What kind of god would do this to their people (unless god doesn’t count Egyptians as people). Murdering all first-borns? Most of the Egyptians were probably living in poor conditions and hating the Pharoah for their plight. Why not simply kill the pharoah, or appear before him and convince him otherwise?
And those of you who say that “it’s just a tale, meant to show god’s wrath, or how hard it was for the jews to escape from Egypt”, then why not throw the rest of the bible out too? Who are we to pick and choose from god’s holy words?
I’ve always been of the most fundamental of atheists, but I had never heard of the 10 plagues in such detail, I figured it was exagerated or something. When I read them I was in shock that people could respect and worship such a being, let alone use that tale as a moral guide to living life.
Also, the Wikipedia article makes no mention of the fact that it wasn’t Pharaoh who was being a jerkwad, but that god himself was hardening Pharaoh’s heart to not let the Jew’s free, so that he could then punish Pharaoh and his people for doing things they were powerless to resist. Or in other words, god’s even worse than the article makes him out to be. Check out Exodus yourself.
And some Christians consider the early parts of the Old Testament an expression of a primitive people’s understanding of God, one that appears to change and evolve (the understanding of God that is) through the book as a whole.
I had a mind-blowing moment when reading Dan Simmons’ Hyperion, which had a character conclude that Abraham’s almost-sacrifice of Isaac was a way of testing God (and had God not stopped the sacrifice, would have proven Himself unworthy of worship) rather then God’s test of Abraham.
Of course, I was already an atheist and remain one to this day, but still… wow.
Well, yes, otherwise they couldn’t distinguish between the God of the Old Testament and the God of the New. Of course, to an unbeliever like me it looks more like an attempt to wave away parts of the Bible they don’t like.
My answer: Because He’s God. I have no logical basis for this. However, in my heart of hearts I believe that God should be worshipped, and so that is what I do. I didn’t make a pro/con list and decide that worshipping God is better than not worshipping Him or opposing Him. I simply have a firmly rooted belief that worshipping Him is the right thing to do. I fully understand that others don’t feel the same way. For most of my life, I didn’t either. But that’s the only answer I can give.
Why does God allow bad things to happen and sometimes cause them himself?
My answer: The Lord works in mysterious ways. Why did God punish the Egyptians? God hardening pharaoh’s heart makes not a lick of sense to me. It seems manipulative and downright mean and, yeah, evil. So why did God do it instead of finding some more benevolent method? I can’t tell you, because I don’t know. I can speculate, but for me to assume to understand God and His motives would be rather presumptuous. But I believe (and I mean really believe) that everything God has ever done or will ever do, from creation up through today and into the future, somehow works towards the day when we are one with God forever in perfect bliss. I don’t pretend to understand all of the intermediate steps.
Of course, the answers above are personal. I can’t speak for any other Christian or brand of Christianity. I realize that my thread won’t really help the disbelievers out there (including the OP) and I’m sorry that my post boils down to “you just have to believe, we’re not meant tounderstand yet” but that’s my honest assessment of the issue: non-believers can’t understand. I wish I could be more helpful.
I agree wholeheartedly with the OP. The only part of the bible I have no trouble believing is that God would send his son to be tortured and killed. That’s just the kind of thing I’d expect a son of a bitch like that to do.
Mayo, I have a serious question for you. I understand, and can even admire, that you have your convictions, but how do you reconcile them with people who have personal mythologies that are diametrically opposed to yours? Is it your contention that they are simply wrong and you are right?
You’ve already indicated that you don’t pretend to have all the answers, so if you respond along that line again I’ll accept it. I just wonder if true-believers, such as yourself, ever think about such things. I’m not looking for an argument. You seem like a purist and I’m just itching to get inside your head.
I like Mayo’s post. He is not a hypocritical believer, and he doesnt try to confuse the matter instead of answering.
I don’t really understand though, why are you so sure you are not worshipping an evil creature/god? After all, you only have his word that he is good, and that you will eventually live in perfect bliss. He might be lying. And his track record, as you yourself acknowledge, doesnt indicate that he is good. It indicates that he is evil.
If you believe that god is sorta good, but also really, really evil, why would you continue to worship? This is a serious question. I can only guess at your motivation. Do you convince yourself that if you say you believe, maybe he won’t send you to hell?
As many of his former employees will tell you, Ken Lay was sorta good, but also really, really evil. Would you put your trust in him? Would you find him worthy of devotion?
How do you separate the good from the bad and choose to put all your eggs in the “good” basket, ignoring the truth (as you admit you see it) that god commits (or allows, despite his omniscience and power) unspeakable sins against humanity every day. What makes you choose to follow?
This issue, I think, is one on which I’m perfectly willing to practice a version of Pascal’s Wager. If God is horribly evil, then I can hardly make matters worse by acting as though he is perfectly good. If God is perfectly good, though, it would be very wrong of me indeed to act as though he is horribly evil.
…Spoken with tongue somewhat in cheek as I do not believe God’s track record does indeed indicate that he is evil. Mayo Speaks! pretty much for me too.
If you accept the concept that God exists, then you must accept the concept that God is responsible for the fact that you exist. It therefore follows that if you are thankful for your existence, then you owe God a fair amount of gratitude. Everything else is details.
You say that there is a risk that god is an evil, powerful creature. And yet you are supporting him/it. That sounds immoral to me. How is that different from supporting an evil dictator (who has done a few good things, and also claims he is good.)? It might be an advantage to you personally, but so are many immoral things.
Well, Mayo Speaks! admits that God does many things in the bible that to him, at least seem evil. I think that if you read the bible, this is pretty hard to argue with.
Quote from Richard Dawkins:
“The god from the old testament, has got to be the most unpleasant character in all fiction. Jealous and proud of it. Petty, vindictive, unjust, unforgiving, racist. An ethnic cleanser, urging his people on to mass of genocide.”
Just open the bible somewhere in the middle, you will not have to turn too many pages before god assists in wiping out an entire city, just because they are not israelites.
It is clear from Mayo’s post that it is not thought and logic that guides the worshipper, but heart and emotion. The syllable “God” as a symbol of “all that is good” is worthy of worship. I’ll wager that it is this idea most (all?) believers first encounter. There is comfort in joining others in celebrating/worshipping the concept of ultimate love.
When a believer later learns about Jehovah in the Old Testament she views His attrocities through the lens of ultimate goodness and rationalize that His victims must surely have deserved such treatment (mysterious ways, and all that). I suspect, though, that when they later sign “Nearer my God to Thee” such Old Testament thoughts are brushed aside and the worshipper years to be closer to the God of Love and Goodness they were first introduced to.
Here’s a bad analogy for you: Look at a flag. Although I wouldn’t say I “worship” that bit of cloth, when I see that maple leaf I honestly feel a brief surge of pride and love for Canada. Now, the flags for both Canada and the U.S. have the colour red. Red is the colour of blood, and blood is only shed in violence. I view the flag again and cringe at the ugly idea of blood-shedding violence. But that thought is easily discarded to return to the more comfortable symbolic interpretation that cloth represents. Summary: neither symbolic interpretation is logically inherent in the cloth itself, both are equally valid, I choose to enjoy the first.
While this flag analogy does not map isolinearly to the Bible, I’m sure there is some truth to the it.