Sunday, April 06, 2008

God is Imaginary: #5 Read the Bible.

Read the Bible.

This post is going to be rather eclectic, but that's because the original post took a "random" page approach.

The opening scenario has an all too common view of the Bible:

"It is a manual for living a better life. It is also a guide to creating a better society for ourselves and our children."

That's confusing the byproduct with the manufacturing intent. It's like raising pigs for their ears. A better life and a better society are the result of the main point, which is God's plan of salvation. You follow the plan as it plays out historically till its culmination at Calvary, and then the rest of Scripture, as a Lutheran would put it, is "What does this mean?"


And now, to address their objections one by one.

1. Sacrificing to Molech. Human sacrifice = bad. Child sacrifice = particularly bad. I don't know why they included this. Punishment for burning someone alive = death. Not so sure you'd find many people who'd disagree with this assessment.

2. Witchcraft. People have not become more enlightened in this regard, they have simply stopped believing that they have any power, or if they do, that they would use this power for anything other that fuzzy bunnies, nature loving, and woman power. If people still thought that witches could do the things they were reputed to--poison, kill crops, overthrow governments, start plagues, etc., they would burn witches still.

But the witchcraft in Scripture is different. People would consult witches, such as the witch of Endor, to foretell the future. So what's wrong with a little divination? Consider, St. Paul says that "Faith is credited as righteousness." A witch who foretells the future is undercutting all reliance on God, all need for faith. Witchcraft, as such, is an existential threat to believers. They were effectively revolutionaries attempting to overthrow a theocratic society.

3. Unlawful Sexual Relations. I knew this one was coming before I read it. I'm surprised they didn't pick the chapter of Leviticus entitled "Unlawful Sexual Relations." To a typical American, that chapter sounds like a good time. So why should we put, as they described it, "Half of America to death?"

So what is the punishment? Death. And what is the punishment for all sin? Death. As the good book says, "Sin entered the world, and death through sin." So what is the difference? Rather than God carrying out the punishment Himself, He appointed others to do it for Him. The penalty remains the same, and in a theocratic society, one can be fairly sure that the penalty would not be meted out unjustly. He has simply moved up the time of reckoning, in order to preserve His Word and His people until the time was right for the Savior to come.

4. Slavery. Otto Von Bismarck said that "Politics is the art of the possible." This is why, when reading the Bible, it is important to distinguish between "What God says," and "What God says to me." When God gave laws to govern the ancient state of Israel, he did not simply repeat the moral law which he had already given--because those laws are impossible to follow. Rather, he gave laws to govern the possible. Slavery at that time was a necessary institution. The alternatives were starvation or genocide. Which is the greater evil? Would not a good God create laws which would avoid those alternatives?

5. St. Paul. Before I get into the meat of the issue, remember, "Thou Shalt Not Take Out of Context." When speaking about religious authority, secular public school teachers are an entirely different subject.

Now, onto the rest: Is the use of heroin wrong? Sure people abuse it terribly, but for a person who has suffered severe burns, it's one of the few things that can relieve their pain. The lesson: the abuse of something does not make the use of it wrong. St. Paul has been abused over the centuries in a wide variety of sexist contexts. Does that mean St. Paul himself is wrong, anymore than heroin is universally abused? Scripture is full of a analogies. We put that which we do not understand in the context of that which we do understand. And like analogies, we understand both the original and our analogy by comparison. The marital relationship is compared to the relationship between Christ and the church. If you consider Christ's role, and use that as a model of a husband's role, you can see that the burden is placed profoundly on men. The "authority" of Christ is the power to serve. That it has been interpreted incorrectly by those seeking their own ends is hardly surprising, but profoundly unfortunate.

6. Astronomy.
"Everyone knows that the sun came first, then the planet and its rotation (which is what causes light and darkness to occur on a daily basis) and then the water, and this all happened over million of years."

Just a quick quotation from The King and I "Everyone knows that the world lies on the back of a great turtle who keeps it from running into the stars." As Ken Ham says in his presentations, always ask, "Where you there?" The answer will always be no. Everyone does not know. Everyone has taken their best guess.

I don't really have a conclusion to this one, because it didn't really lend itself to a long analysis, and besides, I have a grumpy baby to tend to.

Back to Fifty Reasons.

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