The Complaint Department Is Closed #5

To be sure, every list of arguments for belief that God does not exist, contains a few biblical passages that appear to be distasteful, or just down right abhorrent, GII’s list is no different.  Before getting into the substance of the proof, I would like to address a few presumptions and rhetorical issues I have with their choice of wording.  First, context is everything when it comes to understanding the Bible.  GII, as well as every other atheist and antagonist of Christianity, will pluck a few passages out of the Old Testament (OT), showing how evil God and His commands are. 

I will not go into the theology in depth for brevity sake.  But there was a reason for such strictness and harshness in the laws given to the Jews.  The Messiah was to come from the lineage of the Jews.  The historical record tells of entire societies engaged regular atrocities, such as child sacrifice, incest, bestiality, and many other depraved practices.  The OT records the laws by which the Israelites were intended to remain separate from and unstained by the outside nations.  The Israelites were not to become as their surrounding counterparts.

Additionally, GII misrepresents (what I believe to be) the biblical position, namely, the relevance and application of the OT today.  GII presents a classic example of defining away answers to objections in order to leave only their complaint left standing.  Every answer to the skeptic’s complaint is met with “that doesn’t count”, or “that’s just an excuse”, especially in regards to the biblical reason we now have no obligation to the Mosaic law, when in fact there are reasonable answers to the objections of the skeptic.  The goal of GII, and other skeptics, is to restrict the kinds of answers allowed to be considered, so that the only answer they will accept is one which affirms their complaint in the first place.  This all being said, we continue on.

Proof Number 5: Read the Bible

The main thrust of this proof is taking two passages from the OT, and one from the NT and then presenting them in a 21st century American context, rather than the proper context in which the passages were written.  The first passage under consideration is Leviticus 20.  Though GII chops it up a bit, and only offering what I gather they consider to be the most detestable verses, I will post the chapter in its entirety:

1Then the LORD spoke to Moses, saying,

 2“You shall also say to the sons of Israel: ‘Any man from the sons of Israel or from the aliens sojourning in Israel who gives any of his offspring to Molech, shall surely be put to death; the people of the land shall stone him with stones.

 3‘I will also set My face against that man and will cut him off from among his people, because he has given some of his offspring to Molech, so as to defile My sanctuary and to profane My holy name.

 4‘If the people of the land, however, should ever disregard that man when he gives any of his offspring to Molech, so as not to put him to death,

 5then I Myself will set My face against that man and against his family, and I will cut off from among their people both him and all those who play the harlot after him, by playing the harlot after Molech.

 6‘As for the person who turns to mediums and to spiritists, to play the harlot after them, I will also set My face against that person and will cut him off from among his people.

 7‘You shall consecrate yourselves therefore and be holy, for I am the LORD your God.

 8‘You shall keep My statutes and practice them; I am the LORD who sanctifies you.

 9‘If there is anyone who curses his father or his mother, he shall surely be put to death; he has cursed his father or his mother, his bloodguiltiness is upon him.

 10‘If there is a man who commits adultery with another man’s wife, one who commits adultery with his friend’s wife, the adulterer and the adulteress shall surely be put to death.

 11‘If there is a man who lies with his father’s wife, he has uncovered his father’s nakedness; both of them shall surely be put to death, their bloodguiltiness is upon them.

 12‘If there is a man who lies with his daughter-in-law, both of them shall surely be put to death; they have committed incest, their bloodguiltiness is upon them.

 13‘If there is a man who lies with a male as those who lie with a woman, both of them have committed a detestable act; they shall surely be put to death. Their bloodguiltiness is upon them.

 14‘If there is a man who marries a woman and her mother, it is immorality; both he and they shall be burned with fire, so that there will be no immorality in your midst.

 15‘If there is a man who lies with an animal, he shall surely be put to death; you shall also kill the animal.

 16‘If there is a woman who approaches any animal to mate with it, you shall kill the woman and the animal; they shall surely be put to death. Their bloodguiltiness is upon them.

 17‘If there is a man who takes his sister, his father’s daughter or his mother’s daughter, so that he sees her nakedness and she sees his nakedness, it is a disgrace; and they shall be cut off in the sight of the sons of their people. He has uncovered his sister’s nakedness; he bears his guilt.

 18‘If there is a man who lies with a menstruous woman and uncovers her nakedness, he has laid bare her flow, and she has exposed the flow of her blood; thus both of them shall be cut off from among their people.

 19‘You shall also not uncover the nakedness of your mother’s sister or of your father’s sister, for such a one has made naked his blood relative; they will bear their guilt.

 20‘If there is a man who lies with his uncle’s wife he has uncovered his uncle’s nakedness; they will bear their sin. They will die childless.

 21‘If there is a man who takes his brother’s wife, it is abhorrent; he has uncovered his brother’s nakedness. They will be childless.

 22‘You are therefore to keep all My statutes and all My ordinances and do them, so that the land to which I am bringing you to live will not spew you out.

 23‘Moreover, you shall not follow the customs of the nation which I will drive out before you, for they did all these things, and therefore I have abhorred them.

 24‘Hence I have said to you, “You are to possess their land, and I Myself will give it to you to possess it, a land flowing with milk and honey ” I am the LORD your God, who has separated you from the peoples.

 25‘You are therefore to make a distinction between the clean animal and the unclean, and between the unclean bird and the clean; and you shall not make yourselves detestable by animal or by bird or by anything that creeps on the ground, which I have separated for you as unclean.

 26‘Thus you are to be holy to Me, for I the LORD am holy; and I have set you apart from the peoples to be Mine.

27‘Now a man or a woman who is a medium or a spiritist shall surely be put to death. They shall be stoned with stones, their bloodguiltiness is upon them.'”

GII offers a hypothetical dialog between the believer-“Me” and a friend-“You”, whom he wishes to convince the “book” he is reading is ” a manual for living a better life. It is also a guide to creating a better society for ourselves and our children” and is written by someone who “is supposed to be the smartest person in the universe”.  After presenting the Leviticus passage to the friend, the dialog continues:

You: I thought you said that this is written by the most intelligent person in the universe. If we are going to follow what this author says, we have to kill half the people in America. We are supposed to kill everyone who has cursed his father or mother, everyone who has committed adultery, and every homosexual.

Me: Well, that’s in the old testament, you see. The book is really two books, and the “old” part of the book doesn’t really apply.

You: Are you saying that the smartest person in the universe once wanted us to kill every adulterer and homosexual, but then changed his mind? That somehow makes it better? If the “old part” no longer applies, then why did you hand it to me when I asked to see the book?

Me: Well, parts of it do apply.

You: Didn’t you just tell me that it doesn’t apply?

To the Christian, the misunderstanding of what the Bible actually is and its intended purpose ought to be glaring.  The Bible is not a self-help book, but rather is a historical account of God’s interaction with the world, and describes His plan for the redemption of those who trust in His redeeming work.  It is not primarily instruction for a “better” society as much as it is instruction for a holy society.  What is often ignored is by whose standard of goodness and holiness is to be used.

The assessment that we would have to kill half the people in America is either a gross misunderstanding, or an intentional emotionally charged statement.  I will be charitable and assume GII has done no actual biblical study on the matter and briefly correct the misunderstanding.  When the Mosaic covenant was given, it was given to Jews, to be governed as a theocracy.  Here in America, we are not governed by a Jewish theocracy, especially now that the old covenant system has been replaced by the new covenant system (see related article: Laying Down the Law).  It is typical for a website such as GII to fail to make themselves familiar with accurate biblical theology and understanding.  It is easier to lift some passages with no real effort to understand and then blame God or religion for your understanding.  It would be helpful to know in Deuteronomy 19:15-16, 18-19 we read:

“A single witness shall not rise up against a man on account of any iniquity or any sin which he has committed; on the evidence of two or three witnesses a matter shall be confirmed.  If a malicious witness rises up against a man to accuse him of wrongdoing,…the judges shall investigate thoroughly, and if the witness is a false witness and he has accused his brother falsely, then you shall do to him just as he had intended to do to his brother”

It is not enough to simply point your finger and accuse, multiple witnesses to the offense were required to exact judgement.  Mere accusations were not sufficient.  Additionally, if it were found that you had falsely accused someone of a crime, you were subject to the punishment he would have received had he been guilty.  One more point of note, the punishments described were the most severe spectrum of the law.  In other words, “up to and including” is how the penalty could be understood.

Next up for consideration is Exodus 21:

 1“Now these are the ordinances which you are to set before them:

 2“If you buy a Hebrew slave, he shall serve for six years; but on the seventh he shall go out as a free man without payment.

 3“If he comes alone, he shall go out alone; if he is the husband of a wife, then his wife shall go out with him.

 4“If his master gives him a wife, and she bears him sons or daughters, the wife and her children shall belong to her master, and he shall go out alone.

 5“But if the slave plainly says, ‘I love my master, my wife and my children; I will not go out as a free man,’

 6then his master shall bring him to God, then he shall bring him to the door or the doorpost. And his master shall pierce his ear with an awl; and he shall serve him permanently.

 7“If a man sells his daughter as a female slave, she is not to go free as the male slaves do.

 8“If she is displeasing in the eyes of her master who designated her for himself, then he shall let her be redeemed. He does not have authority to sell her to a foreign people because of his unfairness to her.

 9“If he designates her for his son, he shall deal with her according to the custom of daughters.

 10“If he takes to himself another woman, he may not reduce her food, her clothing, or her conjugal rights.

 11“If he will not do these three things for her, then she shall go out for nothing, without payment of money.

Personal Injuries

 12“He who strikes a man so that he dies shall surely be put to death.

 13“But if he did not lie in wait for him, but God let him fall into his hand, then I will appoint you a place to which he may flee.

 14“If, however, a man acts presumptuously toward his neighbor, so as to kill him craftily, you are to take him even from My altar, that he may die.

 15“He who strikes his father or his mother shall surely be put to death.

 16“He who kidnaps a man, whether he sells him or he is found in his possession, shall surely be put to death.

 17“He who curses his father or his mother shall surely be put to death.

 18“If men have a quarrel and one strikes the other with a stone or with his fist, and he does not die but remains in bed,

 19if he gets up and walks around outside on his staff, then he who struck him shall go unpunished; he shall only pay for his loss of time, and shall take care of him until he is completely healed.

 20“If a man strikes his male or female slave with a rod and he dies at his hand, he shall be punished.

 21“If, however, he survives a day or two, no vengeance shall be taken; for he is his property.

 22“If men struggle with each other and strike a woman with child so that she gives birth prematurely, yet there is no injury, he shall surely be fined as the woman’s husband may demand of him, and he shall pay as the judges decide.

 23“But if there is any further injury, then you shall appoint as a penalty life for life,

 24eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot,

 25burn for burn, wound for wound, bruise for bruise.

 26“If a man strikes the eye of his male or female slave, and destroys it, he shall let him go free on account of his eye.

 27“And if he knocks out a tooth of his male or female slave, he shall let him go free on account of his tooth.

 28“If an ox gores a man or a woman to death, the ox shall surely be stoned and its flesh shall not be eaten; but the owner of the ox shall go unpunished.

 29“If, however, an ox was previously in the habit of goring and its owner has been warned, yet he does not confine it and it kills a man or a woman, the ox shall be stoned and its owner also shall be put to death.

 30“If a ransom is demanded of him, then he shall give for the redemption of his life whatever is demanded of him.

 31“Whether it gores a son or a daughter, it shall be done to him according to the same rule.

 32“If the ox gores a male or female slave, the owner shall give his or her master thirty shekels of silver, and the ox shall be stoned.

 33“If a man opens a pit, or digs a pit and does not cover it over, and an ox or a donkey falls into it,

 34the owner of the pit shall make restitution; he shall give money to its owner, and the dead animal shall become his.

 35“If one man’s ox hurts another’s so that it dies, then they shall sell the live ox and divide its price equally; and also they shall divide the dead ox.

 36“Or if it is known that the ox was previously in the habit of goring, yet its owner has not confined it, he shall surely pay ox for ox, and the dead animal shall become his.

The hypothetical discussion continues on:

Again, you are dumfounded. Here the author of the book is advocating slavery, the branding of slaves, and the wholesale beating of slaves. You are not quite sure what to say. You look at me for a moment.
You: You have to be kidding me. Here the “smartest person in the universe” is telling us that slavery is OK and that we are free to beat our slaves.

GII exposes their ignorance of the history of slavery in the Hebrew culture of the era.  It was not the akin to the American slavery of blacks.  It was common for someone who could not repay a debt to sell themselves into slavery in order to repay what is owed.  As we see for example in verse 5, there were situations-often enough to mention and regulate-where the slave voluntarily remained in servitude, and for those others, every 7th year their debt was released v.2.  As for advocating the wholesale beating, it can only be forced upon the text, the text speaks of “if you…”, not “I command you…” or “you must…”.  Whether you endorse the idea of slavery or not, apparently some slaves were beaten as either discipline or motivation.  But even then there were penalties for injuries caused to the slaves at the hand of their masters, vv 26, 27.  Furthermore, the slave was released from his servitude if while being disciplined and caused injury to his eye, or knocked a tooth out for example.  It is this failure to read the text carefully, or consider the historical context which leads GII to this false assumption that the system of slavery for the Hebrews was the same as the pre-20th century American slavery. 

The last set of text GII cites is found in 1 Timothy 2:9-15

 9Likewise, I want women to adorn themselves with proper clothing, modestly and discreetly, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly garments,

 10but rather by means of good works, as is proper for women making a claim to godliness.

 11A woman must quietly receive instruction with entire submissiveness.

 12But I do not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man, but to remain quiet.

 13For it was Adam who was first created, and then Eve.

 14And it was not Adam who was deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression.

 15But women will be preserved through the bearing of children if they continue in faith and love and sanctity with self-restraint.

The response elicited in the back and forth between “You” and “Me” is as follows:

 You: Is this some kind of joke? “I permit no woman to teach or to have authority over a man.” That is totally sexist! In America, there are millions of female teachers and we have women throughout our corporate and govenment [sic]  hierarchies. No intelligent person believes that women should be silenced.

This passage is often misunderstood, so I will not just assume any malicious intent with the misinterpretation of 1 Timothy 2 on the part of GII.  However, even their critical commentary on the passage does not even follow from the verses.  When you keep reading, remember context is everything, in chapter 3 of 1 Timothy we find out to what Paul is referring when he says women should not teach or exercise authority over a man, vv 14-15: “I am writing these things to you, hoping to come to you before long; but in case I am delayed, I write so that you will know how one ought to conduct himself in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and support of the truth.”  Paul is specifically referring to teaching and holding authority in the church, not in a sweeping proclamation disallowing women from teaching and holding authority in other areas of life, such as in the business world, or government positions.  Furthermore, Paul explains the reasoning for his avocation, that it is because of the created order.  Adam was created first, he therefore holds the responsibility.  Remember it was Eve who sinned first, but it was through Adam that sin entered the world.  It is the doctrine of federal headship.

GII goes on to make a few brief statements about the flood, macro-evolution, and the tower of Babel.  They offer no arguments for their assertions though it will arise in a future proof and I will handle it when it does.

The final portion of the proof concludes with this:

The list goes on and on. The Bible is nonsense in a thousand different scientific ways.

Ask yourself this simple question: Why, when you read the Bible, are you not left in awe? Why doesn’t a book written by an omniscient being leave you with a sense of wonder and amazement? If you are reading a book written by the all-powerful, all-knowing, all-loving creator of the universe, wouldn’t you expect to be stunned by the brilliance, the clarity and the wisdom of the author? Would you not expect each new page to intoxicate you with its incredible prose and its spectacular insight? Wouldn’t you expect the author to tell us things that scientists have not been able to discover yet?

Yet, when we open the Bible and actually read it, we find it is nothing like that at all. Instead of leaving us in awe, it leaves us dumbfounded by all of the nonsense and backwardness that it contains. If you read what the Bible actually says, you find that the Bible is ridiculous. The examples shown above barely scratch the surface of the Bible’s numerous problems. If we are honest with ourselves, it is obvious that an “all-knowing” God had absolutely nothing to do with this book.

The reason why the Bible contains so much nonsense is because God is imaginary. The Bible is a book written thousands of years ago by primitive men. A book that advocates senseless murder, slavery and the oppression of women has no place in our society today.

A common theme with GII is to make assertions as though they were self-evident.  I am sure GII believes they are, but unfortunately, it is hard to take seriously proofs which offer no evidence.  I simply do not see the need to find myself in awe while reading the Bible, however, even if I do not, there are many who do.  It just does not follow that one’s emotional reaction to a text is a test for truth.  After all, I feel no sense of awe while reading 2+2=4, and yet I doubt GII is willing to conclude 2+2=4 is false because no awe is struck in the reader.

Context is everything when making an attempt to understand the Bible, any book or text really.  Since the Bible is a text written in ancient cultures very different from our own, it is necessary for us to do a little further reading, both in the Bible and some historical research into the ancient customs which would be key to understanding the perspective of the author.

Any Thoughts?

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