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The sad thing is that the irony of it will be lost

I tripped over what follows in Facebook over the weekend:

BibleAsSoftwareLicense.jpgIt was captioned as follows:

lmfao... hey, i was totally guilty of this up until age 18, until I did some research. Then I saw this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MeSSwKffj9o  

The Youtube link is of George Carlin's rather infamous Religion is Bullsh*t routine.

A dude laments and ridicules those who blindly agree with Scripture while, at the wise old age of 18, blindly agreeing with George Carlin.

Rich.

Might God give us each eyes to see our own blindness.


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Comments (46)

As a Christian I think ther... (Below threshold)

As a Christian I think there's a sad truth to the statement especially when you see clowns like Harold Camping.

For those of you who don't just click the "I agree" button, there's a great book on discipleship called "Costly Grace" by Jon Walker. It's based on the writings of Dietrich Bonhoeffer.

Thanks, Rick. Good point.</... (Below threshold)
Mark C:

Thanks, Rick. Good point.

For a normal rational perso... (Below threshold)
Todd:

For a normal rational person, after reading the bible it becomes clear that it has little moral or spiritual value as a complete work.

For a normal rational person, the extraordinary claims of the bible are not reflected by reality, so it is reasonable to reject it as lacking credibility.

For a normal rational person, it is reasonable to be sceptical about the motives of people who persist a cult that venerates the horrible values of the hebrew bible, and the new testement.

It is not "blindness" to be sceptical, it is simply the default position that any reasonable normal person takes about extra ordinary claims without evidence.

"Most Christians" -tough wo... (Below threshold)
Don L :

"Most Christians" -tough words to define. There was that "handpicked by Christ" fiasco - that Judas fellow and then that same crowd as today that chose the evil Barabbas - yet He beat them all out of love for all on the cross, which they don't really want to have to pick up daily and follow Him.
I suspect an awful lot want to wear the badge of Christianity, but not the cross. Those folks who show up at Church with pro-choice stickers on their Volvos - church for them is that guilt reducer thing, or that, look at me, am I not good(?)pride thing. But once one deals with enough good souls -true Christians, who actually live their faith when no one is looking but God -there is no other world to desire (unless that Satan fellow appeals to your lower senses)
I am always fascinated by the professional intellectual God haters who deny His very existence, while spending every waking hour of their lives fighting Him. Kind of raises questions about their intelligence, doesn't it?

Todd -- congrats on being t... (Below threshold)
Jeff Blogworthy:

Todd -- congrats on being the only normal, rational person, not to mention reasonable.

Knowledge of the scriptures is a lifelong pursuit. You never quite "arrive." Regardless, at some point you must decide whether you agree or not. Like the seal on the software, the default position is non-commitment and tacit disagreement. Only when you break the seal do you signify agreement and commitment. Action is required. It does necessitate a bit of faith in the software maker. Total knowledge is impossible. If that is what you are waiting for, that seal will never be broken.

Yes, I scrolled down and clicked "I agree" when I understood as much as I needed to. Mainly about the person and sacrifice of Christ. I've learned a lot since.

I can't speak for all ratio... (Below threshold)
Todd:

I can't speak for all rational people who require evidence for their beliefs. However personally I do not deny the existence of God because there is simply no way to prove a non-existence.

On the other hand the requirements and prohibitions in the bible are so immoral and absurd, that it is clear that the bible is not inspired by a Loving and just God.

Todd, again, a journey of f... (Below threshold)
WildWillie:

Todd, again, a journey of faith does not end, it is always moving forward. I would encourage you to understand first "what is faith" and then start your journey. ww

That's your prerogative, To... (Below threshold)
Jeff Blogworthy:

That's your prerogative, Todd. Good luck with that.

A normal, rational person might think that their personal judgment regarding the conduct and character of the God of the universe could be flawed in some way. A normal, rational person might question their own qualifications in making sound judgments regarding love and justice. A normal, rational person might recognize that a higher authority and standard, outside of themselves, is required. That way, when disagreements between flawed humans arise, that standard can be appealed to. Otherwise all one has is relativistic judgements that, of necessity, lack authority.

The alternative is that God does not exist, in which case concepts of love and justice are completely meaningless.

So Jeff, I presume you have... (Below threshold)
Todd:

So Jeff, I presume you have no problem with owning slaves, as long as you release them after six years as required by Exodus 21:2-6?

Todd, for your own sake you... (Below threshold)
John F Not Kerry:

Todd, for your own sake you had better be right. If you are not, no amount of rationalizing will avail you. I gave up on seeing myself as a "normal and rational" person years ago. I don't expect you to understand it either. The thing is, everyone believes based on evidence. Some just have a different idea of what kind and level of evidence will convince them.

For a normal rational pe... (Below threshold)
jim m:

For a normal rational person, it is reasonable to be sceptical about the motives of people who persist a cult that venerates the horrible values of the hebrew bible, and the new testement(sic).

Yeah, because what sort of normal, rational person could possible agree with values such as: Not stealing, not lying, not murdering, respect for property rights, respecting and honoring the family, abiding by the laws of the country you live in, showing mercy to others (even the most undesirable)... I could go on and on.

I am sure that you can go into the Old Testament and drag up text about slavery (as you have already done so) and dietary laws etc. But then you are forgetting that the Bible must be examined in light of the culture to which it was given. The culture has changed over the millenia but there remain lessons to be gleaned from the text if we don't get hung up by those parts that speak to practices like slavery that are no longer part of the culture.

And Jeff is correct. If you wish to throw out the Bible and religion in general, then you also throw out any objective basis for morality. Any morality that appeals to a common consensus of society is inherently flawed. A group of men does not have greater moral knowledge that any single man. As such any morality promulgated by a group of men is nothing more than a tyranny for they have no greater reason to support their morality other than "they felt like it".

Any objective morality, a sense that there really is a right and a wrong, must rely upon a true moral authority. Otherwise the relativists are correct and there is no right or wrong and the only thing that matters is acquiring sufficient power to impose your will upon others.

Todd,I am pressed ... (Below threshold)
Jeff Blogworthy:

Todd,

I am pressed for time. Real life beckons. I will try to answer that later, if no one else does. I suspect that once that objection is addressed, you have another ready. That is a game that I do not intend to play and one that will quickly derail the entire thread. I am quite certain that you could find your own answers if that is what you really wanted.

One thought: Even for an a... (Below threshold)
James H:

One thought: Even for an atheist, there is at least some value to the Christian Bible. Parts of it contain virtues worth learning regardless of one's belief ... and it is also worth noting that if you grew up in the West, the Bible is part of your cultural heritage.

Further thought: To take t... (Below threshold)
James H:

Further thought: To take the entirety of the Bible, including those sections that, for example, calle for stoning for various offenses, and attempt to hang it around the average Christian's neck is ridiculous. Most Christians choose those parts of the Bible that work well for them, and put aside the rest.

... and it is also worth... (Below threshold)
jim m:

... and it is also worth noting that if you grew up in the West, the Bible is part of your cultural heritage.

One gets the impression that Todd is one of those who prefers to ignore that fact and denies the manifold benefits that the Christian religion and people motivated by it has given us such as: The idea of the Protestant work ethic, the university system, abolition...

No Todd trikes me as one who will shrilly cry about slavery! the inquisition! the crusades!

And as James H points out that the OT prescribes many things that under the NT are no longer required.

One might also point out that leprosy at one time meant that a person was cast out of society. However, today leprosy is cured by simple antibiotics and such precautions are unnecessary. Another example of how the Bible was written in a culture and needs to be understood in that context. Believers and unbelievers alike err when they fail to take that into account.

jim,its clear from... (Below threshold)
Todd:

jim,

its clear from your comment;
"you are forgetting that the Bible must be examined in light of the culture to which it was given."
that you have chosen to interpret the moral stipulations of the bible subjectively.

You are choosing to "not get hung up" on the parts of the moral code that you feel are no longer appropriate.

Either the bible represents the objective morality of a true authority, or it doesn't and it is subjective.


No Todd trikes me ... (Below threshold)
James H:
No Todd trikes me as one who will shrilly cry about slavery! the inquisition! the crusades!

I used to be like that, but one of the benefits of age and education is that you learn to assess Christianity for all it has provided, rather then concentrating only on the good or only on the evil.

And on an the micro level, I have found that a person's character and personality always shine through, whether he calls himself Christian, Jewish, Muslim, or pagan.

Funny how that happens.

It seems you atheists don't... (Below threshold)
wws:

It seems you atheists don't realize that Christians believe that the stringent laws of the Old Testament were superseded and neutralized by the teachings laid out in the New Testament. That's why Christians are not just a subset of Judaism - they reject the laws that lay out what it means to be an (orthodox) Jew, which is what most of the OT is.

To ask a Christian if he follows all the commands in the Old Testament is not only silly, but ignorant - Christ himself didn't do that, which is why the religious authorities of his day hated him so much.

One of the most important themes of His teaching was that a slavish obedience to "The Law" destroys real Justice and Mercy. (ie, healing and gathering food on the Sabbath)

The O.T. is useful for historical purposes, but only valid when it does not contradict the principles laid out in the New. That's what Christians believe, and have always believed.

Let's take your example of ... (Below threshold)
jim m:

Let's take your example of slavery:

I don't believe that slavery is right. Therefore the moral code in the Bible regarding slavery is a nullity.

Or how about blasphemy? The OT dictates that a person committing blasphemy be stoned. There is a widely recognized difference between the NT and OT treatment of these things. The NT makes it clear that the OT law does not apply as the law was intended to point toward Christ and He has come and fulfilled the law. So where many people such as yourself will pull up OT laws and claim that we are being subjectively selective in what laws we desire to follow I would counter that due to Christ those laws are no longer applicable.

If you wish to thr... (Below threshold)
James H:
If you wish to throw out the Bible and religion in general, then you also throw out any objective basis for morality. Any morality that appeals to a common consensus of society is inherently flawed. A group of men does not have greater moral knowledge that any single man. As such any morality promulgated by a group of men is nothing more than a tyranny for they have no greater reason to support their morality other than "they felt like it".

A couple comments here.

First, I would argue that if you throw out religion and deities, you're not throwing out objective law. Rather you create a new challenge: to discover for yourself what morals there are, to test those morals against the world, and to live a good life.

That kind of world, I think, is more difficult but also more rewarding than a world in which one lives by commandments laid down by a deity, then interpreted by that deity's priests.

There is a second strain of argument in this direction, one not as popular now as it once was. That strain of argument holds that if there is no god, no heaven, and no hell, then people will have no incentive to behave morally.

My second point deals with evolutionary psychology. There's been some research in this direction that has found human beings and, indeed, a number of animals, are hardwired for certain moral behaviors -- protection of children and kinfolk, and so forth.

Now, here's the puzzler for the amateur philosophers here. Does this represent natural evolution of a herd creature? Or does it represent what C.S. Lewis would call the voice of God in a person's heart?

Jim M:So ... (Below threshold)
James H:

Jim M:

So where many people such as yourself will pull up OT laws and claim that we are being subjectively selective in what laws we desire to follow I would counter that due to Christ those laws are no longer applicable.

I'd watch out with this. This particular line of argument is a distraction. Waving around Old Testament minutiae is kind of a distraction. By getting into it with Todd on this issue, you're just giving him satisfaction he doesn't deserve.

That strain of arg... (Below threshold)
Todd:
That strain of argument holds that if there is no god, no heaven, and no hell, then people will have no incentive to behave morally.
yes no incentive if you choose to ignore the police, the courts, prison and all the law abiding people who would act in self defense if you went about stealing and murdering
That strain of argument ... (Below threshold)
jim m:

That strain of argument holds that if there is no god, no heaven, and no hell, then people will have no incentive to behave morally.

I'm not arguing that. If morality is based on societal agreement then there is ample incentive to behave as the weight of society will come to bear as a punishment for wrong activity. Perhaps the classic example against this kind of "morality" is Nazi Germany, where people were lead into a twisted moral code that resulted in countless atrocities. There were many reasons to behave according to the new moral code merely to avoid punishment.

The problem is that in these cases the moral code is not fixed and can be changed.

Also, the problem remains that in absence of temporal punishment there is little or no incentive to adhere to the moral code. When society breaks down then morality disappears because society is the only thing that dictates moral behavior. In absence of society the world becomes a repeat of The Lord of the Flies. An objective moral code remains even when society is not around to enforce it.

Jim, you use a different pa... (Below threshold)
James H:

Jim, you use a different path, but you're coming back to the same destination. If I'm reading your commentary correctly, you are moving toward the conclusion that it is impossible for an atheist to behave morally. That is, an atheist believes in no god, and therefore no objective moral code, so he will not behave morally. Is that where you are going?

As to your last paragraph above, I would note that you have argued for a strong state and government, not for a religious-based morality. It's the same argument Hobbes put forward.

<... (Below threshold)
Todd:




So where many people such as yourself will pull up OT laws and claim that we are being subjectively selective in what laws we desire to follow I would counter that due to Christ those laws are no longer applicable.

I'd watch out with this. This particular line of argument is a distraction. Waving around Old Testament minutiae is kind of a distraction. By getting into it with Todd on this issue, you're just giving him satisfaction he doesn't deserve.

indeed, its pretty clear that its a twisting of the actual words and teachings of Jesus in the new testement to deny the Law of the hebrew bible; there is some discussion of the various NT passages in which Jesus confirms the validity of the OT scripture;
http://www.greatcom.org/resources/reasons_skeptics/ch_06/default.htm


Obviously I am perfectly happy to have it either way.

Either you stand by the Hebrew bible as the commandment of God and morally authoritative. And hence support a large body of horrible moral stipulations which make Christianity look barbaric.

Or, you reject the old testament as not having objective moral authority and not being the commandment of God, and hence renounce and apostatise a large body of the doctrine of the Christian religion.


The Old Testement presents ... (Below threshold)
WildWillie:

The Old Testement presents the shadow on Jesus Christ throughout.

When the towns folk threw a protitute at Jesus' feet and proclaimed she was caught in the very act of adultery and the Hebrew Law dictates she must be stoned. Jesus did not refute that but simply said "He who is without sin, cast the first stone". Jesus also said his kingdom is not of this world.

Atheists have always been around but the modern atheist movement takes a proactive stance against faith. New game now.

For those that preach inconsistentcies in the bible simply have not studied it. ww

f I'm reading your comme... (Below threshold)
jim m:

f I'm reading your commentary correctly, you are moving toward the conclusion that it is impossible for an atheist to behave morally.

No you read me wrong. I suppose if an atheist were consistent in his beliefs that may be the case, but I am suggesting that an atheist can and usually does believe in a moral code but that moral code does not have any real foundation. It does not exist independently of the individual.

At best the person can point to societal norms as the basis for their moral code but they are not pointing toward any true moral authority. They can have a moral code but it does not exist outside of a society that can enforce it. If there will never be any punishment is murder still wrong? Is rape still wrong? and why? If society determines morality and society does not extend to the place I live then does that morality still exist?

I'm an atheist, Todd; the B... (Below threshold)
James H:

I'm an atheist, Todd; the Bible's moral lessons appeal to me insofar as they, well, demonstrate morality. Beyond that, the Bible is part of my heritage. Nothing more, nothing less.

While my attitude seems a bit cavalier and perhaps blasphemous, it actually aligns with most Christians.

As we've seen, stoning adulterers, hanging witches, and generally burninating folks doesn't exactly promote a functioning, polite society. So we adapt.

If the average Christian is eager to whip out the "Old Testament doesn't count anymore" card, at the same time he says the Bible as a whole is the word of his god, I'm willing to accept it. A little bit of genial hypocrisy goes a long way toward keeping the peace.

But you're not willing to accept the gentle hypocrisy, are you? You want victory over the religious folks here. Tell ya what ... here's your winning ribbon. And I'll even applaud for you. A couple slow, sarcastic claps. You've won! You've proven that Christians are hypocrites by waving around bits of Old Testament instruction. Don't you feel good about yourself?

It's really not a productive argument. Debating bits and pieces of Old Testament scripture doesn't get to the core issue of 1) whether a god has set down an absolute morality; and 2) whether it is possible to discover morality in the absence of a god.

At best the person... (Below threshold)
James H:
At best the person can point to societal norms as the basis for their moral code but they are not pointing toward any true moral authority

A couple points here, Jim.

First, I would argue that it is possible to base a person's moral code on things other than societal norms. For example, one might hold hold to duty and honor as the foundation of his moral code, then behave accordingly. Another might take a hedonistic approach, consideirng the pursuit of pleasure the highest calling. And certain didactic writers (*cough* Ayn Rand *cough*) argue that the pursuit of individual interest is in itself the highest calling.

And there are any number of moral theories a person might pursue -- consequentialism, act utilitarianism, rule utilitarianism and so forth; most of these have consistent, solid cores without backing from a supernatural source.

Their independent value derives from the fact that some of these work quite well in execution.

Now to my second point: If I read you correctly, you argue that a moral code has no foundation if it lacks a deity. In turn, I would argue that if a deity does not exist, then by your own terms, a Bible-based moral code is equally hollow to those codes you decry. So where does that leave us?

1) whether a god has set... (Below threshold)
jim m:

1) whether a god has set down an absolute morality; and 2) whether it is possible to discover morality in the absence of a god.

As to #1: If morality exists apart from God then on what foundation does it rest? If society determines morality then does morality exist when society's reach ends? If we move from one society and the rules of morality change are they both equally valid? And if they are equally valid then does it not follow that if society A can defeat society B and impose it's morality, and those moralities are mutually exclusive, that the morality of society B was ultimately wrong?

as for #2: The Bible says that the truth is written on our hearts and that man has an a priori knowledge of God and of moral truth. However, man is fallen and flawed so man's ability to grasp that truth is flawed.

I suppose that one could argue other ways that moral truth could be revealed to man (stone tablets come to mind). One must assume a direct or indirect revelation of that morality.

I would argue that the proper question is, can an absolute morality exist apart from God and, if so, what enforces it? A morality without something backing it up is worthless.

James H,You cite s... (Below threshold)
jim m:

James H,

You cite several ways of determining a moral code but every one of them rests ultimately on the individual or society for determining that code. Even utilitarianism rests on an individual or societal definition of what is useful. You need to drill down to what or who determines WHY something is right or wrong. Consequences are often determined by society. Utility is often determined by society.

Furthermore, under such thinking the rule of what is right and wrong is determined not by an objective standard but by a situational ethic. By definition these moralities deny an objective moral code.

I would argue that if a ... (Below threshold)
jim m:

I would argue that if a deity does not exist, then by your own terms, a Bible-based moral code is equally hollow to those codes you decry. So where does that leave us?

I agree. My argument is that absent a supernatural power morality does not exist. If I can take someone outside of the reach of society and enslave them, or rape them, or murder them and have no temporal consequences then morality is meaningless. If however, a supernatural deity exists that will enforce those rules in the absence of society (perhaps not immediately, but ultimately), then I have a real moral code.

If you believe in a moral code that says that an action is right or wrong regardless of temporal enforcement of that code, then you must believe in some supernatural enforcement of that code. Otherwise the very idea of that code is empty in the absence of anyone to enforce it.

Yes, Jim, <a href="http://w... (Below threshold)
James H:

Yes, Jim, stone tablets are popular. Although you'd think that if God were so keen on spreading word to the Israelites, he would have called Gutenberg up to the mountain instead of Moses. The printing press is a marvelous thing.

Speaking of which, have you ever heard this joke?

A book collector was talking to an uncultured friend. His friend said, "I don't know why these old books are worth so much. I mean, the other day, I had a Bible printed by somebody ... Gutenberg, I think. It was falling apart. I threw it away."

The collector was aghast. "You threw away a Gutenberg Bible?!"

"Well, i tcouldn't have been too valuable," his friend replied. "Some guy named Martin Luther had scribbled all over it."

Funny joke, right? But I'm leading to a point. Even when we've ascribed a moral code to a higher power, there is still disagreement as to what, precisely that moral code is. Christian philosophers have gone back and forth on it for centuries.

Note, I'm not pulling a Todd and trying to make moden Christians accountable for Old Testament fol-de-rol. But I am pointing out that the Christian standards of the "objective" Christian moral code have evolved over time, that its tenets are still being debated today, and that there exists significant divergence in its adherents.

On this last, contrast, for example, a "gay-friendly" church with the more hostile approach to homosexuality espoused by a number of Christian groups.

It seems to me that the vaunted "objective" moral code put forward by theists is just as subjective as that put forward by atheists.

So where does that leave... (Below threshold)
jim m:

So where does that leave us?

Either morality exists and God, or a god with it; or neither exists and morality is nothing but an artificial construct that we can use for the furtherance of our own purposes.

If the latter is the case we can all join the democrat party for, based on their actions, that is what they believe.

I suppose that a third possibility exists: There is a god, but they do not enforce any moral code, but really, what's the point in paying any attention to them?

Jim: I would say ... (Below threshold)
James H:

Jim:

I would say that a non-theist moral code rests on a somewhat different foundation: Does it work? That is, does it promote a harmonious society? Does it (to quote a certain famous moral philosopher) lead to people treating others the way they wish to be treated? If so, then perhaps it is worth preserving.

I know this is a somewhat fuzzy, consequentialist approach to morality. You probably find it unsatisfying. But "it works" is a strong argument for any number of things, whether morality or the Infinite Improbability Drive.

As to reliance on an individual -- I have to ask, why not rely on an individual? I have a mind. I have senses. I have the ability to reason. To think. If I cannot construct a some morals by virtua of my own brainpower, then I truly do deserve to be run over by a bus, as I am too stupid to live.

As to the second point -- I do not think I am qualified to judge whether a person has knowledge of a god written on his soul. CS Lewis would argue a person does, others would argue that is silly. All I have is the evidence of my senses, which points to no god at all. But that is another argument.

But I should note that your "enforcement" paradigm drifts close to the rather discredited argument I cited earlier -- that a person is incapable of being moral if he does not believe in a god, as there is no fear of hell nor belief in an eternal reweard.

But let me put forward my own position.

I believe that if there is an objective morality, it can be reached by multiple avenues. I also argue that a supernatural enforcement is unnecessary. Individuals are able to puzzle out moral behavior for themselves, if only by conforming to society or to what their own reason tells them is right.

Temporal enforcement takes care of enforcing larger morality -- don't kill, don't steal, don't take the tag off mattresses. But the smaller matters are not "enforced," but rather deduced.

And I would argue that if a person is incapable of behaving morally without an enforcement authority ... than that person is not a moral person.

It seems to me that the ... (Below threshold)
jim m:

It seems to me that the vaunted "objective" moral code put forward by theists is just as subjective as that put forward by atheists.

Well yes. The point is that there exists an objective truth that we can appeal to as the foundation for our beliefs. We can be sincerely wrong in our beliefs but the appeal here is not necessarily to a Christian God, but to a god in general.

Kant maintained that through reason we could arrive at God's moral code. I think that there is something to that. But we are flawed vessels and the conclusions we reach will be flawed and we will disagree. The real point is not that we agree on every detail of morality but that we agree that such a morality exists and it is there to be discovered. My point here is that such a morality cannot exist without the supernatural underpinning.

You've won! You've... (Below threshold)
todd:
You've won! You've proven that Christians are hypocrites by waving around bits of Old Testament instruction. Don't you feel good about yourself?

Yes, given the patronising nature and hypocrisy of the original post I enjoyed it;

A dude laments and ridicules those who blindly agree with Scripture while, at the wise old age of 18, blindly agreeing with George Carlin. Rich. Might God give us each eyes to see our own blindness.

i am pleased that it was demonstrated, if only to yourself, my problem with that comment


Can we ever be right about right and wrong?
Sam Harris says yes;
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sBdQhLXTvNM#t=0m37s

Either morality ex... (Below threshold)
James H:
Either morality exists and God, or a god with it; or neither exists and morality is nothing but an artificial construct that we can use for the furtherance of our own purposes.

There is another possibility from that Paschal fellow: Live as if your god exists. Not in the hope of gaining salvation by your behavior (a juvenile interpretation of the wager), but rather because to live in such a way gives you a happier life.

Surprised to hear an atheist argue this? Why shouldn't I? If it gives somebody happiness to believe in a god and leads that person to lead a good life, who am I to interfere?

As moral philsophies go, the Golden Rule is not a bad one, regardless of whether there's a god or not.

But "it works" is a stro... (Below threshold)
jim m:

But "it works" is a strong argument for any number of things, whether morality or the Infinite Improbability Drive.

Chicago is known as "The city that works", but it is also known for the systemic corruption that runs through the government. So in your argument the corruption is OK because it works?

Again, I think that we are agreed that an objective morality exists. I cannot agree with you that an objective morality can exists without something or some authority that backs it up. Society does not reach everywhere. Human nature is not uniform.

Todd: "I presume you ha... (Below threshold)
DJ Drummond:

Todd: "I presume you have no problem with owning slaves, as long as you release them after six years as required by Exodus 21:2-6?"

Congratulations Todd, your comprehension level is now equal to Harold Camping. That is, you can take things out of context to say what you want them to say, rather than make the effort to understand the teaching.

The thing about that law in Exodus, and so in similar statutes, is that the law given in Exodus was to the Hebrew community in the wilderness. It represented a transition from the Egyptian law of Pharoah to the law of JHVH.

Regarding slavery, we tend to think on the matter simplistically - just let the slaves go. But what do slaves live on when they are set free? What property may they take with them, and what about family members who may be slaves of a less merciful owner? And how did they become slaves, anyway? Changing the law is seldom something that can be done in one move. The idea behind a 6-year period could have been to make the transition reasonable for everyone concerned.

This is one reason why churches should meet as communities; to avoid misunderstanding and attempts to pervert the message.

About enforcement ...... (Below threshold)
DJ Drummond:

About enforcement ...

Back when I was a teen, I got into music and won a few medals, trophies and various awards. The reason I bring that up, is that while there are thinsg a student can do to earn a passing grade, or even get regular A's without much effort, to really be a good musician takes a lot of work and effort. You are not really a musician unless you love music, and you can't fake love. But even if you really love music, you don't become the performer, composer, or even student that you want to be just because you want to be so; you need instruction and guidance, and leadership. For this reason every band and orchestra has a director, for this reason there are rules and standards and expectations.

This being so for music, how much more so is it true for faith, which is the foundation of how a man lives?

Just a side note: It's nice... (Below threshold)
SCSIwuzzy:

Just a side note: It's nice to see James H and jim m discuss this topic. Disagreement in an agreeable fashion.

Maybe the software license ... (Below threshold)
Wayne:

Maybe the software license (SL) statement has a point. The SL is written by lawyers and some others, who are concern how to twist, turn and interpret every word. They use it to make agenda points and care little about the actual software.

Most people however care little about the SL. What they want is to use to the software. In case of the bible it is the word (spirituality) of God. When people dissect, use creative interpretation, and such with every word of the bible they tend to miss its overall meanings. You know the whole “can’t see the forest because of the trees”.

I’m not that big into the any church or any religion. However I know many who are big into Christianity. Yes there are some hypocrites but for most religion has help them pretty well. I’m not sure why there are those who feel a need to demonize them.

I do find it ironic that th... (Below threshold)
Wayne:

I do find it ironic that the “dude” automatically assumes that a comedian statement was accurate and truthful.

I wonder if Todd has subjec... (Below threshold)
Jeff:

I wonder if Todd has subjected the Man Made Global Warming theory to the test with his rational, reasonable mind ...

Todd, here is my answer. An... (Below threshold)
Jeff Blogworthy:

Todd, here is my answer. And it does not rely on any “The O.T. Doesn’t count” sleight of hand. It is simply a factual argument.

Does the Bible condone slavery?

Yes. There is no way around it. The Bible absolutely condones slavery.

Notice that the word “condone” does not mean “approve.” It means “to permit” or “To overlook, forgive, or disregard an offense.”

To permit something does not mean that it is considered a moral good or an ideal to be pursued. The Bible permitted slavery in the same way that God permitted polygamy, death and divorce, government and taxes. These things were not the ideal, but they are sometimes necessary. How unjust was the crucifixion of the most innocent and good man who ever lived? Yet the Bible never condemns crucifixion and Jesus never spoke against it. Does that mean the Bible considers it a moral good? Of course not.

This exchange between Jesus and the Pharisees concerning that which is permitted versus the ideal is instructive:

Some Pharisees came to him to test him. They asked, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any and every reason?”

“Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’a 5and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’? So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate.”

"Why then,” they asked, “did Moses command that a man give his wife a certificate of divorce and send her away?”

Jesus replied, “Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard. But it was not this way from the beginning. I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, and marries another woman commits adultery.”

Slavery is an economic system. It is the way of a fallen world, the same as pain, sickness, and death. Until recent history slavery was the ONLY economic system. I don’t know what your politics is, but I notice that many people who are so militant against Christianity also consider capitalism abhorrent and seek to destroy it. I do not think that is an accident. They consider Marxist philosophy somehow superior, in spite of the fact that it results in mass slavery, starvation, and death everywhere it has been tried. How ironic that those who pretend to hate slavery the most are often its most aggressive modern supporters. Capitalism is the free and voluntary exchange of the fruits of labor among individuals. It by far provides for the most liberty of any economic system ever devised. But we find that leftists actually oppose slavery only in the abstract past, after all moral ambiguity has already been erased for them. In the here-and-now, they ignore the brutality of world civilizations and save their ire for America! They focus on the imperfections of capitalism, but utterly fail to point to a better model. They actually label the voluntary exchange of money for labor “wage slavery.” How laughable. Likewise, unbelievers focus on the perceived imperfections in Judeo-Christian philosophy, but fail to present a better model for just society, and forget about the glaring problems with other moral codes.

We have seen the results of institutionalized atheism and it ain’t pretty. I don’t want to get into pissing match here. Institutionalized religion of any kind is problematic. But we must recognize that atheism is a religion like any other, an its institution is just as forbidden as any other. People are fooled into thinking that atheism means “irreligious.” Not true.

“The institution of slavery had indeed been practiced from time immemorial. It existed in all the ancient civilizations of Asia, Africa, Europe, and pre-Columbian America. It had been accepted and even endorsed by Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, as well as other religions of the world.” — Bernard Lewis, Race and Slavery in the Middle East

However, modern moralists tend to damn only Christianity and America. One might think there is some ulterior motive afoot. Lewis continues:

“Both the Old and New Testaments recognize and accept the institution of slavery. Both from time to time insist on the basic humanity of the slave, and the consequent need to treat him humanely. The Jews are frequently reminded, in both Bible and Talmud, that they too were slaves in Egypt and should therefore treat their slaves decently. Psalm 123, which compares the worshipper's appeal to God for mercy with the slave's appeal to his master, is cited to enjoin slaveowners to treat their slaves with compassion. A verse in the book of Job has even been interpreted as an argument against slavery as such: "Did not He that made me in the womb make him [the slave]? And did not One fashion us both?" (Job 31:15). This probably means no more, however, than that the slave is a fellow human being and not a mere chattel. The same is true of the much-quoted passage in the New Testament, that "there is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female; for ye are all one in Christ Jesus." These and similar verses were not understood to mean that ethnic, social, and gender differences were unimportant or should be abolished, only that they conferred no religious privilege. From many allusions, it is clear that slavery is accepted in the New Testament as a fact of life.” -- Ibid

What’s more, slavery is not monolithic. It existed in many varying degrees and for different reasons. Were I to judge the morality of a slaveholder, I would be far more concerned with his treatment of slaves than the fact he had them at all. Would you rather have been “owned” by a pagan pantheist with no conscience or by someone who had been cautioned and enjoined by the above scriptures? Contrary to popular belief, not all slavery is or was race-based. People often offered themselves as slaves because of extreme poverty or indebtedness. Criminals were sometimes punished with slavery. Captives from war were sometimes made slaves. Jews owned other Jews. Did you know that many early colonial settlers (white Europeans) sold themselves into slavery for a number of years to pay for the trip to the New World, food, and lodging?

Scholars in Cultural Anthropology are sensitive to this as well, and point out that New World slavery was quite unique, historically:

"Scholars do not agree on a definition of "slavery."

The term has been used at various times for a wide range of institutions, including plantation slavery, forced labor, the drudgery of factories and sweatshops, child labor, semivoluntary prostitution, bride-price marriage, child adoption for payment, and paid-for surrogate motherhood. Somewhere within this range, the literal meaning of "slavery" shifts into metaphorical meaning, but it is not entirely clear at what point. A similar problem arises when we look at other cultures. The reason is that the term "Slavery" is evocative rather than analytical, calling to mind a loose bundle of diagnostic features. These features are mainly derived from the most recent direct Western experience with slavery, that of the southern United States, the Caribbean, and Latin America. The present Western image of slavery has been haphazardly constructed out of the representations of that experience in nineteenth-century abolitionist literature, and later novels, textbooks, and films...From a global cross-cultural and historical perspective, however, New World slavery was a unique conjunction of features...In brief, most varieties of slavery did not exhibit the three elements that were dominant in the New World: slaves as property and commodities; their use exclusively as labor; and their lack of freedom..."

Thus our modern perception of slavery has been distorted, as we are all men of our time.

Slavery is an economic system still very much alive today. Its elimination in this part of the world is a result of Western philosophy spurred by the (Christian) enlightenment. It shows an astounding bit of arrogance to stand in self-righteous judgment of thousands of years of history viewed from the prism of the last 200 years in the West. It shows even more to hurl stones at the very religion that led to its abolishment in the West. A bad tree does not produce good fruit.

There are quite a few more points I could make here, but I will end it here.




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