Dialogue with Ben

Ben: If I understand you correctly, you may not be able to comprehend why some people would hurt others, but you wouldn’t say that their path in life; their ultimate goal, is any less valid than your own. Have I represented you accurately?
Thomas: Not exactly. I can’t comprehend why people hurt others because I’m not in their skin, soul, whatever and because what I have learned about myself has made hurting others on purpose incomprehensible. I have no way of knowing why others do what they do and don’t see how I can judge them.
Ben: You said that in your worldview, the world should be a place “where everyone accepts everyone”. Why?
Thomas: “Should” is the operative word in that statement. It is not the way the world is, it will not be that in my lifetime and probably never but my view of a perfect world, heaven, if you will, is one in which everyone accepts everyone else. I use the word “accepts” rather than “love” because love is a word that has too much emotion and misunderstanding attached but I am basically talking about Christ’s central message of love for everyone. The reason everyone should accept everyone, other than because it is what Christ wanted, is that to do otherwise is frequently a source of conflict.
Ben: What if butchering another human makes someone happy?
Thomas: Accepting a person as they are does not include accepting certain behaviors.
Ben: Should we judge or encourage a serial killer like Tommy Lynn Sells?
Thomas: Judging his actions is a no-brainer. Putting him away forever or killing him is all fine with me.
Ben: Why should everyone accept everyone?
Thomas: It’s really hard to love someone if you don’t accept them for who they are. Accepting is not condoning or agreeing with; it is “I see you as a person.”
Ben: Why should we love everyone?
Thomas: Maybe you think Satan wrote Matthew 5: 43-48 and Luke 6:27 or are you picking and choosing? But rather than rely on the Bible I’ll give you my own answer from my own life. While trying to follow the advice from your savior, Jesus, I have found that the more successful I am at loving neighbors and enemies the happier I am. Hating Tommy Sells may make you feel better and if that is the case, it is what you should do. Finding it in my heart to love him, while difficult, makes me feel better. Do I love him enough to think he should be running around in society? Hell no.
Ben: Is your worldview morally superior to the worldview of Tommy Lynn Sells?
Thomas: Sells is a character in my life similar to the ghosts in Pac-Man. I have no morally superior worldview
Ben: Do you exist in a worldview of total relativism where anything is right for anyone?
Thomas: I exist in a place where there is only one person I can change and, thus, only one person to judge. Put me on Sell’s jury and I’d judge his actions unacceptable and I wouldn’t care much what happened to his body but I might feel some compassion for his soul (if I was in a dualistic mood). I have no idea what is right for you or for Sells or anyone else.
Ben: Would you appeal to the Bible? But if you do, why reject so much of it while taking just the parts that you like?
Thomas: Gosh, Ben, it seems to me you are rejecting the passages I cited above. Of course I take the parts I like as do you. There is enough contradiction in the Bible to make everyone happy.
As an aside, I’ve done some research into religion and serial killers and haven’t found one that came from an atheist upbringing so I was further amused at Sells statement: “I’ve made my peace with my maker.”

Michael dialogue continued (3)

Thomas: Michael, you wrote “He (God) said He created nature and all creation that would cause men to ask questions and search for who made all of this.” I think you are making my case. You are saying God made creation so we would think. Beautiful. My point exactly. Ask questions; ask questions about creation, who created all of this. YES! That is spot on. And then along comes Satan and he doesn’t want us to think about God’s creation, he wants us to focus on his words.
I’m going to get off the Satan bandwagon for a moment and say something real. The Bible was written by men who were doing exactly what you say God wanted them and us to do, to ask questions. The Bible is their answer (which, if you believe in Satan, could have been influenced by him), the answer of men who knew so much less about the world than we know today. I think we, those of us living today, should do exactly what you say, “ask questions and search for who made all of this.”

Michael: Oh, I think I am seeing what you are saying now.  Are you saying we should more trust his creation (all that we see and experience) rather than this book containing his “supposed” words?
Thomas: Yes.
Michael: Well, we know from Josephus and other non Biblical sources that Jesus really existed and was gathering lots of attention from his miracles and from the fact He claimed to be God.

Thomas: There are those who dispute the existence of Jesus but I’m not one of them. I do believe there was a man named Jesus who grew up in Nazareth. I believe he was one of the great, perhaps the greatest, philosophers of living using philosophy and psychology. That he wasn’t born in December seems unimportant unless you are an astrologer. That miracles were added to his story by those who wrote his story is, I feel, unfortunate as it makes a lot of people skeptical. His teaching of love, his parables, great quotes, that when he spoke of the Ten Commandments he left out the first three are all believable to me. Why anyone who understands life would need the miracles to believe in his wisdom is beyond my comprehension.

Michael: If all we look at is creation for evidence of God, we would never know about Jesus’ claims to be God.

Thomas: You are saying God’s creation is not evidence enough for you.

Michael: Generations until the end of the world would never read or know about Jesus.

Thomas: Have you heard of Homer? Seven hundred years before Jesus he wrote the Iliad with some interesting quotes like “The glorious gifts of the gods are not to be cast aside.” I think Jesus’ teachings would have survived until now if he had written them down without the miracles, as have Homer’s.

Michael:  I think your way is saying that Jesus is not the only way to Heaven and that there is no real “way” to Heaven, so we all should just love each other because we will be together anyway forever.  Is that what you are saying?

Thomas: You’ve got a lot packed into that question. First, I don’t believe Jesus said he was god or he was the only way into Heaven because that would be contrary to all the rest of his teaching. It’s the kind of thing Satan, if you believe in Satan, would have gotten the disciples to write. I think that and the miracles were embellishments to the real story of Jesus life and teachings. If he said anything like “I am the way” his meaning would have been “my teaching is the way, love thy neighbor, don’t have enemies, etc.” Some people have taken his meaning to be “believing in me is more important than living a good life.” That is the kind of thing Satan would love.
When you say “we all should just love each other” I find myself questioning your definition of love in this context. Loving everyone is not the same as loving family members. I’ve spent a lot of time trying to figure out how that works, how do I love someone who kills, someone who does stupid things, someone who has stupid thoughts? I think I have figured out how I can do that and it is working out pretty well for me. You’ve probably read my essay on the website on love so you may understand what I’m talking about.

Michael: There is no real basis for that way of thinking and there are no specifics or details.  You would just be hoping.  Jesus lays out a real plan and it is recorded in the Bible.  I don’t see how Satan could benefit by focusing on Jesus so much in the Bible.
Thomas: Not hoping, Michael, just living my life based on learning and thinking, learning from reading what others have thought, learning from experience, learning from conversations like ours and using the gifts I find I have in this life—my senses and my mind.

What do you think Jesus “real plan” is? Is it 1) to love neighbors, enemies, everyone or is it 2) to believe he is God. There is pretty good plan for living laid out in the New Testament. We could say one by Jesus and another (2) by Satan, if we believed in Satan.

Dialogue with Michael

See comments for the beginning of this dialogue.

Michael: Thanks for the reply, Thomas D.  I am probably older than you…I’m 50.  Your life will be over in the blink of an eye and you will have spent so much of your time and effort with this website and it will all be in vain if you continue to hold to your current beliefs.  Besides, is it really bringing you satisfaction doing this?  If you indeed know the Bible, then call out to God and pray to Him for belief or faith and do it in sincerity.  If He doesn’t answer you, then at least you did as He commanded.  He responded to me when I did and He still does when I’m sincere.   That’s better than arguing semantics and philosophy all day.  That will never accomplish anything because people just don’t change their minds through “healthy” debate and arguing.  Anywho, I don’t mean any harm, just saying what I have experienced.  Btw, “Mere Christianity” by CS Lewis had a large part in changing my mind about things.

Thomas: I’m 76 and I live my life as if the next blink may be my last. You may have heard of people whose lives have changed dramatically after having had a near brush with death. My thinking about life over the years has brought me to this wonderful place where I respect and love my fellow travelers in this journey we call life. I got to this place without a near death experience; in fact I am very healthy and active and have always been. I currently grow an acre of vegetables producing over 9,000 pounds last year.
Thinking for me is fun and hoeing the peas is a good time to think. I invite you to read my essay on love on Satanwrotethebible. I suspect you are put off by the website title. The essay on love is sincere and very much in keeping with Jesus’s teaching.

Michael: Wow, 76?  I wasn’t expecting that.  I am used to these younger kids who think they know everything and just want to argue.  I get caught up in their agenda, leave comments and usually regret it.  I grew up in the Mississippi Delta surrounded by farmland.  I even have a degree in Entomology, so it sounds like we aren’t that different.  Uh, yes, I guess I am put off by the website title…maybe even confused a little as to what you believe.

Thomas:You may be amused to learn that atheists visiting my site are also a little confused as to what I believe. My quote “Leave your leap of faith behind and use your God-given mind” leads them to think that I believe in God which confuses them because they assumed anyone who thought Satan wrote the Bible would not believe in God. In my writing I try hard to put myself in the other person’s shoes, to empathize. The notion of Satan writing the Bible assumes the person I’m communicating with believes in Satan and also believes the Bible is the word of God. If I don’t understand where they are in their thoughts, it is not likely I will be able to communicate with them. If you believe in Satan and read my essay “Satan Wrote the Bible”, please tell me where I went wrong—other than the title and conclusion, of course (ha, ha).

Michael: Okay, I read it.  It’s a very creative take on the Bible.  Let me ask this.  What if the Bible is indeed God’s Word (as most Christians believe) and that your idea about Satan writing the Bible is actually Satan’s influence on your mind.  I will go so far as to state, that Satan is influencing either your mind or the Christians’s mind about the Bible.

Thomas: Excellent! You are absolutely right! If you believe the Bible is God’s Word and if you believe in a force of evil with all the powers you attribute to Satan, then it is equally likely that Satan is influencing my mind as that Satan is influencing the Christians’s mind.

Michael: If Satan wrote the Bible, then God is not revealing His word to His people today. The creator has decided not to communicate with His people and that really doesn’t make a lot of sense.  Why wouldn’t God reveal “the real truth” as you state to us in a different way then?

Thomas: I think the creator has communicated eloquently and does so every waking moment of every life that is open to the Creator’s truth. The Creator gave us our bodies with their senses of smell, sight, sound, touch and brains to absorb all of that, to appreciate, to love, to embrace this gift of life. Did he create such dullards that they could not get the message?
Don’t you agree that Satan couldn’t create our bodies, our senses and the flowers, sunsets and billions of life forms and geological forms; that Satan was not a creator? Where we disagree is that you think God’s creation was not enough; that we can’t understand it, appreciate it, figure out how to conduct ourselves in this amazing thing called life without an instruction book.

Michael: Satan doesn’t have the power to allow Jesus Christ to fulfill all Old Testament prophecies for the Messiah.  Only God could have done that.  That would make Jesus the true Messiah that we should follow, which would destroy Satan’s purpose for writing the Bible.

Thomas: Isn’t your impression that Satan has the power to manipulate, that he has the power to cause books to be written, to influence people’s actions, etc. You are saying he doesn’t have the power to allow Jesus Christ to fulfill OT prophecies but all you are writing about is based on writing that Satan could manipulate.

{More to follow]

Good in the Bible

Dear Bible Believer, Let me get back to your original question: if Satan wrote the Bible, why is there so much good in it?

Put yourself in Satan’s shoes—you say out of jealousy he wants to destroy God’s creation. He wants us to destroy the forests and fields, to destroy the Garden of Eden, to kill all other creatures and each other; he wants us to deny the pleasure of our senses. You say he is smart and crafty; would it be smart to preach the destruction of creation? If he said he was God and preached destruction, killing and denial, would you follow that god? Satan is devious, right? So he causes the Bible to be written and in it he puts some good things like “Thou Shalt not kill. [It’s interesting that when asked to name the Ten Commandments, the first most people name is “Thou Shalt not kill”. It is number six in the Bible.]

While Satan would like to see lots of wars and have us kill each other he puts in the Bible “Thou shalt not kill.” That makes sense to us. It is wise advice. Then Satan fills the Bible with killing.

God is a brutal, bloodthirsty son of a bitch. Here’s one example:

And at midnight the LORD killed all the firstborn sons in the land of Egypt, from the firstborn son of Pharaoh, who sat on the throne, to the firstborn son of the captive in the dungeon. Even the firstborn of their livestock were killed.  Pharaoh and his officials and all the people of Egypt woke up during the night and loud wailing was heard throughout the land of Egypt. There was not a single house where someone had not died.  (Exodus 12:29-30)

In that one God did the actual killing himself but he also enjoyed ordering murders:

All who curse their father or mother must be put to death. God’s words to Moses in Leviticus 20:9

If you thirst for more of this check out:

http://www.evilbible.com/Murder.htm

Dear Bible Believer, how do you reconcile God’s actions, brutal actions and orders with the Sixth Commandment?

I find the teachings of Jesus to be excellent. He taught love. That was far and away the thing he preached most yet much blood has been shed over belief in him. When he says “I am the way. Only through me can you get to heaven.” Where did that come from? It is not loving. It is excluding. I frankly don’t believe he ever said anything like that. I believe those words were put into his mouth by disciples, preachers traveling around spreading his word and gathering followers. It served their purpose but it did not serve Jesus’s teachings or his legacy well.

Satan’s influence – a dialogue

Bible Believer: If Satan wrote the Bible, why is there so much good in it?

Thomas: Is Satan stupid?

BB: No! He is very smart. That is how he is able to lure us to do things we shouldn’t.

Thomas: What is his mission?

BB: To get us to do bad things.

Thomas: Like destroying God’s creation?

BB: Yes.

Thomas: Are we part of God’s creation?

BB: Yes.

Thomas: Do you believe God gave you your body with senses of smell, sight, touch, hearing, the pleasure of sex?

BB: Yeah, I guess.

Thomas: You guess?

BB: Well, I’m not sure about sex. That might be Satan.

Thomas: Is sex something other than a wonderful combination of the senses, might I say climax?

BB: Yeah, but Satan can get in our mind and make us do things we shouldn’t.

Thomas: Sex is something we shouldn’t do?

BB: Right, unless it is between a man and a woman and only because they are married and want to have children.

Thomas: You are married. Have you had sex with your wife other than to have children?

BB: Yes, but that is because Satan makes me do it.

Thomas: Do you masturbate?

BB: No. Why are you raising your eyebrows; don’t you believe me?

Thomas: You are unique. Anyway, your sexual urges come from Satan? How does Satan do that? I understand that he is smart but he did not create your body, the body that has the sexual urges.

BB: He gets in my mind.

Thomas: Your God-given mind?

BB: Well, yeah, but I’m weak.

Thomas: God gave you a weak mind?

BB: Yeah, no! It’s not God’s fault I’m weak.

Thomas: Your God-given weak mind gives in to the pleasures of your God-given body? How does it make you feel when you “are weak?”

BB: I feel bad because I’m not doing what God wants me to do.

Thomas: How do you know what God wants you to do?

BB: It’s in the Bible.

Thomas: If it weren’t for the Bible, you would enjoy sex without feeling bad? Have I got that right? If God had written a manual for life saying “I have given you a body with senses that can bring you great pleasure and joy; I have given you a mind that will help you enjoy your life; I have given you plants and animals, mountains and oceans if you take care of them they will feed your body and soul all the days of your life; if that were God’s word, would you feel bad when you used your body?

BB: I guess not but that’s not what he said.

Thomas: So, Satan can influence people; could he influence what people write or say?

BB: He’s sure influencing what you are writing. Yes.

Thomas: Is my writing influencing you?

BB: Hell no!

Thomas: Do you think Satan could work through religions to get people to go astray?

BB: Just look at history. He does some of his best work that way.

Thomas: Through other religions, not yours?

BB: Right, there are lots of religions out there that have lost their way.

Thomas: What is your religion?

BB: Lutheran.

Thomas: So Catholics have lost their way?

BB: Absolutely! Martin Luther established that.

Thomas: And Jews have lost their way?

BB: They killed Christ didn’t they?

Thomas: And Mormons?

BB: I don’t really know much about them but unless they believe the only way to heaven is through Christ, why, yeah, they are on the wrong track.

Thomas: Muslims?

BB: Isn’t that obvious?

Thomas: So, Satan is winning? All those millions of people who aren’t Lutherans have been won over by Satan even though all of those people believe in the Bible, the same Bible you believe in. They follow, or at least try to follow, the Ten Commandments, just as you do. All but the Jews believe Jesus was holy.

BB: Not Muslims.

Thomas: Actually, they do but they have a more recent prophet who created another holy book, the Koran. Mormons have the most recent prophet to whom the Book of Mormon came directly from God much as the Ten Commandments came to Moses. The Jews have the oldest word from God and the Mormons have the most recent. What makes the Lutherans special?

BB: I just know they are. It is my faith.

Thomas: I respect your faith as long as it makes you happy. However, if it makes you unhappy, I suggest you question it. You believe Satan is smart and that he can work through religions. Perhaps you should use your mind to make sure you are not following Satan, to make sure Satan is not taking away anything God gave you. I’ll get back to your original question in my next post.

Jehovah’s Witness

I had a lovely conversation with a Jehovah’s Witness recently. As she turned to leave she paused and looked back to express the very thought that was on my mind. “I enjoyed this. We listened to each other.”

She couldn’t understand how I could write an essay “Satan Wrote the Bible” and yet I claimed not to believe in Satan.

“Do you believe there is a Satan?” I asked.

“Yes.”

“Then the essay is for you. It is written for those who believe in personifications of Good and Evil and who think the personification of Good, God, caused the writing of the Bible. I read Job with great care many times trying to understand what was being said. I really don’t think I was trying to find what I found.”

“You found that Satan wrote the Bible?”

“I found that Satan comes across as being smarter than God and that led me to the notion that Satan wrote the Bible.”

“But you don’t believe there is a Satan?”

“Right.”

“But you believe Satan wrote the Bible?”

“I believe the Bible was written by young men who thought the world was flat.” [I have been corrected: “humans have known the to be earth a sphere since 240 BC.” see comments for more.]

At this she turned to a page in the Bible and read, “Isaiah 40:22 There is One who is dwelling above the circle of the earth.” She referred to another passage about space indicating that we are but a small part of the universe. Then she asked, “Young men?”

“Just a flip comment based on life expectancy 2,500 years ago,” I replied.

In this exchange I implied that I read Job objectively. I certainly tried but it is likely that if I had believed God wrote the Bible, I would have come to a different conclusion. I do think I was a leg up on someone reading the Bible to substantiate his or her belief. It is incredibly difficult to read anything objectively but well worth the effort to try.

Does Satan Exist

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?