Dear Law-Condemning Atheist


You joyfully apply Old Testament laws to today’s society to show how ridiculous they are.

“If you worship other gods…then you get stoned to death.”

Does this apply to you? Do you fear stoning? No. These are obsiously not laws that apply to all times and all cultures. You have the same choice as any other man. God created man, gave him the ability to choose, and set a choice before him. “Of every tree in the garden you can freely eat, but of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, you shall not eat of it, for in the day that you eat of it, you shall surely die.” Adam chose and we still choose today. The Christian should allow the same choice for every man, but he should still cling to the truth he knows and expel and refute the lies around him. If the truth purges, that’s great. But force shoudn’t be used unless there is a threat of imminent harm to freedom.

I know why you bring up stoning and other harsh laws in the Old Testament, and leave out the rest of the Bible in your assessment of God. That harsh part of God that demands perfection is hard to reckon with and is easy to reject as unreasonable. You know, if that’s all there was, no man could have hope. I urge you, don’t ignore the merciful and gracious side of God either. He has provided a way to bring us to himself without requiring us to follow a list of do’s and dont’s. Jesus is that way. Without him, our imperfection could never be reconciled with his perfection.

Advertisements

20 thoughts on “Dear Law-Condemning Atheist

  1. “These are obsiously not laws that apply to all times and all cultures.”

    I disagree. Slavery has always been wrong, even when the OT said it was fine and gave direction how to do it. Rape has always been wrong, even though the OT ignored it. And stoning someone to death for believing differently has always been wrong, even if the OT said it was. And it saddens me you and others think that sort of behavior was ever appropriate.

    1. Again, imperfection (man) bumps up against perfection (God) and cannot attain unto it. God, through the law, shows us what change we should make on the inside.

      Slavery in the Old Testament was still wrong. Why are there laws concerning slavery? If you read all of the laws concerning this, you will see that they were meant to phase slavery out. I can provide you with verses if you like.

      Every law has an inward change behind it that the law illustrates. The Israelites were a chosen people, and God gave laws specifically for them, showing them what kind of God he was. You can disagree with the severity of certain punishments, but you would have to be God for that to hold any weight. If you study the law, you will find the reason behind it.

    1. Old Testament laws were meant to be an outward sign of an inward change that the person keeping the law was supposed to make. What happens through much of history is people focus so much on what they shoud not do rather than on the purpose behind it. The ceremonial law, for example that was talked about in Matthew 15, was added to so much by the Jewish lawyers and judges that it became impossible to completely follow them. They missed the inward change and adopted a set of behaviors that became their religion instead of faith toward God.

      In the New Testament, God makes an inward change in the person through faith, and encourages us to provide evidence of the change by adopting certain actions. The actions aren’t what saves, but faith is what saves. Therefore, we are not slaves to the law, we are children of faith.

      Here is a link that supports what I say, and does a good job of explaining these things.
      http://everything2.com/title/Old+Testament+law+doesn%2527t+apply+to+Christians

  2. I can say the ceremonial law was. I can say that many other laws were too. Some, however, are regulatory: meant to stop perversion or corruption. Some are confined to a specific time and culture. Which laws are you referring to?

    1. Which laws? Well, I’m not sure.

      I suppose I’m understandably worried that real people are being stoned to death for infractions against some ‘god-inspired’ laws. And here you tell me that some laws are meant to be for inward change and some laws for regulatory. My question I think is pretty obvious: how do we know the difference and on whose authority? Mine? Yours? Someone else, perhaps?

      1. If I can convince you about laws, then someone else can un-convince you. The best way to know is to study it for yourself. I would also recommend that you compare your findings with other scholars.

      2. You didn’t answer my question, Daniel: how do we know the difference between those laws (and rules and suggestions for behaviour and correct belief) for inward change and those that justify the killing and maiming and mutilating of people for theistic infractions? You say the best way is to study it. I have. You say I should compare my studies to scholars. I have. I find an incoherency that renders theological justifications highly suspect because there is, in fact, no reliable way to differentiate other than faith itself.

        The reason why we don’t own other people here in the west is because secular law forbids it. Although this secular law has widespread support among the religious, scriptural support for the maintenance of slaves suggests that there is no god-sanctioned prohibition against it. I’m sure you can see the problem here: secular law based on human well-being and respect for the individual seems to be far more reliable and responsive a tool than sifting through religious clues as to what laws are and are not sanctioned by god.

      1. People can believe in God and detest the Bible. Even people who have read the Bible can detest the Bible. Just thought I’d add something to the conversation. There seems to be an idea in this country that Christians own the rights to believing in God and living a good life and that’s the problem with trying to inject faith into the government that governs not only Christians, but Atheist, Agnostics, Muslims, Buddhists, Jews, witches (ehhemm ; O’Donnell, lol) … REGARDLESS of how it effects government, some Bible law-condemners aren’t atheist, which was really my point. Not everyone who believes in God is Christian, and not everyone who doesn’t believe in a Christian God is Atheist.

  3. The biggest problem is people compartmentalize the Bible. They pick and choose Scriptures in isolation and then when you call them on the carpet for it, they begin to question your epistemological justification for saying their interpretation is wrong. This is more of a strategy of debate than an actual learning process; it forms an “Aha, gotcha!” moment while adding nothing to the education of those involved.

    The reality is the Bible – like any other book (or collection of books) – must be taken as a whole. Thus, the OT Law is blatantly not what God desired, but what He allowed due to the corruption of the Hebrew culture at the time (hence why it’s called “The Law of Moses” and not the “Law of God”). Such law was meant to demonstrate the fallen nature of humanity, that we’re so fallen we cannot avoid engaging in immorality. In fact, look at the structure of the Law. It begins simple (just 10 Commandments), but the Israelites cannot even follow this. Thus, the rules become more and more specific and therefore imperfect.

    Christ comes along and fulfills the law, meaning He brings the Law back into its proper place. He summarizes the Law to “Love God and love your neighbor.” This leaves many IMPLICIT commands, commands that would nullify slavery (or at the very least prohibit abuse or elitism within a master-slave relationship) and so on. Yes, Jesus, Paul, and other New Testament writers didn’t go into detail on what was right and wrong, mostly because the moment you go into detail you begin to create loopholes. Rather they gave us principles to follow.

    Any disgust that is had with the Bible is only grown out of gross ignorance as to what the specific author is trying to say. When we go, “I can’t believe the Bible supports that!” we’re often displaying our ignorance rather than our moral fortitude. That’s not meant to insult anyone and I hope no offense is taken by it. I’m simply pointing out a fact – to show disgust at the Scriptures generally shows ignorance on the part of the person reading.

    In addition:
    Two good articles that deal with this subject, both by Paul Copan

    “Is Yahweh a Moral Monster” (http://www.epsociety.org/library/articles.asp?pid=45&mode=detail)

    “Yahweh Wars and the Canaanites” (http://www.epsociety.org/library/articles.asp?pid=63&mode=detail)

  4. As someone who studied (past tense) the Bible, I’d say that you said a lot right on the topic in the last post. But I have to say in response to :

    “Any disgust that is had with the Bible is only grown out of gross ignorance as to what the specific author is trying to say. ”

    My disgust and many others disgust usually stems from:

    1. The concept that Jesus is the only way to God…
    2. Which natuarally leads to “anyone who’s not a Christian is bad and will burn in hell” (the nondenominational (sp, lol) Christians will at least give you some room as to decided what that hell might look like)
    3. Revelations: “The end is nigh!!!” leading to “REPENT! You are a sinner, follow us or suffer!”
    4. Which naturally leads to me going, “F*** you all.”

    Case in point: See the series ‘Your God and My Country’ posted here:

    Part1: http://unfinishedscript.wordpress.com/2010/09/14/what-do-you-think-about-god-and-our-country/

    Part2: http://unfinishedscript.wordpress.com/2010/09/15/your-god-and-my-country-part-2/

    “ME: “I think that I am a good, rational person, therefore I am?”

    RELIGION: “No. You are broken and incompetent, incapable of making appropriate decisions about your own moral conduct; therefore, here are some rules to follow and things to believe in order to become a good, rational person.”

    ME: “I love God, therefore I am loved.”

    RELIGION: “No. It is necessary, in order to be loved by God, that you do a., b., and c. and believe the following….”

    ME: “F*** you.”

    RELIGION: “Go to hell.”

    Part3: http://unfinishedscript.wordpress.com/2010/09/20/your-god-and-my-country-%e2%80%93-part-3/

    And just for fun AmerReligiCorp: http://unfinishedscript.wordpress.com/2010/09/24/amerreligicorp/

    1. Sadly, you’re actually proving my point.

      Much of what “religion” teaches isn’t found in the Bible, or at least distorts what the Bible teaches.

      I’d encourage you to put a deeper study into the Bible and read the commentaries provided by the Church Fathers.

    2. I think your reply is right on the money. You’ve listed thing that make a lot of people cringe a bit when it comes to Christianity.

      I happen to be a “believer” myself. I just have a couple of questions for you.

      Disclaimer: I’m not trying to be offensive here but it may come off that way.

      Do you believing that believing something about yourself makes it true? Do you believe you can define reality? Do you believe there is nothing wrong with human nature? Do you believe that there is ultimate truth?

      1. I’m a believer, I’m not religious. I believe in one God, which is everyone’s God. I believe that God does not discriminate between Religious and non-religious people. I believe that God is all knowing, all powerful, all loving and a part of everything. I do not believe in Grand design because I think a truly loving God would not impose his will on us. I believe in God as guidance rather than enforcement. I believe that God gave us morality and reason and brains and souls for a reason. I do not believe in Hell, the devil, or supernatural evil, I rather relate to these things as concepts rather than real places. I believe the life we’re meant to live is the one right here on earth.

        To your questions:

        No, believing something about myself only supports my ability to try and make it true.

        Perception is reality. I can’t control everything in my environment, therefore I cannot control the things that I perceive, therefore, NO, I cannot control my reality, but as stated above, I can have influence over it.

        I believe that human nature is good and bad to varying degrees. It just is what it is. READ: Secular Humanism http://unfinishedscript.wordpress.com/secular-humanism/

        My purpose in life is to live it. That is the Ultimate Truth. If you believe in God and that God made you, then why would he give you life if you weren’t supposed to live it.

        “There is a principle which is a bar against all information, which is proof against all arguments and which cannot fail to keep a man in everlasting ignorance – that principle is contempt prior to investigation” – Herbert Spencer

        Religion BREEDS contempt prior to investigation (therefore ignorance), by asking the believer to block out anything which does not fall into it’s perfect doctrine. I would rather revel in the imperfect mess of life (and believe me, I’ve lived an imperfect mess of a life so far) and love what God has given me, then worry about what is waiting on the other side. If I truly love God, then I love those around me to the best of my ability, and I love the life that was given me.

      2. I just have to question the paradigm that perception is reality. If reality is perceived a certain way it does not change the staple of reality. Perception has no power over reality. It only has power over us. This is why in order to live life in a way that is pleasing to God we have to find the knowledge of basic reality and amend our lives to fit into it. Even if you don’t believe in God, this is the most worthy pursuit. To approach life on the basis of finding unfettered reality is the first step to knowing how to live. Forgive me, but to simply “live life” is meaningless. How to live is the important question. In fact, questions are what drives life. Questions drive us straight into reality as long as we accept no substitutes for it. Questions are what drives the investigation that Herbert Spencer spoke of.

        I agree closely with your statement that religion breeds contempt prior to investigation. I would tweak it to say that religion TENDS to breed contempt prior to investigation. The reason I believe it tends to do so is that many (not all) religious people are afraid that to question their faith means to lose it.

        Regardless of what religious people think they are questioning, if they question at all, what they are really questioning is reality. That’s what all seekers of truth are questioning.

        So based on all of this a person has a couple of questions to answer.

        1. If I believe in God, do my beliefs justify God or myself?

        2. If I believe in no God, am I certain that reality does not necessitate God? Am I willing to follow my uncertainty even if it leads back to God?

        3. If there are many “ways” to God, is there a right one or is every one right?

        On number three there are a couple of considerations. If every way is right than only those ways which claim no exclusivity can be correct. Of course, a claim of no exclusivity needs no facts or logic to back it up. It sounds nice but all it really means is that everything is relative. Therefore “truth” is a blurry and possibly even arbitrary construct. On that basis, logic and facts are irrelevant because no one fact can usurp another fact’s authority. All facts are of equal value even if they contradict one another. Of course, this is precisely how many people treat truth which is why pluralism (i.e. every way is the right way) is so attractive because it is so convenient to the pluralist mindset. Lastly, if there is only one way, then which way is the right one? This question brings in the intellectual because now one has to search to find reality. Pluralism expels intellectual investigation because it implies that there is nothing to search for.

  5. I agree with your logic very much here. I can’t figure how to appropriately respond here without quoting you:

    “Forgive me, but to simply “live life” is meaningless. How to live is the important question. In fact, questions are what drive life. Questions drive us straight into reality as long as we accept no substitutes for it. Questions are what drive the investigation that Herbert Spencer spoke of. ”

    Re: I believe that living life is exactly what we are meant to do. That means different things to different people. What I mean by living it, for me, is to follow your heart, question things, to find and stay close to your inner wisdom (Christian-speak: holy spirit), to celebrate all that is good in this world and to discover it (which is very much a Herbert Spencer questioning type thing). But, some people, I think, do all this and forget that it is not the answers you arrive at, but what you do on your way to finding them. It is the Journey, not the destination. It is the kind of selfishness that revels in loving those around you. It is the breath of life that God gave us to breathe. That is more meaningful than any intellectually-contrived idea of purpose.

    “I just have to question the paradigm that perception is reality.”

    “If every way is right than only those ways which claim no exclusivity can be correct. Of course, a claim of no exclusivity needs no facts or logic to back it up. It sounds nice but all it really means is that everything is relative. Therefore “truth” is a blurry and possibly even arbitrary construct. On that basis, logic and facts are irrelevant because no one fact can usurp another fact’s authority. All facts are of equal value even if they contradict one another. Of course, this is precisely how many people treat truth which is why pluralism (i.e. every way is the right way) is so attractive because it is so convenient to the pluralist mindset. Lastly, if there is only one way, then which way is the right one? This question brings in the intellectual because now one has to search to find reality. Pluralism expels intellectual investigation because it implies that there is nothing to search for.”

    Re: There is a dichotomy to human nature that people prefer not to see, Americans and Christians more than any other. In ignoring that, we fail to see the perfection of our imperfections. Like a poet who sees beauty in the ugly or dark or even vein, greater inward peace and relational peace can be obtained just by acknowledging this dichotomy and accepting it. Christianity translates imperfection to sin. I disagree with that completely. I see imperfection as opportunity. And this is where I disagree with the judicial system, because, until you’ve sat and spoken to a convicted felon or murderer, you only see them as that which they’ve been convicted of. There are a lot of people walking around creating ‘evil’ that are in fact victims of a confused society. Many are mentally/ emotionally disturbed and instead of being treated, they were ignored and allowed to become and to do what it is they did. When you see the beauty of another human being that no one else has seen, you know God more completely, because you’ve then met his creation, and in meeting his creation you enhance your experience of and your understanding of, what it means to ‘live life.’

    Truth, as you’ve explained it, implies that this world is made up of concrete ideas and factual laws, and denies the plurality of this world. If God is Love and God is Light, and darkness abhors the Light, and God is omnipresent and omnipotent, and then knowing God, is knowing that everything is of God. And this life and these people in it are not one-dimensional cartoons following the dictates of some greater spiritual truth. I understand the seeking, as I seek to see God everyday in my life, but I do not seek to find because finding implies an end to the knowledge and the journey. Even in giving I have to be aware that ones inner knowledge of God is their own to find. It is not something I can give to anyone and it is not something that I seek to take away from anyone either. The greatest Truth in this world is your own. What a peaceful world we would have if everyone understood that. *sigh*

    As King Solomon declared, “there is nothing new under the sun” I think that even in spiritual truth-seeking, we can get lost in wanting to be right and righteous, when the most righteous thing a human being can do, is to be what God made them, live the life they were given, find their own truth, and to appreciate everything life has to offer. I quoted Ecclesiastes for this purpose, that with the perspective that by ‘living life’ I do not mean living ‘of this world’ and only in it. In trying to find a perfect concrete truth, it is easy to get lost in living ‘of this world’, rising above this world means letting go of right and wrong and the only way to do that is to acknowledge the plurality of the world we live in and accept it.

    Final thought: When we try to conform the things around us to our ideas / ideals, we experience conflict with God and our inner selves, as these are all connected. I do not believe that God is conflict.

  6. “Does this apply to you? Do you fear stoning?”

    Muslims certainly still do. They fear other Muslims that follow the Quran to the letter….which includes the punishment of stoning for ridiculously mild “offenses”.
    If everyone took the Bible’s old testament literally, this world would certainly be hell on Earth, especially for women. If you’ve read the old testament, you know exactly what I’m talking about.
    “Christians” love to ignore the old testament and sweep it under the rug. If you no longer feel that much of the old testament is relevant, then every new bible should be published without it.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s