Tuesday, October 9, 2012


I realize that all my tendencies take the path of expansion.  Whenever I get excited about something, it’s something that is A. new, and B. going to expand my life in one way or the other.  Expand my family.  Expand my experiences.  Expand my home.  Expand my farm.  Expand my consciousness.  Expand my morality.  Expand my perspective.  
I yearn for a larger experience.  I want my life to count for more.  I want to embrace more of life.  I long for a life where I am constantly challenging my limitations and broadening my horizons.  Sometimes that leaves me with too much to do.  Sometimes that leaves me overwhelmed.  Those are the negatives.  The positives are, that I have the capacity to love and learn on an even greater level, that I am not only expanding my own experiences, but that of my children (and, reluctantly, my husband.)  Some of us live in a little box of familiarity.  Some of us travel in and out of the box.  Some of us avoid boxes altogether, and drift hither and thither.  I want to stretch my box as far as it will go, and move it occasionally from one place to another.  I don’t just want to see the world, I want to become intimately connected with it.  I yearn for that deeper connection.
Expansion is not always a positive thing, I know.  But, it is what I was meant to do- to stretch boundaries, to question, to experience, to understand.  And I see that as my purpose in life… and now that I have kids, to expand their understanding, experience, and perspective as well.  How much does life have to offer?  I want to find out.

Friday, August 10, 2012

My Son and My Daughter

My son is a ray of sunshine.  He energizes, he livens.  He brings cheerful zest for life wherever he goes.  His spirit is the love of life, the love of adventure, the spark of joy at every new discovery.  My Joy with him is talking, teaching, running, jumping, playing, reading, exploring.  I watch with wonder at the new things he learns at such a rapid pace.  My son is a verb.  He does everything he can think of.  He climbs, he swims, he digs, he searches, he finds.  My son is linguistic expression.  He wants to name everything, he wants to discuss everything.  My son is the unanswerable question.  He asks, "why", "what is this", "what are you doing", "where did it go", "what time is it", "what day is it", "can we..." he is not satisfied with one answer.  He either keeps asking the same question or changes the question.  He is curiosity and imagination.  I run after him, because he goes wherever his Will takes him.  He listens to his own desire for exploration much more than he listens to me.  Together, we celebrate a love of learning, a love of adventure.  I delight in his zest for life.  He is my son, the strong gale, the race car, the arrow.

My daughter is the warm memory of spring in the cold of winter.  Her sleepy, soft little arms enfold me.  She is a sweet hug, she is a joyful, bright smile, she is an enchanting, slobbery, baby kiss on my cheek.  Her spirit is Love and kindness, the beautiful comfort of cuddling together, just sitting and snuggling and being.  My Joy with her is her big brown eyes full of unrestrained love and happiness, the way she loves when I run my fingers through her soft brown curls, her strong, soft arms, her strong, soft belly, her ticklish neck and chubby legs.  Her strong, soft back that I massage when she is sleepy.  Strong and soft and joyful.  That is my daughter.  Memorable moments with my daughter are wordless, often silent.  We are.  We are together.  My daughter is not a verb; she just Is.  Her body and eyes hold all the meaning in the world.  Together, we celebrate Life, and Love, in its moments of rest.  My daughter is the power of Laughter.  When she laughs, the whole world laughs.  And she laughs at everything, smiles at everybody.  I delight in her love of life.  She is my daughter, the bubbly brook, the vast blue sky, sunlight alighting on the rocks.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Theology: Christian God and Evil part3

This is a continuation of a debate between me and my friend about the Christian God and the supposed evil in the Bible.

My friendNo problem. Life definitely happens. It worked out because I had no time to respond this weekend anyway. :-)

Ok, I think we're getting down to the core issues now, which is awesome because it'll help me not run into that 8000 character l
imit that Facebook enforces :-).

Let me begin first with saying that I agree with you that suffering is a bad thing and that undeserved suffering that anyone experiences is undoubtedly a perpetrated evil (by someone, somewhere). Now, *I* believe that suffering is bad because its very presence is a result of The Fall and was not part of God's intended design of how humans were to relate to God and his creation. Outside of that explanation, I don't think I could explain why suffering is bad using a logical argument. I suppose you could just start with that statement as a postulate, but I feel like it skirts around dealing with the big questions of origins, destiny, morality, and purpose. [I would interject in here to just say that I meant before that God can, has, and does use existing evil to deal with other evil but that is not the only way he deals with evil.]

Hmm, up until the statement about severity of crimes, I think I agree with you on "justice". Certainly, some laws discriminate between violations but that isn't essential for justice. But, yes, justice would be the establishment and upholding of a law, complete with punishment for violation of the law. Now, for an act to be unjust, it would have to violate some established law. If God were unjust, then he would have to be in violation of some law that applied to him. I'm still a bit unclear on your stance for this point so I'll just ask directly: is your issue with God that he seems to violate his own law or is it that he seems to violate some other law established external to him?

Also, something to just help me figure out where we agree/disagree, is your argument that God doesn't exist because he is unjust or is your argument that the God of the Bible exists but he is evil?

I try to provide audio when I can because I know that reading long articles is rough for busy people, but audio can be multi-tasked. :-)

My friend again
Oops, I responded before refreshing...here's the response to your other comments:

Well, remember, definitions are key. "Murder" is unjust, undeserved killing. The people in Canaan were regularly "worshiping" Molech, which involved tossin
g their living babies into fire as a sacrifice. Now, I think that I might be able to share something that puts those passages into a better perspective. People often talk about the "wrath of God". God's wrath is actually mentioned over 600 times in the Bible and is meantioned more often than his love. What people usually miss (I know I did for many years) is that there are two ways in which God's wrath plays out. One way is active (e.g. God sends locusts, God turns the rivers to blood, etc.). The other way is passive (e.g. Romans 1:24 where God says, "Fine. Have it your way" and people sin themselves into suffering and destruction). I think that the reference in Hosea falls into this category. Now, the Psalms references are different, but there's something else to note. Just because a child dies *because* of someone's sin doesn't mean that they are punished *for* that person's sin. Bad things happen. Sin is not done in a bubble. The ripple effect ends up hurting more people than we even realize. I would apply the same line of thinking to the rape example from your earlier post.

Remember that Jeremiah had been preaching repentance to Judah and Israel for his whole life ("since childhood" he says). He was always met with pride and arrogance. God warned them and even said that he would turn his wrath away from them if they would just repent. For decades he told them this. They scoffed. So, he sent the Babylonians in (I'm not sure how he got Nebuchadnezzar to head that way) and they just did what they always did, which is what Jeremiah described. God sent the Babylonians to conquer the Israelites and they went about it the way they always went about it. :-\ The Ezekiel reference is also describing what will happen as a result of the famine that God sends. God isn't making people eat their children. He's just saying that they will because he has that kind of foreknowledge. The Isaiah reference is a prophecy saying that God is sending another nation to Babylon to deal with them for their sins (the aforementioned killing of children, etc.). Since the Babylonians decided how they would go about conquering and they did it in a depraved way, God couldn't let that go unpunished. So, they got theirs too...so to speak.

If your child grows up and kills someone are you responsible for that? Or are they capable of making their own decisions? God allows free will. He knows that suffering will result because of it, but that is more loving than to rape everyone's willpower and make them puppets. This gets back into the issue of how far should God go to eliminate evil? Should he stop spirits from sinning but not humans? Can we justify that distinction?

Me:   i disagree that justice is directly tied in with laws. certainly, laws can be unjust. i can think of many examples, but a law that punishes people for a crime they didn't commit would be unjust. in some cultures, babies born with deformi
ties must be killed. that is an example of an unjust law, because the baby cannot help being born with a deformity. just because god made a bunch of laws doesn't make them just. punishing babies for being born to egyptians without faith is an example of injustice. killing a baby would never be just, in my opinion. in order to commit a punishable crime, you have to be able to make a choice. many people that god killed did not have a choice. babies and animals do not have the capacity for choice. if they carry sin, it is because of a "deformity" that they are born with and can't be blamed for. many people in the old testament could not help their circumstance. if they were a slave, they had very few choices. if they were women or elderly, they were subject to obey the man of the house's decision, whether or not they agreed with it. god punishes whole families and whole nations, which is not just. he punishes the innocent along with the guilty. if you have no choice, it is not just to punish you. most of his own law he made with specific reference to worshiping only him, besides the obvious "do not murder" law, which he obviously violated many times. but, that's not my argument. even if god is above the laws that he created, he still murders innocents and gives them over to men and women who will rape them, enslave them, kill their children, etc... how do those people deserve what they get? by being born with a blemish? how is that fair or equitable at all? 

i actually like reading articles better because i can't hear very well over audio devices. so, sending articles is perfectly fine. : 

My friend:  I suppose I'm being ambiguous when I say "law". It seems to me that you're appealing to a "super law" of fairness. A rule to which everyone is subject and may be judged. So, when you say that something is "unjust" or "unfair" then I inte
rpret that to mean that a law of justice/fairness has been violated. So, my questions would be the following:
Why should things be fair and just?
If things are to be fair and just, where does that idea come from?

Me:   ‎(again, sorry for the late reply, i haven't had a free second in a while!) justice is an attribute of goodness, so any god who claims goodness should be just, among other things. i don't think any one who is unfair or unjust, especially 
as sole creator and judge, can claim goodness. would you ever describe an unjust leader as "good?" an ultimate god acts as creator, judge, father, and leader. first, he has the responsibility to create worthwhile creations. god has expressed that, to him, worthwhile means not corrupt. but, corruption can't come from goodness- but it has to come from somewhere. if adam and eve weren't created corrupt, then they would have had to at least be created with weakness. why did god create such weak creatures that they would fail at the first temptation?

as judge, god is responsible for doling out fair consequences. i think i have made my point above as to why i don't think god is a fair judge. as a father, he is responsible for teaching his offspring, and for being compassionate toward them. i also made the point above that i don't think he is a very good father either. as a leader, i also don't see how he is good, because a leader is supposed to promote a decent culture, and i don't see how all that slaughtering of nations, enslaving others, treating women and children as property enlightened anyone. the bible makes god seem like a product of that culture and an instigator of those bronze age values, not someone who was fighting against it.

do you understand where i'm coming from with my emphasis on justice as it relates to goodness? if your role is to be a judge, then justice should be a pretty darn high priority when it comes to your integrity. justice is also central to morality because it's how we affirm that other people, creatures, etc... have lives of value. if we don't value other's lives, then evil persists, because we feel entitled to do whatever we want regardless of others' suffering. justice creates a safe place where no person is held to be more valuable than another person, and affronts to their rights are taken as a serious matter.

also, i'm not taking existence into account. my ideas about whether an entity exists or not are pretty much outside the scope of this discussion. suffice it to say, that i believe that any spiritual entity exists in some form, simply because it is imagined. (that humans created god, essentially.) but that is a personal belief- my argument is that the christian god is not a good god. 

Numbers 31:17-18 directly commands the israelites to rape virgins. how else do you "take for yourselves" all the virgin girls? 

also, if a child is directly killed because of someone's sin, how is that not a punishment? if god directs it
 to happen even if it would otherwise not have happened, that is a punishment. the question is: would those women have been raped, would those infants have been killed, if not for god's intervention? since the bible says that he is directly responsible, i would hazard a guess to say it's a punishment. as was killing all the firstborn of egypt. it wouldn't have happened if it weren't meant to punish. i see many examples of god punishing the innocent for the sins of the guilty. i don't know that there's much of your arguments to refute- i think my arguments still stand. unless you can prove that killing the firstborn of egypt or commanding the israelites to rape virgins and kill infants is not evil?

My friend:   Well, now you have to define goodness and where *that* concept comes from. I would not describe an unjust leader as good, but that's because I'm matching up their characteristics with the characteristics of God as my definition of "good". 
Why does God have any responsibilities at all? To whom is he responsible? Certainly not to the things he creates. "Corruption" is just another way of saying "evil". "Evil" is anything that is not of God. Adam and Eve were given the free agency to choose. They chose "not God".

Again, it seems you're appealing to a "Law of Fairness" to which you think God is subject. Where does such a law come from? Why does God have to be fair? And if he does, what makes us think that we have the perspective, through time and space, to determine what is ultimately fair anyway?

Well, we need to establish, in this discussion, whether or not the God of the Bible exists because his existence is a necessary launching point for claims about evil, morality, justice, goodness, and fairness to even have meaning. If there is no ultimate authority to establish laws, then people are merely the random co-location of atoms and the concept of morality is just a particular assortment of neurons with no real implications.

From my perspective, it seems like you are down playing the severity of sin, you are putting human characteristics on God, and you are discerning things as if from the position of God. So, I think we need to establish a couple things. First, who is God and what are his characteristics? Second, who is man(kind) and what are his characteristics? Thirdly, how do God and man relate to each other?

Numbers 31:17-18 says to take them for yourselves, but it doesn't say to rape them or even have sex with them.

Are you saying that all negative consequences to your children that you are in control of are punishments? If you allow your children to play outside and they skin their knees, is that a punishment? Just because you allow them to make some choices and bad things happen because of it doesn't mean you're punishing them. I'm not saying that all suffering isn't punishment, just that not all of suffering is punishment. Pharaoh had nine opportunities to let the Israelites go after seeing that God was at work. He was told what would happen and he basically told God, "Go ahead." So, Pharaoh was saying, the first born sons were an acceptable price for keeping the Israelites as slaves. I'd say those deaths are on his hands.

Me:   that is why belief in christianity is so dangerous- because god is not held accountable for anything. after all, he made us, so he should be able to do whatever he wants with us right? well, that does not make him good. if i make a piece
 of art, i have the right to destroy it whenever i want to with no warning, or just on a whim, whatever. it's mine so i'll do as i please. but, i made 2 wonderful children, and yes i have a responsibility to them and yes i am accountable to them for my actions. just because they are not an authority over me does not mean i have no accountability to them. they have feelings and a mind of their own, so i am responsible for them. they are not simply a reflection of me, like a painting would be, but they have their own intrinsic worth. that's the problem with the biblical god- he doesn't treat humans as if they have any intrinsic value, they are just reflections of him to give him glory... like paintings. but we are not mere paintings, we have our own thoughts and our own ideas. a parent is a horrible person if he treats his children as if they were mere reflections of him, or if he lets natural consequences do things to permanently damage them. if my children reach up and touch a hot stove and get a 3rd degree burn, it may be a direct consequence of their actions, but it is my job to protect them, plus they have limited knowledge of hot stoves whereas i have full knowledge of what might happen, so i am responsible for their 3rd degree burns, even if i warn them not to touch the stove and they disobey me. if i warn my 2 year old son not to run out into traffic, i still have to enforce that law- not by punishing, but by preventing. my son doesn't have the capability to understand that he could get killed if he runs into traffic, but i do, therefore it's my responsibility to keep him from doing it, if i value my son's life at all.

if every parent let their child experience the full consequence of their actions, the human race would die out a long, long time ago. children would get killed here and there all the time, or become permanently deformed, or fall into the hands of rapists and abusers. and if you warn your teenage child not to drive 80 mph in a school crossing zone, and know full well that he or she will do that anyway, and that innocent children will die because of it, you still have the responsibility to stop your teenage child so that innocent people don't get killed even if it violates your child's choice. yes, the teenage child has free will, but what about the rights of the innocent? that's why laws exist- to protect the innocent from becoming victims of the choices of evil or reckless people. yes, i am judging god. god is not above judgment- no one is. if you claim god has a quality such as "good" or "just" etc... then you have the responsibility to prove it based on human knowledge of good. if god is the definition of good, then i don't care about goodness at all because it clearly has leeway for allowing his children to be raped and tortured. god did not merely "allow" the firstborn of egypt to die- he killed them. he killed the innocent to prove a point to the guilty. how is that just? besides, he helped harden pharaoh's heart in the first place, just so that the world could see his power. what kind of parent would encourage his children to sin, so that he could punish them indirectly through innocents, just so that he could demonstrate his absolute authority? besides, of course pharaoh dared to challenge god when he was told the firstborn would die. he was gambling with other people's lives, not his own. who cares if pharaoh didn't care about his own people? god was supposed to care about the egyptians, too. he could have easily killed pharaoh instead of innocents- but he didn't. why not? the reason it's so fruitless and frustrating to debate with christians over moral concepts is because you are unwilling to look at your god and your bible the same way you look at the rest of the world. you can't follow leaders blindly, because how do you know that the bible was inspired by god and not satan? really, how do you know? the actions of god are both good and evil so it really could be either. if you base your entire morality on what the bible says and not your own logic and sense of right and wrong, then of course you think that your god is good, because you are blind to his faults. because you are not using a dictionary, you are asking an authority to define everything. maybe there's some sort of twisted peace in that type of blind trust, but it certainly doesn't make you grow as a person. the non-christians i know are much more moral than the christians i know, because they have had to think about and examine their actions, look at the world and figure out how to live good lives, not merely follow ancient text and refuse to examine their own religion to determine whether or not it is actually good.

god does not have to be fair. he doesn't have to be anything. but there is no way i'll follow and revere an unfair god. no way. even if it means i'll end up in hell. if god wants to punish me for following my own sense of morality, because i find his roundabout way of directing suffering and death on the innocent deplorable, then so be it. but again i don't think the christian god is the absolute authority so i don't really believe i'll end up in hell. i used to believe that- and i was willing to accept hell as a lesser evil than following a hypocritical god- but i don't anymore.

in that article it makes an argument that children are not truly innocent, because they are willing to do what they are told. if a child does not have the development to make up his own mind, then a child being taught to hate others is a sad fact, but it doesn't mean the child is evil. he is just mimicking his parent or culture's viewpoints. when i was a child, i wouldn't have attended sunday school if my parents didn't value it so highly. pick up a child development book- children don't even see themselves as separate from their parents until they are well into their second year of life, and they don't begin to formulate their own values until much, much later. any value judgments children make are based on their parent's values and not their own. thus, a child's religious or moral views should not be meted out with death, raping, and torture. it's pretty easy to superimpose your own beliefs on a child, even an adopted one. :P

Me again:   and, ok, in what universe do men take virgin women for any other reason than sex? that's extremely obvious. if you deny that, you are really deluding yourself. notice god didn't say anything about virgin men, so it's not the virginity fa
ctor. and, children are hopefully virgins too, but they were killed. virgin women are not any more sinless than anyone else, so sex is pretty much the only reason they would be "taken." obviously, god gave the virgin women to be raped and taken as wives or sex slaves.

My friend:   We can't, as created beings, judge our creator. To judge the creator is to imply that you have complete knowledge of his intentions and purpose. We just don't know those things. You're not actually accountable to your children for your a
ctions. You're accountable to God for your actions towards your children. Your children aren't in a position to judge you. God is. I strongly disagree that God doesn't treat humans as if they have intrinsic value. Why would God come to earth as a human and suffer a horrific death just so he could enter into a relationship with fallen, sinful people? Obviously, because he values us. If you read/listened to that sermon from before about whether God is for us or himself, then you'd already know that the absolute best thing God can give us is himself and the absolute best thing for us to do is to glorify him. So, he's not being selfish or egotistical. He's being generous and compassionate. God gave us scripture and revealed himself in nature. That's him giving us the instruction of how to live, but he also loves us enough to allow us to disagree with him and ignore his instructions.

I suppose you could say God is subject to judgment, even though no created thing is in a position to judge him. Even so, he holds up to The Law perfectly. So, he is innocent, and indeed is the only truly innocent being. Wait, what? Why would God's goodness be subject to human knowledge of good? God *is* the definition of good and justice, and if you think he condones rape and torture then you have severely misread the Bible. You still don't seem to grasp the severity and pervasiveness of sin. That, I believe, is critical to understanding God's actions.

The problem is, we *can't* logically look at God, the creator of the universe, who is transcendant to the universe the same way we look at everything in the universe. It's not just apples and oranges...it's apples and zebras. I'm not going to assume for a moment that in my limited 30 years here on earth, from my 21st century western culture perspective that I can even hope to understand and judge the actions of an eternal, omnipotent, omnipresent, omniscient, and transcendent being. I just don't have that high an opinion of myself.

You're making assumptions from the text (also from your 21st century western culture perspective) and then "deducing" that God is condoning the actions that you assumed. How exactly is that the same God being unjust?

You also claimed that non-christians you know are more moral than Christians. First, I don't debate that fact. Second, that makes no attempt to explain where the idea of morality came from and why people should care at all about it. Third, how "moral" a person lives has nothing to do with one's ultimate destination. It misses *the entire point* of the Bible.

Me:   of course you're accountable to your children- to anyone whom you have responsibility towards. i guess i have a different idea of accountability, though. you have to answer to the government and other authorities for your actions, but you
 also have to answer to the judgment of the person you wronged as well. (for example, if you hurt your child, you still need to apologize to your child and ask their forgiveness. even if a court of law forgives you, or god forgives you, your child may not. if your religion or your government say it's OK to lock your child in a closet for a day as punishment, you, as a responsible parent, should consider the potential psychological, physical, etc... harm in doing that even if it's OK'd by your authorities. if you do lock your child in a closet, and psychological harm is done, then you are accountable to your child for the harm you have done.) subjects are accountable to their authority, but the authority is also accountable to its subjects. a monarch still has to look after the wellbeing of his/her subjects even if s/he can technically do whatever s/he wants. an king doesn't have the right to make up their own law regardless of how it impacts his subjects. technically, he has the power to do that, but that does not make it right. in the same way a parent has the power in the relationship, and the right and responsibility to make rules of the house and enforce them, but the rules have to be in the best interest of everyone, not just the majority, but everyone. how is it in the best interest of the egyptian babies to kill them instead of the ruler who really deserved the punishment? again, how is that fair? how is it fair to condemn to hell millions of people who never had the chance to hear the gospel? how is it fair to annihilate whole nations of people who did not have god's guidance as the israelites did. how was it fair to job's family to be killed just so that job would be tested? how was it fair to all the slaves to be killed along with their masters even though they didn't have a choice as to how they were born and who their masters were? how is it fair to kill wives along with their husbands when it was the husbands who had sinned? or vice versa, how is it fair to kill the husbands of the wives who had sinned?

god did not reveal himself in nature. otherwise, people who never read the bible or were subject to missionaries would have known about god and jesus and all that. but did they? how did they get that information stranded in africa or australia or the americas, etc... enough information to believe and be saved? if we are all judged individually, then we should have all of us- every single man, woman, child, unborn baby, deaf and blind, mentally handicapped, everyone... been given an informed choice whether to believe or not. can you say with certainty that every individual got that choice? that every individual was created capable of making that choice, and inspired by god to know how to be saved? that's why you don't have the death penalty for simply existing- that is a mockery of justice, or the death penalty for an accident- that is also unjust. if we aren't able to make a choice, we should not be held responsible for the consequences. if god wanted all to be saved, then he would have given every single one of us the opportunity. otherwise how can he be all powerful?

i certainly think he condones rape, murder, and slavery, which are unjust things. even if you can somehow explain those passages where he directly commands the israelites to take sex slaves, murder everyone even the pregnant women and children, (which you haven't) you can't explain the instances where he directly murders children, such as the egypt example.

i'm not making assumptions about the text. it says quite plainly to kill everyone even the children, and to take the virgin girls home with you. if you have an alternative explanation as to why god wanted the israelite men to take virgin girls as plunder, then i'd like to hear it. but it seems pretty obvious to me. (or stating how to treat a daughter sold as a sex slave- in that case he didn't command people to sell their daughters as sex slaves but he certainly allowed it. which is still rape.)

so basically this is what it comes down to. the conclusions i come to while reading the bible seem pretty obvious for a person who doesn't have absolute trust in god. you do have absolute trust in god, so you are looking for a lot of alternate explanations besides the one that is pretty straightforward- which is to say, god killed innocents, he commanded his people to rape, murder, and take slaves, and he condemns people to hell who have had no opportunity to believe. yes, those are high accusations against god, but not unfounded at all. it's right there in plain sight. it doesn't require a complex logical pattern to get to that conclusion- it's sitting right there in the bible for anyone to read. it is not by our words that we judge others- it's by our deeds. god can declare that he never sins and that he never condones misdeeds and that he doesn't punish children for the sins of the fathers- but the evidence is against him. and if god had some sort of convoluted plan to get the universe going a certain direction by sacrificing billions of lives to the fires of hell- i still think that's wrong.

My friend:   You're asserting several things here without supporting them (or at least, I'm missing it). Why is anyone accountable to the ones they are responsible for? To avoid retaliation? To avoid feeling morally bad? You can say, "because it's t
he right thing to do." But *why* is it the right thing to do? Who says so? Actually, kings do have the right to make up whatever laws they want. The people could always rebel against the monarch, but monarchy is just what the name means...the rule of one.

You assume that the nations didn't have guidance like the Israelites, but even the Bible disagrees with you on that point.

What I mean by "God reveals himself in nature" is that the complexity and beauty of creation shouts "design." Anybody that experiences the world and asks themselves, "where did this come from? Why is there something rather than nothing?" would logically come to the conclusion that a transcendent being put it here. The knowledge of such a transcendent being existing would lead the person to either pursue that being or oppose it. It's what people call "general revelation". Now, the works of Jesus and his atoning work are called "specific revelation." See the link below for a better treatment than I could ever give on how ancient gentiles received salvation.

God never says, "Rape is good." You're misreading the text. Like I said before, you're making assumptions and then attributing those assumptions to God. It's just not in the text. Plenty of the links I've provided you give detailed exegetical treatments of the passages you have issue with. So, I'm not going to rehash them here. Why might God have them take virgins as plunder? Maybe to save them from a corrupt culture before they become corrupt too.

How can God kill innocent people when no one is innocent? Show me where God explicitly says "Go rape those people." I've read the Bible a few times. It's not in there. Murder is unjustified killing. Every single time God instructs the Israelites to kill (and other nations too), it's for a reason. That's justified and therefore not murder. And again, don't apply our modern understanding of 18th century slavery to what happened there. That's just being intellectually dishonest. We don't know who God condemns to Hell. Whenever the Bible says not to judge...that's precisely the thing it's talking about. We know God is just and will deal with everyone accordingly.

So, you *still* haven't answered the basic questions I posed way back. The most important, I think, is this "where does morality come from?"

Links for your perusal:
http://www.christiancourier.com/articles/1475-did-the-ancient-gentiles-have-the-hope-of-salvation (Quote from the article: "It is wholly unrealistic not to recognize that God’s love for the Gentiles was a part of the ancient world.")

Me:   the egyptian children were innocent of the crime god killed them for. killing someone for the crime of another, is wrong. if you can't see that, i don't know how we can continue the discussion. morality comes from the value of life. i d
idn't want to argue that, because a discussion about the origin of ethics can last all night and day and i've never met a christian who understood how a non-christian can have a grasp on morality. you can argue that without god, we would have no concept of immorality, but obviously i disagree. if you don't get it, you don't get it. morality comes from within, not without. it comes from your values- a sense of justice and compassion. god didn't need to say "rape is good"- if he commanded the israelites to sin then that's enough. he commanded the israelites to take virgin girls as plunder. i think you're hopelessly naive to think that that didn't mean rape them. in several places he said to take them "as wives." you don't think that that meant rape? and, on the battlefield, how would a soldier figure out which ones were the virgins? that they would just go up and ask, "hey, are you by chance, a virgin?" especially with language barriers. i think you can probably figure out how they would have separated the virgins from the non-virgins. murder is unjust killing. i think it's safe to say that murdering whole nations just because they were in the land promised by god to the israelites is unjust. i think it's safe to say that virgin girls would be no more or less corrupt than virgin boys, or maybe babies? and yet the boys and babies. the only ones saved were the virgin girls, and that was so that they could "become wives." if you think they were willing sexual partners to the men who had killed their mothers and fathers, brothers, sisters, all the people that they loved, then that is just plain delusional.

there is no justification in killing children or babies. none. a baby is no threat to anyone, and not capable of making any decisions, much less the decision to sin. babies could be saved from corruption much easier than sexually available virgin girls, but obviously god didn't care about that. i'm pretty sure i addressed your arguments to the verses, and you didn't address a lot of mine. (about the 9th? comment when you said, before you address the verses you wanted to talk about ethics.)

http://www.thehypertexts.com/Bible%20Rape%20Sex%20Slavery.htm (just as a summary of some of the verses.)

the first verse you argued that god didn't condone a man selling his daughter as a sex slave, but obviously god didn't say anything against it either. with all the things he commanded the israelites not to do, buy sex slaves should have been one of them. why was god silent? why didn't he consider it a sin?

in the judges 21 reference, that was a really messed-up thing that israel did in order to procure wives for benjamin. god didn't command the israelites to do what they did, but he stayed completely silent on the matter, which is concerning. he didn't even say that what they did was wrong, which he seemed to do with many other matters. not solid proof, but it certainly doesn't add to the assertion that he thinks rape is wrong. (obviously god considers rape to be a minor infraction, since Deuteronomy 22 says that adultery deserves stoning, but a rapist only has to pay her father some money and take her as his wife. nice. and that's the only evidence i can find of god even mentioning that rape might be wrong. can you find others?)

in the numbers 31 reference, god approved of dividing the women as spoils. in that verse, all the commands come from moses, but later in the chapter, god addressed dividing the spoils and didn't seem to care what was done with the women. and again, why would he be ok with them killing the baby boys? only the virgin women were kept as spoils. i understand killing the adult women in that case because they were the ones that had "sinned," but why were the children killed as well? and why did god turn a blind eye to the rape of virgin girls that obviously happened with 32,000 virgin girls that were given to men?

the Deuteronomy 20:10-14 says enjoy the spoils, but included all women and children and animals, so we'll assume it only means forced labor and not forced sex (even though the next chapter elaborates and says forced sex). :P and i still think forced labor is wrong but obviously god disagrees.

Deuteronomy 21 clearly says it's ok to force a comely woman to be your wife, and after a month of mourning, you can rape her.

the Judges 5 one was never addressed. "a maiden, two maidens for every warrior." obviously not referring to saving virgin girls from a corrupt culture, it's pretty obviously treated women as sex slaves.

the Zechariah one you explained as being a foretelling, not a commanding. and the rest of the verses take into account slavery, which we're just going to have to agree to disagree on. although the link you provided said that god allows, but doesn't condone, slavery, which is pretty far fetched considering god tells the israelites to take certain people as slaves. since he supposedly doesn't command the israelites to do anything wrong, i would assume he approves of slavery too. the one that gets me is Exodus 21:20-21 where the israelites were allowed to beat slaves to the point of death as long as they didn't die... ugh.

let me go back over the verses i provided, since there were a lot, because i'm pretty sure there are more verses i provided.

as far as the link, where did god ever say that he spoke to the gentiles as well as the jews? if he did, that would be great. but, i find no evidence of that. obviously, conscience is innate, but is it enough to save a person from hell? 
most christians would say no. what we naturally know without the bible is basic morality, and evidence of spiritual forces at work. but, unless a person knows about jesus, they can't be saved, correct? so how can you explain millions of people who never knew about jesus and are therefore going to hell? what about the egyptian children that god killed? the children of the nations israel slaughtered? the many nations israel didn't even interact with? god only gave his message of a messiah to israel, so how would anyone else know about it?

Me again:   in 2 Samuel 12:11-14, god says that he will deliver david's wives to his neighbor to be raped and that he would kill his innocent son. (and also killed the family of job just to test him.) Hosea 9:11-16 (where god kills children for the sin
s of their parents), Isaiah 14:21 (where he also kills sons for the sins of their fathers), Ezekiel 9:5-7 (where he tells them to slaughter even the children because their parents weren't thoughtful enough to put a mark on them), Exodus 12:29-30 (god strikes down the firstborn of egypt, also because their parents weren't informed or didn't have faith enough to put a mark on the door), Leviticus 26:21-22 (where he sends plagues to kill the sinner's children), 1 Samuel 15:2-3 (where god wants israel to kill infants just because their leader sinned).

i realize you basically said that god was just prophesying the demise of the children in those verses, but i completely disagree. Hosea says, "Even though they bear children, I will slay the precious ones of their womb." directly states t
hat god was going to kill the children. the Isaiah one says that the sons will die directly because of the sins of the fathers but i suppose it could be one that prophesied instead of god directly slaughtering them. in Ezekiel god himself said to kill the children because they didn't have a mark on them, because the only ones who were spared were the men who disapproved with their city. which was fine, except that the women and children didn't get the same opportunity. (disregard about parents putting on the mark- that was a misunderstanding.) the Leviticus one said god directly acted, didn't just prophesy. and the 1 Samuel said directly that god was sending israel on his behalf to punish Amalek. apologies if you already went over these, because it's really hard to find specific arguments in this big long debate. ;)

but, i think in the discussion of justice why killing people just because they must have committed some crime, somewhere, is not just at all. which applies mostly to the egyptian firstborn argument- just because they probably sinned in som
e way, doesn't mean they deserved to die for the crime of not letting the israelites go. that wasn't their decision to make- it was pharaoh's. they weren't killed incidentally, either, they were killed deliberately, by god, for a specific purpose, and then thrown into hell because their parents didn't believe in the messiah.

Me again:   also... Revelation 2: 20-25 which says god himself will kill the children of jezebel for her sin. 

also, in Deuteronomy 2 and 3 the israelites slaughter whole nations, men, women, and children, because god hardened the leader's heart so he would refuse the offer of peace. then in Deuteronomy 3 he makes clear that he approved of the total slaughter and wanted them to do it again with another nation. 

sorry to bombard you tonight! here is a good explanation of the point i'm trying to make: http://formerfundy.blogspot.com/2010/05/does-god-of-bible-condone-rape-part-two.html

i've read a lot of discussions about this topic where a christi
an and an atheist go back and forth. i honestly did not know until this discussion that other people had come to the same conclusion that i did. what the discussions always come down to, though, are what you were trying to talk about- the non-christian basis for morality... the argument from a christian standpoint being that an atheist wants the whole world to follow the atheist's personal take on morality and the christian wants the whole world to follow an objective morality, and the atheist asserting that the bible's morality isn't objective because it's contradictory, incomplete, man-made, etc... (and my argument is that it's not objective because it's biased toward one race (the israelites), on gender (men), and one age group (adult). and a loving, just god needs to hold everyone's live as equally valuable. that's objective.) my view is that, when adopting a moral code, we have to look at all the players and all the individuals and determine what behavior is too harmful to allow. it's a morality based on the idea that all lives are equally valuable (we'll go with human lives here, because i don't think i could convince any christian that animal lives are equally valuable to human ones.) and from there, morality would be condoning actions that are respectful and harmonious with others, and abhoring actions that violate another human's rights. the "rights" idea comes directly from the idea that all human lives have equal value. if we all have equal value, than no person's life is worth more than another's. we can't just kill when we want, because that would be presuming that our own life has more worth than the person whom we kill. slavery becomes wrong because we are presuming that our own will and our own happiness has a higher value than the slave's will and happiness. rape becomes wrong because we are presuming that our own wants have a higher value than the victims' physical and mental health. theft becomes wrong because we are presuming that our own needs or wants have a higher value than the victims'. adultery (cheating) becomes wrong because we are placing our own wants over the trust and respect of the original partner. respect is promoted because we place our worth at an equal level with other humans'. if we value our own happiness, then our brothers' happiness should also be maintained, because my happiness and yours are both to be valued. (and empathy is born- what hurts you, hurts me) and harmony is promoted because, since our needs are equal, we work toward solutions to problems that take both our needs into account. justice is promoted because violations of rights are horrific. the worst atrocities in the world are committed and perpetuated because of a belief in superiority- superiority of race, of gender, of religion, of anything. that belief (that i am superior to you because a. i'm a superior race, b. i'm a superior gender, b. i have a superior haircut, etc...) leads to oppression. that's why i can't follow the christian god. when i read the bible, god treats the jews as superior ("chosen people" with their well-being put above other nations'), men as superior (i've avoided bringing up how the bible elevates men and subjects women because it makes my blood boil. that's a subject that is dangerous for me to breach because i become very emotional and passionate about it. but it exists in the bible.) economic status (non-slaves have more rights than slaves), and ageism (adults have more rights than children. not just responsibilities, but rights too.) in essence, that is why i think the biblical god is an immoral one. it's not because he breaks his own laws, but because he doesn't seem to respect the value of certain lives. it makes me mad that he condemns "sins" that don't really hurt anyone, such as homosexuality, sex before marriage, and worshiping other gods, but he has so little respect for human life that he allows it to be violated over and over again and even directs his people to commit genocide and abusive behavior in his name. i guess that's really what the argument boils down to.

That's as far as the debate has gotten so far!

Theology: Christian God and Evil part2

This is a debate continuing from my last post, about how the Christian God could endorse horrible things like rape, slavery, and killing babies.  Again, apologies for how the font turned out.

My friend:  First, Crysta, I want to thank you for having this conversation. Most people just spout some disagreement and then refuse to back it up or explain. So thanks for having a real discussion!
(Wow, this response was longer than I thought it wou
ld be...sorry!)

I *do* think that no one is innocent (Romans 3:23 "For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.") but that's because I believe that we all live under God's law. Someone's ignorance of a law certainly evokes some feelings of sympathy, but even in today's society we still punish people for breaking laws whether or not they were aware of the law. So, innocence under the law doesn't depend on our knowledge of the law (which is a bit depressing considering the extent of the laws in the US!). Yes, I believe the "smallest sin" is deserving of a trip to Hell (James 2:10 "Whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles in one point, he has become guilty of all." -> so whether you murdered an entire race or had an angry thought, you're just as guilty in the eyes of an infinitely perfect God). So, when you say someone is "innocent", to what law are you referring? For us to say what should and shouldn't deserve whatever punishments is to put ourselves in the place of the law giver (from my perspective, God).

I'm familiar with the doctrine of "original sin", but I'm going to admit that I don't fully understand it. But I do know that my little nephew, before he was even six months old, was selfish and manipulative. Nobody had to teach him how to be sinful. He did it on his own. Whether or not he was "pure" before his first overt sin is largely a matter of biblical interpretation and speculation. Why is condemning someone for a single act unjust? A murder is a single act, but we put people in prison for the rest of their lives for it. To claim injustice, you must state the law to which you're appealing. The Bible says that people will be held to account for their actions. So, if someone hasn't committed any sin, then they should be fine, but like the reference above says...everyone sins. I agree that punishing someone for another person's sin is unfair. The Israelites did too. (Deuteronomy 24:16 "Fathers shall not be put to death for their sons, nor shall sons be put to death for their fathers; everyone shall be put to death for his own sin.") You correct in saying that Israel was no better than the Egyptians. You have to look at the greater picture and see why those nations (Israel, Egypt, Canaan, etc.) were oppressed by other nations. Sometimes God used nations to punish other nations, as in the case of Israel conquering the people of Canaan. Once, God sent the Assyrian army to punish Israel because...well, they had it coming. But to say that God was no better than the Egyptians, I'm going to have to disagree with that. Not only did every nation deserve their oppression (from God's perspective) but the fact that God didn't send each person immediately to Hell for their first sin is pure, undeserved grace and mercy toward humanity on his part. I think to ask "why does God punish people on earth" is not the right question. The right question is "why does God let us live after sinning against him?"

How is God different from the gods of the other nations? That's an easy one. He actually exists. I realize that may be offensive to some people, but I'm not going to sugar coat the truth on that one. The God of the Bible exists, created the universe and everything in it, and is active in that creation. The other gods...well, they were carved out of wood, stone, and/or metal by some human. To ask about Christianity, I would just make sure to judge the beliefs and not the practitioners. But Christianity is better than the other religions because it has the virtue of being true. I may not understand all of the difficult passages in the Bible, but I know that things that seemed confusing or contradictory to me years ago make perfect sense now after researching the topics. You say that Jesus' words are commendable...does that include his claim to be God? The OT God? I'd describe him as incredibly patient, loving, caring in his discipline, slow to anger, and does not want to punish yet is just (see Joel 2:13 for just one spot in the OT that agrees with me, see the story of Jonah for another). God didn't set Israel aside to go to Heaven. He chose them to be a blessing to all the other nations (i.e. to get the other nations to worship the one true God, too...Genesis 22:18). Just one instance of this happening is the story of Rahab in the book of Joshua. She was part of the Canaanites but she was declared righteous because of her faith. She was even listed in the geneology of Jesus. Again, God used the Israelites to punish the people of the land for their rebellion against him. People can be peaceful and still rebel against God.

My friend again
How do you judge the severity of an action? Our actions have effects on people who then behave differently than if we had done something different. Are we responsible for those effects as well? God struck down a man for touching the ark bec
ause he failed to acknowledge the holiness of God (the most mentioned attribute of God in the Bible). It seems that you're arguing that God should stop the evils of abuse, murder, and rape. Why should God stop some evil from being perpetrated and not other evil? If we want God to get rid of evil, then we need to be consistent and have him get rid of all evil. That would include abuse, murder, rape, lying, stealing, adultery, lustful thoughts, angry thoughts, prideful thoughts...the list goes on. So, should God just eliminate the people who engage in said behavior or should he just engage in thought control to prevent it? In an act of love, he allows us to have a free will. *We* are the ones who decide what to do with that free will. In yet another act of love, he allows us to continue to live in order to give us the opportunity to get to know him and follow his instructions. [Also, when analyzing the individual words of a passage, I'd recommend using the New American Standard Bible (NASB) because it strives to have the closest word-for-word definitions in translation]

The OT promoted forgiveness as well. (Nehemiah 9:17 "But You are a God of forgiveness, gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in lovingkindness; and You did not forsake them.") Again, I wouldn't judge a belief system by its practitioners...people suck at following God's rules, which is one of the themes of the Bible. Ah yes, the age old question, "Do babies go to Heaven?" This is one of the points that the Bible isn't explicitly clear on (though some people will make reference to a time when King David's baby died and he said that he would see it in Heaven). I'm not going to say I have an answer for that, but I do know that God is just. Baptism isn't actually required for salvation (just read the book of Acts for a number of examples of people who received the Holy Spirit before they were baptized). Regarding nations that haven't heard, that's why Jesus gave the Great Commission ("Go therefore and make disciples of all nations."), and again God is just. For people that came before Jesus, it was still faith in the one true God to provide salvation and redemption from their sins that saved them, whether they were looking forward in time to the cross or like us who look backward in time to it. There was plenty of mention of the savior in the OT...it's pretty much what the whole thing was about. Yes, free will vs. predestination (or predetermination if you want, but I think that's an easier topic). It's a tough topic. We're unlikely to understand it fully on this side of death. I'll give you that one.

Who gets to decide what is "moral" behavior? Individuals? Society? Nations? Communities? How many people would a community have to have in order to rightfully establish morality?

It's interesting that you would choose those two models to couple together. Everyone wants forgiveness, but everyone wants justice too. Those two things are really at odds...usually. But those two things are exactly what happened when Jesus was crucified. God has two characteristics (among many): he is just and he is loving. In his love, he wants to draw us close to him, but in his justness he cannot allow sin to go unpunished. So, he himself came down to live the perfect, sinless life that we were supposed to live and then died the death that we were to supposed to die. In that act all of sin was put on Jesus, satisfying God's justice, and Jesus' life was then provided as a substitutionary atonement to allow us access to God the Father.

well, i'll answer partially now, because i don't have much time to be on the computer before doing farm chores. but i want to get my ideas down on words so that i don't forget to mention some of this. the reason most non-christians don't 
debate with christians is not because we can't answer you, but because most people don't want to spend time first defining everything and then arguing definitions. i'm not trying to offend you with this statement, but one of the most effective ways to brainwash someone is to redefine everything in terms of a single authority, so that you essentially can't argue against any point, because every definition goes back to that one authority. you can get around so many arguments by just re-defining your terms. it's a common and very effective debate tactic, but it doesn't make it true. to quote a villain in a children's movie, "hey, who are you going to believe: me, or your own eyes?" if you blindly follow one authority, than everything will make perfect sense, but you get a distorted view of the world. in my opinion, christians have a very distorted view of the world, and it's very difficult to break free of the christian way of thinking, because it fundamentally shakes you and re-defines your whole world. i'm not saying everyone should de-convert, but everyone should open their minds to other ways of looking at the world, if nothing else, to better understand people who think differently.

the way christians define justice is a prime example of brainwashing. 'god is good, because the law says that he is good, and he created the law, so he must be good.' that logic does not make any sense at all to anyone other than a christian. simply following a law does not make a good person, nor is it necessarily just. justice is being fair and looking out for the wellbeing of everyone under your authority, or who you interact with. god's law is unjust because it shows favoritism and is inconsistent. god is authority over everyone, so he has the responsibility of being fair and just towards everyone. the fact that he set aside favorites and treated them differently is a form of injustice. i have 2 children- if i were to favor one over the other, that would be unjust. in the same way, god supposedly created every human being, yet he revealed himself only to the israelites. he punished the israelites, he rewarded the israelites, but either way it was all in relation to them. he didn't do what was best for everyone, he didn't tell every nation about a savior, it was all about his chosen people, and the rest of the world was essentially left to figure it out for themselves. the israelites, on the other hand, got personal mentoring by god. if i were to teach one of my kids how to read and write and do math, then i would be justified in sometimes getting frustrated with that child when he refused to learn. but my other child would get none of my personal attention- she would just be left to figure out how to read, write, do math, etc... by herself, or else look at the ability of my son and try to mimic it. but i would not be justified in punishing her for not being able to come to the same conclusions as my son, because i simply wasn't there for her. first of all, favoring one child over the other is unjust. secondly, having the same standards for the child i did teach and the child i didn't teach is just cruel. doing that would make me a horrible parent- but it's exactly what god did.

secondly, to a christian's mind, all sins are the same. but that idea is also unjust. does our justice system dole out the death penalty for speeding as well as murder? no, that would be extremely cruel. speeding may be accidental, the result of carelessness, even if it's intentional it usually does no harm to anyone. murder, on the other hand, is taking away someone's fundamental right to life. it is forcefully imposing our will onto another and taking away one of the most precious things we have- our own life. it's just that a murderer be executed- is it just that a traffic violation earn an execution? but to the christian god it's all the same. speeding, or murder, it earns the same punishment- eternal torment in hell (which is an extreme punishment even for a murderer. one would even say cruel and unusual.)

Me again:   my point is there, that the idea of hell and salvation is fundamentally unjust, because all crimes are met with the same punishment regardless of the severity of the crime or even the intention of the sinner. (that poor guy who touched the
 ark, for instance, only wanted to serve god, yet because he wasn't able to read god's mind and think, in that quarter-instant he had to react, that god might want him to let his ark crash to the ground rather than have a rule broken.) and also, even if free will exists, that god basically warned some of the people he created and supposedly loved again and again that they should obey him or be sent to hell, yet he said nothing to the rest of the world and just expected them to figure it out for themselves. many children and adults were born and died knowing nothing of the israelites and the promised savior. the israelites didn't even bother trying to convert the nearby nations, they just wiped them out, so how were they supposed to know and believe in a savior they never heard of? or why should they listen to a nation that was wiping them out at the time? not to mention the nations that were living on the other side of the earth at the time, so they wouldn't have even heard of the israelites at all. what about their souls? did god care nothing for them? obviously not. (and of course, if free will doesn't exist, then god is responsible for picking and choosing who will believe and who will not, who will go to hell and who will go to heaven, so how is that even remotely just?)

also, i wasn't saying that god needed to get rid of our ability to sin. i said he shouldn't condone it. there's quite a difference between condemning the rapist and removing his ability to rape at all. in the above passage, god gives the
 israelites permission to rape, to take slaves, to beat their slaves, to sell their daughters into sexual slavery, to murder the children of other nations, etc... that's completely different than allowing people to sin yet punishing them for it. he supposedly struck down people for doing things such as looking back at a burning house, spilling seed on the ground so he didn't have to give it to his brother, offering strange fire to god, complaining, for doing what he told them to do (scouts going to spy on canaan came back and told the truth of what they saw, and since their report made the isreaelites too afraid to attack, he killed them). etc etc... a more or less complete list is here, http://dwindlinginunbelief.blogspot.com/2010/04/drunk-with-blood-gods-killings-in-bible.html (some of which are just killings, most, i would argue, are not.) but the point is, that if he could strike down a man for blaspheming against him, why WOULDN'T he strike down a man for raping a woman? that's all i'm saying.

on the other hand, let me refute that tangled logic above, that christians believe is the truth. (god is good because god created the law, which proves he's good.) god must actually follow his own law in order to prove to the people that he is, indeed, a good, just, god. as you know, it doesn't matter if you follow the law 99.9% of the time- if you've broken the law even once, (and got caught) you will be punished. therefore, all of the good god has supposedly done does not matter if he sins and breaks his law even once. this is the part i will get into later. suffice it to say, if something is considered a sin and therefore will put my soul into hell, god won't do it even once, right? because god is perfect.

My friend:   Don't worry. I'm not offended :-) I agree that controlling definitions is powerful and that doing so can be used as an effective means of thought control. That doesn't mean that all attempts at defining are attempts at brainwashing thoug
h. When speaking of ultimate issues (e.g. "Where do we come from? What happens when we die? What is moral?" etc.), arguing deductively and correctly is really impossible because a foundation must be assumed and foundations are the very things in question. Therefore, we must argue either inductively or abductively to arrive at what seems to be the best explanation of the facts. I make no claim to follow Christ in blind faith. On the contrary, I hold to the teachings of the Bible (1 Thessalonians 5:21 "But examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good.") And again, I don't want to debate what Christians do and say because they are fallible and will admit it (well, the true Christians will, anyway). I'm certainly open to being convinced of truth. In the vein of abductive reason, I will listen to hypotheses about truth and then test to see whether or not they better explain the facts than my current perspective.

You say that justice is "fairness" and looking out for the wellbeing of others, but you haven't explained where that idea comes from or really defined the extent of fairness (e.g. Should we all get the same number of oxygen molecules to breath? The same number of calories to consume? Equal possessions of material items? Or is it just equal treatment? If material possession is withheld or made unavailable to someone is that fair? If not, what are the consequences of being unfair?). You're positing a law that God is subject to (the law of Fairness) but you haven't explained why he would be subject to that law or where the law comes from. This seems to be something that I see quite often when people make arguments against Christianity, which is that they borrow from the Christian worldview to argue against it. The whole idea of a law that everyone is subject to is FROM God. Now, since God gave the law, he is not subject to the law (as some people, even some Christians think). However, because the law reflects his character, he would never violate the law. If you really want to argue for fairness then the moment anyone sinned, they should be teleported directly to Hell (do not pass the pearly gates, do not collect any blessings). That would be "fair". Thank God that's not how he chooses to act. Consider the history of the Bible. People chose to leave God. God didn't leave them. He chose the Israelites because he would send Jesus through them. And again, if you look through the OT, there are instances of non-Jews receiving revelation from God. Now, those are just the ones written about in the Hebrew Bible. So, I wouldn't go so far as to claim that God only revealed himself to the Jews and left everyone else to fend for themselves ("Those who seek, will find"). And like I said before, God told the Israelites to be a blessing to "the nations" (i.e. all non-Israelite people) by teaching them about the one true God. Did they do that? To some extent, but people aren't exactly awesome at being selfless then or now.

Hmmm, I'd say to a christian's mind all sins are not the same. I definitely don't treat someone's failure to treat me kindly when I need it the same as I would if they killed my entire family. God definitely takes that stance though (James 2:10). It seems like you're judging what is just and unjust. If effect, you are placing yourself in the position of God. You still need to justify the basis for any sort of universal laws whatsoever. Why do we have the right to life? (I know it seems fundamental and I'm not disagreeing with you, but honestly it needs to be established and not just claimed as fact.) We can't possibly determine what punishment is deserved until we know the law that is broken and who the offended party is and what damage has been done to that party. So, what is the effect of a simple little lie on an infinitely perfect being? I'd say that is an infinite offense and therefore deserving of infinite punishment.

Again, to say that Hell is unjust is a judgment that can only be made from the position of absolute knowledge of what is right and wrong. Do you have such knowledge? And if so, where did you get it? The guy that touched the Ark of the Covenant died for his failure to recognize God's holiness, but we don't know whether he went to Heaven or Hell after that. He didn't have to read God's mind about the issue. They were explicitly told not to touch the Ark under any circumstances. That's why they carried it on poles in the first place. God said *plenty* of times in the OT that he desires obedience rather than sacrifice/tradition. The Ark was a symbol. The command was the very word of God.

My friend again:  We have all of creation pointing at the awesomeness of God. Anyone who truly seeks to know God will find him. If people choose to ignore the evidence all around them and reject God and his rule, then he gives them exactly what they wanted
 in life...distance from God. C.S. Lewis put it well when he said, "There are two kinds of people in the world: those who say to God, 'Thy will be done' and those to whom God says, 'Thy will be done.'" The Israelites wiped out the nations occupying the promised land because it was the righteous judgment of God on a culture engaging in centuries of rebellion. Their dealings with the other nations were to be different (see Deuteronomy's later chapters). I think it's a bit much for us to conjecture here, from our finite mortal bodies in 2012, what God cared about over 3000 years ago. How is God picking and choosing who goes to Heaven and who goes to Hell just? Do we even have a right to ask such a question? Paul didn't think so and wrote about it in his letter to the Romans (Romans 9).

But God *doesn't* condone our sin. Just because the Bible records something happening doesn't mean that he was in full support of it. The whole story of Israel is replete with their rebellion against what God said. I'd say to read through the passages again and carefully delineate what comes from God and what comes from man.
-He didn't turn Lot's wife to salt because she looked back. He did that because he specifically told her not to look back and she disobeyed a direct command of the creator of the Universe.
-Onan was killed for spilling his seed on the ground because of the offense he was committing against his deceased brother's wife...by denying her an heir he was condemning her to homeless destitution and expulsion from the family.
-God gave specific rules for how to worship him in the Most Holy Place. So, again, it's not the act per se but the direct defiance of God that got Aaron's sons killed.
-The spies told the truth about what they saw sure. So did Joshua and Caleb. The difference is Joshua and Caleb trusted in God's promise. The rest of the nation, if effect, told God "We think you're a liar."

So, I went to the link. It's an interesting list (I actually bookmarked it for reference). But I think the implication the list maker and you seem to be making is that God was unjust in those killings. I contest that position by again saying that God would be completely just in destroying everyone right now (everyone past the age of accountability if that makes you more comfortable). And yet again, to say God is unjust in something is to say that he is subject to a law...what law is that and where did it come from?

Because God's law reflects his character and he will not (cannot?) defy his own character, then he will follow the law. So, you are correct in saying that God has not does not and will not sin. Indeed, I challenge anybody to show me a single instance in which God violated the laws he personally set down for us to follow. Every time someone comes to me with apparent contradictions in the Bible or God's character, it only solidifies my faith when I see how truly consistent he and his word are.

Mewhat you are arguing is relativism. what makes my "version" of justice better than god's? well, what makes god's version of justice any better than mine? because he said so? i certainly don't see it being any better than my own sense of rig
ht and wrong. if god goes against conscience, who are we to believe? if my mind reels and my stomach churns at the thought of god condoning rape, murder, and child abuse in the bible, should i take that reaction as a sign that i don't have enough "faith"? that god is still "good" despite what i see with my own eyes, that rape is horrifically bad, that the murder of children is horrifically bad? if i take it further, and logically apply my mind to gauge whether or not my gut reaction makes sense, and find that god is wrong, and my own sense of right and wrong is right, what now? that's essentially what i did. if you go by the "harm" model of justice, god doesn't have a single footing. the only way the bronze age morality makes sense is if you go by the "purity" model, and i already stated the reasons i find that disturbing and immoral. what makes "purity" inherently good? what makes being "clean" "pure" "perfect" better than being imperfect? how is being "pure" more moral than respecting others' right to life, dignity, respect, consent?

if i find out that faith is useless in determining right from wrong, what happens then? that is basically what happened to me. christians hold faith to be the absolute treasure from god. but "faith is being sure of what you hope for and certain of what you do not see." there are huge pitfalls when it comes to living by faith. you have absolute faith and loyalty to your religion, but others have absolute faith in theirs. in the narnia books, c.s. lewis describes a man of faith and virtue being born to the wrong culture and religion. he followed his faith and lived a virtuous life, but he followed the wrong authority. c.s. lewis' solution was to basically say he would be rewarded for his faith, even if it was misplaced, but what do you say to that? so much of our religious upbringing depends on chance and circumstance- think back on your life. if you were born in the time of the patriarchs, only lived on the other side of the world, how would you know about the coming savior? how would you become saved? if you lived in an enemy nation to israel, how would god reward you if you lived by faith and followed baal with devotion, faith, and virtue? if you were born to parents who worshiped baal, and you were religiously inclined, inclined to be obedient (as god commands), to live by faith (believing without direct revelation), how would god reward you? he would send the israelites to slaughter you, and send you to hell. it seems as if christians only believe faith to be useful if you have the good fortune to be born into parents and a culture which directs that devotion toward the right god. essentially, god is punishing and rewarding people for the circumstance of their birth- circumstances that he himself created. certainly, there are some exceptions- some gentiles did become believers- but as a whole, they did not even have the opportunity to become believers. if even one little child did not have the opportunity to learn about the savior, then god will have failed him. how can god answer for that? he basically sent the child to hell even though the child had no choice. even if you believe in free will and choice, how did that child have any choice at all? how could he have avoided hell? again, with the teaching analogy- even if you command your older child to educate your younger child, you are still the parent, so you are still responsible for the education (or lack thereof) of the younger child. if the younger child does not pass 5th grade, you can't blame the older child for not teaching the younger everything he needs to know- as the parent, you are responsible for teaching him directly. if the younger child refuses to learn, well that's his problem and he'll have to face the consequences, but god didn't even bother teaching the other nations. he didn't send his word to anyone but the israelites. how then does he expect all the nations to magically know about him? (anyway, where does faith come from? where does devotion come from? where does obedience come from? dig deeper. do these virtues come from god? if so, why did he give some of us (you) the desire to obey and some (like me) the desire to rebel? or if the desire to rebel comes from the devil, what makes me more inclined to listen to the devil than you? i listened to god my whole life up until a certain point. i did what i was supposed to. i prayed fervently, i dug deeply into god's word and studied it with all my heart. it wasn't the devil i was listening to all this time. i listened to god- i listened to him so well that i heard the inconsistencies. on the other hand, i know christians who do not listen to god except on sundays. they listen to the devil when they have slips of willpower, and then they repent and go back to listening to god again. but they don't listen deeply- just enough to give them the reassurance that their sins are forgiven, and then they go on their merry way. at what point did my faith run out? at what point did i start listening to the devil? at the point where i started doubting god? hmmm but god says to question his word and cling to the good, so studying the bible, having questions, and searching for the answers in his word would be the correct thing to do, right? and yet when i did all that, that only led me to despair and the realization that god is not "good" at all- in the old testament, how many times does he direct evil? not just allow it to exist, but to direct it at people? that is not good- that is evil. if god is the definition of good, we all should despair, because the only reason he is good is because good is defined by him. he does not do what is fair or right. he says he cares for his people, but he doesn't. he punished many for the sins of one. how can people get the chance to repent and convert to judaism (since jesus obviously hadn't existed yet) when they were being slaughtered for the sins of their parents? don't just listen to words spoken by god about god, look at his actions. look at the result of what he has done. millions in hell for no reason at all other than being born into sin and not having anyone tell them the "good news." every gentile in the time of the old testament, besides a scattered few- maybe hundreds as opposed to the hundreds of millions that never were converted or even had the chance to convert- dead in hell not because they chose evil, but because god neglected them.) and even those who had the chance to convert but didn't- how were they supposed to know what was true and what was not? humans can't tell. we can't tell what's true and what's false just by hearing it. we only convert if we hear something that appeals to us- some converted because they saw miracles. some because it was better than dying. some because their husbands or fathers told them to, and well, they had to listen to the authority or they would face being cast out of the society. certainly nobody told the old testament people that their sins were forgiven. that is a new testament concept. the few places where the old testament hints about sins being forgiven weren't available to those people the israelites conquered or given into marriage with the israelites. can you tell me, what would have been available at the time to convince a non-believer to convert?

Me again:  you seem to confuse fairness with complete equality. i'm not saying that everyone needs the same molecules of air. i'm saying that you don't punish someone for simply being born in the wrong place at the wrong time. you don't give birth to 
babies in a mud hole and then complain about them being dirty. that is not just. the fact that we all "deserve" to be incinerated on the spot is interesting, because it's at the same time irrelevant, and proves my point. it's irrelevant because to punish everyone equally would be fair. if god wanted to incinerate us all at once, that would be fair, according to the purity model. everything is dirty, so get rid of it. the point is that he allows some to live and some to die, and that whether we live or die depends very little on our own choices. some, he allows to die before they are even born. some, he allows to die at birth. some, before we can think for ourselves and choose to have entire belief systems separate from those of our parents. some, before they had a chance to hear about jesus at all. some, with the mental capacity of young children, who believe everything the authority tells them- and the authority they are under may or may not be christian. can you explain how a just god could send these people to hell?

the only explanation i can come up with is that god wanted some to sin and suffer and go to hell, so that the people he chose would see them as examples. otherwise, when adam and eve ate from the tree of knowledge of good and evil, he would have just closed eve's womb and made her barren. problem solved. then he could create a new race of people, instead of allowing billions of people to be thrown into hell. wouldn't it be better to not be born than to go to hell?

A friend of my friendTo measure God according to the actions of His creation falsely describes who He is. God is not unjust or uncaring or unmerciful because the world we live in is imperfect. Neither is He absent. Just as people commit heinous crimes there ar
e those who triumph against insurmountable odds to do good. Each person in this world is equipped to do extraordinary things which God purposed and intended for good. Sure people make mistakes and lose sight of it. However, God's purpose in Your Life still remains. You have experiences, talents and gifts no one else in the world has. How you choose to use them will differentiate you from the those who did nothing to alleviate pain or suffering in this world. you'll be just another who just talked about it.

Me:  i'm not measuring god according to the actions of his creation. i'm measuring god according to his own words and his own actions as described in the bible. 


Judges 9:23-24, I Sam. 16:14-16, I Kings 22:22-23, II Chron. 18:21-22, Job 12:16, Isaiah 19:14, Isaiah 29:10-11, Isaiah 54:15-16, Ezekiel 14:9, Romans 11:8, II Thess. 2:11-12

all the abovementio
ned verses (plus the account of hardening pharaoh) state that god is responsible for sending evil into the world. just because he is "holy" doesn't mean he isn't evil. he just did it in a roundabout way, because he's more concerned with people giving him glory than he is about caring for their souls. can a perfect god lie? in some passages, it definitely says that's what he did. mostly he sent others to do his dirty work for him, which still makes him guilty of sin.

The friend of my friend:   God still honors the Freewill He gave to Mankind. Pay careful attention to the actual Hebrew words used in the original text. You may want to do more research rather than relying solely on the translated English text. It's part of really st
udying the Bible. If you are acquainted with other languages, sometimes meaning is lost because of cultural disparity or the lack of definitive words to transcribe correctly. (I'm sure this fact is not unfamiliar to you.) God proposes circumstances (say, opportunities) to you and you make the choices either to do right or wrong. The verses you listed describe characters who continued on their path of wrong thinking such as pharaoh. Another example, God gives you opportunities to develop courage to the person who prays for courage.

Me:  well it's fair to say i don't know hebrew, so i can only go by what the english translations are. i do know that sometimes the word "hardens" refers to a process undertaken solely by god, and sometimes refers to a process where the subject
 and object both work toward the "hardening." at least, that is what i read from an article. i don't know how you would explain god sending forth demons of deception to make people believe lies as a simple translation error, though.

My friend:  Relativism is the belief that truth is defined by individuals or groups. I'm saying that truth is defined by God alone. I fail to see how applying the same truth to everyone is relative. God, being the creator of everything gets to defin
e what right and wrong is. You (even though I like you and we've had great sparring matches together) and me have no grounds for applying a universal law to the entire human race because we're part of it. It would be the height of arrogance to say that everyone should do as I say just because I said it. While we may be offended by what we see going on in the world, that is simply our opinion. ::sigh:: Just because it's recorded in the Bible doesn't mean God condones it. As a matter of fact, it's very clear that God *does not* condone much of the behavior recorded in the Bible. Actually, I would take you're repulsion at those things that God has written his moral law on you (Jeremiah 31:33). You see evil, which is also evidence of God. First, what concept of evil would we have without God? He embodies all that is good. Anything that isn't of God is evil. Without him, the whole idea of evil is a non-starter...actions would just BE. If God exists, then you can't possibly be in a position to judge whether or not he is just. I understand that you find those things immoral. God also finds those things immoral. You're in complete agreement with him. I think you're mistaken in the moral "model" that God prescribes. You prefer the "forgiveness" and "justice" models? Well, God is all about forgiveness and justice.

God is what determines right from wrong, not faith. I'm not familiar with the scene that you're referring to, but C.S. Lewis, while a great apologist for Christianity, is not the ultimate authority on truth. So, if he contradicts the Bible in a statement, then that statement is false. I'd say that God certainly wouldn't reward faith in Satan. So, Lewis's statement is not generalizable. If I were born at any time, in any place, I would still be subject to God's revelation to all people (Romans 1:18-21). You can only be obedient to a command. Non-existent gods can't give commands. It's just people following their own philosophies. God doesn't reward "faith". The faith has to be in something true and good. God would only send the Israelites to slaughter me if I was part of a culture that, for generations, rebelled against him. If you think otherwise, then you have misread the Bible. Just a few examples to illustrate that point are Rahab and Ruth. And it's not so much that faith should be useful. Christians should go to God *for* God, not because he's going to make them comfortable in this life or the next. God is most certainly not rewarding/punishing people for their life circumstances. If you think that all the Israelites got into Heaven, that's a mistake too. To say that people didn't have the opportunity to put faith in God is largely a conjecture and assumes God is limited in how he operates. ::sigh:: God doesn't have to answer for anything. He's God. You need to read through Romans 9 again. Just because the text presents ideas that are difficult to swallow and accept doesn't mean that's not how it is. If the idea of children going to Hell bothers you, then perhaps some research on the topic of "the age of accountability" would satisfy your discomfort. And again, Romans 1 speaks to the concept of "general revelation" which is the idea that anybody alive can observe through their senses the evidence of God. You also can't say that God didn't teach the other nations. First off, we don't have complete knowledge of the workings of God. Second, the king of Assyria in those times received a revelation from God, which would provide a counter-example to your claim.

My friend againFaith comes from God. The desire to rebel is something we all have because of our ability to act as we please (trust me, I'm not a particularly obedient follower of Christ). If you heard inconsistencies, then you weren't listening to God.
 You may have thought you were, but you weren't. Like I said before, I'd love to see the inconsistencies. From what I can tell of your position, you seem to place a lot of value or your feelings towards situations and truth claims. I would just challenge you to provide a rigorous basis for your position. Question everything, even the tools of reasoning themselves. If you looked into the Bible and found inconsistencies and evidence for God's evil, then I'd say you misread the text. Have you read the whole Bible? Do you know which genre of literature each of the individual books fall into? How much do you know about Hebrew and Greek culture and language? Did you look into the background on your English translation of the Bible to see how it was made and supposed to be used? Most of the people that I've run into that say they looked to the Bible for answers and found contradictions would answer 'no' to most of those questions. You say that God directing evil is evil, but you also claim that justice is important. Are you saying that the people didn't deserve it? Show me an example of an innocent person that God inflicted evil upon. Yes, by definition, God is good. To think that causes any sort of problems is to project human fallacies onto God that aren't there. Ultimately, he does do what is fair and right. He established a moral law and punishes violations of the law. How is that not fair? Show me someone that was sinless that suffered because of God. Anyone who sins deserves to go to Hell, immediately. So, any life they get after that is pure mercy on God's part. To think that God owes anybody anything is to arrogantly put oneself in the place of God. And here's something to consider too. God doesn't people to Hell. People reject God and he gives them exactly what they want. Everyone chooses evil (Romans 3:9-12). Plenty of people can tell the truth when they see it. To say that people can't discern the truth is, in itself, a truth claim. Yes, the early believers believed because they saw miracles (predominantly, Jesus' resurrection from the dead). I would argue that someone who becomes a Christian simply to avoid Hell isn't saved at all. They're simply going through the motions to manipulate God into letting them into Heaven. That's hardly the personal relationship that God calls us to. If you don't want a personal relationship with God, then he won't force it on you by sending you to Heaven for all of eternity to bask in his presence. Sure, the teaching about sins and forgiveness came later, but Abraham didn't have those teachings and God considered him righteous because of his faith. Abraham is actually a great example of a non-believer converting to faith in God. Also, Rahab. She stated that the people of Jericho *knew* of God and his people and were afraid of what was going to happen to them. Rahab placed her faith in God, which is why she and her family were spared when Israel destroyed Jericho.

Ok, not punishing someone for being born in the wrong place/time. Fine. By that definition, God is fair. Why is everyone's guilt irrelevant? If we all deserve Hell, and you're saying that sending someone to Hell is unjust, then those two statements are directly at odds with each other. Whoever goes to Hell deserves it. Whoever goes to Heaven doesn't deserve it. So, what's the problem again? You're claiming that equal treatment is the only way to be fair. If God were only fair, then we'd all be in Hell right now. If he decides not to send someone there, what is that to you? You have quite a list of people there. The Bible simply says that God is just. He is, by his own claims, fair. Perhaps God only holds you responsible for the truth that he revealed to you. I'd have to do more research to back that up, but it's a possibility. I don't know if non-existence is better than being in Hell. I could only speculate.

This guy offers some Hebrew word analysis that may clear up some of your interpretations on those scriptures.
This fairly short article also deals with the issue.

And all that is on top of the fact that all of those people were sinful. As the second article states, "God uses evil to chastise evil." I disagree with your conclusion that those verses imply that God is responsible for sending evil into the world. Actually, holiness does imply lack of evil since evil is anything that is not of God. And, no, God doesn't lie.

All of this is all well and good, but you seem to be dodging/ignoring what I feel are my most pertinent questions. From the way I see things, none of your issues with God's behavior are valid until you can answer them.
1. Why is suffering bad?
2. Where does the moral law come from? 

Me:  ok, last questions first (and my apologies for being AWOL, been dealing with a personal situation.)

suffering is bad when it is directed unjustly. from your perspective, everyone deserves whatever god chooses to give them, since they alre
ady deserve the worst pain imaginable just because they chose to be disobedient once or twice. i'm not saying i don't understand that. i'm saying i don't agree with it. i'm saying that even if a child willfully rebels, that does not deserve hell. the "job" of children is to test limits, so that they figure out cause and effect, what is acceptable and not acceptable. if they test the limit and find an interesting or unclear reaction, then they will keep pushing in order to see what is allowed and what is not. expecting complete obedience is irrational and asinine because we are not sheep. we are not mindless animals who obey like robots, and on the other hand we are not completely rational beings either. many people grow into rationality, but by then we have tested the limits enough to warrant a trip to hell. adam and eve did not know good from evil- they were created with the natural curiosity and inclination to explore that children are created with, and that is not a bad thing to have. the fact that they disobeyed god seems only natural to me, because they didn't have full understanding. setting limits is an important thing to do as a parent, but expecting complete obedience is, in my opinion, going to do more harm than good. if god created the natural inclination to explore in adam and eve, how could he punish them for testing his limits, especially when he allowed the snake in the garden knowing full well what would happen? it just doesn't smack of good parenting to me. if i let a poisonous snake in my house to test my children's obedience to me by telling them to stay away from the snake, how could i live with myself if they disobeyed me and got bitten from the snake? certainly the consequence of disturbing a poisonous snake is death- but it would not be their fault that they died, because it's my job as a parent to protect them, to have reasonable expectations for them. god didn't explain himself- he just gave a command and expected complete obedience from them. yet he didn't create them with a natural inclination toward obedience. i have read the bible through multiple times, extensively studied it (some topics more than others), studied the bronze age cultures and biblical cultures. i have not studied greek and hebrew, but admittedly, i am pretty bad at learning new languages. it is not my forte. however, usually the research i do has a strong basis in the linguistic meanings.

ok, back on topic. suffering. there are events in our life where we suffer and can learn from the experience. where the suffering we get is constructive, because we can learn from it. without the context of learning, what value does suffering have? if a woman is raped, does she deserve that? does she learn anything from that? maybe she has sinned in the past, but raping a woman has nothing to do with punishment (and shouldn't!!!) the person sinning is not the victim, but the abuser. any past sins the woman might have committed is completely unrelated to her being raped. do you believe rape victims deserve what they get? because god is somehow punishing them for past sins? certainly i've had sex before marriage. i have been defiant. does that mean i deserve to get raped? or tortured? really, i have a hard time believing that anyone other than hitler and other criminals of horrific crimes deserves eternal suffering. i really don't think swearing warrants a death sentence. that's what i mean by god is unjust- he has a universal (very, very severe) punishment, no matter how petty the crimes. that's not justice. would it be justice if a police officer pulled you over for speeding and proceeded to rape you? not to mention the word "sin" in the bible basically means "mistake" or "error." do you deserve eternal torment for an honest mistake?

and sorry! i didn't mean to write relativism. i actually meant to write relative, but that doesn't really apply either. i meant to say that who's to say god's version of justice is any better than mine? justice means a system which is unbiased and doles out consequences with regard to the acts being committed- including the severity of the crimes. would you rather our justice system mirrored god's? and we would all get life in prison for every little act of disobedience? would that be just?

sorry, that's all the time i have right now. i will read those articles and write more when i have the free time. thanks for debating me!

Me againsecondly, i know god does not condone much of what happens in the bible, but the passages i mentioned come directly from god's commands to his people and include rape, murder, and taking slaves. and, of course, killing children for the sin
s of their fathers (1 Samuel 15, Hosea 13:16, Psalms 135:1-8, Psalms 137:8-9), which you never really addressed other than to quote a passage that says the opposite, that god does not do that. but, those are the inconsistencies that i see. on one hand, god is praised for not doing evil things, and yet there are accounts of him doing those evil things in retribution. do you think that killing the firstborn of egypt was not evil, even though those children were simply under the rule of an evil pharaoh and did nothing personally against god? (not to mentioned god had a part in hardening pharaoh's heart in the first place.) if god did not want to kill innocent children, then why did he help harden pharaoh's heart? why did he kill the firstborn of egypt instead of just killing pharaoh? that's only one instance. i can't help but shudder when god says he will repay nations for their disobedience by dashing their infants against rocks, splitting open pregnant women, etc... how is that not punishing the innocent for the sins of the guilty? you say that no one is innocent- so it doesn't matter who god punishes, for what crime, for crimes committed by unrelated people or their corrupt rulers? what about when god allowed david's neighbors to rape his wives to punish david for taking another man's wife? and killing his unborn child? what about god allowing satan to kill job's family to test job? none of these were addressed, other than to say that all are guilty so we should be thankful that god doesn't do the same to all of us. really? unborn babies are guilty? punishing people for other people's crimes flies in the face of justice.

not to mention the cruel and unusual punishments such as inflicting starvation and canibalism in Jeremiah 19 and Ezekiel 5. again with the raping and dashing of infants in Isaiah 13, which, in context, is a direct punishment from god.

also, does it really matter whether or not god sent an evil spirit directly, or just permitted the evil spirit to come? does it really make a difference which it is? if he sent the evil spirits directly, it makes clear that god can direct
 evil spirits to do his bidding. if he allows evil spirits to torment people of their own accord, he is still responsible for the work that the evil spirits do- since he can bar them from acting, or allow them to act, according to his plan. to quote spiderman, "with great power comes great responsibility". if you are able to stop atrocities from happening, aren't you obligated to? especially if those atrocities are being committed against your own children?

Again, I will continue this discussion in a third post.  :)