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4/20/2006                                                                                       View Comments

Is God the author of evil?

by UberGeek

I’ve been having a rather interesting discussion via email with one of the Christians who began posting here not too long ago. In my latest response, I began addressing the issue of good and evil and what is God’s relationship to these things, along with further arguments about free will and the Garden of Eden. What follows is an introductory essay that begins to address the first proposition, is God good or evil?

At first, the argument could be proposed that since God created everything, including Satan, the embodiment of evil, then God is the author of evil. The Christian could easily respond to this first proposition by simply replying that Satan was created good, but chose evil. You could say that all of God’s sentient creations have the capability for good or evil, and the free will to choose either. Therefore, God did not create evil. We’ll discuss free will later.

The Christian could further respond that God did not “create” evil in the sense that evil is not a thing, per se. In a similar manner, it might be said that God did not “create” love, hate, fear, truth, or anything else that doesn’t consist of matter or energy but yet exists. So, in the literal sense the Christian could say evil wasn’t “created” by God.

In addition, a Christian might cite several biblical verses that quite explicitly state that God is not the author of evil. He/she might choose some or all of the following verses (you can find all these verses in your own Bible or online at http://www.biblegateway.com):

1. “God is not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he should repent: hath he said, and shall he not do it? or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good?” Numbers 23:19

2. “He is the Rock, his work is perfect: for all his ways are judgment: a God of truth and without iniquity, just and right is he.” Deuteronomy 32:4

3. “Wherefore now let the fear of the LORD be upon you; take heed and do it: for there is no iniquity with the LORD our God, nor respect of persons, nor taking of gifts.” 2 Chronicles 19:7

4. “Therefore hearken unto me ye men of understanding: far be it from God, that he should do wickedness; and from the Almighty, that he should commit iniquity.” Job 34:10

5. “For thou art not a God that hath pleasure in wickedness: neither shall evil dwell with thee.” Psalms 5:4

6. “To shew that the LORD is upright: he is my rock, and there is no unrighteousness in him.” Psalms 92:15

7. “For he doth not afflict willingly nor grieve the children of men. To crush under his feet all the prisoners of the earth. To turn aside the right of a man before the face of the most High, To subvert a man in his cause, the LORD approveth not.” Lamentations 3:33-36

8. “Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man:” James 1:13

There may be others the Christian might choose as well, but this should suffice for the moment to continue.

Admittedly, the verses in the Bible that directly connect “evil” with God seem to indicate something along the lines of physical disaster or calamity, rather than moral evil or sin. That’s fine. Many Christians have no problem with the idea of God visiting His judgment on the guilty. This is a running theme in the Bible as well. However, God’s character is revealed in many verses that don’t directly reference moral evil but quite clearly illustrate what we would likely agree as being immoral acts by God. First, the verses that state God is the author of evil:

1. “I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these things.” Isaiah 45:7

2. “Shall a trumpet be blown in the city, and the people not be afraid? shall there be evil in a city, and the LORD hath not done it?” Amos 3:6

3. “Out of the mouth of the most High proceedeth not evil and good?” Lamentations 3:38

And, of course we have no right to complain if God visits calamity on us:

1. “Wherefore doth a living man complain, a man for the punishment of his sins?” Lamentations 3:39

The Hebrew word for evil used in the above verses is ra` (Strong’s Number H7451, if you want to reference your concordance). It is used roughly 620+ times in the OT, sometimes to indicate moral evil, sin, or wickedness, and other times to indicate calamity, disaster, and adversity. You’ll notice in the definition (copied from Strong’s Hebrew Lexicon at http://bible.crosswalk.com/Lexicons/Hebrew/ if you don’t have a concordance handy) that the overwhelming meaning of the word is “evil”:

Ra`

adj

1. bad, evil

a. bad, disagreeable, malignant

b. bad, unpleasant, evil (giving pain, unhappiness, misery)

c. evil, displeasing

d. bad (of its kind - land, water, etc)

e. bad (of value)

f. worse than, worst (comparison)

g. sad, unhappy

h. evil (hurtful)

i. bad, unkind (vicious in disposition)

j. bad, evil, wicked (ethically)

1. in general, of persons, of thoughts

2. deeds, actions n m

2. evil, distress, misery, injury, calamity

a. evil, distress, adversity

b. evil, injury, wrong

c. evil (ethical) n f

3. evil, misery, distress, injury

a. evil, misery, distress

b. evil, injury, wrong

c. evil (ethical)

As noted above, taken in context these verses do not by themselves indicate God’s character as being evil or morally corrupt. For that we have to look to other verses in which God carries out an action or issues a command that we might view as morally questionable or worse. However, I could stop here and simply say that based on this definition, God is the author of evil, at least in the calamitous sense. But I feel that would be cheap, and wouldn’t address the concept of God’s morality.

There are far too many possibilities that I could nit-pick about to bring into the discussion, so I’m going to limit this somewhat.

First, the Great Flood:

1. “And the LORD said, I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth; both man, and beast, and the creeping thing, and the fowls of the air; for it repenteth me that I have made them.” Genesis 6:7

Note that according to this English translation God seems to be saying he wishes he never made any of these things he thought was so good. Even the Hebrew word, nacham (Strong’s number H5162) seems to indicate that God was sorry or regretful. However, since this deals with a different topic (omniscience) than we’re dealing with here, I’ll leave this for now. The Great Flood continues:

2. “And all flesh died that moved upon the earth, both of fowl, and of cattle, and of beast, and of every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth, and every man: All in whose nostrils was the breath of life, of all that was in the dry land, died. And every living substance was destroyed which was upon the face of the ground, both man, and cattle, and the creeping things, and the fowl of the heaven; and they were destroyed from the earth: and Noah only remained alive, and they that were with him in the ark.” Genesis 7:21-23

Now, the most obvious justification for God’s actions might be that everyone was so wicked they were beyond redemption. However, this fails to take into account the many young children and babies that must’ve died. Can it be argued that they were not really innocent? Can it really be assumed that only Noah was without sin? Ok, the Christian might say that God, being omniscient, knew the children would turn out no good, and that Noah was indeed the only righteous man on the planet. What about the animals? I would ask, could something that is incapable of making informed moral decisions be anything but innocent?

I don’t really object to the notion of animals being slaughtered, since I do enjoy a good cheeseburger and don’t give the cow it came from a second thought. However, since the Great Flood is described as being intended as a punitive action for the iniquity of the inhabitants of the earth, it is reasonable to ask what crimes could be committed by creatures lacking the capacity to judge good vs. evil? I submit that punishing any creature for crimes it cannot be held responsible for is the purview of tyrants.

Next, we have Moses, the Jews, and the Egyptians.

The interesting part about this is that God takes actions to ensure the Egyptians (and not just a few, but all of them) suffer. This is a long story, so first we’ll take God’s hardening of Pharaoh’s heart, as this is the key element. In fairness, it should be noted that Pharaoh is described as hardening his own heart several times as well.

1. “And the LORD said unto Moses, When thou goest to return into Egypt, see that thou do all those wonders before Pharaoh, which I have put in thine hand: but I will harden his heart, that he shall not let the people go.” Exodus 4:21

2. “And I will harden Pharaoh's heart, and multiply my signs and my wonders in the land of Egypt.” Exodus 7:3

3. “And he hardened Pharaoh's heart, that he hearkened not unto them; as the LORD had said.” Exodus 7:13

4. “And the LORD hardened the heart of Pharaoh, and he hearkened not unto them; as the LORD had spoken unto Moses.” Exodus 9:12

5. “And the LORD said unto Moses, Go in unto Pharaoh: for I have hardened his heart, and the heart of his servants, that I might shew these my signs before him:” Exodus 10:1

6. “But the LORD hardened Pharaoh's heart, so that he would not let the children of Israel go.” Exodus 10:20

7. “But the LORD hardened Pharaoh's heart, and he would not let them go.” Exodus 10:27

8. “And Moses and Aaron did all these wonders before Pharaoh: and the LORD hardened Pharaoh's heart, so that he would not let the children of Israel go out of his land.” Exodus 11:10

9. “And I will harden Pharaoh's heart, that he shall follow after them; and I will be honoured upon Pharaoh, and upon all his host; that the Egyptians may know that I am the LORD.” Exodus 14:4

10. “And the LORD hardened the heart of Pharaoh king of Egypt, and he pursued after the children of Israel…” Exodus 14:8

11. “I will harden the hearts of the Egyptians, and they shall follow them: and I will get me honour upon Pharaoh, and upon all his host, and upon his chariots, and upon his horsemen.” Exodus 14:17

It’s a given that Pharaoh was a pretty bad guy. He dealt unfairly and harshly with the people of Israel and certainly is presented as deserving of his measure of punishment. Nevertheless, the Bible relates that God did not give him an opportunity to change his ways. Even if Pharaoh had been predisposed to obey after each display of God’s power, God went about ensuring that Pharaoh’s heart would again be hardened, guaranteeing that God’s ultimate plan to glorify Himself would come to pass. Now we’ll cover the plagues. Don’t worry. I’m not going to lay the text of each down here. Feel free to look them up at your leisure.

The first plague (water to blood) in Exodus 7:17-25, lasts for seven days, during which the Egyptians can’t find any water to drink. The Bible doesn’t say whether anyone (besides the fish) died as a result. Given that human beings can only survive 3 to 5 days without water in the best conditions, there are four possibilities: a) that they drank the blood; b) they drank their own urine; c) God kept them alive, but extremely thirsty; d) some died while others took options A and/or B. The first three aren’t particularly pleasant ideas, but at least they’d be alive, right? What about the animals?

The second, third, and fourth plagues all deal with pests (frogs, lice, and flies, respectively), and to me constitute mere annoyances, albeit pretty nasty ones. Of course, I’m not an ancient Egyptian, so maybe there was more to it than meets the eye (perhaps insect borne disease, or contagion from the rotting frog carcasses).

With the fifth plague (divine cattle genocide) in Exodus 9:3-6, God demonstrates his power by killing all the cattle in Egypt. In the verse, you’ll notice that not only the cattle were cursed with “murrain” (any disease afflicting domestic animals), but so were the camels, horses, sheep, oxen, and donkeys (asses). All the same, it appears that only the cattle died. Again, one has to wonder what happened to all the carcasses. Presumably, they were butchered. Of course, given the food preservation techniques available at the time, the meat probably didn’t last very long. Salmonella, anyone?

The sixth plague (boils) in Exodus 9:9-11 is another annoyance, albeit a painful one.

The seventh plague (hail) in Exodus 9:18-34 is described as being deadly, but the Bible does not say anyone actually died as a result. It does say that the trees and plants in Egypt were crushed, though. Interestingly, during the storm Moses is in the city with Pharaoh instead of in Goshen, which was spared and where all the Jews were. While this deadly hailstorm continued, Moses left the city for the country to ask God to stop the storm. Somehow, this storm that promised to kill “both man and beast” if they remained outside, didn’t hurt Moses. This begs the question, why did the Jews go to Goshen if the hailstorm wouldn’t have affected them anyway? But I digress.

The eighth plague (locusts) in Exodus 10:4-15 also appears at first glance to be another particularly nasty annoyance. However, given that they ate every plant in Egypt that was left after the hailstorm, and all the cattle are already dead it occurs to me that the stocks of food in Egypt were getting mighty low, which of course could mean death by starvation in the long run.

The ninth plague (darkness) in Exodus 10:21-23 is strange. It is described as “even darkness which may be felt.” Smoke, perhaps? The Bible doesn’t say. Of course, only the Egyptians are affected, and can’t see anything at all for three days.

The tenth and final plague (all the Egyptian firstborn die), is also called the Passover by the Jews and is particularly egregious. In Exodus 11:4-6, God premeditates the murder:

1. “And Moses said, Thus saith the LORD, About midnight will I go out into the midst of Egypt: And all the firstborn in the land of Egypt shall die, from the first born of Pharaoh that sitteth upon his throne, even unto the firstborn of the maidservant that is behind the mill; and all the firstborn of beasts. And there shall be a great cry throughout all the land of Egypt, such as there was none like it, nor shall be like it any more.” Ex. 11:4-6

In Exodus 12:29-30, God finishes the act:

2. “And it came to pass, that at midnight the LORD smote all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, from the firstborn of Pharaoh that sat on his throne unto the firstborn of the captive that was in the dungeon; and all the firstborn of cattle. And Pharaoh rose up in the night, he, and all his servants, and all the Egyptians; and there was a great cry in Egypt; for there was not a house where there was not one dead.” Ex. 12:29-30

The pursuit of the Jews out of Egypt following this is due to further hardening of Pharaoh’s heart by God, and so the Egyptian army could’ve been spared (and the people of Israel saved without incident) but for God’s seemingly unrepentant desire for bloodshed in this particular story. All the same, I’m a bit surprised that the entire nation of Egypt wasn’t on the Jews’ tail after all their firstborns died.

Why did God do any of this? Well, according to the Bible it’s so that the Egyptians know that He is the LORD, that there is none like Him in all the earth, and in order to “get his honour” upon the Pharaoh and his hosts (Ex. 7:5, 17; 9:14, and 14:17 among others). Basically, it’s for his own glory and amusement.

Now, I admit that I can’t have any real sympathy for the Egyptians because this happened about 3500 years ago or so, and obviously Egypt is still around so apparently this didn’t result in its destruction. However, it is worth asking if a righteous God would visit His judgment on an entire people for the sin/iniquity of one man? Of course, we could blame the victim by arguing that it wasn’t just Pharaoh’s fault and that the people in general approved of the mistreatment of the Jews and deserved what they got. The Bible, however, is pretty much silent. We could infer that Pharaoh wasn’t the only one since others actually carried out his orders, of course. Still, does an entire population share culpability with its ruling party? Great question with lots of implications for today’s world! Maybe we should arrest every single Iraqi and put them on trial with Saddam.

The main questions about this seem to be a) is it moral or ethical to punish someone for a crime someone else committed, and b) can a god who does this be considered good, evil, neither, or both?

Alright, we’ve only covered two well-known stories from the Bible that illustrate God’s questionable judgment, assuming the account is accurate and that God exists as described therein. As you can probably imagine, this could go on for days and days.

We could discuss the ethics of God asking Abraham to sacrifice his son, or the cities and peoples God either destroyed himself or ordered annihilated (every man, woman, and child), or the mauling of a group of 42 youths by a bear after they made fun of Elishah’s bald head (one of my personal favorites, 2 Kings 2:23). We could discuss the commandments of God from the end of Exodus through Leviticus, which quite often demand the death penalty for individuals perpetrating what we now call “victimless” crimes (homosexuality, Sabbath breaking, cursing your parents, adultery, and so on).

Of course, the Christian could object that none of this is applicable today, and that the Law was fulfilled in Christ and now we are saved by faith. Ok, but this isn’t about becoming saved and does not change God’s basic character. Furthermore, since the Bible also describes God as unchanging (apparent conflicts over this characteristic notwithstanding), that means today He is has the same character as He did when he was orchestrating, commanding, or otherwise committing acts that many of us would agree are morally questionable at best.

The whole point is simply that God’s character, as described in the Bible, can be interpreted as either good or evil depending on the book, author, time, and mood. So, when the Christian points to the beauty of the world, while certainly compelling, he/she does not take the whole story into account. God, if we take the Bible description as accurate, is capable of both great good, and great evil.

This is actually not that far from my personal view that if an all-powerful creator God exists; it would have to be neutral, accepting all. In other words, this god would have to be above the greatest of human frailties, all of which the biblical God seems to possess in spades.

So, based on what we’ve discussed so far, is God the author of evil? Yes? Maybe? No? Why or why not?

49 comments:

blaine said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
blaine said...

Dear UberGeek,
Thanks for an excellent and fair rumination of both sides. Not because of any religious experience or anything like that, I do believe in God. I like to put it this way for myself and several youth that I have prevented from committing suicide. "At age twenty seven I could have easily become an atheist but every time I look up into the heavens, feel the beating of my heart, watch a rainbow trout take a fly against the backdrop of a multicolored sky and know there is a God who created this vast universe with its billions of galaxies each containing billions of stars, grouped in clusters extending for quadrillions of light years across a limitless expanse of space...its hard to imagine that such a Being would have the slightest interest in one tiny, insignificant planet in the outer edge of a galaxy that's not much different than any other and then say to a kid on this planet, "Blaine, you are more significant than the entire universe I created" and yet that's exactly what God does say about you and me and how He feels about each of us."
Also to be fair to each of you, I may be biased because on a winter night in 1971 I gave my heart to Jesus and I shall never forget that experience-whether it be true or false. I just know what happened to me.
Because of my beliefs I am not considered a real Christian by many as my creed is far from theirs. I will have nothing to do with any sort of religion that deals in hate, bigotry, money laundering, the breaking up of households or the demeaning of man or disrespect for planet Earth. I do not believe that the Bible is accurate as it has been distorted by the corrupt hand of man to justify his evil in the name of God and man's desire for control over others-whether it be political, moral or religious.
I once wrote this about the Bible, "I cannot believe in any writings which lessen the dignity of mankind and speaks more of his depravation, wickedness and worthlessness than of his beauty, grandeur and value. I cannot believe in a God who says we were created in His image and likeness and then that same God sends His image and likeness to a fiery hell for not thinking like He does when we thought we were serving Him as he desired. How can I unquestionably accept the Bible when it lessens the majesty of a loving God and looks upon His finest creation as better dead than Bible fed."
I believe that all will be in heaven, regardless of their religion or character as the concept of hell goes against God's character of mercy, compassion, love, forgiveness and patience. Whatever punishment there is takes place on Earth-karma or whatever you want to call it. I also believe that God has somewhat of a "Hands off" kind of attitude when it comes to Earth and it's population. Thus hurricanes, tidal waves, the death of the guilty as well as the innocent, are all a part of life.
I recognize that my beliefs are a little whacked out but I have been on a long path that has led me here.
Again thanks for your post. I know that you took alot of time to do it. Also I would like to thank all of you on this site who have written. I admire your honesty and openness and I am saddened for the horrible and ungodly hurts you have been through.
Also I might add in closing is that I was excommunicated from my church and told to never set foot in it again or tell anyone I was ever a member of it. We had just gotten a new pastor and he found out I'm gay from my former pastor that I had told. What was weird many ministers had said that if they could model their life after one man it would be me.
Many others knew I was gay but the gay youth in our church asked me not to tell because than "We would have no one to talk to".
More about me is on MY Space.Com under the name sloopy312.
Excuse me for my long windedness and may each of you have joy in your heart.
blaine

tigg13 said...

Great essay UberGeek. You've done a very good job pointing out the schizophrenic nature of the god of the bible. So many christians want a god that has absolute power and authority over everything but then they can't deal with making their god responsible for the end results.

If god didn't create evil then where did it come from? Can something exist that wasn't created by god? If so, then everything could exist without being created by god.

As far as I'm concerned, any god that could even allow for the possibility that someone might suffer a fate like eternal damnation would have to be an evil, sadistic monster.

Dano said...

IT is silly to think that God is some sort of "Bumbling Fool" that created sinful man to worship him, and then everything went wrong, and "it" can't do anything about it.

When most people start trying to define God, it doesn't take long before they start giving "It" some of the same characteristics as themselves.

I have no trouble believing that God can do anything "it" wants to do since "It" is the cause of everything, and "it" created everything, and therefore can uncreate everything or "it" can change everything, or "it" can simply cause everything to never have existed!

The biggest problem lies in the reason for why we call ourselves "Thinking Man" We are the only creatures on this one little speck of real estate in the universe that has only recently evolved enough to be able to think about our creation, and I would suggest that if our first cousins, the Chimps could talk, they wouldn't be too far behind us in this endeavor!

I'm sure that many people including the Webmaster have thrown up their hands in frustration about the seemingly impossible task of trying to demonstrate the irrationality of religious belief, in the face of everything we know about our Natural world today.

It is pretty frustrating to think that there are people who will base their whole lives on the totally illogical concepts of the Christian religion, or any mythical belief, to the point that they are willing to die for it, or worse, kill others for not accepting it.

"God cannot only transcend the laws of physics and probability, but God can also transcend logic (for example, God could create a square circle, or could make one equal two), because God is not bound by any limitations" (Wikipedia)

Dan (Agnostic, Homo Sapiens)

Anonymous said...

I'm with Blaine (except I play for the straight team). The others have made valid comments. It's really simple, if God created all that is then that which we perceive as not good was created by him as well. So let me throw a monkey wrench into that thinking.

If the only thing that existed prior to the Big Bang was God (humor me aetheists) and we accept that what the scientists tell us is true that matter and energy are equivalent and can be neither created nor destroyed then it's logical to conclude that the entire universe is God. All of it, everything that ever existed, you and me.

So why do we do bad things to each other? Because we can! and maybe we want what someone else has. That's free will. We can do whatever we want, but there will be natural consequences. So if you build a house in a hurricane zone and one comes through whose fault is that? Of course it's God's fault because you're God.

It's late on a Friday and I'm in a mood, could you tell?

The Anti-Atheist said...

Its very simple. God can do whatever the hell he wants.

Don't like it?

Tough shit.

Human beings have, on their own, committed every atrocity you can name.

Atheist leaders more than anybody.

You have base of superiority, or any base of morality at all, to judge God's purposes.

I know all about living under atheistic regimes.

Your pretences don't fool those who have been there.

ToeCrusher said...

Dear Anti-Atheist
As a Christian I find your use of four letter expletives in defence of Christianity to be counter-productive. Are you being Christ-like in using such language? Can you imagine the Son of God using such language?
The people on this site have been emotionally hurt by their contact with Christianity. They have had their trust betrayed by people they honestly believed were true followers of the Son of God.
Please don't threaten them. Only God knows what is in our hearts.

Anonymous said...

To Anti Atheist

"Don't like it? Tough shit."
Nice attitude...oh and so "godly".

And if it's so simple, you simply don't think.

god, on his own, committed every atrocity you can name, just read your bible.

"Your pretences don't fool those who have been there." yea same back at ya

don't push off like god or his "god fearing people are any better...we have lived with them also! They are worse, just like I was a worse person when I was in the flock........I would judge everyone, be critical, and really "unloving...thinking your loving. Hope you can one day understand that.

Timotheus said...

Blaine,
Sloopy312 does not exist on myspace.com.

Melissa said...

First, just let me say that I think it is absolutely bizarre and asinine for people to believe in fantasies and myths that men were created first, or that the entire fate of mankind was sealed by his woman who ate the wrong damn fruit of the wrong damn tree, or that universe was made by some invisible magician in the sky, or that it was birthed from the belly button of Brahma. It is all goofy and irrelevant. It is a sad mental trick that has been perpetrated against mankind for long enough. The lies will continue to fool the foolish.

Now, onto the topic at hand: The alleged god of the bible demonstrates what evil is by introducing evil as an opposition to good, just to be carried out for his own need. In his first act of evil, he creates evil forces to oppose the good ones. Prov. 16:4 says:
“The Lord hath made all things for himself: Yea, even the wicked for the day of evil.”
(How greedy and selfish)

God is the leader of his own supremacy group because he declared himself to be higher in value above everything and everyone else; good and evil and anything in between. If you fail to meet his definition of worthy or deserving (Think Hitler and Jews, Klu Klux Klan and Black Americans) you too shall suffer the wrath of his higher evil ways. His supremacy groups are Jews, Christians, and Muslims. They all make war to defend their all powerful god! (Lmao, because they all believe their version is truest!)

He is the cause of evil to an innocent baby that starves to death (10,000 of those per month) or a murdered son, or a cheating whore, or any other life that is harmed because he claims to be omniscient and omni benevolent, and yet he allowed for evil to have a place in his universe because it serves only him. If you were a good person in life but simply did not believe in him, you too were a part of his worldly conditions because when it is all said and done, he plans to create more evil for the day of the wicked. He has plotted against all those who fail to render him perfect. The self-gratifying actions of many troubled people are made as wicked because it serves a purpose for the Lord. God has now descended from his throne of higher values into the realm of human values apparently, because he acts like a conquering king with wild eyed beasts in tow to keep the gates guarded against infidels and invaders. While he rules in comfort and peace… his enslaved bastions are on Earth fighting off his evil drones!

Although there is absolutely nothing at all to provide first hand evidence or reasons for believing that a god even exists, people vie for his imaginary attention without ever receiving any in return, all the while claiming to have exclusive access to him because of their chosen faith in illusions. (Greedy and selfish…just like the bible god) Therefore, his power is now limited by mankind because he made us human beings the deciding factor in the outcome of a primordial war that he started FOR HIMSELF.

Think about it…it is rather simple when you examine it honestly.

Now we have transcended the realm of make believe into a world of make them believe. So, all the bad things that take place here on Earth are allegedly carried out according to a divine plan from god and we have become the extension of his powers to make evil to please his wicked wants. It is the evil-doers destiny to become what they become, even though free will was purportedly granted to them. It is not their fault if they failed to break out of their molded existence, as their life is an extension of the Lords alleged powers. He hand picks his slaves. (Sinners & Saints)

Would mankind even know what evil was if god had not provided the example to follow? Look at the atrocities that have been inflicted upon the human race in the name of religion and dogma. Those beliefs are based on a hate filled fanatical book and yes, the bible has recreated on this Earth, those very same conditions. It is called religious hysteria. If we are in his image as the bible claims, then no wonder we have the problems we do. (War is to God as Preaching is to Man)

The confusion one constantly experiences in trying to find honest value and personal guidance from this supposed bible gods horrific actions and bloody claims, only leads them to experience internal conflicts because they are trying to find faith in a set of unsuitable teachings. The bible’s god offers up only conditional love and threats of horrific punishments, which contradicts everything we know to be good in ourselves and in our world. Our human experience has guided us to have higher values which have deemed god’s actions to be unethical, unloving, and unconscionable.

That is why when someone claims to be a Christian…I ask them if they stone their kids.
If they say no…then they are not a Christian. Nor are they Jewish. I think the Muslims still stone their kids…and their disobedient wives.

When MAN made those alleged 10 commandments for god, they said followers must not kill, lie, steal, cheat, boil babies in milk, have unwed sex, etc…because these unconscionable acts are reserved for god the great dictator on high, according to the holy bible. (He did have immaculate sex with a married virgin and he kills at random, especially if your culture or society is out of his control!) That makes god the original hypocrite, even to that of satan because those required laws do not apply to him. He neglects his duty to provide his followers with examples which meet those very same expectations that he has for his heavenly and human counterparts.

Do as I say, not as I do...or I will burn you in the torturous burning pit forever while he is sitting upon a throne of gold and glory. Amen and bow down damn it, before I strike you dead. (Oh, how ugly is that!) People really love this stupid and abusive shit.

That leaves this world high and dry for real answers and tangible hope because this unphysical and inoperable god remains hidden and without explanation. What is troubling is that he himself, has no higher authority to answer to, and his version of justice is perverted by his own evil ways. His power is not negotiable. That would make him our nemesis, not our savior. We can not align ourselves to understand the injustice in god’s alleged providence because the only time his interventions are required is when HE seeks revenge. That is not justice for anyone on this Earth. He is merely justifying his need for evil. He is prejudice against those who fail at being his perfect little servants. It is abusive and hateful to demand that he be held up in righteousness while his unrighteous ass sits there incognito, taking down names on his long list of who was naught and nice.

So, at the root of this faith is a maker that invents and initiates mayhem and murder upon his enslaved creation for the sake of fitting into his divine providence. What I see is an arrogant authoritarian that suffers from his own insecurities because of the problems HE created by planting sin into the beautiful unspoiled garden, knowing it would result in habitual sin and in my unbelief. He made the talking snake and he made temptation. What is a believer to do?

The bible as a whole trivializes humanity into being that of moral combatants in a war of opposing forces, as destined according to gods divine plans for a galactic battle between light and dark, or any other diabolical measure. All the while, he sits upon a fluffy white cloud and takes names. Good griefs…why are people so gullible to inflicting themselves with this mental disease?

If you were an all powerful and loving being…wouldn’t you be fair and make everything more equal and user friendly for everyone? Why design a world that is chaotic by nature and suspended in between two completely opposing forces? Why wouldn’t he have made it a little easier on us…you know, instead of just evil and good trees being planted, why not just plant good trees and best trees for Eve to choose from? Maybe his plans are flawed and we are being pawned off to accommodate his greatest mistake. Maybe we were left stranded here because his other experimental universe was filled with too many subatomic particles and dark matter which collided and scattered him into oblivion.

There is the grand contradiction in my opinion. Religion is a game of great assumptions. Along with the countless other ones where god refers to himself as "we" or claims that he had more than one son, etc...It all adds up to one giant hairball of myths. What people fail to realize is that many of these biblical figures and stories are based upon prior forms of worship and they were simply absorbed into the stories of Moses and Abraham, Jesus and Mary, and out of ignorance, people feared what would happen to their world if they did not honor one god instead of many. They were competing for power back then and believers were desperate for help. They were hungry, broke, tired, enslaved, and thirsty. The promise came from the priest in the window who claimed to be talking with God. The priests were enslaving the populations with their new form of mind control. God is everywhere, he is watching everything you do, don’t get out of line, stay in your camps, or you will suffer at his hands and be rejected from his kingdom FOREVER!

We are not primitive slaves living in Egypt people. Wake up! We need to stop trying to live according to these ignorant ancient beliefs. The dark ages ended long ago for some of us. It is the rest of this world who wants to remain in conflict because they are too weak minded and emotional superficial to proceed on into the future, facing life and reality for what it is. Us and nature and change, take it or leave it.

The same way we discount supremacy groups and extremist militia groups all across this world for committing crimes against humanity in the name of furthering their “political agenda” or spreading their ideas of hate and defamation, is the same reason why we must question an ancient claim about any god that acts as his own supremacy force by declaring that one half of this worlds people are unacceptable. One half of humankind is in jeopardy of never-ending punishment in a fiery torture chamber while the other half gets perfection in the land of milk and honey with 72 virgins in everlasting bliss.

THAT separation is what has created turmoil and confusion amongst us, a religious quagmire that is sucking the life out of the people on this Earth. It divides us further, into the have’s versus the have not’s. People thinking they are better than others and acting in the name of their beliefs to hurt, condemn, judge, threaten, discount, kill, stone, burn, scream, preach, smash, and bash ALL others who do not share in those same misguided beliefs. These notions lead humanity to create unnecessary problems because they blindly follow mythical creatures like God, Jesus, Muhammad, Allah, or Yahweh, which have encouraged its disciples to kill in the name of spreading their Gods extreme ideology.

These fictional religious beliefs have no validity in our world anymore…except for those fanatical people who are convinced by their own illusions that they are acting in the name of religious supremacy on behalf of their supreme ruler in the sky. Humankind has seen enough of this and has been persecuted by religious dogma for far too long.

It is time for a great spiritual change and for everyone to admit what is obvious. God is a non-existent mental projection of our worlds fears and troubles. No one knows all the answers to life’s greatest question, and no one should pretend to be in possession of the ultimate Truth. Those that say they are do so just to feel chosen and special, they become exceptional by removing themselves from the equation in this world of human beings. We would all be on the same level again with no sinners, no infidels, no apostates, no saints, and no martyrs, no Christians, no Jews, no Muslims, etc... We could just be our natural selves with no agenda but to help one another survive.

It would make more sense to keep sacred our own planet and the natural universe that supports all life. Honor Mother Earth because you lay upon her in comfort, you breathe her in, eat and drink from her, honor the sun because it provides us with life sustaining energy, all the wonderful things about nature do not require us to worship it…but to honor it for what it is…a phenomena. If that is god for some…that is much better than pretending to have a relationship with an invisible Christian dictator from another universe. If it is the afterlife you seek, you have as much universe in you as there are the trees, the streams, and the nebula of stars in our neighboring galaxy. You could be eternal, but you’re too worried about the monster in your mind to notice.

We all are doing our best to survive in this ever changing world…but I think it is silly for so many people to be obsessed with worshipping imaginary supernatural alien beings that rule over us from outer space, while at the same time threatening each other and all of humanity with their psychotic mind schemes of hell or everlasting life

I think the question is invalid and the word god is without meaning or merit because it is based upon mythical legends and invented scenarios from primitive ignorant men. For me, it needs no absolute answers because it is a product of mans over active imagination and overwhelming fears. As an atheist, our children are worthy of my dedication and praise and I will love them no matter what. I leave my mind open to universal possibilities, but the bible and its god have evil written all over it. The nice parts were made by women! (Being funny there, not to offend the men but to make a point)

If there is some giant source that provides the universe with all the essential elements for life, it is not named God, or Jesus, or Zeus, or Allah, or Yahweh, or Ra, or any other theistic based god that was invented by primitive religious zealots who sought power and authority over the servants and peasants of their kingdom. It does not require our obedience, it does not answer prayers, and it does not hide in waiting to come back to seek revenge upon its entire race of people for failing him to be good enough to save, while all others are tossed out into the burning heap of trash. Those who believe such things, you are troubled at your core and need to think for yourself.

All this talk is to relate to the question in Ubergeeks post, even though I view the bible as fiction. But, if we are just pondering the evidence against the god of Abraham for the sake of discussion, then YES...he apparently is a fake dictator that has major anger problems and the evil that is attributed to him, reduces his power and purpose to that of a hatemonger and a trifling cosmic tyrant. (Only in ones mind of course!)

All of these mythical stories are mans attempt to gain control over the uncontrollable universe, and so to be the planet upon which we reside. We are susceptible to the laws of nature, and we don’t like it. We cannot prevent death all together, so we make up another after-life existence to extend time for ourselves because we are limited in our time, and we don’t like it. What is unpredictable, we have made predictable. Man has invented so many weird things to believe in, that no one knows what, or whom to believe anymore.

God is the originator of evil.
He and Bush are “The Deciders”!
We are screwed if we do not stop this madness. Save yourself...

Man bless you all and may you let love rule!

blaine said...

Hi Timotheus,
I went to My Space and copied my URL. Here it is and I hope it works as I have never tried to find myself from another's computer. My URL
http://www.myspace.com/sloopy312
Anyway to each of you I wish joy, blessings and happiness.
blaine

Dano said...

Melissa,
I may never achieve your level of eloquence, (I would have to have done more of my homework in High school), but I do feel more complete, knowing that there are people like you who can put into words, what I know so intrinsically, from a lifetime of living!
Dan (Who would not punish God forever and ever for being such a jerk. I would just try to help him be more human!)

SpaceMonk said...

What is evil anyway?
I think it's when we selfishly act on our own desires, with no concern for those around us.

If god is the creator, then he created hell - and he knew there would be those who end up there, for eternity.
Yet he created them anyway...
...to glorify himself.

Supposedly he is perfect.
So why couldn't he be satisfied with his perfection?
Why did he need to create in the first place?

Well, he obviously desired more than what he had.

So he acted on those desires - with no concern for the consequences to those others...

I call that evil, and, since there was no other being around until those first moments of creation, he is it's author.

GoneNsane said...

"Its very simple. God can do whatever the hell he wants."

Really? Because the way I heard it, God is required to follow some principle of justice wherein we all must pay for our sins or else we go to hell. If this is not true and God can do "whatever the hell he wants," there is no need for Christ.

Melissa said...

Thankya Dano!

High school was a bit frightening, now that I look back upon it, so I know what you mean. Lol. No, much of the above comes from my "post Christian" mind bloom. Wonderful to be here and not there.

Spacemonk and gonensane...I agree with you both and you were able to put everything I was trying to say into like 5 sentences each, but without the rant. If only I had such focus.

G'night!

J. C. Samuelson said...

Thanks for the support. I missed alot of stuff, but it's good to see others picking up on the theme.

mq59 said...

On the matter of the 42 youths, it is probable that there are a lot more than 42 of them, since it's likely that once the bears showed up, lots of them ran.

And even if there are only 42, why are 42 teenagers surrounding an old man and calling him names?

It seems to me that Elisha (that's him, right?) was being physically threatened by the ancient Israelite equivalent of a street gang.

Anonymous said...

Wow!! All of this conjecture over the plight of good and evil and God. I believe, if there were a God, anything it does could never be construed as anything but action. Who are we to judge an almighty and omnipitent being? Just because it looks evil to me doesn't make it so.

I suppose my point is that far too much emphasis is put upon right and wrong and good and evil today. These concepts are very fluid to say the least. Killing in the act of war is usually considered very good, killing someone because they slept around on you is pretty bad, and apparently killing an old woman to take her oxycontin is really bad. Though each action resulted in the death of a human, the way society reacts to each situation determines if the act was good or evil.

So no, God is not the author of evil, Man is the author of evil and for casting judgement...well thats for you to decide, because I'm definately not going down with your ship.

.:webmaster:. said...

Hey nony-nony:

So what I think you are trying to say is that the only way we can know good from evil is to look to God. Is that right? So whatever God does is good, no matter how it looks to anyone else. Right?

So if God commands killing, then that's good. Right? And if God commands rape, then rape is good. Right? And if god commands genocide, then genocide is good. Right? And if God commands eterntal retributive torture, than that's good too. Right?

If what you are trying to say is that God's ways are higher than our ways, therefore we can't understand it, then I'd partly agree. IF there was a god, I'd expect it to be superior to us. However, what I see in Bible God is a god that has a Bronze Age moral sense. He matches the men and women of that time, but he hasn't grown much since then. Humanity's moral sense (determining what is right and wrong) is constantly evolving, changing, fluid, however you want to describe it. We no longer consider torture, slavery, raping our national enemy's women, and many more things as proper behavior. Those behaviors were not only proper to Bible God, HE commanded many of them.

I got off track. What I was going to say is that I would expect a god to be superior to man. What I find instead is a god that is equal or inferior to mankind. Your god was invented by ancient people to help explain an unexplainable world. Your god nothing more than a hanger-on in the long annals of humanities love affair with gods, goddesses, and myth.

J. C. Samuelson said...

MQ said...

"On the matter of the 42 youths, it is probable that there are a lot more than 42 of them, since it's likely that once the bears showed up, lots of them ran.

And even if there are only 42, why are 42 teenagers surrounding an old man and calling him names?

It seems to me that Elisha (that's him, right?) was being physically threatened by the ancient Israelite equivalent of a street gang."


The actual verses in question:

2:23 "And he went up from thence unto Bethel: and as he was going up by the way, there came forth little children out of the city, and mocked him, and said unto him, Go up, thou bald head; go up, thou bald head. 24 And he turned back, and looked on them, and cursed them in the name of the LORD. And there came forth two she bears out of the wood, and tare forty and two children of them. 25 And he went from thence to mount Carmel, and from thence he returned to Samaria."

First off, I don't really understand your assertion about the possibility of there being more than 42 youths. How many there were is really beside the point. It could've been 2 or 200, and the story would be equally ridiculous and still apparently shows the pettiness of this god.

Incidentally, you say "...only 42..."? How many killings would it take for you to say it was wrong?

Second, the "blame the victim" approach has been used by Gleason Archer and J.P. Holding, and assumes more than the context allows. Holding in particular likes to point to the possibility that the youths were old enough to know that Elisha was a prophet of God, and were probably up to no good and deserved being ripped up by bears.

The youths may indeed have been out doing things that perhaps they shouldn't. However, any other "crimes" they may have committed aren't described, nor does the text indicate these other "crimes" as the reason given for their punishment. Plainly, the reason for the death sentence is simple; they made fun of Elisha's bald head.

As for him being physically threatened, where do you see that in the text? The text states they "mocked" him, as which point Elisha LOOKS BACK at them and curses them in the name of the LORD. It looks like Elisha wasn't in any physical danger from them at all. The youths are quoted as saying "go on up," which seems to imply they simply wanted to make fun of him, and had no intention of detaining him physically or hurting him.

Even assuming the cultural context of the ANE, the text doesn't appear to justify the punishment or that it fit the "crime."

I could continue, but I really don't think this would turn into anything other than a rant about typical Christian rationalizations.

Anonymous said...

Webmaster;

No, what I'm trying to say is that good and evil and right and wrong are merely matters of perception. Nothing is good and nothing is evil, just as nothing is good and nothing is bad.

Since Bible God is created by man, then there is alot of room for misinterpretation by those who created him. I am often offended by the notion of a God that has an ego. Why would an almighty do anything out of thought of good or evil? Who would an almighty be accountable to? If you're not accountable to anyone or anything then why choose to define good and evil for yourself, wouldn't that just be a waste of time?

As for MY almighty, I really don't know it. I don't subscribe any religion because I know that most are just mechanisms of control. I believe that should a person choose to place faith within an almighty that should be between the person and themself. I personally don't believe that an almighty would be a micromanager, and to date my life has been so insignificant not to draw attention in the sight of an almighty.

If you only take choices that have been presented to you, you can only end up where they want you to.

mq59 said...

Here's some stuff with bears.

http://www.christian-thinktank.com/qmeanelisha.html

http://www.icr.org/index.php?module=articles&action=view&ID=18969

http://www.souldevice.org/qa_elishabears.htm

http://www.rogersvillecoc.org/sermons/bears.htm

It is possible that the 42 weren't actually killed. The bears could have simply knocked them around a bit and left--after all, the bears were under God's control.

J. C. Samuelson said...

MQ,

All of the site you recommend offer substantially the same defense you do; that is, that the youths deserved it. Rather than issue a point-by-point rebuttal of each argument, I'll simply say that like most moral quandaries the solution is highly subjective.

To me, God's retribution for the insult to His prophet shows Him to be thin skinned, petty, and given to bloody rages that are unbecoming of the alleged creator of the universe.

As for "tare," the Hebrew word used here is baqa`. According to Strong's, it has this definition:

to split, cleave, break open, divide, break through, rip up, break up, tear
(Qal)
to cleave, cleave open
to break through, break into
(Niphal)
to be cleft, be rent open, be split open
to be broken into
(Piel)
to cleave, cut to pieces, rend open
to break through, break down
(Pual)
to be ripped open, be torn open
to be rent
to be broken into
(Hiphil)
to break into
to break through
(Hophal) to be broken into
(Hithpael) to burst (themselves) open, cleave asunder


So, strictly speaking you may be correct - not all of them necessarily died as a result. At least, not immediately. However, even you would have to concede that being torn open, ripped asunder, broken into or anything of the sort doesn't exactly bode well for the survival prospects of any human being.

In any case, all defenses of this act (or nearly any punitive actions by God, for that matter) must necessarily resort to special pleading. We'll simply have to agree to disagree.

blaine said...

mq59 wrote: "...It is possible that the 42 weren't actually killed. The bears could have simply knocked them around a bit and left--after all, the bears were under God's control."

blaine: Here are a few more details
about the bears attacking from 2Kings2:23-24. I'll give the words transliterated apart from some of their vowel sounds.
V23: The word is unarim "and boys". In the Hebrew this word can range to describe anything from an infant to a young man of fighting or marriageable age [age 13 and above]. Thus The emphasis is often on "youth" ie teenagers.
However there is an adjective used to describe the age of these youth and it is the word "qotanim".
This word means small, humble or insignificant.
Considering the context we can rule out the last two definitions.
Because of this I believe the context shows that these were boys, children and not older youth. There would be no need to add the adjective if young men were meant. Some "scholars" try to say they were not boys but men small in stature. This shows their bias because they cannot admit to themselves that a man of God and God Himself would commit such a horrendous act.
These boys were probably telling Elisha to "go up"[Qal imperative] into the sky like Elijah did. They were making fun of Elisha for being bald as Elijah had a head of hair.
But here is the other telling word in verse 24. It is the word, "wattvaqqaanah" which is three words in one, ie "and they tore".
This was not a simple, little mauling with a few bites but this was a tearing to pieces type of mauling in my opinion. I say this because the word "tore" is in the Piel stem, imperfect tense which indicated this mauling was repeated and not just one or two bites.
If the writer of Kings wanted to indicate just a simple act he would have used the Qal stem. But instead, he chose to use the Piel stem because this stem indicates intensive action.
I used to box. The Qal stem would show that I had simply been hit, while the Piel would show that I was being pummeled.
Thus what we have is God sanctioning the curse of Elisha and causing two female bears to come out of the forest and kill 42 small children in a terrifying and savage manner.
What Christians now have to do is to accept this act of butchery by Bible God or acknowledge that the Bible is inaccurate.
Christians also have to ask themselves if this bear mauling is in tune with God's character of love, compassion, mercy and forgiveness.
What I have said did not come from a commentary but from my knowledge of the Hebrew language as I am degreed in Biblical Languages [but it now takes me awhile to glean the information as my memory is fading quickly].
Later my friends,
Blaine

Dave8 said...

MQ, I am astounded that you continue to pull up bible verses, now you're on 2 Kings 2:23-24... Okay, can you explain the following, while we are on this chapter in 2 Kings...

2 Kings 2:8 - "And Elijah took his mantle, and wrapped it together, and smote the waters, and they were divided hither and thither, so that they two went over on dry ground."

Uh, when Elijah needs to cross a river, he just smacks the water with his magic mantle and crosses on dry land. The bible doesn't lack for magic, of course, this is white magic, right MQ...

White Magic: "Magic used only for good purposes"
wordnet.princeton.edu/perl/webwn

There's more magic in the bible than in Harry Potter, oh, that's right, its hard for a christian parent to tell their child that the magic in Harry Potter isn't real, while trying to convince the same child, that the magic in the bible is "real", got it.

2 Kings 2:14 - "And he took the mantle of Elijah that fell from him, and smote the waters, and said, Where is the LORD God of Elijah? and when he also had smitten the waters, they parted hither and thither: and Elisha went over."

Elisha repeats Elijah's magical trick of parting the waters of the Jordan by smiting them with his mantle. Talk about parting the Red Sea trick, over and over, but of course, the Red Sea magic act was done with a staff, not a magic mantle, that's right.

2 Kings 2:11 - "And it came to pass, as they still went on, and talked, that, behold, there appeared a chariot of fire, and horses of fire, and parted them both asunder; and Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven."

Fiery horses, ascending into the heavens', now, where have I heard that ancient story before...

-Ancient Greek Mythology: "Phaeton and the Chariot of the Sun"

http://www.hipark.austin.isd.tenet.edu/mythology/phaeton.html

2 Kings 9:8 - "For the whole house of Ahab shall perish: and I will cut off from Ahab him that pisseth against the wall, and him that is shut up and left in Israel:..."

So, god is concerned with piss crimes, now that is petty. An omnipotent god of the universe, peeking through the clouds to see where the entire globe is urinating, now that's honorable, a true role model - for a voyeur. We won't even go into the cutting off of the penis thing, because someone mis-pissed.

Hey MQ, if you need money for school, I think you could make a small fortune, creating a biblically based Dungeons and Dragons version, and selling the patent to hasbro, Inc. It of course, wouldn't be a good thing for the christians who actually believe in the "literal" truth, of the mythical & mystical bible, the M&M bible for short.

What probability would you assign to someone receiving castration for peeing on a wall these days, should they use a twelve sided dice or a six sided dice?

webmdave said...

ACCORDING TO THE BIBLE GOD IS THE TRUE CREATOR OF GOOD AND EVIL THINGS.... THAT IS ALSO BASED IN MY OPINION... THOUGH HE WANTS US TO BE HOLY!! STILL HE HAS GOT POSITIVE AND NEGATIVE.. GOOD AND EVIL AUTHOR..

I CAN DEFINITELY PROVE THAT....!!!!!

webmdave said...

Its very simple. God can do whatever the hell he wants.

Don't like it?

Tough shit.

Human beings have, on their own, committed every atrocity you can name.

Atheist leaders more than anybody.

You have base of superiority, or any base of morality at all, to judge God's purposes.

I know all about living under atheistic regimes.

Your pretences don't fool those who have been there.

webmdave said...

Its very simple. God can do whatever the hell he wants.

Don't like it?

Tough shit.

Human beings have, on their own, committed every atrocity you can name.

Atheist leaders more than anybody.

You have base of superiority, or any base of morality at all, to judge God's purposes.

I know all about living under atheistic regimes.

Your pretences don't fool those who have been there.

webmdave said...

On the matter of the 42 youths, it is probable that there are a lot more than 42 of them, since it's likely that once the bears showed up, lots of them ran.

And even if there are only 42, why are 42 teenagers surrounding an old man and calling him names?

It seems to me that Elisha (that's him, right?) was being physically threatened by the ancient Israelite equivalent of a street gang.

webmdave said...

Thanks for the support. I missed alot of stuff, but it's good to see others picking up on the theme.

webmdave said...

In Genesis 3, after Adam and Eve ate from the tree, God is quoted as saying, "Behold they have become like us (the Godhead) knowing good and evil".

This not only implies, but states, that God knows evil and that evil is as much a part of His character as good is a part of His character.

Satan did not lie to them when he said they would become as gods knowing both good and evil. And Satan's statement "thou shalt not surely die" implies that he kad knowledge of the plan of salvation, which according to the New Testament, was laid BEFORE the foundation (creation) of the world (planet).

The bigger question remains - what is God playing at? What did God expect to accomplish by placing in a garden a tree and forbidding its occupants to eat from it knowing full well in advance that they would do exactly that. Does anyone put poisoned food on the table in front of children, tell everyone it's poison and not to eat it , knowing that someone will?

When I was in the USAF in 1977, we were told at basic training that we were supposed to secure our valuables. We were also told that if they were stolen by a roommate when they were left unsecured, it was OUR FAULT, not theirs, because WE tempted them to steal them. I wish I had asked them if that reasoning applied to the tree of knowledge because in Genesis 2, the fruit was described as being "lovely to the eye" (tempting).

webmdave said...

MQ, I am astounded that you continue to pull up bible verses, now you're on 2 Kings 2:23-24... Okay, can you explain the following, while we are on this chapter in 2 Kings...

2 Kings 2:8 - "And Elijah took his mantle, and wrapped it together, and smote the waters, and they were divided hither and thither, so that they two went over on dry ground."

Uh, when Elijah needs to cross a river, he just smacks the water with his magic mantle and crosses on dry land. The bible doesn't lack for magic, of course, this is white magic, right MQ...

White Magic: "Magic used only for good purposes"
wordnet.princeton.edu/perl/webwn

There's more magic in the bible than in Harry Potter, oh, that's right, its hard for a christian parent to tell their child that the magic in Harry Potter isn't real, while trying to convince the same child, that the magic in the bible is "real", got it.

2 Kings 2:14 - "And he took the mantle of Elijah that fell from him, and smote the waters, and said, Where is the LORD God of Elijah? and when he also had smitten the waters, they parted hither and thither: and Elisha went over."

Elisha repeats Elijah's magical trick of parting the waters of the Jordan by smiting them with his mantle. Talk about parting the Red Sea trick, over and over, but of course, the Red Sea magic act was done with a staff, not a magic mantle, that's right.

2 Kings 2:11 - "And it came to pass, as they still went on, and talked, that, behold, there appeared a chariot of fire, and horses of fire, and parted them both asunder; and Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven."

Fiery horses, ascending into the heavens', now, where have I heard that ancient story before...

-Ancient Greek Mythology: "Phaeton and the Chariot of the Sun"

http://www.hipark.austin.isd.tenet.edu/mythology/phaeton.html

2 Kings 9:8 - "For the whole house of Ahab shall perish: and I will cut off from Ahab him that pisseth against the wall, and him that is shut up and left in Israel:..."

So, god is concerned with piss crimes, now that is petty. An omnipotent god of the universe, peeking through the clouds to see where the entire globe is urinating, now that's honorable, a true role model - for a voyeur. We won't even go into the cutting off of the penis thing, because someone mis-pissed.

Hey MQ, if you need money for school, I think you could make a small fortune, creating a biblically based Dungeons and Dragons version, and selling the patent to hasbro, Inc. It of course, wouldn't be a good thing for the christians who actually believe in the "literal" truth, of the mythical & mystical bible, the M&M bible for short.

What probability would you assign to someone receiving castration for peeing on a wall these days, should they use a twelve sided dice or a six sided dice?

webmdave said...

mq59 wrote: "...It is possible that the 42 weren't actually killed. The bears could have simply knocked them around a bit and left--after all, the bears were under God's control."

blaine: Here are a few more details
about the bears attacking from 2Kings2:23-24. I'll give the words transliterated apart from some of their vowel sounds.
V23: The word is unarim "and boys". In the Hebrew this word can range to describe anything from an infant to a young man of fighting or marriageable age [age 13 and above]. Thus The emphasis is often on "youth" ie teenagers.
However there is an adjective used to describe the age of these youth and it is the word "qotanim".
This word means small, humble or insignificant.
Considering the context we can rule out the last two definitions.
Because of this I believe the context shows that these were boys, children and not older youth. There would be no need to add the adjective if young men were meant. Some "scholars" try to say they were not boys but men small in stature. This shows their bias because they cannot admit to themselves that a man of God and God Himself would commit such a horrendous act.
These boys were probably telling Elisha to "go up"[Qal imperative] into the sky like Elijah did. They were making fun of Elisha for being bald as Elijah had a head of hair.
But here is the other telling word in verse 24. It is the word, "wattvaqqaanah" which is three words in one, ie "and they tore".
This was not a simple, little mauling with a few bites but this was a tearing to pieces type of mauling in my opinion. I say this because the word "tore" is in the Piel stem, imperfect tense which indicated this mauling was repeated and not just one or two bites.
If the writer of Kings wanted to indicate just a simple act he would have used the Qal stem. But instead, he chose to use the Piel stem because this stem indicates intensive action.
I used to box. The Qal stem would show that I had simply been hit, while the Piel would show that I was being pummeled.
Thus what we have is God sanctioning the curse of Elisha and causing two female bears to come out of the forest and kill 42 small children in a terrifying and savage manner.
What Christians now have to do is to accept this act of butchery by Bible God or acknowledge that the Bible is inaccurate.
Christians also have to ask themselves if this bear mauling is in tune with God's character of love, compassion, mercy and forgiveness.
What I have said did not come from a commentary but from my knowledge of the Hebrew language as I am degreed in Biblical Languages [but it now takes me awhile to glean the information as my memory is fading quickly].
Later my friends,
Blaine

webmdave said...

MQ,

All of the site you recommend offer substantially the same defense you do; that is, that the youths deserved it. Rather than issue a point-by-point rebuttal of each argument, I'll simply say that like most moral quandaries the solution is highly subjective.

To me, God's retribution for the insult to His prophet shows Him to be thin skinned, petty, and given to bloody rages that are unbecoming of the alleged creator of the universe.

As for "tare," the Hebrew word used here is baqa`. According to Strong's, it has this definition:

to split, cleave, break open, divide, break through, rip up, break up, tear
(Qal)
to cleave, cleave open
to break through, break into
(Niphal)
to be cleft, be rent open, be split open
to be broken into
(Piel)
to cleave, cut to pieces, rend open
to break through, break down
(Pual)
to be ripped open, be torn open
to be rent
to be broken into
(Hiphil)
to break into
to break through
(Hophal) to be broken into
(Hithpael) to burst (themselves) open, cleave asunder


So, strictly speaking you may be correct - not all of them necessarily died as a result. At least, not immediately. However, even you would have to concede that being torn open, ripped asunder, broken into or anything of the sort doesn't exactly bode well for the survival prospects of any human being.

In any case, all defenses of this act (or nearly any punitive actions by God, for that matter) must necessarily resort to special pleading. We'll simply have to agree to disagree.

webmdave said...

Here's some stuff with bears.

http://www.christian-thinktank.com/qmeanelisha.html

http://www.icr.org/index.php?module=articles&action=view&ID=18969

http://www.souldevice.org/qa_elishabears.htm

http://www.rogersvillecoc.org/sermons/bears.htm

It is possible that the 42 weren't actually killed. The bears could have simply knocked them around a bit and left--after all, the bears were under God's control.

webmdave said...

Here's some stuff with bears.

http://www.christian-thinktank.com/qmeanelisha.html

http://www.icr.org/index.php?module=articles&action=view&ID=18969

http://www.souldevice.org/qa_elishabears.htm

http://www.rogersvillecoc.org/sermons/bears.htm

It is possible that the 42 weren't actually killed. The bears could have simply knocked them around a bit and left--after all, the bears were under God's control.

webmdave said...

Webmaster;

No, what I'm trying to say is that good and evil and right and wrong are merely matters of perception. Nothing is good and nothing is evil, just as nothing is good and nothing is bad.

Since Bible God is created by man, then there is alot of room for misinterpretation by those who created him. I am often offended by the notion of a God that has an ego. Why would an almighty do anything out of thought of good or evil? Who would an almighty be accountable to? If you're not accountable to anyone or anything then why choose to define good and evil for yourself, wouldn't that just be a waste of time?

As for MY almighty, I really don't know it. I don't subscribe any religion because I know that most are just mechanisms of control. I believe that should a person choose to place faith within an almighty that should be between the person and themself. I personally don't believe that an almighty would be a micromanager, and to date my life has been so insignificant not to draw attention in the sight of an almighty.

If you only take choices that have been presented to you, you can only end up where they want you to.

webmdave said...

MQ said...

"On the matter of the 42 youths, it is probable that there are a lot more than 42 of them, since it's likely that once the bears showed up, lots of them ran.

And even if there are only 42, why are 42 teenagers surrounding an old man and calling him names?

It seems to me that Elisha (that's him, right?) was being physically threatened by the ancient Israelite equivalent of a street gang."


The actual verses in question:

2:23 "And he went up from thence unto Bethel: and as he was going up by the way, there came forth little children out of the city, and mocked him, and said unto him, Go up, thou bald head; go up, thou bald head. 24 And he turned back, and looked on them, and cursed them in the name of the LORD. And there came forth two she bears out of the wood, and tare forty and two children of them. 25 And he went from thence to mount Carmel, and from thence he returned to Samaria."

First off, I don't really understand your assertion about the possibility of there being more than 42 youths. How many there were is really beside the point. It could've been 2 or 200, and the story would be equally ridiculous and still apparently shows the pettiness of this god.

Incidentally, you say "...only 42..."? How many killings would it take for you to say it was wrong?

Second, the "blame the victim" approach has been used by Gleason Archer and J.P. Holding, and assumes more than the context allows. Holding in particular likes to point to the possibility that the youths were old enough to know that Elisha was a prophet of God, and were probably up to no good and deserved being ripped up by bears.

The youths may indeed have been out doing things that perhaps they shouldn't. However, any other "crimes" they may have committed aren't described, nor does the text indicate these other "crimes" as the reason given for their punishment. Plainly, the reason for the death sentence is simple; they made fun of Elisha's bald head.

As for him being physically threatened, where do you see that in the text? The text states they "mocked" him, as which point Elisha LOOKS BACK at them and curses them in the name of the LORD. It looks like Elisha wasn't in any physical danger from them at all. The youths are quoted as saying "go on up," which seems to imply they simply wanted to make fun of him, and had no intention of detaining him physically or hurting him.

Even assuming the cultural context of the ANE, the text doesn't appear to justify the punishment or that it fit the "crime."

I could continue, but I really don't think this would turn into anything other than a rant about typical Christian rationalizations.

webmdave said...

Hey nony-nony:

So what I think you are trying to say is that the only way we can know good from evil is to look to God. Is that right? So whatever God does is good, no matter how it looks to anyone else. Right?

So if God commands killing, then that's good. Right? And if God commands rape, then rape is good. Right? And if god commands genocide, then genocide is good. Right? And if God commands eterntal retributive torture, than that's good too. Right?

If what you are trying to say is that God's ways are higher than our ways, therefore we can't understand it, then I'd partly agree. IF there was a god, I'd expect it to be superior to us. However, what I see in Bible God is a god that has a Bronze Age moral sense. He matches the men and women of that time, but he hasn't grown much since then. Humanity's moral sense (determining what is right and wrong) is constantly evolving, changing, fluid, however you want to describe it. We no longer consider torture, slavery, raping our national enemy's women, and many more things as proper behavior. Those behaviors were not only proper to Bible God, HE commanded many of them.

I got off track. What I was going to say is that I would expect a god to be superior to man. What I find instead is a god that is equal or inferior to mankind. Your god was invented by ancient people to help explain an unexplainable world. Your god nothing more than a hanger-on in the long annals of humanities love affair with gods, goddesses, and myth.

webmdave said...

Hey nony-nony:

So what I think you are trying to say is that the only way we can know good from evil is to look to God. Is that right? So whatever God does is good, no matter how it looks to anyone else. Right?

So if God commands killing, then that's good. Right? And if God commands rape, then rape is good. Right? And if god commands genocide, then genocide is good. Right? And if God commands eterntal retributive torture, than that's good too. Right?

If what you are trying to say is that God's ways are higher than our ways, therefore we can't understand it, then I'd partly agree. IF there was a god, I'd expect it to be superior to us. However, what I see in Bible God is a god that has a Bronze Age moral sense. He matches the men and women of that time, but he hasn't grown much since then. Humanity's moral sense (determining what is right and wrong) is constantly evolving, changing, fluid, however you want to describe it. We no longer consider torture, slavery, raping our national enemy's women, and many more things as proper behavior. Those behaviors were not only proper to Bible God, HE commanded many of them.

I got off track. What I was going to say is that I would expect a god to be superior to man. What I find instead is a god that is equal or inferior to mankind. Your god was invented by ancient people to help explain an unexplainable world. Your god nothing more than a hanger-on in the long annals of humanities love affair with gods, goddesses, and myth.

webmdave said...

Wow!! All of this conjecture over the plight of good and evil and God. I believe, if there were a God, anything it does could never be construed as anything but action. Who are we to judge an almighty and omnipitent being? Just because it looks evil to me doesn't make it so.

I suppose my point is that far too much emphasis is put upon right and wrong and good and evil today. These concepts are very fluid to say the least. Killing in the act of war is usually considered very good, killing someone because they slept around on you is pretty bad, and apparently killing an old woman to take her oxycontin is really bad. Though each action resulted in the death of a human, the way society reacts to each situation determines if the act was good or evil.

So no, God is not the author of evil, Man is the author of evil and for casting judgement...well thats for you to decide, because I'm definately not going down with your ship.

webmdave said...

Thankya Dano!

High school was a bit frightening, now that I look back upon it, so I know what you mean. Lol. No, much of the above comes from my "post Christian" mind bloom. Wonderful to be here and not there.

Spacemonk and gonensane...I agree with you both and you were able to put everything I was trying to say into like 5 sentences each, but without the rant. If only I had such focus.

G'night!

webmdave said...

Thankya Dano!

High school was a bit frightening, now that I look back upon it, so I know what you mean. Lol. No, much of the above comes from my "post Christian" mind bloom. Wonderful to be here and not there.

Spacemonk and gonensane...I agree with you both and you were able to put everything I was trying to say into like 5 sentences each, but without the rant. If only I had such focus.

G'night!

webmdave said...

"Its very simple. God can do whatever the hell he wants."

Really? Because the way I heard it, God is required to follow some principle of justice wherein we all must pay for our sins or else we go to hell. If this is not true and God can do "whatever the hell he wants," there is no need for Christ.

webmdave said...

What is evil anyway?
I think it's when we selfishly act on our own desires, with no concern for those around us.

If god is the creator, then he created hell - and he knew there would be those who end up there, for eternity.
Yet he created them anyway...
...to glorify himself.

Supposedly he is perfect.
So why couldn't he be satisfied with his perfection?
Why did he need to create in the first place?

Well, he obviously desired more than what he had.

So he acted on those desires - with no concern for the consequences to those others...

I call that evil, and, since there was no other being around until those first moments of creation, he is it's author.

webmdave said...

Melissa,
I may never achieve your level of eloquence, (I would have to have done more of my homework in High school), but I do feel more complete, knowing that there are people like you who can put into words, what I know so intrinsically, from a lifetime of living!
Dan (Who would not punish God forever and ever for being such a jerk. I would just try to help him be more human!)

webmdave said...

Hi Timotheus,
I went to My Space and copied my URL. Here it is and I hope it works as I have never tried to find myself from another's computer. My URL
http://www.myspace.com/sloopy312
Anyway to each of you I wish joy, blessings and happiness.
blaine

webmdave said...

Hi Timotheus,
I went to My Space and copied my URL. Here it is and I hope it works as I have never tried to find myself from another's computer. My URL
http://www.myspace.com/sloopy312
Anyway to each of you I wish joy, blessings and happiness.
blaine

webmdave said...

Blaine,
Sloopy312 does not exist on myspace.com.