Monday, February 7, 2011

Thou Shalt Kill?

Many Christians, especially evangelicals, believe that evil things happen in the world because of Satan, not because of God.  This is a typical response to the question "Why does God let bad things happen to good people?"  The other popular response is "You can't know God's plan", implying that even though you *think* whatever happened was bad/evil, in the bigger scheme of things it was probably good (because God did it).  Of course, the implication is that God is the source of all things good, and Satan is the source of all things evil - it's a bit of a tautology, and it's very frustrating to hear these excuses in conversation because it seems that the individuals are just imagining beings into existence (Satan) or claiming your ignorance to account for phenomena that they don't want associated with their God (but should be associated because they demand an all-knowing, all-powerful god).

Well here's something else Christians may have trouble explaining - a simple graph depicting the number of murders that occur in the Bible committed by either God or Satan:

According to the source here (the Bible), God killed 2,391,421 people, but Satan only killed 10.  Note that the Y-axis is logarithmic - this indicates a level of killing by God that is FIVE ORDERS OF MAGNITUDE ABOVE what Satan did.  In other words, God killed people 239,142.1 times MORE than Satan did.  I thought that the commandment was "Thou Shalt Not Kill"?  I'm sure you can draw your own conclusions.

Information originally shared from a StumbleUpon post.
UPDATE: For clarification, the SumbleUpon post was referred to me by the noble Greg Barnes, otherwise known as Greggles.


Cindy said...

Hi Matt- it's Cindy Wang from Duke TIP back in the day, all those years ago? Once in a while I'll stumble back upon your blog...I love reading them because they're SO funny, insightful, and reasonable/logical!

I can't agree more with you on your religious views...something I've noticed these past few months is that it seems to me that religious people put a lot of faith into their god...but I keep thinking, why would you put faith in god, when you could unto yourself?

For me, it's so much more rewarding than any of that one way "relationship" bull I could have with a god...

gregbarnes said...

I get credit for nothing!

Cookulacrates said...

@Cindy: it seems like you've got the right idea there, what with relying on reason and logic to direct your decisions rather than a superstitious ritual. If a religious person asks why you don't believe/pray to a god, ask them whether you should pray for god to intervene in your science experiments, or just your grandmother's cancer. Or just ask them which god you should be praying to ... Zeus, Thor, Athena, Jehovah, Shaytan, Ishtar, etc.

I'm glad to see that you're still thinking about these important subjects. You'll have to update me on what's going on in your life soon - do you have a blog for me to follow?

@Greggles: check the update. And when're we hanging out again?

Cindy said...

LOL @ which god should I pray for? There's Athena, Thor, Jehovah, wood spirits, and Satan, oh so many to pick from!

I do have a blog, but I haven't really updated it- I first started drafting back in September, but I didn't quite know how to put the way I felt into an introductory blog explaining my reasons. I finished the first blog entry just about 2 weeks ago- you're welcome to read the first one :)

Needless to say, I've recently gotten into animal conservation but I needed to read benchmark books before I started the blog!

Jonathan said...

Hi. Just stumbled across your blog.

While I would love nothing more than to dive into an intellectual, theological debate - I have found that I cannot argue you into my worldview any more than you can argue me into yours. That said here's a few points for you to ponder:

1) The commandment is best translated "Thou shall not murder." I know it's a subtle game of semantics, but 'murder' and 'kill' are not the same.

2) Is God required to obey the laws He commanded for humans to obey? (ie are the 10 Commandments for us or for God to obey?)

3) God has also revealed in your "source" that the wages of sin is death. Loosely, that means that you have the choice to obey God or not, but if you choose to disobey, sin, then the punishment is death. So I could say that in a sense, you've grossly underestimated your figure - it should be all deaths since time began. However, I would make the case that it is not God who is responsible for the deaths, but the individual himself/herself is guilty and justice must be served.

I don't make these points in an attempt to "prove" God. I simply present them as a rational counterpoint to your argument that "God is hypocritical" as implied by this post. Think about them and feel free to disagree, discuss, etc. Or, as I have experienced elsewhere, you can choose to insult me or my intelligence, but in doing so you are ultimately conceding defeat.

Cookulacrates said...

While I disagree that insulting you would concede defeat, I have no desire to offend people for the sake of offending. However, if you are someone who is offended by declaring negative aspects of "God" then I won't be able to prevent the offense.

Otherwise, I like the points that you make. What is your source for point number 1? I agree with you that there is a moral difference between killing for self-defense, killing as a soldier, and killing out of passion, there is clear evidence in the old testament that "God" kills many people out of anger (passion), something that we condemn in our society. I think that is directly hypocritical. Using the argument that "God" is just is simply a tautology and is unfair. If "God" is omnipotent, then he/she had the power to create the scenario to begin with, so ultimately he/she is at fault.

I like your point number 3 a lot (obviously). Although, is "God" really responsible for ALL deaths since time began? I mean, from your perspective, death is OK if you go to heaven because that's supposed to be way better than earth, right? But some people die by accident (falling down the stairs, car crashes, etc.) - I doubt those deaths are really "God"'s judgment.

As for point number 2, there's a lot to think about in that. Why is "God" exempt from the commandments? If he/she mandates "Thou shalt not bear false witness", then how could "God" tell a lie? I mean, sure, he'she *could* say a lie, but if "God" is perfect, that includes moral perfection, right? So if "God" sets the moral rules, then isn't it inconsistent if the perfect moral being doesn't abide by his/her rules? Most religious people don't argue for exceptions to the ten commandments (which I disagree with - there are times when it would probably be best to lie or even covet your neighbor's wife - maybe not "best to" but "alright if").

Your "rational counterpoint" to my post is not rational to me because it's internally inconsistent (moral perfection breaking the moral rules?). I understand that with the argument of an omniscient/omnipresent being, however, that you can pretty much "reason" any answer you like - and that (of course) is the most frustrating aspect to discussing a topic like this; because there's nor falsifiability - there's just "who are you to question 'God'?"

Jonathan said...

Is it less frustrating to the argument process if I reference Bible? I feel at least I’m building a case based on a source you can reference yourself and not just saying, “God told me so…” I will defer the debate on the validity of the Bible to others, “The Case for Faith” by Lee Strobel, or “Letters from a Skeptic” by Gregory Boyd to avoid going off on a tangent.

A quick search revealed this as a potential source, but I’ve only skimmed it.

I find it more effect to argue my point, when you have a better understanding of my views. Otherwise, you’ll be debating some “generic religious person” you’ve created per your experiences and stereotypes, and not me. I’ll attempt to explain some as concisely as possible, but it’s hard to squeeze a lifetime’s learning into a single post.

For one, I do not believe that death is okay. “The last enemy to be destroyed is death.” - 1 Corinthians 15:26. Death, in any form is not ideal. I don’t believe that God is sitting up in Heaven tallying up your sins and zapping you dead when you hit some predefined quota. And too, I do not believe that doing something “good” gains any brownie points that enable you get by one more day. Ultimately, we all die, because we all sin, when and how is not based on a cosmic court room. Again, because of freewill WE choose disobedience and therefore death. So we choose our own death, not God.

Likewise, I believe you have made a poor assumption about the Ten Commandments; leading you to believe that my argument is inconsistent. That assumption lies at what the Ten Commandments are, and are not. I like this quote from, interestingly enough, the same website I referenced above: “The Ten Commandments were given to offer order in social relationships due to the understanding that, at the heart of all relationships, love is the model that is to be held up as ideal.”

The Commandments are not a formula that if followed, will lead to God’s A-list. On a simplistic level, they were meant to reveal sin. What shall we say, then? Is the law sinful? Certainly not! Nevertheless, I would not have known what sin was had it not been for the law. For I would not have known what coveting really was if the law had not said, “You shall not covet.” - Romans 7:7

In Romans 7:1-6, Paul provides an examples of when “the Law” (Commandments and Levitical Law) is valid and when it is not. The point I’m driving at here, is that the commandments are not an absolute, all-inclusive list of morality, as you indicated in your previous post. They are a set of commandments for us (humans), applied to us, for specific reasons. (I have not exhausted those reasons, but hopeful given enough data to make my point.) They do not have any bearing on the nature of God or define His moral perfection.

gregbarnes said...

Thanks for the update, Matt! I have more where that came from. For example, Exodus 21:7 allows you sell your youngest daughter into slavery, but what if you sell that little ho-bag, and then you get your wife pregnant with a new youngest daughter. Do you have to buy the now not-youngest daughter back? It's so confusing. God has too many rules. Help!

Also, definitely let's hang soon. I think alcohol should be involved.

gregbarnes said...

Alcohol... and a plan to pass Chris off as our youngest daughter and see him to the highest bidder.

Cookulacrates said...

@Jonathan: Referencing the Bible is not less frustrating because you assume that *your* sacred text is somehow correct over Islam's sacred texts or the sacred text of Jains. It's better to make arguments based on reason and logic, not on the merits of a bronze-aged, theocratic, BS philosophy.

You really think that god doesn't care about what you do, only what you believe? That if I was a good person my whole life, but didn't believe in him/her, I would still not be in "heaven"? That's a twisted world you live in - where you are not judged on the content of your character or the merits of your actions, but whether you believe in a pink, fairy unicorn that cares about whether or not you are paying attention to it.

As for your comment about free will, see the video post again that you've already commented on. Why is it that you (among many other christians) insist on "free will" being the hinge by which god is not responsible? If god is omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent, THEN god CHOSE TO GIVE YOU FREE WILL, KNOWING THAT PEOPLE WOULD NOT CHOOSE, THEREFORE CONDEMNING THEM TO HELL BASED ON THIS FOREKNOWLEDGE. That makes your god an asshole, regardless of whether we have free will. The bottom line is, your god (so you claim) has the power to stop suffering, death, oppression, tyranny, and sickness, but chooses not to intervene because of ... free will? That doesn't even make sense. Every hurricane that Pat Robertson blamed on the gays WAS NOT EVEN HITTING THE AREAS THAT ARE TOLERANT OF GAYS. Really, you must be joking to come on to this blog and comment that the reason for death in a biblical context is FREE WILL. Thomas Aquinas' arguments are hundreds of years old and they were shot down by philosophers of his day - please recognize that we've moved past the enlightenment now and I expect ignorant christians to stop using the phrase "free will" like they have diarrhea of the mouth to explain death.

As to your comments about the 10 commandments, there is nothing about love in the ten commandments, just fear. The first four don't have anything to do with offering "order in social relationships" - they're about placating a jealous god. They are there to instill fear in doubting or trusting in anything else - not what I would call "love".

And really? You quote Romans chapter 7? So weak - that quote implies that without the ten commandments (the law) then the individual would not know right from wrong. In other words, Paul needed someone to tell him exactly what he could and couldn't do - he needed an authority figure to tell him what was allowed and not allowed, because actually THINKING about it would have been difficult and have opened up too many possibilities to discussion, and might have even caused him a bit of intellectual discomfort, so he rejoices in the fact that he was able to turn OFF is cognitive capacity and rely on an invisible man in the sky to tell him exactly what is good and is not good.

And your last point is no good either. Your god is moral perfection, but the 10 commandments are the most epic rules known around the world today. You'd think that an almighty god might have come up with "love thy neighbor" in exodus rather than waiting for jesus. However, it's not until gentle jesus, meek and mild, that we are introduced to a permanent place known as hell, so it's a bit of a trade off to hear the golden rule juxtaposed to an eternity in damnation for a failure to comply.

zoegod said...

While your post is very logical, my point of view with regards to my belief is that God owns me. He created me and as so He can do what ever.

I may not understand why but i just think like im an ant trying to understand something like the internet, which is impossible.

This just brings down the back to the question will you have faith on God or not?

I may think hard with all the logic i can conjure but if thats the limit our human brain can take and still wont be able to understand why, all is left is will you just simply believe or not.

Ill just bet on believing God. If there is no God then, woe me. If yes there is a greater somebody there who created us which we cannot really understand then Great ill go to heaven! The good thing is i had and will have a great life on both dimensions (living and after life) which seems to be a great and logical bet for my limited thinking. :)

Good topic sir. Thanx

Cookulacrates said...

zoegod, I'm not sure that hedging your bets is something you can get away with and have an all-knowing, all-powerful god actually not be aware that you're pretty much gaming the system. My underlying premise of belief is that I there is *actually* evidence supporting the idea of that belief. I rarely (if ever) believe something is true just to make sure I'm covering my ass.

As to your point about being god's property, you're obviously entitled to belief as you wish. But I find it disturbing that you are willing to completely relinquish all control of your body and mind to a possibly imaginary entity and do not question whether that entity would use you for good or evil. Sure, you believe that the entity is good because you define good as this entity, but you do not know that and you do not have proof of it. This demonstrates lack of critical thinking. And it scares me the lengths you might go to just because you might be convinced (without evidence) that your god wants you to do something for him/her.