REPLY #55 TO
are parts of the original essay (or a subsequent reply) to which the respondent has directed his comments.
prefaced by (R) are those of the respondent and are presented unedited.
My replies appear under the respondent's comments in blue text
and are prefaced by my initials (MB)
(R) I feel that if you are going to use the Bible to prove your point, you should at least have the correct information.
(MB) I *do*. That's why I can present it. The intent is to show that most Christians have little or no idea what's actually in the book or behind the stories that they revere and claim to "know". The myriad problems in the Bible have been documented by some of the greatest thinkers in history. Heck, most Americans are taught in school to honor Thomas Paine, the author of "Common Sense". How many are also taught (or even know) that his most famous work, "The Age of Reason" includes a stinging and brilliant refutation of Christianity?
(R) Yes there are cases of all the things you mention happening in the Bible, but aside from polygamy (which was not forbidden at the time) none of those things were presented as the "norm" or as approved by God.
(MB) How can you even try to claim that? The examples from the Pentateuch are the Laws of God as (supposedly) dictated by him to Moses. God doesn't approve of his own laws? The story from Judges relates a bargain made between Jephthah and God. God would agree to something of which he doesn't approve? Other examples related accounts of how God inspired the leaders of the people to treat the women and children of those whom they had defeated. Does God inspire leaders to commit acts of which he does not approve?
Furthermore, the Old Testament provides numerous examples of people being killed by God at a stroke for all make and manner of offenses against him. None of the things I previously related to you resulted in God killing (or even rebuking) the perpetrator(s). Certainly, God would have to have known what was going on. Usually, he was the instigator!
Also, if polygamy was permitted at that time, it must have been so in accordance with God's Law. If it is not permitted now, things have changed at some point. In Deuteronomy 12:32, God says "Everything that I command you you shall be careful to do; you shall not add to it or take from it". This means either that God changed his mind at some point regarding polygamy or that Man has overruled God. Which is it and where in the Bible is the change documented?
(R) In 1 Kings 15:5 you left out the rest of the verse. The entire verse reads "because David had pleased the Lord and did not disobey any of his commands as long as he lived, except in the case of Uriah the Hittite. You left out the underlined portion of the verse, making it sound like God had approved of David's affair with Bathsheba and the subsequent killing of her husband, Uriah. From what source were you quoting?
(MB) I quoted from the KJV, but the story is essentially the same in all versions. Explain this to me, if you will. David first covets and then commits adultery with Bathsheba, the wife of Uriah the Hittite. Then, he sends for Uriah, gets him drunk, then orders Joab to place Uriah in the front lines during the upcoming battle and withdraw the rest of the army away from him so that he will be killed -- an act tantamount to murder. So, here we have David willfully violating three of God's Commandments and committing offenses that might otherwise be punishable by death. What does God do? Does he stop David from doing what he is doing? Does he protect the innocent Uriah from David's treachery? Does he inspire either Bathsheba to resist David's advances or Joab to reject the order condemning Uriah to death? No, God causes the innocent unborn baby carried by Bathsheba to become seriously ill and it dies a week after it is born. Furthermore, he says he will take David's other wives and give them to other men who will have sex with them in full view of all Israel.
Needless to say, David admits to his sins. That doesn't stop the baby from dying and no mention is made of any subsequent mass orgy involving his other wives. Strangely enough, David mourns *before* the baby dies and acts rather relieved afterwards. He says, "Why should I fast? Can I bring him back again?". Then, he goes off to make another baby with Bathsheba. This one turns out to be Solomon, the next King of Israel and direct ancestor of Jesus.
What I need explained is this -- where's the real punishment for David's multiple acts in violation of God's Laws? In addition, David certainly committed numerous other questionable to despicable acts ranging from murder and conspiracy, extortion, hamstringing horses, lying, and dancing naked in front of female handmaidens. The incident with Bathsheba and Uriah was also not the only time David admitted that he had sinned. See the story of the census in 2 Samuel 24. Once again, God does not punish David. Instead, he sends a plague that kills seventy thousand innocent people. Is this "justice"? In any case, the story of the census is proof that 1 Kings 15:5 is incorrect in stating that David did nothing wrong as long as he lived outside of Bathsheba and Uriah.
(R) I have many different translations of the Bible here and they all state the same thing. Did you leave that part of the verse out on purpose or were you quoting from another source that had left the rest of the verse out on purpose? (Yes, I did mean to write that phrase twice.)
(MB) No, I left nothing out "on purpose". If one is familiar with the Bible, it's obvious that 1 Kings 15:5, rather than yours truly, is guilty of leaving out part of the story.
(R) When you read the entire story you can easily see that God's favor was taken away from David and David repented fully of this sin.
(MB) God's favor was taken away from David? Oh, please. That, I suppose, is why he remains King and shortly thereafter fathers Solomon with the woman for whose sake David committed those particular sins in the first place?
(R) The verse from 1 Sam. 25:28 was written before the event mentioned in 1 Kings, so indeed David was found to be without evil at that time.
(MB) First, the books of 1-2 Samuel and 1-2 Kings were originally one book which told the history of the Kingdom of Israel. They weren't split into four separate books until they were translated into Greek in the Septuagint and could no longer fit in the original version on one scroll. Additionally, none of those books was even begun until long after David's death, so the authors would certainly have been aware of David's entire history at the point where they recorded that he was "without evil".
(R) Yes, I was referring to Pascal's Wager. It seems to be a pretty good deal to me! If one is true, then I have lost nothing; if the other is true, then I will gain everything!
(MB) It only seems to be a pretty good deal if one hasn't thought it all the way through. First, Pascal's Wager ignores the possibility that the God of the Bible doesn't really exist and that some other deity *does* and may not be real happy with your belief in someone else. Second, it ignores the possibility that belief in a non-existent God may cause one to waste his time, money, effort, brain power and influence in the worship of that God when each could be put to much better uses. Thirdly, parents who believe in God tend to indoctrinate their children into the same beliefs. If those beliefs are wrong, not only might the parents suffer the potential consequences detailed above, but they would also bear the responsibility for their children suffering them, as well. Finally, if you believe anyway, then Pascal's Wager is meaningless and can't be held up as support for that belief.
(R) As far as if I think God would approve of the hypocrasy of it -- I think at this point, He would take you anyway He could get you.
(MB) If God exists and is the all-powerful entity he is made out to be, it would be well within his power to take me any time he wanted me. He would also know that I am willing to believe anything that can be demonstrated to be true. If such a demonstration is never forthcoming, how could a just and all-loving God hold me liable for my consequent non-belief?
(R) Just imagine for a minute that it's all true. The Bible is true, God is true, He loves his creatures so much, that even though they kept screwing everything up, He just couldn't allow us to be separated forever.
(MB) If the Bible is true, the Old Testament hardly paints a picture of a God who loves all of his creatures. Repeatedly, we read of mass slaughters and all sorts of atrocities coming either directly from God or from the hands of those directed or inspired by God. Even the so-called "chosen people" must wonder what they ever did wrong to gain the "benefits" of being "chosen" by such a God.
(R) Don't you think, if all this is true, that He would use any means possible to draw us to Him?
(MB) Why is it that an all-powerful God never uses direct and unmistakeable methods? This would make his existence unquestionable and would cause all witnesses to be drawn to him immediately. Faith alone simply isn't sufficient and I doubt that any God would have provided his special creation with brains that he didn't mean for them to use or which were incapable of sufficient understanding.