Paint It Black


:Answering a Pulp Protest on Why God is Just & Good Even When He Directly Causes Suffering.
 

There are those who throw what I like to call “pulp problems” or “pulp protests” out there. These are big, chunky lists of data or objections. Taken altogether, they seem rather overwhelming. Most apologists don’t bother answering pulp protests for the very elegant reason that they are generally generated by people who really just want to be left alone. They compiled these abominable lists to intimidate those who might try to convince them otherwise. No amount of evidence would convince them anyway. They don’t want to believe. 

I don’t usually cast my pearls before swine.

On the other hand, we get these guys who start noticing that their giant “Buzz off!” signs [the pulps] don’t usually get addressed. In their arrogance – and rather like snake oil salesmen believing their own bunk, they begin claiming that the reason their pulp protests have not been answered is because they’ve stumped the opposition with their cleverness. They begin to boast that we don’t answer because we can’t.

Therefore, to stop the mouths of mewling misanthropes who make such misleading and advantageous claims, I have answered this pulp protest. I will not likely do so again. But here I prove it can be done.

It should be noted that this is the second part of my rebuttal of Thomas’ reply to my comments on his blog [see Will Power Redux « Sirius Knotts & Thoughts for the original exchange]. The reason I address this in two different blogs is because he really brings up two different classes of exception: philosophical objections [see The Cost of Free Will « Sirius Knotts & Thoughts] and specific objections, the latter of which is addressed here. Thomas’ words are in bold.

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You also said – “your site seems to revel in [though from a rather lop-sided view], God himself has directly caused some horrible things to happen. This admission does not address the further question of whether God was just or good to do these things.”— Very well, I will address this omission. NO, HE WAS NOT.

He’s misunderstood me already. I didn’t ask him if God was just or good to do these things. I stated that merely pointing out that God himself directly causes some horrible things to happen doesn’t answer the further question of whether He was good or just to do these things. For example, a judge is directly responsible for the criminal going to jail. Most people consider going to jail a horrible thing. Sending the convicted criminal to jail doesn’t make the judge unjust or evil. Those attributes have to be proven on separate grounds.

But since Thomas goes through all the trouble of compiling a pulp problem to give examples of God being unjust and evil in causing folks trouble, the least I can do is entertain him for the while…

Need a few examples:
[1] The murder instead of salvation for those inhabiting Sodom and Gomorrah,
First of all, “murder?” Weasel words. You’ve already convicted God without a trial. Let’s look at the record at hand. The Bible states that “the men of Sodom were wicked and sinners before the Lord exceedingly” [Genesis 13:13] and that they were destroyed “Because of the cry of Sodom and Gomorrah is great, and because their sin is very grievous.” [Genesis 18:20] Abraham interceded for Sodom, asking God if He would destroy the righteous with the wicked. God answered that He would not destroy it if there were even 10 righteous men there. Sadly, they didn’t make the count. The sin of Sodom is well known. We get the word sodomy from its name. Those who argue that their sin was in breaking the customs of hospitality toward strangers have to explain why Lot offered his two daughters who had never known men to the mob to do with what they would, rather than let them have the angels within his house, and why the mob was trying to break down his door to get to them. This was not murder; it was judgment. I suppose you would empty all the prisons? Or do you also believe in judgment?

[2] the subsequent murder of Lot’s wife (who a second before was worthy of salvation) for witnessing her family and friends being murdered by her god,

“Murder” again. More weasel words. Now while Lot’s wife initially had means of salvation, there is no indication that she was worthy of it. In fact, the evidence points to the contrary. She was riding on Lot’s coat-tails. She came with Lot because Lot had found favor with God. [“…the Lord being merciful to him.” Genesis 19:16]  Lot and his family were warned as they escaped, “Escape for thy life; look not behind thee, neither stay thou in all the plain; escape to the mountain, lest thous be consumed.” [Genesis 19:17] Lot protested that they’d never make it to the mountains and asked if they could find refuge in a nearby city. His request was granted and Lot and his family then hurried to the nearby town of Zoar which escaped the judgment of fire and brimstone. But Lot’s wife looked back. She was told not to. We’re not given why she looked back. It’s pure romantic speculation to suggest she was looking back on friends and family. She might have easily have been thinking about a lover, her home, her status with her neighbors or her fine silverware! We don’t know. We DO know she was warned not to.  One little rule and she would be saved. The passage [Genesis 19:26] states that she was turned into a pillar of salt. It does not specifically state that God did it. It could be that it was a natural consequence of beholding this judgment, considering that Mount Sodom which borders the Dead Sea [called the Salt Sea and the Sea of Sodom elsewhere in the Bible] is a salt mountain range. If a child is warned not to play in the street and he is killed chasing a ball into the street, it is a tragedy, but it is also a natural consequence of ignoring a warning.

[3] forcing Jephthah to kill his own innocent daughter,
Jephthah, the ninth pre-monarchial judge of Israel, made infamous, ill-thought oath to sacrifice to God whatever first came to him when he returned home if God would grant him victory in battle. Clearly, he didn’t think out the possible consequences of that oath. In light of the Mosaic Law against human sacrifice [Leviticus 18:21; 20:2-5; Deuteronomy 12:31; 18:10], there is considerable debate as how Jephthah finally fulfilled his vow. If he did fulfill it to the letter [and the Bible does not specifically state that he did], it is never stated that God approved of this brash oath. Jesus, in fact, had something very specific to say on the matter of oaths. This was one man’s rash vow. He did not have to make it. God did not require the vow to defeat his enemies. God granted victory, but the alternative was defeat at the hands of the Ammonites who were making war with Israel. You judge which the greater good is: for one girl to die or for a nation to be slaughtered and enslaved? Man is often the cause of his own suffering, but he also has the capacity to cause others suffering. That said, it should be noted that some commentators believe that she was not sacrificed as burnt offering after all, but set apart in perpetual virginity. In such a context, Judges 11:37-40’s references to “virginity” and “she knew no man,” coupled with 11:31’s “shall surely be the Lord’s” suggests that the vow might have been altered in it’s fulfillment, figurative rather than literal. In essence, she’d be a nun.

[4] ‘visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children & upon the children’s children, unto the third and fourth generation’,

This is being quoted out-of-context. Allow me to give you the full text:
“I, the Lord thy God, a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me; and showing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments.” [Exodus 20:5-6]

“The Lord is long-suffering, and of great mercy, forgiving iniquity and transgression, and by no means clearing the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation.” [Numbers 14:18, quoting Exodus 34:6-7]

Note first how you’ve painted the canvas entirely black. It’s like the man who quotes “The wages of sin is death!” but never adds the rest of the verse, “But the gift of God is eternal life!” Deuteronomy 24:16 makes it clear that we are individually responsible for our sin, but other passages make it clear that our actions can have consequences for others as well. Achan’s sin [Joshua 7] caused Israel to be defeated in battle. Adam’s sin meant damnation for all mankind. What you conveniently omit from this example is that when a man repents, God is merciful and the curse of generational judgment upon those who hate God is broken.

[5] murdering Nabal for not offering food to David and his men (perfect strangers to him),
This is from 1 Samuel 25. [You guys never give a text or a context.]
The question here is was Nabal within his rights to decline? Probably, though it was poor hospitality according to the custom of the time. Was David a perfect stranger to him? Not likely.  Nabal was a great man of the house of Caleb. David was a celebrated warrior of King Saul’s court who’d been chased off when the good king grew jealous that the people celebrated David more than Saul. [“Saul has slain his thousands, but David his tens of thousands,” the women sang.] It seems more likely that his churlish reply was pure mockery. Who is David? What does he matter to me? It’s certainly clear that the churlish manner in which he brushed David’s request aside was a grave insult to David. He might be within his rights to decline, but the insult was something else entirely. Nabal’s wife Abigail saved him and their entire household from her husband’s arrogance.  God smote Nabal that he died [1 Samuel 25:37-38], but that does not make a murderer of God. God could only be a murderer if He were equal to man. Nabal was described as “churlish and evil in all his doings.” [1 Samuel 25:3] God as Righteous Judge is perfectly within His rights to execute judgment on the wicked for their sin. Why do you continually paint sinners as saints? Would you call evil good and good evil now so that you might be justified before God? 

 [6]punishing the Pharaoh for falling for Abraham’s deception and inviting Sarah into his home, …making all the women in Abimelech’s family barren because he fell for another of Abraham’s my wife is my sister schemes,

Genesis 12:17 states that the Lord plagued Pharaoh and his house with great plagues because of Sarai, Abraham’s wife. Abraham had Sarai pose as his sister instead of his wife because she was beautiful for he was afraid someone would kill him to possess her. Was God good to plague Pharaoh and his house? Well, how would you have went about informing a pharaoh, who [if we consult history] believed himself to be a god and supposed that he could do bloody well whatever he wanted, that he was not only being duped but he shouldn’t, as a result, kill Abraham for the insult and just take Sarai anyway? A show of force, great plagues as a portent of severe consequences, assured that pharaoh would just send them away as more trouble than they were worth. The Bible is clear that God shows favor to whom he will. You would be hard pressed to prove God was not being good by finding a way to spare Abraham’s life and keeping Pharaoh from sinning against God.

Abimelech’s situation was similar. God shut up the wombs of his family to warn him that something was wrong and also to keep Abimelech, a man of integrity, from sinning against God by unwittingly having sex with Abraham’s wife [Genesis 20:6]. 

You may not agree with God’s methods, but you do not give him a fair shake. You do not take into account the entire picture. Painting it black, as usual, you left off the fact that when all was said and done “God healed Abimelech and his wife and his maidservants; and they bore children.” [Genesis 20:18] Ask any couple with fertility problems just how significant a blessing this is.

[7] murdering Onan for not having sex with his brother’s widow,
Marrying your dead brother’s wife and raising up seed to your brother [Genesis 38:8] was a custom which later became part of Mosaic Law [Deuteronomy 25:5-6]. The idea was that each man would have his line carried on by this provision. It was also a mercy to the widow for if she had no heirs, she had no inheritance and, in some cases, no livelihood.

Contrary to your objection, Onan DID have sex with his brother’s wife [He “went into unto his brother’s wife.” -Genesis 38:9], but before he sealed the deal, he pulled out and spilled his semen on the ground, denying her an heir. This was truly despicable! He had sex with her under the pretense that he would give her an heir, which he NEVER intended. He used her body for his pleasure with no intent to honor their bargain. God slew him as an oath breaker.

The care you’ve taken to get the details right in these protestations of yours is a testament to your intellectual integrity.

[8] making Michal (David’s wife) barren for life because she chastised her husband for cavorting naked before the Ark of the Covenant in sight of the maidservants,

Michal, good King Saul’s daughter, despised David in her heart for debasing himself before the Ark. She supposed a king ought to have more dignity and decorum, but David stated that he was willing to debase himself even further for God’s sake. Michal’s sin was pride. As she despised the king, she had no part in his bloodline.

Having said that and noting that God would have been justified in making her barren for her sin, the Bible doesn’t actually state that God made her barren. It only says that she bore no children from that day to her death [though she raised her sister’s five children as her own]. There might be a more natural explanation for this: David, who was very offended by her outrage, may have simply decided not to have sex anymore with someone who despised him so! He certainly had other wives and concubines who honored him.

[9] for saying “Behold, I will punish them: the young men shall die by the sword; their sons and their daughters shall die by famine: And there shall be no remnant of them: for I will bring evil upon the men of Anathoth…”

Jeremiah 11:18-23 relates that the Baal-worshipping men of Anathoth had decided in the goodness and innocency of their hearts and in a spirit of goodwill to KILL Jeremiah, God’s true prophet, if he didn’t shut up. God’s messenger was being threatened with death if he didn’t stop speaking God’s messages. They were telling God to shut up. Or maybe, since they were fakes, they just assumed Jeremiah was too and he needed to get with the program. This was a contemptible insult to God. God protects his own. You cannot call this evil unless you absolve the men of Anathoth of their murderous extortion and then state it is evil to protect those you love and who love and serve you. Paint it black again, Thomas!

[10] giving the command to “Slay utterly old and young, both maids, and little children, and women…”
The reference is a bit vague here, but this sounds like the instructions God gave to Israel concerning making war with the Canaanites to possess the Promise Land.  [Deuteronomy 20:16-18] Of those who lived in the cities God had given to the Israelites for an inheritance, they were to save alive none, but utterly destroy them all. Why? Because these wicked folks would, if left alive, teach God’s people to do all their abominations and to seek after other gods, so that they sinned against God.

Ironically, the Israelites ignored this warning, which resulted in the Canaanites teaching them to follow after false gods and sin against God, as predicted. Psalm 106:34-48 addresses this issue, acknowledging that because Israel failed to destroy these nations utterly according to God’s command, Israel learned their ways and “sacrificed their own sons and daughters to devils, and slew innocent blood, the blood of their sons and their daughters whom they sacrificed unto the idols of Canaan.” The awful thing about being omniscient is that you can see the bigger picture. You KNOW what’s going to happen if someone makes the wrong choice.

Sometimes it just pays to listen…
[11] teasing Isaac by telling him to murder his own son to appease his god, only to stop him at the last second,
I’m sure you meant Abraham. Did you copy these off someone else’s site? Did you research these yourself? Maybe you just type faster than you think.

Paint it black, brother. God wasn’t teasing [weasel words] Abraham. The whole matter was deadly serious. God was testing Abraham to see whether he truly trusted Him. If we take it that human’s have actual free will, Abraham actually had a choice to make here. If we hold God as omniscient, God knew what the outcome would be. God had no intentions of allowing Isaac to die. Nor had He any need or desire of a child/human sacrifice. You’ve taken a noble tale and tried to paint God as a petty trickster, because that’s what you want to believe. You want to justify yourself, your will and your lifestyle before God. Yet even if you paint God as a childish, murderous Loki-like despot, it will neither cause Him to cease to exist nor negate His right by ownership to do with you as He sees fit. It should be pointed out, since God already knew the outcome of this test, that the test was not for God’s benefit, but for Abraham’s. There, without dissemblance, lay his naked fealty, a thing surprising to a man given to fits of cowardice [which you noted above]. There, equally obvious, was God’s goodness and provision in the form of the prepared ram.

[12] torturing Job and murdering his children to prove himself to Satan,
Torture? Murder again?? Will the weasel words never cease? If you’ve ever read the book of Job, you know full well that God did no such thing. God never laid a hand on Job or his family. Satan tortured him with boils and grievous sores. Stan killed his children, his servants, his livestock and his livelihood. God only allowed it.

God allowed it because Satan claimed that the only reason Job served Him was because he was conditioned by prosperity and blessing to do so, and that if the hedge of protection [now, there’s a concept!] around Job were removed, Job would curse God. God used Job to stop the mouth of Satan and everyone else with such objections. The basic premise is that if it is the good Lord who gives us what we have, then it is an equally good Lord who takes it away. God owes us nothing. We owe Him everything: life, existence… everything. We are His to do with as He pleases. He knows what’s best for us and what’s best for everyone else. Not everything that happens to us is our fault. Neither is everything that happens to us for our personal benefit. God’s people are often put in the pressure cooker, so to speak, for someone else’s benefit, so that they might see that, yes, we still believe and trust God when the chips are down.

God’s worthiness of worship was being called into question by Satan. Job’s faithfulness stopped the devil’s mouth.
And lest you paint it black [again], two things should be noted:
God restored all that Job had, including children, and then some. God restored the hedge of protection and blessed Job more than He had before.

Job did not call God evil. This point is especially salient since he, the “victim” of this incident, has no complaint against God. How can we prosecute God when the plaintiff will not even bring charges against Him? Ha! Some men would like to put God on trial [or put God in the dock, as CS Lewis put it] and this is simply the utmost ingratitude for existence. “Woe unto him that strives with his Maker. Let the potsherd strive with the potsherds of the earth. Shall clay say to Him that fashions it, What makest thou? Or thy work, he hath no hands?” [Isaiah 45:9] “Shall the work say of Him who made it, He made me not? Or shall the thing formed say of him who framed it, He hath no understanding?” [Isaiah 29:16] Yet we continually object that God did not make us and that if He did, He certainly doesn’t know what He’s doing!

[13] needlessly killing all firstborn in Egypt, even the firstborn of the captive in the dungeon and all the firstborn cattle, … hardening the Pharaoh’s heart so he wouldn’t let the Jews go, thereby giving God an excuse to punish his people,

Well, first of all, how needless was it? Students of history and culture might recall how the pharaohs were viewed as gods and also that Egypt had many gods who allegedly held power over different facets of heaven and earth. Pharaoh had scoffed at Moses, saying, “Who is the Lord, that I should obey His voice to let Israel go? I know not the Lord, neither will I let Israel go.” [Exodus 5:2] The plagues preceding the Exodus showed the impotence of these false Egyptian gods, including pharaoh. In particular, the plague of darkness was a slap in the face of the sun god, Ra. To pharaoh, who would not bow to God’s will despite the bloodied Nile, plagues of frogs, lice, stinging flies, cattle plague, boils, locusts, hail mingled with fire and pitch darkness, the final awful plague demonstrated God’s utter and specific [He singled out only the firstborn] power over life and death. Bereft of power, the grief-stricken pharaoh finally relented.

But why should the children die? Especially after it was God who hardened pharaoh’s heart to refuse Him? The answer is found in Romans 9:14-24. The long and short of it is that we have all sinned in Adam and the wages [deserved earnings] of our sin is death. God would be fully within His rights to destroy the whole disobedient earth. Each of us are vessels of wrath fit for destruction. Instead of giving us what we deserve by rights, He has shown long-suffering to those worthy of destruction that he might known the riches of His grace and glory to the vessels of mercy. All of us are worthy of destruction. God’s grace alone keeps us from it. You cannot impugn either God’s goodness or justice if He either hastens or delays our execution.

[14] forbidd[ing] Moses from entering the Promised Land because he struck a rock in anger while trying to produce water (he had early succeeded in this by God’s own instruction) and including Moses’ son, Aaron, in the punishment even though he did nothing wrong,

Um, Aaron wasn’t Moses’ son. Aaron was his brother. [Exodus 4:14; Numbers 26:59; For crying out loud, it’s even in the passage we’re discussing here: Numbers 20:1-13, especially verse 8] Aaron was also the high priest of Israel. [Exodus 28]

The severe nature of the offense here was that Moses and Aaron took credit for what God had done [“must we” – verse 10], disobeyed God by not speaking to the rock but striking it twice instead [verse 11], lost their tempers [again, he struck the rock twice], addressed God’s people rudely [“ye rebels” verse 10; compare this to Psalm 106:32-33 where, commenting on this incident, it’s stated that Israel “angered” Moses and “because they provoked his spirit, he spoke unadvisedly with his lips.”], they resented the people in their need [“must we” verse 10], they were guilty also of unbelief [God states, “ye believed me not” – verse 12] in the sense that they didn’t trust God and presumed that He needed their help [“Must we fetch you water out of this rock?” verse 10] and they failed to give God the glory for this miracle [“to sanctify me in the eyes of the children of Israel” – verse 12] – and, really! Do you know any man that can draw water from a rock at his whim? It was God’s work, not theirs. God characterized this act as rebellion [verse 24]. Aaron shared Moses’ punishment, since he was accountable as high priest and was with his brother in this offense [again, “must we” – verse 10].

[15] sending an evil spirit upon Saul, causing him to hurl a javelin at David,
The argument given for God’s right to harden Pharaoh’s heart [or the heart of anyone else] applies equally well when we consider King Saul.

For the record, King Saul had disobeyed God by not destroying the child-sacrificing Amalekites utterly [1 Samuel 15 – I realize this is a sore point for you, but I believe we’ve already addressed this part]. The spirit of the Lord departed from Saul and “an evil spirit from the Lord troubled him.”  Now, saying an evil spirit from the Lord is as much as saying an evil plague from God or a message from God. It was an evil spirit sent to vex Saul. God sent it in judgment.  Noting his condition, his servants suggested Saul seek out a musician whose music might soothe him whenever the spirit from God vexed him. [1 Samuel 16:14-23] It should be noted that Saul’s servants correctly realized this affliction was from God. It should also be noted that when David played the harp, Saul was refreshed and well, and the evil spirit left him. And everybody was happy.  After David killed Goliath, he went on to further victories and the people began to celebrate David more than Saul. “Saul has slain his thousands, but David has slain his tens of thousands!” the women sang. Saul was jealous. The Bible says “and Saul eyed David from that day forth. And it came to pass on the morrow that the evil spirit from God came upon Saul, and he prophesied in the midst of the house; and David played with his harp, as at other times; and there was a javelin in Saul’s hand. And Saul cast the javelin; for he said, I will smite David even to the wall with it. And David avoided out of his presence twice.”  [1 Samuel 18:9-11]

Note that this affliction had vexed Saul before. David’s harp had cured it each time. What was different this time?
This time, King Saul was envious of David’s fame.  There was jealousy. There was also a javelin. Why was there a javelin? Because Saul had said, I will smite David even to the wall with it. This was premeditated murderous intent. The fact that he did this twice suggests that he pulled a Flip Wilson [Oh dear! The devil made me do it! I’m so sorry.] to excuse himself and convince David to return for another attempt on his life.

The point is: The evil spirit from God had vexed him before. Always before, it had been cured by David’s harp. We cannot say that this malady caused Saul to throw the javelin at David, only that Saul attempted premeditated murder on the occasion of one of these episodes. You’ve attempted to convict God on circumstantial evidence!

[16] making Miriam (Moses’ sister) a leaper for rightfully chastising Moses for marrying an Ethiopian,
[Numbers 12:1-5] OK, I take issue with your accusation that Moses [and Aaron] were right to chastise Moses for marrying an Ethiopian. How so? Defend your bigotry, if you will.

In any case, the real issue was that Miriam and Aaron were making a power play [verse 2]. The issue of Moses’ marriage was a smokescreen, a mud-slinging smear campaign designed to destroy Moses’ credibility while they promoted the idea that they too heard from God so why not let them lead instead. Unfortunately, God caught wind of the intended coupe and settled the matter of Moses’ authority soundly. At Moses’ request, she was cured of leprosy after a period of time. This is called giving someone time to think out the consequences of their actions.

The next objection addresses the same issue…
[17] murdering the innocent wives and children of two princes who challenged Moses’ authority,
Korah and those who followed him were rebelling not only against Moses but the established priesthood [Numbers 16, especially verse 10]. God had established the priesthood, but Korah and 250 [not just 2!] others decided they were just as good as Moses or any priest and they could do the job just as well. These “250 princes of the assembly, famous in the congregation, men of renown, gathered themselves against Moses and Aaron.” [verse 2-3] Only they hadn’t consulted God on the matter. [Typical.]

This was a full-fledged coup! This wasn’t just a family squabble or a minor power play by a couple of disgruntled princes. This was a hostile takeover by a large group composed of men of influence. This was a serious gambit which centered on who could be part of the priesthood and who could be God’s mouthpiece. Again, it was God himself who settled the matter.

Moses reminded these usurpers that it was God who’d sent him to do all these works and that he hadn’t acted of his own will. [verse 28] In other words, he got his orders from God and God had done the hiring so only God could do the firing. He wasn’t just making everything up as he went along. [Apparently there was a charge something to this effect.] Moses issued these rebels a challenge: “If these men die the common death of all men, then God hath not sent me; but IF THE Lord make a new thing, and the earth swallows them up, with all that pertains to them, and they go alive down to hell, then you will understand that these men have provoked the Lord!” [verse 29-30] As it turned out, they HAD provoked the Lord. Not only did the earth swallow Korah, his household and everything he owned, a fire from God consumed the 250 princes who had presumptuously offered incense [i.e.—presumed the priesthood – verse 35].  Pretty decisive on God’s part; no grey area here.

These men presumed that Moses was speaking on his own [despite a plethora of miracles to back his position to the contrary] and that they could ascend to the priesthood without consulting God [“No Man takes this honor unto himself.” Hebrews 5:4]. It’s also possible that they thought the whole priesthood was a phony racket and they felt they were better qualified to lead the people. In essence, like the serpent in the Garden, they mocked, “Did God really say…?” The 250 princes brought down righteous judgment upon themselves. Korah and the other 2 ring leaders brought more severe punishment upon themselves and their household. They blasphemed God, counting him a small matter in favor of political power.

 [18] for murdering Uzzah when the man tries to keep the Ark of the Covenant from falling over …
Murder again. Weasel words ad infinitum.
Did you know this is one of my favorite Bible tales? [2 Samuel 6]
David proposed to bring the Ark to Jerusalem, but he ignored God’s instructions as to how it was supposed to be transported [Numbers 4:1-15]. Instead of having priests reverently carry it with poles, he put it on a cart.  It was a brand spankin’ new cart, but it was still a cart. They were treating a box that contained the presence of God like common freight. When Uzzah put out a hand to steady the Ark, he blasphemed God, counting God a common thing. [The three most common forms of blasphemy are vilification [profanity, slander, et cetera], assumption [taking credit for God’s work] and debasement [treating as common things which are hallowed.]]  In essence, he was steadying a box, as if God needed his help.

Now this is something you have done, Thomas. You have counted God as if He did not exist or as if He were a mere man. He exists and He is nothing like you suppose. His answer to Job for the problem of why the righteous suffer could apply equally to anyone. You do not possess omnipotence, omniscience or omnipresence. You do not have all of the pieces to the puzzle.  You don’t even know what the box top is supposed to look like. Yet you would impugn God’s justice and goodness! Audacity!

Worse, you have tried to impugn Him, judging Him against your petty, subjective standards. Your bias is evident. You do not see God as good because you do not want to.

Sirius, I could go on and on and on.


You could go on and on, but so could I. You could throw pulp protest after pulp protest. You could throw objection after objection. And I could go on and on, answering each and every last one with a reasonable explanation. Maybe I’ve answered to your satisfaction. Maybe not, but maybe that’s because you’re not really being honest. Maybe no one could ever reply to your satisfaction because you’ve already made up your mind and neither rhetoric nor reason will compel you to the contrary.

What I want to know is this:
If I answered every last single objection you’ve thrown out against Christianity, would you then believe?
 

Or is this all a smokescreen, a vain attempt to justify your unwillingness to believe?
 

Be honest.
 

–Sirius Knott

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2 Comments Add yours

  1. doubtingthomas426 says:

    Sirius,

    First, my list wasn’t compiled to intimidate anyone. It was a response to a comment you had left on one of my posts insisting that the God of the bible was justified in all of his actions. It was a list of examples that, in my personal opinion, revealed a cruel and bloodthirsty god. And my lack of belief in your god or any other god mankind has invented is not a result of my ‘not wanting to believe’. I was a believer, a passionate one, who, over time, found himself filled with some troubling questions. I realized I needed to answer these questions if I hoped to continue in confidence with my faith. As it turned out, the answers to these questions opened my eyes to the fallacy of my faith (Christianity) and the book that sat at its center (the bible). Shocked that I could have been so dedicated to something that I now saw, clear as day, was not real, I felt the need to reexamine Christianity, really study the bible, as well as investigate the rest of the religions and gods that had been worshiped over countless generations. I wrote down all of my questions, observations and conclusions and, at the urging of a friend, created a website to catalog them all. I even chose to create it as a blog site so visitors, believers and non believers alike, could feel free to put their two cents in. You have left many comments on my site objecting to my questions/observations/conclusions, all of which I welcome (although I could do without the constant personal attacks and insults), but you never seem able to pull yourself away from the utterly unconvincing “because the bible tells me so” defense. Never have I suggested that the reason I haven’t received a response to a particular post is because no one of faith was able to supply any. You claim to answer each and every one of my ‘pulp protests’ but all you have done is put up dogma to defend your personal concept of the Christian god. You dismiss my examples by willfully choosing to see them as meaning something else, something that supports your desired view of your god. If I am painting it black, you are most assuredly painting it white. And to answer your question, if you could answer all of my questions and explain away all of my objections and observations, then yes I would believe. However I require something more than dogma and revisionist scripture to convince me, Sirius. I’m not unwilling to believe, I’m simply unwilling to believe in something based on nothing more than the hope that it is true.

    Take Care,

    DoubtingThomas

    http://doubtingthomas426.wordpress.com/



  2. Sirius says:

    My point [and there always is one, even hidden in the simple occasional insult] is that you are NOT looking at Christianity or the Bible with an “open mind.” Unless by “open” you mean that some of its getting through a tiny crack quite by accident.

    That’s the difference:

    You paint it black; you look at it critically, under the presupposition that it’s bunk. That’s why your questions are more mockery than the sort of question an honest inquirer poses.

    You said that I paint it white. Take another look at my blog site. Look at the posts Playing Church and Wrestling With God. I’m not whitewashing anything. I’m taking Christendom for what it is. My presupposition is that it has proven trustworthy thus far [in terms of its accuracy in realisticly describing the human condition, the reality of the soul [and thereby the basis of expressions of our consciousness such as the humanities], the accuracy of its sourcebook in matters historical, geographical, archaeological, prophetic and metaphysical and, above all, the power of Jesus Christ and his resurrection, both from a historical perspective and from personal subjective experience.

    The song goes: You ask me how I know He lives/He lives within my heart. That’s not something you can test, of course. It does require a bit of reasonable faith.

    The difference between you and me is that, since Christianity has proven trustworthy thus far, I give it the benefit of the doubt when I come across difficulties or times where God is silent. If I see an apparent discrepancy in the Bible, I don’t look at it critically and say Aha! I KNEW it was all bunk! I dig deep and look for answers. If I don’t find those answers, I let it ride.

    Why? Three reasons:

    1. I’m only human.

    I am not a machine. I am not a mere animal. I’m not God. And the Mormons owe everybody a great BIG apology for the preposterous lie that a man can become a god. No, in the end, I’m supremely human. As such, I don’t know it all.I don’t have all of the pieces to the puzzle and I’m not even sure what its supposed to look like once it’s all together. I suspect that pieces of some other puzzle have been mixed in erroneously! Since I make mistakes and I don’t know it all, and since Christianity has proven reliable thus far, I don’t find it intellectually untenable to give my faith the benefit of the doubt. It is, after all, the same benefit of the doubt [another way of saying “granting leniency by faith”] I give science [and that most scientists give science!] when they say we don’t yet know it all and there are difficulties with what we do think we know now, but we may solve it yet some day.

    2. My fidelity is based on experience.

    It’s a bit like being married. If someone accused my wife of cheating on me, given my experience with her and the fact that it would be out-of-character for her, I wouldn’t throw her out based on the accusation. Honestly, it would even take more than a good bit of evidence. It would take incontrivertible evidence AND her admission of guilt. Until that moment, I would give her the benefit of the doubt. She’s proven herself to me. Personal experience, though subjective, is a powerful force.

    3. I’m not looking for excuses to disbelieve.

    You see, EVERYBODY says they’re open-minded and that they just couldn’t be intellectually honest and continue their belief in God. Everybody except those scientists and philosophers who state that they CAN be intellectually honest and retain their belief in God. What’s the difference?

    Some of these allegedly open-minded people were already looking for reasons [excuses really] to throw in the towel. But since the folks they know and love will object to their change of heart [the highway to Hell and all that], they need to be able to say THIS, THIS and THIS is why I am COMPELLED no longer to believe. They wanted to disbelieve, but they want to keep everybody else off their backs.

    You were looking for reasons to disbelieve.

    But just on the off-chance that I’m wrong and since I’ve a few pearls to spare, what exactly were your “reasons” for rejecting Christianity?

    You see, the fact that I have to ask at all should bother you and anyone else who views your pathetic blog. Why? Because when I look at your blog, I see massive amounts of antireligious quotes from scientists, atheists, philosophers and what-have-you [are you claiming authority for these guys instead of the Bible? on what basis should we believe them, whether we believe the Bible or not?]; I see lots of mocking questions against nitpicking details of the Bible and Christianity in general.

    But two things are notably absent:

    1] Why did you reject Christianity exactly? What was the initial wedge of doubt?

    It wasn’t some laundry list. It never is. Those lists never just pop into someone’s head. They have to be compiled. But yours don’t have any sort of cohesion or pattern. They’re just random, half-thought brain droppings. Surely you have bigger reasons than these trifles. If not, why should we take you seriously? You certainly haven’t taken your own change of mind seriously enough to know why you don’t believe.

    2] Why have you rejected God and not simply Christianity? What made the extra step necessary?

    Your blog site is antiChristian, but it offers no reasons why you rejected Christianity. You offer nits and biased quotes and ask the rest of us to believe that you’ve actually rejected Christianity for intellectual reasons. From here, it looks like you just wanted to and made excuses to justify your choice. You offer nits and biased quotes and expect the rest of us to seriously consider your arguments when Christianity and the Bible have proven faithful over and again. Seriously, ever guy who’s challenged it on historical or archaeological grounds has ended up eating crow. It must be embarrassing. You offer nits and biased quotes and expect the rest of us to believe that these compelled your rejection of both Christianity and God himself.

    Why shouldn’t we think you’re a sham?

    –Sirius Knott

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