a multiplicity of worlds around other stars.


The multiplicity of the world was part of the reason, but more his notions about Christ and the trinity caused him to be burnt as a heretic. The fact he held to a Copernican cosmology was not the reason. Galileo was hardly tortured and executed, and Copernicus most certainly wasn't.


And even if they are what you claim they are, they would be people who were punished for believing in the earth's motion. Can you name even one person who was tortured and executed for his belief the world was not flat?
"The first condition of immortality is death."
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#19 Ken Gilmore

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Posted 23 May 2011 - 06:56 AM

Interesting post (from the man with the same name as me) :).

This is bound to become confusing. :) Maybe I'll need to adopt a new name to avoid that problem. By the way, sorry for not responding earlier - I didn't want you to feel as if you were being swarmed the moment you began posting here.

I have a few questions about the original post. I've never read the book you've referred to so I am completely neutral but I would just like to ensure the publishing of unbiased Fact, especially if it comes from a website called "The Bible Truth".

I appreciate your desire that we maintain unbiased fact. It's a position that we try to maintain. One of the easiest things for theological conservatives to do is read the evidence selectively. That's one thing I discovered when reading Copan's book. While parts of his book are quire useful, other parts are frankly unconvincing. I'd recommend you do read Copan's book as it will allow you to see against what I'm arguing. I'd also recommend Thom Stark's detailed critique of it, as well as Stark's own book "The Human Faces of God".


I am puzzled by the adjective 'sadomasochistic' as one will struggle to find any reference in the Bible where God could be described as a masochist, as well as a sadist. Florid prose such as this does give the sophomoric atheist a few memorable quotes to hurl around discussion forums, but it hardly inspires confidence that the book will be anything other than a relentlessly polemical screed.


Saying whether the Bible explicitly mentions a certain word or not is really irrelevant.

My point is that Dawkins has been careless in his use of language. Sadomasochism has a specific meaning, and can't be used simply as a synonym for brutal, nasty or savage. If Dawkins is not precise in his use of language to describe the God of the OT, then I am somewhat disinclined to regard his book as being anything other than a tendentious rant. Mind you, I'm hardly alone in regarding The God Delusion as something of an embarrassment, so I regard my dismissal of it as simply an attack on the low-hanging fundamentalist fruit as being somewhat justified.

The Bible (especially when translated to a different language from the original and read by someone with a different cultural understanding) is open to interpretation. This is why we have many different Christian denominations. Therefore saying that the Bible doesn't explicitly say something doesn't mean that it's not that way.

I'd agree that it is imperative that one factors in linguistic and cultural barriers when reading the Bible, as it was not originally written for us. Reading Genesis for example as a scientific description of the creation of the universe leads to such idiocies as scientific creationism. Understanding the ANE background of the creation narratives, as well as the accommodation of pre-scientific conceptions of the universe (solid firmament, flat earth, geocentrism) will avoid eisegetical blunders. However, once one recognises these linguistic and cultural barriers, it is possible in principle to understand what the target audience was intended to learn from the text, and therefore recontextualise it for our age.

I would be reluctant to blame the Christian proclivity for fissiparity solely on this issue, as the continued tendency for some Christians to indulge in schism indicates.

If someone told you to "Sacrifice your children on an altar in order to please me" then is it not probable that that person is either a sadist, a masochist or a sadomasochist? Regardless of the reasons for them asking you to do so.

Fortigurn has adequately addressed this point, so I'll let his comments stand.

Topic in hand (question being "Is God a Moral Monster"). Depending on your denomination, if you ignored the teachings of Jesus on morality (and the teachings that Jesus is God) and focus on other parts of the Bible there are lots of things suggesting that God is a moral monster such as passages in both the old and new testament which discriminate against virtually anything that is not a man. If it's true that Jesus is God then some times he is a sadomasochist and some times he is not.

Having read the Bible cover to cover many times (one of the founding figures of our denomination created a reading plan enabling one to cover the OT once and NT twice each year which as a matter of tradition we tend to follow), I can easily dig up the OT passages that are gleefully mined by unbelievers to make their case that Yahweh is a monster (killing the Midianites / Caananites / Amalekites, etc). To this one can also add passages such as:

With what shall I come to the LORD
And bow myself before the God on high?
Shall I come to Him with burnt offerings,
With yearling calves?
Does the LORD take delight in thousands of rams,
In ten thousand rivers of oil?
Shall I present my firstborn for my rebellious acts,
The fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?
He has told you, O man, what is good;
And what does the LORD require of you
But to do justice, to love kindness,
And to walk humbly with your God? Mic 6:6–8.

I don't believe in airbrushing away the confronting parts of the Bible - they're real, and Christians do themselves no favours by trying to explain them away. However, if one cherry-picks the "Yahweh as monster" verses beloved of Dawkins and Hitchens and paints a somewhat less than accurate pointillistic portrait of the God of the OT, believers such as myself who know the Bible fairly well, and have some idea of its cultural and historical background are entitled to point out that one can just as easily paint a hagiographic picture of Yahweh using the same process. One is not going to get an accurate picture simply by proof-texting Joshua and Judges, as well as the more confronting parts of the Pentateuch.

I think the Bible in general (based on the number of stories about doing bad things versus the number which were about Jesus doing good deeds) teaches about being a "Moral Monster" where you should discriminate, that God is not always love, even leaving the rapture open to questioning.

As I can't access that link, I don't want to comment in detail on it. (I would point out that the Rapture is based on a deeply flawed reading of a single passage of the NT, and that defining eschatology by the more extreme fringes of Christianity is hardly accurate.)

In my opinion, morality, good, bad, love, hate, etc are all a matter of opinion.

I'd strongly disagree. While the various religious traditions of the world differ markedly in their theology, they are strikingly in agreement with their ethical core, which suggests strongly that basic morality is not merely a matter of opinion. One does not need God to be moral - there are plenty of ethical humanists out there whose morality is founded on the golden rule - do as you would be done by. As a Christian, I don't have any essential problem with the Euthypro Dilemma - are things good because God commands them, or does God command things because they are good. God commands things because they are good. Morality exists independently of God, and for that reason, I would argue strongly against the assertion that basic morality is merely a matter of opinion.

I'll leave it there - it's getting late, and I'm not quite as resilient as I used to be. :)
“I do not feel obliged to believe that the same God who has endowed us with sense, reason, and intellect has intended us to forgo their use.” - Galileo Galilei

#20 Evangelion

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Posted 23 May 2011 - 06:59 AM

Well, that's as easy as naming four people who died for our sins (Jesus, Horus, Mithra, Krishna).


OK, I'll bite. Please provide evidence from the relevant peer reviewed academic literature that Horus, Mithra and Krishna "died for our sins." You can use as many sources as you like, but I'll accept a minimum of six for each individual. :thank:

In the meantime, I'll provide a summary:

  • Horus: fought with Set many times, but was never killed and did not "die for our sins"

  • Mithra (Zoroastrian): Persian deity of the sun; saviour of the First Man; was never killed and did not "die for our sins"

  • Mithras (Roman): obscure deity worshipped by various mystery cults under the collective name of "Mithraism"; did not "die for our sins"

  • Krishna: killed by a hunter's arrow while meditating under a tree; later reborn as an incorruptible being; did not "die for our sins"

:book:
'Abba Antony said, "A time is coming when men will go mad, and when they see someone who is not mad, they will attack him saying, 'You are mad, you are not like us.'"'

Ward, Benedicta. The Sayings of the Desert Fathers (2006), Antony 25, p. 5.

Credo.




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