I received a few comments to some recent posts from someone going by the name of David. David has challenged the veracity of some of my statements, publicly. If we were cartoons, it would be like Bugs Bunny has taken off his white glove and slapped Daffy Duck across the face. Well, of course you know, this means war. ;-)
I thought I would throw this word skirmish up on its own post. That way you, the reader, can more easily join in if you'd like, and point out where I go wrong. Or you can just sit back and (hopefully) be entertained and enlightened. Enjoy!
For your ease, I have summarized arguments up to now. David, please correct me if I have misrepresented anything.
My replies will be indented.
The Morals of God
Spawning from the “I'm an Insensitive Jerk” post, David suggests that God is self-consistent in His morality, that He defines the rules, and that rules are a reflection for us to know His nature. In a sense, David sees morality as internal to God in all the ways that it is external to us humans.
I mentioned that in Deut. 24:16, according to God a man shall not be killed due to sins of his children, and visa versa. Yet God does this very thing in scripture, such as when God killed King David's baby which he had with Bathsheba (2 Samuel 11-12). This makes God seem inconsistent with His own rules.
David replied with a manifold answer: Children often suffer for the sins of their parents. This law was for us and our justice, not for God, similar to how God provided the divorce law for the hardness of our hearts. Why is it that we think a woman can decide to kill her unborn child, but God is not capable of making a similar decision? And finally, who are we to judge God?
David, I'm sure you realize that this law is not a description of the way the world works in general, but rather a law regarding legal justice. So children suffering for their parents mistakes, and vice versa, in the life-experience sense, is not technically applicable.
As for divorce, it's funny you mention that. Check out my exegesis post “Holy Divorce” for a rebuttal of that errant perspective. The underlying claim you make, though, is that there can be two sets of standards, one for man and one for God. That means that morals are relative; relative to the executor. Here's where it gets interesting: Let's allow God His own set of morals. Like any set of morals, God should be obligated to exercise those morals judgements consistently, especially if, as you suggest, God is self-consistent. That is not what we find in the Bible. For example, God kills Onan just for spilling his semen on the ground, but God lets Manasseh, the most evil king Judah ever had, reign for 55 years (2 Kings 21). So God appears to be inconsistent in His application of His morals, which is not very moral at all. You could claim that the reason for this inconsistency has to do with how this all fits into God's ultimate plan. That point is more difficult to refute, however it does paint morals as being relative to the situation as opposed to be absolute, which is so often proclaimed by believers. (You may be interested to review another exegesis post, “Sins of Their Fathers,” where I discuss some of the several times when God does kill children for the sins of their fathers.)
In regards to the half-joking comparison between abortion and God's decision, the appropriate rebuttal for you somewhat depends on your beliefs about the unborn. Yet perhaps what should be asked is whether or not that comparison is a valid one to make. That goes back to the law. I don't think anyone would say that a woman has a right to abort her pregnancy as a means of punishing the father. I'm guessing most people would find that idea morally repugnant, as I certainly do. However, this is what you have suggested that God is doing by your reply, whether or not you intended to suggest that.
Who are we to judge God? Job was awfully humble about it, that's true, suggesting none of us are worthy to question God. Yet that's not the only Biblical viewpoint. You may remember how Abraham questioned God about His planned destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. Perhaps you remember how Moses questioned God on multiple occasions, including twice when Moses influenced God to change His mind in order not to completely annihilate the Israelites; once for the Golden Cow worshiping and once when they were afraid to enter the Promised Land. If it wasn't for Moses' moral judgement, imperfect as it was, there might now be a country called “Moses” instead of a country called “Israel.” I believe we have the right and the responsibility to question the morals of God. True, I am not omniscient, so my judgement may be wrong. On the other hand, I do not know how to fly a plane, but I am pretty sure I could tell if a pilot was about to turn the plane into a lawn dart. You do not have to know every single thing in order to be correct on a particular judgement.
Naturally Flawed Logic
In the “Exodus of Free Speech?” post, I had casually made the statement:
“That problem not being GLBT persons, but rather the antiquated Biblical and Koranic views of homosexuality, which has proven itself to be 100% natural at some frequency.”
David had mentioned that my logic in this statement was flawed, that such a statement could be made for human issues such as murder, rape, extortion, etc.
David, I do apologize, as I have taken some liberties with this blog verses the “The Wise Fool” blog, in that I am not always fully fleshing out and supporting statements. I'm doing this purposefully for better readability. I understand why you may not quite understand my intent here. So let me explain.
In the Bible, you find no expression for the fact that homosexuality is natural. All you see is that it is a abomination to God. Correspondingly, there is a subset of Christians out there who see homosexuality as a choice only, not a desire anyone is born with. The statement I made is directed at such people; people who ignore the scientific evidence which confirms that homosexuality is a naturally occurring phenomenon within many parts of the animal kingdom, including us.
Furthermore, that statement is directed at the Bible and the Koran. For if God/Allah is making only certain people who have homosexual attraction and at the same time condemning homosexual behavior, that is indeed a perverse game such a Creator is playing.
Just to be extra clear here, I believe that there are some people who choose to perform homosexual acts despite their actual inherent sexual bias of the contrary, such as what you hear about in prisons. Yet there are people who are clearly born different, with an honest attraction for the same sex. It is the “natural homosexuals” which neither holy book acknowledges which proves that their religious belief structure is antiquated. So I am arguing a different point altogether, one that forces the believer's revelation that God must be involved in making someone homosexual, and God's inherent unjustified condemnation of such an individual.
I'll point out a flaw in logic of your argument, at least as it is provided. Murder, rape, extortion, etc. are crimes involving victims. Homosexuality in and of itself is a victimless act, an act which can promote love between the two people involved. So yes, they all happen naturally, but your grouping is clearly wrong and hurtful, while on the other hand, homosexuality can actually be as enriching a life experience as any non-child-bearing heterosexual union.
I made another casual statement, saying this about the Bible and Koran:
“Talk about offensive material... slavery, oppression, and genocide, oh my!”
David stated that he didn't think I would have a problem with history books, which all contain that stuff. So he asked if I was inferring that the Bible and Koran advocate these things, because he doesn't “think that [such a] view is one commonly held by serious scholars of the subject.”
The natural question to ask back: Which serious scholars, or rather what type of serious scholars? Are these people of faith who have a vested interest to paint things in a positive light, and to ignore facts to the contrary? This is an important question to answer, because these Holy books do contain this content in a way which should not be ignored.
New-Testament-Only Christianity does not fundamentally advocate any of those. The funny thing about the New Testament, though, is that it is most often connected to the Old Testament as a package deal known as the Bible. In the Old Testament, God instructs the Israelites to take slave women as war spoils and commit genocide on multiple populations. Oppression is a little more slippery to deal with, because it depends on how you want to define it. I see a certain level of the oppression of the rights of women, some of which is echoed even in the New Testament. Now what you have to remember is the God of the Bible does not change. He tells us so, so it must be true. So the God of Christianity could be called an advocate of slavery, oppression, and genocide, even if Christianity proper does not actively promote any of those evils. If you need any specific verses to support my claims, just ask. ;-)
The Koran and Islam I am still learning about. Muslims have many flavors, just like Christians do, so any generalization falls short of the full truth. Shari'a law does indeed promote oppression of Christians and Jews living in Islamic states. There are many anti-Semitic passages in the Koran, several coupled with condemnation from Allah, which goes a long way towards promoting genocide. Similar to the Bible, slaves are part of the spoils of war according to Allah.
So, yes, that's what I was inferring. I believe there are grounds to do so. I just picked out three objectionable topics of slavery, oppression, and genocide, but there are others too, such as promoting discrimination and intolerance, and inciting extremists. I'm not sure I would classify myself as a “serious scholar” of the Bible, but I have studied it enough to know without doubt that there are concepts, Biblical, God-ordained concepts, which I would never want taught to children.