The LORD passed before [Moses] and proclaimed, “The Lord, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness.”
– Exodus 34:6
This was the verse of the day from Sojourners (A pretty good Christian organization as they go.) There’s the big G patting himself on the back; not an endearing quality. Seven verses on he tells Moses “ye shall destroy their (all the other tribes) alters, break their images, and cut down their groves.” In the next verse he proclaims himself to be “a jealous God.” A few verses later “Seven days thou shalt eat unleavened bread, as I commanded thee…”
Nothing wrong with eating unleavened bread but worshiping a god who is jealous and egocentric and teaches hatred??? Happy Passover.
Now in the morning as he returned into the city, he hungered.
And when he saw a fig tree in the way, he came to it and found nothing theron, but leaves only, and said unto it, “Let no fruit grow on thee henceforward for ever.” And presently the fig tree withered away. Matthew 21:19-20
He kills a fig tree just because it didn’t have figs when he wanted some? Fig trees don’t give fruit all the time so it was probably a perfectly fine and productive tree but even if the tree should have had fruit at that time, killing it simply because he was hungry is hardly a quality I would associate with perfection. Oh, and if you think I’m taking this out of context, by all means check it out. He goes on to tell his disciples that if they have faith “all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive” including casting mountains into the sea.
I wonder if fundamentalists understand parables. My own experiences lead me to believe they don’t. For example, I have had fundamentalists tell me that the reason no one stoned the adulteress when Jesus said “let he who is without sin throw the first stone” was because all of those men had committed adultery. If there had been just one who had not, he would have thrown the first stone and the woman would have been stoned to death.
“So,” I asked, “this story doesn’t pertain to you at all?” “Right,” he answered. I’ve never committed adultery so if I had been there, I could have stoned her.” It seems to me that is a story about judging others as in “judge not lest yea be judged.”
The parable of the Good Samaritan does not translate into “love thy enemies.” Enjoy this quote from a Christian site on the parables: “Like his aphorisms, Jesus’ parables were often surprising and paradoxical. The parable of the good Samaritan, for example, turned expectations on their head with the despised Samaritan proving to be the wounded man’s neighbor.”
Follows is a dialogue in which I tried to make a point using allegory:
Me: You believe life is a gift?
CF (Christian Fundamentalist): Yes.
Me: A gift from God?
Me: God the Father?
Me: Do you think life is a wonderful gift?
Me: You are a father. Have you given your children gifts?
CF: Of course.
Me: Imagine giving your son a wonderful gift, the best gift you could imagine and he said “Thank you Dad. What else did you get me?” How would that make you feel?
CF: What’s your point?
Me: God gave you a wonderful gift, you say, but you turn around and ask for another life, a heaven that you know nothing about other than you are sure it is better than this life, this gift. How do you think that would make God feel?
CF: I’m not God.
Me: You believe you were created in God’s image. God shows lots of feelings and emotions that you can identify with including rage. You call him your Father in Heaven. If I gave my son a beautiful bicycle that he wanted and he said, “Thanks Dad. What else did you get me? I’d be pissed.
CF: I’m sure you are a good father.
Using allegory when having a discussion of religion with fundamentalist Christians may not help advance your point.
Do you think Satan exists? If so, then, yes, Satan exists in your reality. We each live in our own reality and that reality includes our beliefs. If you believe there is a Satan but not a God, then you might want to consider where the notion of Satan came from. The simple answer is that your Satan came from the Bible. Satan is a personification or deification of evil to contrast with the personification or deification of good which, in the Bible, is given the name God. There is really very little information about Satan in the Bible. He has been fleshed out by many authors since which has given the notion of Satan pretty much the image people hold today. The dialogue between Satan and God in the book of Job in the Old Testament is the only place in the Bible where Satan actually appears and is a good place to try to understand the Biblical Satan. The image I suspect you hold of Satan can be found in Paradise Lost by John Milton or in sermons by people who believe they are teaching from the Bible.
I don’t think Satan exists. My thesis that Satan wrote the Bible is for people who believe that God wrote the Bible or caused it to be written, that the Bible is the word of God. If you believe that, you should read what “God” says and does in the Bible. You believe that God gave you your mind; use it. Use it to try to understand the God and the Satan that you believe in. Don’t rely on what others (like preachers, rabbis, popes and the like) tell you about God. Don’t rely on what is said about God in the Bible. Go right to God’s actions and words and I think you will find an image quite different from the one you worship.
Neither Satan nor God wrote the Bible or had influence over the writing of the Bible. The Old Testament was written by men passing on stories that were created in the minds of men (and likely some women) to try to explain creation and the early life of the Jews to explain how they came into being and to lay down some rules of behavior so the species could get along and live good lives. Science has come a long way since then toward explaining creation and how we came into being. That some people reject what we have learned and cling to notions developed over 2,500 years ago is an indication of how powerful teaching beliefs rather than teaching open mindedness and how to think at an early age can be. For those who can use the minds that came with their bodies I suggest looking at the age old questions from a current day perspective.
As for creation scientists have reached back to the big bang which comes from evidence of what the universe is doing today—expanding at in increasingly rapid rate. They don’t know where the material came from that came together and then exploded—still a mystery. If you like the notion that God created the universe, why not have him do it with a clap of his hands, BANG! Or how about the notion that this is a virtual reality much like video games; the creation is this fantastic game that surrounds us wherever we go, whatever we do—it is us. We have been getting ever closer to creating virtual reality; movies, then 3D movies, surround sound, Imax and video games that keep getting closer to reality. Scientists have figured out how to stimulate nerves in amputees to give them feeling in prosthetic limbs. From that it is comprehensible that they will be able to stimulate all our nerves in a virtual experience. For me I’d like that to be a date with Sophia Loren when she was about 22.
Another way to look at this notion is to consider what we know about the makeup of matter. We are made up of atoms that have a nucleus and electrons spinning around them interestingly much like the planets spinning around the sun. These atoms are mostly space. Take out all the space and we would be reduced to a speck of dust. Science has got another thing going on that I don’t understand very well as it is too new for my brain but as I understand it they have now got us or everything reduced to wave lengths. From another reality looking in on us we might be holograms.
Might it not be a good idea to think about how we came into being (actually science has largely answered that one), the purpose (meaning) of life and how best to behave so our species can get along and live good lives with all we know now rather than hanging onto ideas developed before electricity, before computers, before we had any thoughts about a virtual reality?