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'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 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'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: (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.) (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:

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!

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