How can anyone worship a god whose earthly record is such useless tripe?

Okay, I’m not a great student of religion. Some people maintain that there is great stuff in the bible. When I read some of it for a class titled “The Bible as Literature” in college, I didn’t see much to recommend it. I saw that the ancient Hebrews were unreservedly evil. I saw that for Christians if they merely fail to blasepheme the Holy Ghost, then they’ll go to heaven–so Hitler is off the hook.

But what was most striking is what really is missing that a loving and more-or-less all powerful god should tell his creation. The creator’s earthly record should be a useful guide to life. Here is a short and incomplete list of things that must be included before a god can be considered to love his creation:
[ul][li]The cause and treatment of childhood diseases.[/li][li]The cause and treatment of adult diseases.[/li][li]First aid.[/li][li]The Heimlich maneuver.[/li][li]Basic psychology.[/li][li]Developmental psychology.[/li][li]Abnormal psychology.[/li][li]The scientific method.[/li][li]Mathematics up to, and including, calculus and probablity & statistics.[/li][li]Baisc structure construction.[/li][li]Selective breeding of plants & animals–theory and examples.[/li][li]Basic materials science.[/li][li]Basic meteorology.[/li][li]Basic nutritional science.[/li][li]Newton’s laws–theory and examples.[/li][li]Navigation–sea and land.[/li][li]Basic economics.[/li][li]Theory of interest, capital, and risk.[/li][li]Theory of ethics.[/li][/ul]
This is but a short and incomplete list of things that would have saved countless lives and improved our lot in life millenia ago. But instead we get stuff like this:[ul]
[li]GE 4:13-15 Cain–who murdered his brother Abel–is promised protection by God.[/li][li]GE 17:10 “This is my covenant, …every male among you shall be circumcised.” [/li][li]GE 17:14 A child is to be punished when his parents neglect to have him circumcised.[/li][li]EX 20:26 You should not go up steps to a high altar; you might expose yourself. [/li][li]EX 21:17, LE 20:9, DT 21:18-21 A child who curses his parent(s) is to be put to death. A stubborn and/or rebellious child is to be put to death.[/li][li]DT 22:28-29 A virgin who is raped must marry her rapist (if they are “found”).[/li][li]PR 26:4 Do not answer a fool. To do so makes you foolish too.[/li]PR 26:5 Answer a fool. If you don’t, he will think himself wise. :rolleyes:
[li]1TI 2:12 Women are not permitted to teach or have authority over men.[/li][li]GE 11:7-9 God sows discord.[/li]PR 6:16-19 God hates anyone who sows discord.
[li]GE 2:15-17, 3:4-6 It is wrong to want to be able to tell good from evil.[/li]HE 5:13-14 It is immature to be unable to tell good from evil.
[li]GE 1:20-21, 26-27 Birds were created before man was created.[/li]GE 2:7, 19 Man was created before birds were created.
[li]GE 1:26-27 Man and woman were created at the same time.[/li]GE 2:7, 21-22 Man was created first, woman sometime later.
[li]PS 30:5, JE 3:12, MI 7:18 God’s anger does not last forever.[/li]JE 17:4, MT 25:46 It does last forever. (He has provided for eternal punishment.)
[li]PR 3:13, 4:7, 19:8, JA 1:5 Happy is the man who finds wisdom. Get wisdom.[/li]LK 2:40, 52 Jesus was filled with wisdom and found favor with God.
1CO 1:19-25, 3:18-20 Wisdom is foolishness.
[li]MT 26:52 Dispose of swords. All who take the sword will perish by it.[/li]LK 22:36-38 Buy swords.
[li]AC 10:34, RO 2:11 God shows no partiality. He treats all alike.[/li]RO 9:11-13 God hated Esau and loved Jacob even before their birth.
[li]TI 6:20, 2TI 2:14-16, 3:1-7 Do not argue with an unbeliever.[/li]2JN 1:10-11 Anyone who even greets an unbeliever shares his wicked work.
1PE 3:15 Always be ready to answer any man concerning your faith.
[li]PR 14:15-18 The simple believe everything and acquire folly; the prudent look where they are going and are crowned with knowledge.[/li]MT 18:3, LK 18:17 You must believe as little children do.
1CO 1:20, 27 God has made the wisdom of the world foolish so as to shame the wise.
PR 16:4 God made the wicked for the “day of evil.”
MT 11:25, MK 4:11-12 God and Jesus hide some things from some people.
JN 6:65 No one can come to Jesus unless it is granted by God.
RO 8:28-30 Some are predestined to be called to God, believe in Jesus, and be justified.
RO 9:15-18 God has mercy on, and hardens the hearts of, whom he pleases.
2TH 2:11-12 God deceives the wicked so as to be able to condemn them.
1TI 2:3-4, 2PE 3:9 [Yet] God wants all to be saved.
(References taken from Donald Morgan)
At what point in the bible am I supposed to say, “Yeah, this is definately evidence of a just and loving creator?” It’s not revealed truth, it’s revealed gobbledy-gook. (No offense.) Jesus was a great teacher? No. Euclid was a great teacher. His text still stands today as an excellent tool for not only learning geometry but also how to think. And yet there are problems with it–namely the parallel priciple. But so what? If we abandon that we still end up with completely consistent results that do not contradict what Euclid did (since an axiom has been changed the results are different), yet they shed new light on the universe in which we live. Compared to that, Jesus was a hack. Teaching through parables?! He might as well have used Linear A, for Christ’s sake! It took what, about 100 years for the first major rift to develop between Pauline Christianity and Judeo-Christianity? What the hell kind of accomplishment is that for a god? Based on that great accomplishment I’d be suprised if he can do that trick where it looks like you’re pulling your thumb apart, but really you’re just moving the other thumb.

Ugh! As near as I can figure the bible is a reason to not believe! And that goes for all you other religions: if your god didn’t bother to tell us how to treat childhood diahrrea and save a choking person’s life, then your god ain’t worth shit. No offense.

Here is a short and incomplete list of things that must be included before you daddy, as a parent, can be considered to love me, your child:
I want to ride the pony
More ice cream please
Tidy up my room for me
Do my homework
Go to bed before midnight? I don’t think so

Honestly! you think God (assuming for the purposes of this discussion that there is one) should have just handed down scientific knowledge on a plate? What do you think that large squashy thing between your ears is for?

On the rest of your post; you’re not a newbie here, js_africanus; you do know that not everybody considered the Bible to be factually infallible, don’t you?

No offense taken, but then, he’s not my god. He was once, though, so I’ll answer the question in your title. People worship that god because they have been taught to from babyhood.

Back in the time before bibles were published “in the vulgar tongue,” as the Roman church used to put it, the Church tried vainly to prevent bibles from falling into the hands of persons not taught by the priesthood what the book meant instead of what it said. It was thought by the Pope and his minions that reading the bible for themselves would lead people away from Christ. Obviously the Vicar of Christ (which literally means “stand-in,” by the way) grossly overestimated the ability of the general run of people to separate myth from reality, whether they were otherwise educated or not. But church leaders soon discovered that if you start teaching people what the bible “means” from the time they are old enough to sit in church, what it “says” doesn’t matter much.

For most people, superstition is much stronger than education in the end. Long recitations of creeds and rules and doctrines and “histories” delivered in church to throngs (or even fairly small groups) of believers in formalized and somber ceremonies are very impressive to young minds. Shouted diatribes answered with excited assent by congregations are even more so. If all the “big people” (adults) believe what that man in the pulpit is saying, then it must be true.

I’ve had doubts since I was about 14, and have read such people as Ingersoll and Russell to reinforce the belief that it’s all a myth, but I must admit that even at 60 I am not as much convinced that there is no god as I am angry at the god that was stuffed into my then-immature head, for being so contradictory and capricious and downright evil. The belief is on the level of superstition, but I’ve never been able to shake it entirely. At this point I hope that there is no god, because I am convinced that if there is, and he’s the one in the bible, I will be a giant pork rind one day. I certainly believe that if a god exists who could do that, he is ultimate evil and a devil is redundant.

Catch 'em young, repeat the creeds and doctrines often and with intensity, and people will believe and worship.

Just out of interest, are you seriously offering this one as a Biblical contradiction?

The bible is not intended to be “evidence”, nor is it intended to be a “how-to-live in the world for dummies”. It is a guide for relating to God. It is also a history of earlier times.

There is an experience that has been seen and/or tasted since the dawn of our existence, and that experience is given, among others, the name of God.

A handful of millenia ago, a culture came to be centralized around understandings of what these experiences revealed, and this culture also possessed a strong oral tradition that served to preserve some pretty old content until written language was available and the stories were committed to that timeframe’s equivalent of paper.

As had been true before, and since, the visionaries/interpreters grasped and conceptualized this experience through the lens of the realities of their current culture. One reasonable and easily anticipated result of that is that visions/words-of-God that were put into words a long time ago are so thoroughly strewn with the conceptual artifacts of the time, and limited by the things that the visionaries of that time could not adequately conceptualize and explain coherently to people occupying their timeframe, which got left out or became badly distorted.

This would be a problem if the experience were no longer available and visionaries/prophets/etc no longer existed to take notes. Such is not the case.

It is true that modern revelations and modern visionaries are not as likely to be presented to you under the label “religion”, most of which is ossified and institutionalized and dead, but…

Wisdom is as light, and its Source shineth of its own accord.

You will know it when and wherever you see it, and no one need run along in front of it shouting “This is Holy Message!”.

And, of course, you can to go the source yourself and obtain your own draft of what’s on tap for everyone and anyone who cares with sufficient intensity to seek and crave the revelations.

Cite? Seriously. What experience is attributable to god? Oral tradition isn’t attributable to god, it’s a people thing. Parables telling you to beat your children aren’t any more attributable to god than to people. What you need to do is to come up with something that is more likely attributable to god than to people, and it has to be so much so that god can be the best possible conclusion. Every religion & supersitition has had these “experiences”. If these “experiences” have any weight at all, then they are equally valid across the board unless you can show why your culture’s “experiences” are indeed valid while those of every other culture aren’t.

Do you know what would be attributable to god? If the skies opened on a bronze age culture and a giant hand came down that delivered a million indestructable copies of a book detailing causes and treatment of the common diseases of the day, offered a primer on how to understand the real language of the universe, and gave the basics of how to cope with risk at a societal level. Instead what you offer me are oral traditions and “experiences” which are set on paper, redacted, and ultimately it is decided which to include by vote. That is no more evidence of god than a Tibetan child’s “miraculous” identification of a dead lama’s stuff.

You could of course, as other have, assert that wishing to see god offer up simple treatments to childhood diahrrea with a child wishing for daddy to give him some ice cream. I would suggest that such a comparison would say more about the person making it than anything else. Let’s see: children dying of dehydration = not getting ice cream. Hmm…that certainly is the mark of a well calibrated moral compass, no?

Then we have the claim that the religious text is a guide on how to relate to god. Fair enough. Except that the creator of the universe could certainly come up with a text that can achieve reasonably consistent results, couldn’t he? Instead what we’ve got is a religious tradition that, in the case of the bible, couldn’t even last a hundered years without having a major rift! If the bible really was god’s message, I’d expect any reader to come to conclusions pretty much in line with every other reader–after all, it is god’s message. We should expect it to reflect that. From the fact that god’s message couldn’t even survive a century without being seriously misinterpreted by at least one major faction points to one thing only: it ain’t gods message.

Oh, I must stand corrected on one thing: “No, don’t answer fools; yes, do answer fools” really is the apotheosis of consistency.

Eric Clapton’s record is NOT useless tripe!

Jehovah will probably get off with taking “anger management” classes and community service.

**Are you trying to pretend that all of the items on your list are as worthy?

Sarcasm too? as the verses are adjacent in the Bible, it can hardly be a contradiction overlooked by the author now, can it? Have you ever heard the expression “damned if you do, damned if you don’t”? - is this expression internally inconsistent?

js_africanus, what obligation does God have to fulfill our needs? In addition, why do you think God’s greatest priority is the comfort of His creations? In my mind (note: what follows is opinion), God seems to value freedom of choice more than a gilded cage.


How many gods have claimed to have this information and claimed to have desire to provide it to humans?

First, JS, are you familiar with Sturgeon’s Law?

Second, the straw man you’re setting up is so far away from my understanding of the Bible that I wonder if we’re looking at the same book. Did somebody sit you down and forcefeed you a fundamentalist short course in how to love the Bible recently?

Because every single one of your arguments could be used against the U.S. Constitution – it has not one word to say about the Heimlich maneuver nor about materials science or meteorology. But I presume you see some value in that document nonetheless.

The point to the Bible is a guideline to how God expects people to live in relationship to him. Let me give you a few passages that have meaning to me, and ask if you consider them “useless tripe”:
[ul][li]Psalm 90[/li][li]Psalm 139[/li][li]Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 (admittedly this one’s for the byrds, but still…)[/li][li]Ecclesiastes 12:1-7[/li][li]Isaiah 42:1-9[/li][li]Isaiah 43:1-3[/li][li]Isaiah 52:7[/li][li]Isaiah 53[/li][li]Isaiah 61:1-4[/li][li]Ezekiel 36:25-27[/li][li]Micah 4:1-4[/li][li]Micah 6:6-8[/li][li]Habakkuk 3:17-19[/li][li]Matthew 5:3-12[/li][li]Matthew 5:43-48 and its parallel in Luke 6:27-35[/li][li]Matthew 6:25-7:12[/li][li]Matthew 25:31-46[/li][li]Luke 10:25-37[/li][li]Luke 15 (you need the whole chapter to get the context right)[/li][li]John 1:1-18[/li][li]John 3[/li][li]John 6:22-63, especially the last verse[/li][li]John 13:34-35[/li][li]John 14[/li][li]Romans 8:26-28, 31-39[/li][li]I Corinthians 13[/li][li]Philippians 2:1-11[/li][li]I John 2:7-11[/li][li]I John 4:7-21[/li][/ul]

I’ll clarify my position a little…

I don’t believe that the Bible is the infallible, literal and exclusive word of God, however, I do believe that it contains accounts of people trying (and sometimes dismally failing) to interact with God and vice versa.

Please forgive my flippant first reply in this thread, what I should have said is possibly something like this:

List 1 (things that God MUST do in order to be considered loving) purports to be just a subset of a larger whole and yet some of the items on there are so lame that it really looks like you were running out of ideas but wanted the list to look extensive - Economics? Investment? Materials Science? Navigation?. Why?

List 2 is a bunch of very standard Biblical refutations (most of which will only cause big problems for literalists), but this time it looks like you just pasted them in without really thinking much about them - I picked one out in Proverbs - it is two consecutive verses picked out of a long discourse about fools and the frustration that comes from dealing with them; calling this a contradiction is specious.
It isn’t meant to be read as a set of discrete sequential instructions like the assembly instructions for an Ikea wardrobe - 1). Insert flange Q in slot K. 2). Tighten brace F with spanner W - it is intended to be absorbed as a whole; allow me to paraphrase:
If you answer a fool according to his folly, you will be dragged into foolishness yourself, but dammit, if you don’t answer a fool according to his folly, he will be wise in his own eyes.(The moral: You just can’t win with fools)

Now there are doubtless some very good points on list 1, but the style of presentation and the needless padding makes it sound (to my ears) like the whining of a petulant teenager.

Likewise there are probably some pretty challenging points in list 2 (particularly to literalists), but you appear to just be quoting them parrot-fashion; it looks like you have accepted them uncritically, something for which religious folks are usually under fire.

I absolutely ADORE this argument! How in the hell could you possibly know HOW it was intended to be read? This is simply a mindless defense that relieves you of having to continue to argue from a bogus perspective.

The fact is that in every argument that I have ever witnissed or have been apart of in regards to ‘God’, they all follow the same path through the thicket:

  1. Usually the non-believer will give a fairly detailed list of contradictions contained in the bible. This is usually bulleted with cites from here to eternity. These quotes from the book are devestating to the accuracy to the ‘Word of God’ as surely the ‘Word of God’ would contain no such errors.

  2. The believer will then retort with the less than galvanizing, “Well, the bible isn’t meant to be read like that. It’s just a general guide,” which is loosely translated to, “Hell, I don’t know. I just know I’m supposed to believe in this shit so I do. What do you want from me?”

  3. Non-believer goes on to point out the gross and horrible passages that clearly show that God is a horrible and evil being, capable of atrocities that are nothing short of mind numbing. Truly, as the text lays out, his psychological make up is that of Hitler.

  4. Believer returns with the famous, “Oh, but that was the Old Testament.” As if the old testament should be skipped or better yet, shouldn’t have been included in the bible to begin with. I suppose that you are implying that The omnipotent, omniscient God has changed since then. As if saying to us, “Hey baby, I’m sorry I hit you. It’ll never happen again.” Well, he still hits ladies…

  5. Later, when the believer is backed into a corner and has nothing left but to praise his name and smile with that thorazine look and say, “well, lucky for you that you can believe whatever you want, because God gives you a choice!”

A choice??? A choice!?!?! Just how the hell is worship me or burn in hell a choice?

In other words. Even if you had absolute physical proof that there was never a god and that the bible was a complete scam, they would still believe. As where if you show me proof that god exists I’ll change my beliefs rabbit fast, and I imagine so would all other non-believers. So knowing this, who do you think is the more rational thinker?


Model Shipwright, it’s 11:00 at night, I have to work tomorrow, and I don’t have time or patience right now to take you through about four semesters worth of Biblical criticism boiled down to a few paragraphs.

Suffice it to say, you’re observing that the North Pole is too cold to support life and the crater of Kilauea is too hot to support life, so therefore life cannot exist. There are a whole variety of other ways to look at the situation, and good reasons to prefer them over the “reject it as a whole” and “accept it uncritically and literally,” starting with the unquestionable fact that it’s a collection of writings by a whole bunch of different authors, spread over at least 800 years of time, and probably closer to 1500.

And any dick who presents you with the “worship God or burn in Hell” proposition is either a totally inane Christian with a very superficial understanding of his faith or a fraud attempting to troll you. Even the most ardent of evangelicals, inclined to believe that your choices come down to believing in God their way or going to Hell, have a whole lot more to say on the subject than that.

There is an essay at my website that I think might be relevant. It was written specifically to address creationism, but I think the connection to the current discussion is pretty obvious.

Why is it that the anti-god crowd cannot wrap it’s head around this very simple concept?
Good things will always happen to Bad people & vice versa. This is called “Life”, and if there is a God (Obviously I don’t know what is out there, only that there is something), is clearly not it’s job to change that, otherwise, it would not be so…

Ok, that said, debate on, my friends.

So what is God’s job, precisely?