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I'm curious about something.

Let's say I'm a religious person. Probably doesn't have to be Xian specifically, but since I'm most likely to get a Xian-based answer here, let's say I am. So, in this belief system god created everything. Good and bad. And since he is all-powerful, nothing happens without his permission (e.g. Job...satan couldn't do diddly until he goaded god into a bar bet and then god allowed Job's wife and kids to be killed, etc).

No, this isn't about the presence of evil and/or bad things.

I had a tumor last year. Turned out to be benign. 1poorlady had a tumor this year. Turned out not to be benign. In both cases, under the above scenario, god either put those tumors in us, or was at least complicit.

Again, not arguing about goodness of god. Why would a Xian (my MIL) pray thanking god for all of this? That's the bit I don't get. God (if he existed) put those inside us. It was skilled surgeons that removed them, not god. I genuinely don't get it. She prays in Tagalog, but I understand enough to know that she's thanking god on our behalf. If god did exist I would be cursing him, not thanking him.

Any insight?

1poorguy
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Hi 1poorguy,

She prays in Tagalog, but I understand enough to know that she's thanking god on our behalf,.

and

If god did exist I would be cursing him, not thanking him.


Quite the contrast in attitude towards crap that happens in life, don't you think? Even if God doesn't exist, science shows that gratitude is more beneficial (i.e. healthier) than cursing your fate, particularly things you can't change.

Not a criticism, and not what you asked, just an observation.

As to your question, as far as I can tell you frame God in such a way that you can never understand. Start there if you want to understand.

-Bryan
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Even if God doesn't exist, science shows that gratitude is more beneficial (i.e. healthier) than cursing your fate, particularly things you can't change.

You misunderstand. I just deal with things I can't control because I'm not a theist. The question, which I could not ask my MIL since I don't think she would comprehend what I was asking because she is heavily indoctrinated, is how can a theist be thanking a deity after said deity did that stuff? If a deity did, in fact, exist then I would not pray to them (or worship them), but rather curse and spit at them for their capriciousness.

I didn't frame god in any way that wasn't completely consistent with the bible and generally accepted xian beliefs (i.e. all-powerful, created everything, etc). I didn't make any of that up. But within that framework how could you, as a xian, thank the deity for abusing you (or allowing you to be abused)? It makes no rational sense.

1poorguy (dealing with stuff one day at a time, and glad that we have good insurance and good doctors)
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1poorguy (dealing with stuff one day at a time, and glad that we have good insurance and good doctors)

How are you and your wife doing?
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I didn't frame god in any way that wasn't completely consistent with the bible and generally accepted xian beliefs

It's the language you use. For example:

a.And since he is all-powerful, nothing happens without his permission (e.g. Job...satan couldn't do diddly until he goaded god into a bar bet and then god allowed Job's wife and kids to be killed, etc).


b. god either put those tumors in us, or was at least complicit.

c. how could you, as a xian, thank the deity for abusing you

"Bar bet" ,"complicit" and "abuse" is loaded language. It goes beyond stating the facts and judges the actions. It assumes God is doing something wrong. That's not a generally accepted Christian belief, sorry.
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You're dodging answering. Which, of course, is your right. You don't have to answer. But you do know what I intend, and can substitute (for example) "challenge from satan" for "bar bet". Basically the same thing, but I accept the former if it allows someone (you, or anyone else) to answer.

I made no claims that aren't supported in the bible, even if I didn't use the exact verbiage therein.

1poorguy

P.S. I'm being released by my doctors, though I'm still in PT and will be subjected to testing in Aug or Sept to assess my current status. 1poorlady has three chemo sessions left, and these are going to be the roughest. I'm trying to help, but 1poorlady has set a high bar (especially in food prep) that I'm falling short on. She's feeling well enough today that she's doing some cooking prior to the next session so she will have more variety, and better, food available.
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Not dodging, just not answering yet.

You and I have a long history here. You have been pretty consistent in your animosity towards God. I'm trying to say that you cant understand my answer because of it.

We are like two people contemplating a kintsugi bowl. One person sees a broken bowl, and another sees a beautiful piece of art.

Anything I try to say will just come accross as saying "you're wrong", which tends to make people defensive. I'm not sure how to get around that.
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You don't have to answer.

Put up with me for a bit, and I will. I think you will understand the answer even if you don't agree with it. It's all in perspective and taking all the facts into account.

Imagine you come inside the house after working in the yard, you meet your wife in the kitchen, and she clobbers you over the head with the spatula she was holding.

Did she do something wrong? Well it would depend on *why* she did it, right?

What if she said, "I TOLD you I needed help here, and you ignored me!" Maybe one could assume she intended harm, or maybe based on your experience of her character, you knew that was not likely.

What if you unknowingly had a tarantula on the top of your head? You might be pissed that she dealt with the situation that way, but it would put a different perspective on it than if you thought she was *trying to harm you*.

In a similar way, the meaning we put behind the crap that happens to us is determined by these kinds of perspectives on God, and an accurate assessment of his character and intentions.

You already mentioned that Christian theism teaches an all-powerful God. It also teaches an all-loving God. I see no inherent issue with God allowing things to happen as long as he has a good reason for it. More good coming from an action (or inaction) than from the alternative. If God has a morally sufficient reason for these things, then they can be considered "good". And if good, then they can be things people can feel thankful for. I admit, this is a higher level of trust in God than many can muster. I include myself there.

There are some who might argue that you have personally been blessed by God beyond the wildest dreams of 99.9% of people who have ever lived on earth. More wealth and health than just about everyone, your current challenges notwithstanding. Would someone in your position be wrong in choosing to be grateful?
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Anything I try to say will just come accross as saying "you're wrong", which tends to make people defensive. I'm not sure how to get around that.

Hmmm. How about turning it around then? Let's say your son gets a brain tumor. Suppose it is malignant. A brilliant surgeon gets it out, he goes through chemo with a great oncologist, and comes out the other side. A triumph of modern medicine.

Why would you thank a deity who must have (by your belief system) either allowed it to happen (Job) or actually caused it (like The Flood)? He certainly didn't have anything to do with treating the condition.

I'm trying to gain some insight into my MIL, and theists in general, when they can thank god for horrible things.

I won't say you're wrong. I may not understand your answer, but as it is your perspective I can't say it's wrong in this case. In fact, I suspect I won't understand your answer. flyerboys gave it a shot, and I just didn't grok. You're a more conventional theist than he is, so maybe....??

1poorguy
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Shoulda read ahead...I could have combined this.

I won't argue about the "all-loving god". We've been down that road before, and I don't want to side-track this.

There are some who might argue that you have personally been blessed by God beyond the wildest dreams of 99.9% of people who have ever lived on earth. More wealth and health than just about everyone, your current challenges notwithstanding. Would someone in your position be wrong in choosing to be grateful?

I am indeed fortunate I was born in the USA with a brain that works reasonably well. And, frankly, I was (and still am!) white, which also helps in our society (though it shouldn't). But that also is a tangent. My wife had malignant cancer, removed by a skilled surgeon and followed-up with some nasty chemo that should clear anything out that they couldn't detect. On that particular tangent I can only be grateful for the medicine/doctors. But that's not what I'm hearing in the prayer.

If it was "thank you for the blessings of good employment and prosperity, but that cancer thing really sucked and don't do that again!" I would understand. But that's not what she's saying. She's issuing a general "thank you, sir" ("salamat po" means "thank you sir").

1poorguy
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Let's say your son gets a brain tumor. Suppose it is malignant. A brilliant surgeon gets it out, he goes through chemo with a great oncologist, and comes out the other side. A triumph of modern medicine.

Why would you thank a deity who must have (by your belief system) either allowed it to happen (Job) or actually caused it (like The Flood)? He certainly didn't have anything to do with treating the condition.


You have to get inside the worldview to understand it, and evaluate it on it's own assumptions, not yours.

You say God didn't have anything to do with the healing, but that is not what Christians (my circle) believe. We believe God allowed the situation, yes, for some ultimate good we don't understand. But we also believe He gave the medical team insight and skill and resources to successfully treat the disease; in fact we pray for such things.

The logic is something like this:

1.God is in control, and he cares about his creation, including us personally
2. God allows bad things to happen in this broken world, for reasons we rarely understand
3. We are encouraged to give thanks for everything
4. Based on these things, we can thank God for whatever happens, even when we don't like it and it frankly sucks to go through it.

I feel like I am somewhat of an expert on this subject. My mom died a slow horrible death at age 63 from a botched operation to remove a tumor in her brain stem. Took seven years of agony as a quadriplegic. My wife was in a serious car accident 20 years ago that left her in a coma for months. She had to relearn how to do *everything* and live with career-ending disabilities. I have plenty of health issues myself.

Like I alluded to before, people who cultivate a sense of gratitude live happier lives. Even if you don't believe God exists, this is still true.

You believe evolution ultimately caused you and your wife's health problems. Do you curse evolution for your fate?
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I won't argue about the "all-loving god". We've been down that road before, and I don't want to side-track this.


Ok, up to you, but I suspect a misunderstanding of what this means contributes to you not being able to understand your MIL.

It doesn't mean that everyone is always happy with everything that happens to them or others.

You seem to be a caring father to your child. Was she always happy with you for decisions you made about what she could or could not do?
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Do you curse evolution for your fate?

No, because it is not a thinking entity with intent. If it were, I would berate it for its cruelty in giving people cancer.

I also don't curse god because I don't believe he/she/it exists.

I don't have to believe in a good god to cultivate a sense of gratitude. I'm aware of how good I have it, even with our current problems. If I did believe in a god I would curse him for his capriciousness, but I don't so I don't.

I appreciate you trying to give me a peek into that worldview. It seems it all hinges on "god is good" (despite all the evidence to the contrary, including in your own scriptures). With that assumption a worldview is created, correct?
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Ok, up to you, but I suspect a misunderstanding of what this means contributes to you not being able to understand your MIL.

Well, if you think that a relevant path, go for it. I thought it might be a rabbit hole.

BTW, sorry for your tragedies. I see those as two different events (because they are!), but won't use your tragedies to make any points. I view those as off-limits unless you say otherwise because those can be very personal.

No, 1poorkid wasn't always happy with my decisions. But I think she understood them because I would explain them. I didn't ever use "because I said so" with her. If I would have had to resort to that then clearly my reasoning would have been flawed, necessitating a rethinking.
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I don't have to believe in a good god to cultivate a sense of gratitude. I'm aware of how good I have it, even with our current problems. If I did believe in a god I would curse him for his capriciousness

I see this a lot with atheists. You are willing to attribute "bad" things to him (if he existed), but are not willing to balance that with credit for "good" things in life.

That doesn't seem fair

It seems it all hinges on "god is good" (despite all the evidence to the contrary, including in your own scriptures)

Ah, you're coming around to my view (the importance of God is good) ;-)
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BTW, sorry for your tragedies. I see those as two different events (because they are!), but won't use your tragedies to make any points. I view those as off-limits unless you say otherwise because those can be very personal.


I mention them to say I'm not some ivory tower theologian, easy for them to say blah blah blah about how good God is but have never experienced anything.

We don't need to talk about my specifics, but rather "bad" things in general that happen to people

I didn't ever use "because I said so" with her.

I think that is a good approach with our own kids. God is more "Trust me, I know what I'm doing".
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You are willing to attribute "bad" things to him (if he existed), but are not willing to balance that with credit for "good" things in life.

I don't attribute him/her/it with anything. There is no evidence for such a being.

However, if I believed I would attribute my a) being born in a prosperous country, b) my above-average brain (based on all the tests I've had, including the testing since my tumor was discovered), and c) anything else I couldn't control, all to he/she/it. Now, what I did that those opportunities was up to me. I could have had all that, and been a pot-head instead of going to college/grad-school. That would have been my choice (don't want to get into an argument about free will, so we'll leave it at that).

Why would I thank him for my hard work? Sure, thank him for the big brain. But what I did with that is on me.

And I would blame him for stuff I couldn't control, like a tumor. If god is Kurt Russell, and he put a glioma in Starlord's (Peter's) mom's head, then "YES", I would blame him (as Peter did). Because he did it.

Ah, you're coming around to my view (the importance of God is good) ;-)

No, if there is a god then he is profoundly evil and capricious. A genocidal, racist, bully. Based on the scriptures in your own book. If a theistic world view depends on "god is good", then it seems that foundation is like that of Swamp Castle (i.e. not solid; from Monty Python). Again, based on the stories from that tradition. I don't have to make anything up, I just start reading your bible and it's all there.

But, unless you want to "go there" (which I'm willing!), I think you answered the original question. A presumption of "god is good", and then the thanking begins (even when you're thanking him for horrible things, like my MIL is).

Hitchens made a similar observation about the Kim family in DPRK. Seems apt. But I do thank you for that insight. The worldview is completely corrupt (IMO), but I understand it a bit better now.
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I think that is a good approach with our own kids. God is more "Trust me, I know what I'm doing".

FWIW, I tried not to do that either. Less harsh than "because I said so", but still a non-answer. I tried to give her answers. I think she trusted me because I did, rather than appealing to such dictatorial commands.

We don't need to talk about my specifics, but rather "bad" things in general that happen to people


Well, I will just say (gently broaching the subject?), that one event was "an accident" (by your description), so any deity may not have had a hand in that (necessarily), but the tumor definitely was your deity (if we assume its existence). Though it sounds like that was exacerbated by human mistakes, but ultimately the humans wouldn't have been in there if he/she/it hadn't put the tumor there in the first place.
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No, 1poorkid wasn't always happy with my decisions. But I think she understood them because I would explain them. I didn't ever use "because I said so" with her.

So if God explained why he did what he did, it would make it ok in your eyes?

You reject the concept that God is good, for reasons you've alluded to (stuff in the Bible) but have not explained. What is your concept of good that God fails at?

Also, I don't believe you addressed the issue of intent (when you're wife killed the spider on your head with the spatula). Doesn't intent count when you are trying to judge the goodness of an action or inaction?
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that one event was "an accident" (by your description), so any deity may not have had a hand in that (necessarily) but the tumor definitely was your deity (if we assume its existence)... [who] put the tumor there in the first place.

God could have been indirectly involved in each. I don't think God needs to put tumors in people, you have evolution for that even if God exists.

Do you make a distinction between actions that are done directly, and those that are allowed but could have been stopped?

I was going to object to your characterization of God putting tumors there as opposed to a car accident, but then I don't see a distinction in the goodness of the situation when it comes to God. Maybe you do?

I mean, even if he did directly intervene to cause a car accident or cause a tumor, I don't think it is morally distinct from allowing things to happen that he could stop. What matters is the intent and the outcome, right?
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I didn't ever use "because I said so" with her. If I would have had to resort to that then clearly my reasoning would have been flawed, necessitating a rethinking.

I find that impossible to believe. You always convinced her? She never stuck to 'you're wrong, and here's why'?
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What is your concept of good that God fails at?

Practically everything. But the really low hanging fruit is EX 21. He could create a commandment against coveting thy neighbor's wife (because, after all, she's chattel), but he couldn't say "thou shalt not own another person as property"?? That alone make you and me and almost everyone else on the planet more moral than the xian deity.

It makes much more sense if you realize it was written by men from the Bronze and Iron Ages, and slavery was "OK" by them.

Doesn't intent count when you are trying to judge the goodness of an action or inaction?

Depends. It can. The spatula might be OK, but shooting me under those same circumstances would not be. Even if the intent was "pure".
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I find that impossible to believe. You always convinced her? She never stuck to 'you're wrong, and here's why'?

I can't know what she was thinking, but if I gave her my reasoning she would yield. She may not have liked it. But I never said "because I said so" to her. Maybe one or two times she talked me out of things with her reasoning. I'm not perfect and can make errors, and I think she respected me when I was honest enough to admit it.
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What is your concept of good that God fails at?
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Practically everything. But the really low hanging fruit is EX 21.


I'm not asking for examples of what you think is "bad", I'm asking you to define "good". What is your criteria for determining what is good? I know you think Ex. 21 is bad, but ironically it is the easiest to answer.


Doesn't intent count when you are trying to judge the goodness of an action or inaction?
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Depends. It can. The spatula might be OK, but shooting me under those same circumstances would not be. Even if the intent was "pure".


Ok, lets explore this a little further. Do you think killing is justified in some circumstances? Not to save you from a spider obviously. But war, to protect your country (which includes your wife and daughter) from barbaric invaders intent on subjugating you and doing who knows what to the women? Protecting an angry mob from burning your house down and killing your family? Self defense?
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Heh...I have yet to see a theist honestly address the slavery issue. The usual dodge is "it's indentured servitude". No, it isn't. Not as described, it isn't even close.

I define good pretty much the same way you do, and most people that aren't sociopaths. By empathy. Would I be happy if someone did this to me? Then I shouldn't be doing it either.

You don't get your morality from the Hebrew god. If you did you would be in prison. As messed up as our society is right now, we're still vastly more moral than the Hebrew god. (Though I hate the word "moral", but it's the most convenient short-cut to discuss this.)

Yes, killing is justified in self-defense. Which would include war (i.e. that guy's not going to stop shooting at me until I kill him).
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Heh...I have yet to see a theist honestly address the slavery issue. The usual dodge is "it's indentured servitude". No, it isn't. Not as described, it isn't even close.

Then you are at odds with biblical scholarship. For the most part the relationship was entered into voluntarily, with agreed upon conditions/rules and an end date. I dare say if you value empathy, then as a land owner back then you would have had "slaves", that's how the poor took care of large debts back then. People sold their labor/themselves for a time. Sure, not how we deal with the situation now. We just have debt you can never get out from under. Much more compassionate.

I define good pretty much the same way you do, and most people that aren't sociopaths. By empathy. Would I be happy if someone did this to me? Then I shouldn't be doing it either.

Ok, not much to work with, but it will do. It forms the basis of the Mosaic Law anyway. So I define God as a being (in part) who out of empathy for his creation does things in a way that the maximum number of people end up in a good place. Doesn't mean that life isn't a b!thch for some, but given the world we have its the best possible outcome. We don't always see how this will be accomplished, but God is working on a much bigger time scale than we do. He might do something now that has the desired effects a thousand years from now. We are not going to be able to see that. I know, the old (in your view) "God works in mysterious ways cop-out". But I though saying "we don't know" was a virtue if a scientist says it ;-). As you point out, killing is even justified if the reasons are righteous. So God can kill to accomplish a greater good.


So to summarize: God is good, ie out of empathy he works out the best outcome for the maximal number of people, working with what he's got to work with
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For the most part the relationship was entered into voluntarily,...

Not true. Another common dodge.

Lev 25 - your slaves are to come from the nations around you. You may buy your slaves. That is not voluntary.

Yes, there were different rules for Hebrew slaves. But NO ONE would enter into a relationship where they could be beaten as long as they didn't die within two days. If you owed me a debt, and agreed to pay it off with servitude, would you agree to that? Not a chance. Neither would I.

Slavery is the low-hanging fruit for the evil of the bible. It is first mentioned in EX, and later in LEV (I don't remember now if it's in Deut, but it might be). And then not a peep out of the New Testament to rescind any of that monstrous rubbish. It is utterly indefensible, though I have heard several theists try (which reveals that a) they don't know their bible, b) it's OK because god said it was, c) they just embarrass themselves, or d) some or all of the above).

I think the only reference to slavery in the NT is from Saul/Paul, and he says "slaves obey your masters". Not "don't own slaves". So even after Jesus it was still regarded as "OK". Jesus never said a word about it.

Oh...and you can inherit slaves. Multi-generational. As I recall (it's been a while since I really looked into this), you only have to release your slaves during "jubilee" which is every 50 years. But it was only the adult male slaves, so if you allowed them a wife and they had kids he wasn't likely to leave, so you get to keep them all.

Frankly, that dodge is a crock of excrement. No matter which translation you use**.

If I could find it again I could link an excellent summary of this by a former Baptist (he was headed to be a preacher before he saw the light). That made me dig into what he was saying, and lo-and-behold, he was 100% right. Which blew me away because, while I knew slavery was in there, I didn't realize how atrocious it was, and that Jesus never rescinded it. I had read the bible by then, but didn't make that connection on my own until I was motivated to dig.

As to "good", yours is pretty much a tautology. "God is good therefore anything from god is good." "Killing the Mideonites is good because god said so." My fundy coworker says that the injunction to kill Mideonites is still active, and if he ever encountered one he'd be obligated to kill them even if he didn't want to. Is that good? Not self defense. Just "because god said so". Buried somewhere in my coworker is the remnants of a moral person that doesn't want to kill by command without provocation, but it's suppressed by the "what god says goes" persona I see today.



**Well, there are so many maybe I shouldn't be that broad. But KJV, ESB, NIV all say basically the same thing.
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Frankly, that dodge is a crock of excrement.

Ok, I see from your response we are not going to get anywhere trying to have a rational discussion. I'll leave a few resources from scholars on the issue of slavery and the Bible. I find these arguments based on an understanding of Hebrew and the ancient near-east culture (ie facts) more persuasive than your characterizations.


https://www.paulcopan.com/articles/ He gets into the slavery issues down around resource #42. Also has a good video on the subject for those so inclined https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CyLpygp4eSE, though not as detailed.

I have argued here that based on your own definition of what is good (empathy), that God's actions qualify as being good as long as they are based on empathy, which is his case is a concern for the greatest good for the greatest number. You chose not to address that, which is fine.
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My "characterizations"? Just read the thing. It's not very complex, at least those parts aren't. (Revelations is a mess, but we're not talking about that.)

Take your slaves from the nations around you. Buy your slaves. You can beat your slaves as long as they don't die within 2 days. (Why two days? Don't know. By implication if they die a week later the "master" is free to go.)** Those statements are not ambiguous, and are from the texts. I didn't make them up.

I'll look at your articles, but I suspect they are written by believers to justify that their god established rules for atrocities. I have read a few articles, and heard people (not scholars, admittedly) hopelessly embarrass themselves. They try to use the indentured servitude dodge, but it is not consistent with the instructions therein. The rules (some of them) for Hebrew slaves are closer, but especially for non-Hebrew slaves they aren't even in the same ballpark as indentured servants. If you like, we can skip the Hebrew slaves and focus on the non-Hebrews since that is even more brutal and unambiguous.

Also, I'll read your bit about empathy again. It didn't really seem coherent the first time through, but I might have misread it. (In my defense, 1poorlady's next chemo session is today so I've been a bit distracted. I'm trying to be ready for the next few days of misery as best I can.)



**Looked it up. EX 20:21. I almost remembered it correctly. It says "a day or two". But, as an added bonus, that same verse says (and I quote): "...since the slave is their property." Yeah...that's not the same thing as indentured servitude. I understand your reluctance to acknowledge that's what it says, and try to dodge it. It's ugly, especially by our standards in the 21st century. I can only imagine how unsettling it is for a theist to try to acknowledge this. I know of one who, when confronted with this, did some of his own research, and became an atheist. Just because of the position of the bible on slavery. I gather it was crushing for him, but he simply couldn't believe in a good god that would condone that.
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1poorlady's next chemo session is today so I've been a bit distracted. I'm trying to be ready for the next few days of misery as best I can.)

In light of what's going on in your life right now, lets give it a rest for a while. My problem with what you've written is that you insist on being woodenly literal with texts you frankly don't understand well. Sure, you can read the English translations and make your points, but I'm saying it takes more than that for these difficult passages. Translations are not commentaries, and translations are not apologetic treatments. They are limited. This discussion requires a nuanced treatment of the original languages.

Your talking with someone who has a background in biblical studies, including the original languages of the text. Your objections frankly remind me of talking to a creationist about evolution, someone who knows nothing of biochemistry, and when you try to talk proteins and such cries "Your just trying to confuse me with boring details".

But its the details that matter.
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OK...read one of your links. I don't think I can read any more of them if they are all like that. The article subtitled "does the OT endorse slavery" is clearly answered "yes, but...". Then they make all sorts of references about "the slave can be made a citizen" and such. And "there was not murderous intent if the slave doesn't die quickly". But that's not really relevant. It's still a slave and you're still beating him!!! The bible is endorsing the practice of slavery. Bottom line. You can try to dress it up all you like, but that's still an abominable practice, and very frankly, anyone who accepts an explanation like that is suspect. I mean no offense. I'm pretty certain you would never do such a thing (you seem like a decent guy), but defending the practice is highly questionable. Just calling it like I see it.

If you think that is an adequate explanation of EX 21 then you and I will never see eye-to-eye on morality. That is front-to-back immoral in every way. Your link says "yeah, but..." as if that makes it all better.

I find it very interesting that an atheist is here condemning slavery, and the theist is trying to justify and/or ameliorate it within their belief system. Who is the more moral? I admit I am biased, but I think my position is more defensible than yours.

And now that we have strayed very far from the original post, we should probably quit or start a new thread. This is no longer about prayer (which you answered in a way I can understand). It's morphed into crimes against humanity. Scripture turns simple questions of morality into a morass simply because the scriptures say "god said so", and what god said was monstrous.
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**Looked it up. EX 20:21.

See...distracted. It's EX 21:20. [sigh]

Picked up 1poorlady from chemo, and she's cleaning up now before a nap. Gotta run.
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Had a few minutes. 1poorlady is napping. The pain killers make her drowsy, which is good because if she's asleep she's not in pain.

------

That's a good analogy because I'm not a biochemist (for example). So I rely on people (e.g. Anthony or btresist) who are to "translate" articles for me into a language I can understand.

Similarly, the bible. The bible has had no shortage of translators over the past several centuries, and they took great pains to "get it right" so dopes like me can understand. Especially throughout the latter part of the 20th century (e.g. KJV is pretty universally considered by scholars to have errors that were corrected in later versions like NIV). They are biblical scholars who speak ancient languages, study Dead Sea Scrolls, and so forth, just so they can translate those texts as precisely as possible. And now you're telling me they didn't? I don't think so. The translations (NIV, NASB, etc) have some subtle differences, but all of the newer translations especially match up pretty well. By taking liberties with those translations you are demeaning the work these people put into making them accurate.

Clearly some things can be taken as metaphorical, or at least if you don't take them that way they are ludicrous. EX 21 is not one of them. It is clear in what it says and what it means. Also LEV 25 is equally clear. You're obfuscating (probably subconsciously) because confronting the ugliness in those words that you revere is painful. It would create a cognitive dissonance in any normally-moral (by today's standards) person. This is not a "difficult passage".

Your objections frankly remind me of talking to a creationist about evolution,...

Also, the creationist usually is not reading someone who knows what he is talking about. They aren't reading the textbooks and having difficulties with the terminology. They are reading pseudo-scientific hacks with an agenda who dispute what the textbooks say on no basis other than personal belief. In that respect this isn't a good analogy. I'm reading the product of biblical scholars (i.e. "experts"), not "bible-deniers" (to turn this around). Though I have read bible-deniers as well, but they generally rely on translations by biblical scholars, too.

The details matter, but only to a point. The cited passages spell-out that slaves are property, especially non-Hebrew slaves. It doesn't matter that "oh, they can become citizens". The bible still supports slavery. "Well, if the beating doesn't have murderous intent then it's OK". No, the beating is wrong and the owning of slaves is wrong, and the bible supports BOTH. At the core is owning people as property, which the bible endorses and formalizes with some rules. Dress it up anyway you like, but that's still the core.

Just one little sentence would have been all it would take. "Thou shalt not own another person as property". Easy. Short, sweet, and clear. That never appears in the 66 books of the bible, but is well understood to be correct by probably 90% of the world's population today.
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They are biblical scholars who speak ancient languages, study Dead Sea Scrolls, and so forth, just so they can translate those texts as precisely as possible. And now you're telling me they didn't? I don't think so.

Don't put words in my mouth. Where did I say they were not precise?


By taking liberties with those translations you are demeaning the work these people put into making them accurate.

No idea what you are talking about. What liberties am I taking?


EX 21 is not one of them. It is clear in what it says and what it means. Also LEV 25 is equally clear. You're obfuscating

How am I obfuscating? We haven't talked details yet. What exactly do you think these passages say that you find objectionable?


It would create a cognitive dissonance in any normally-moral (by today's standards) person. This is not a "difficult passage".

I appreciate the attempt at psychoanalysis. I'll leave aside your own psychological factors that come into play. Maybe we should just stipulate that we both come at the issue with assumptions.


The details matter, but only to a point. The cited passages spell-out that slaves are property, especially non-Hebrew slaves.

I'd say the details are what is important, not your superficial reading of the text. What exactly do the passages say that makes you think that slaves are property? What do you mean by property? What exactly do you mean by slave? Time to define terms.


the beating is wrong and the owning of slaves is wrong, and the bible supports BOTH. At the core is owning people as property, which the bible endorses and formalizes with some rules. Dress it up anyway you like, but that's still the core.

I think this gets at the heart of your objection to the way you think the Bible deals with the topic. Probably would be answered already if you answered above, by why do you think the Bible treats these people as property?

A more fundamental set of issues is on what basis do you criticize the Bible? You're an atheist, and as far as I can tell you have two options: 1) morality is relative, in which case you have no basis to criticize someone else's morality 2) morality is some kind of social contract, with society agreeing on what is right and wrong, which again means you have no basis for condemning another societies morals.
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Maybe we should just stipulate that we both come at the issue with assumptions.

I can agree with that.

...by why do you think the Bible treats these people as property?

Because that's precisely what it says. Verbatim. Translated by biblical scholars who would have chosen other words were they appropriate. Those are the words they choose as most accurate.

EX 21:20 "“Anyone who beats their male or female slave with a rod must be punished if the slave dies as a direct result, 21 but they are not to be punished if the slave recovers after a day or two, since the slave is their property." (emphasis added)

There is no wiggle room here.

And you were obfuscating by extension. You didn't actually do it, but those links you provided did**. So by extension you did.

Frankly, I've heard those arguments before. They rang hollow then, and they ring hollow now. I mean no offense to you personally. We'd probably have a great time if we met for lunch somewhere (and chatted about work, family, whatever). But, IMO, your beliefs are not allowing you to see the horrors that your scriptures proscribe. I have interacted with a couple of people who were devout and then weren't, and it really was traumatic for them (one of them dropped off the map...haven't heard from him in a while). So if I sound glib, that is not intentional. I know it is difficult. I was spared that since I was raised only loosely xian. As I learned more it was more "huh, this bit is wrong..." rather than an existential crisis. For someone as devout as you it likely would constitute an existential crisis if you ever realized the bible is wrong about just about everything.

1poorguy

P.S. As to "definitions", the translators/scholars knew the definitions. I'm reminded of this: https://images.app.goo.gl/aQLsCpmjnLp3Mo3h6
Yeah, define "wet". :-)


**I couldn't make it through all of them. They were too repugnant in how they were trying to excuse how the bible treats slavery.*** But I quoted some of their points in my previous post, such as "they can be made citizens". That is completely tangential and irrelevant to the fact that they are slaves taken/bought "from nations around you", that can be beaten, and the bible endorses both. QED.

***I liken it to Trump's policy to separate families and put babies in cages. Those families have almost no hope of being reunited because we didn't collect the information necessary. So even if people offered "well, we'll get them adopted out and they will be citizens raised as Americans", that doesn't excuse the fact that we separated families and put babies in cages. One thing does not make the other one "OK".
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...by why do you think the Bible treats these people as property?
----------
Because that's precisely what it says. Verbatim. Translated by biblical scholars who would have chosen other words were they appropriate. Those are the words they choose as most accurate.

EX 21:20 "“Anyone who beats their male or female slave with a rod must be punished if the slave dies as a direct result, 21 but they are not to be punished if the slave recovers after a day or two, since the slave is their property." (emphasis added)

There is no wiggle room here.


Well then what I'm going to say will rock your world. There are tons of important details you want to gloss over here. I know you stated you don't want to be bothered by the details ("The details matter, but only to a point"). I think you need to reconsider.

Lets start with another translation you might find interesting (NET Bible*):

Ex 21:20 “If a man strikes his male servant or his female servant with a staff so that he or she dies as a result of the blow, he will surely be punished. However, if the injured servant survives one or two days, the owner will not be punished, for he has suffered the loss.

You will immediately notice that there are two key differences in the translations. The first is the translation of the Hebrew word ebed "servant, slave", and the second is the translation of the Hebrew word kesep "silver".

The reason I asked you to define what you mean by "slave" and "property" (and which you overtly refused to do), is to eventually point out how you might be bringing in your own understanding of the terms and superimposing them on the Hebrew text. As you can see from the differences in the translations, scholars disagree on how the terms should be translated here. Now I don't mind either rendering here as there are warrants for both. I would hope you'd agree that the important thing to understand is what the Hebrew author meant by "slave/servant" and "silver/money/property", not what connotations might come to mind by translation word choice. The context is the key to understanding and appreciating a passage of Scripture, and that context includes the immediate context of the chapter in question, as well as how the word is used in the rest of the Bible.

You can't be bothered by the details, which is your right, but if you want to convince me or any educated person who is literate in the Hebrew scriptures, you have to deal with the details of word meanings and context. Your simplistic and frankly sophomoric approach to the text might convince a few who are ignorant of the facts or don't care, but they just don't hold water to me. And I'm not saying you don't have scholars on your side, certainly you do. I'm saying that when there is disagreement on the scholar level, the layman is within his rights to decide what makes sense to him.

One such scholar is Ancient Near East scholar Harry Hoffner at the U. of Chicago. He rejects the interpretation "property" and "money" and favors "that fee is his money" refering to the immediate context of a person injuring someone else and having to pay for his medical bills (Ex 21:18-19). If a master killed his servant, he was to be put to death**. If he injured him, he had to pay (the "fee") for his medical bills, and under certain circumstances had to release the servant from any further obligation.

You don't get such understanding of the verses in question by looking at Exodus with blinders on. The context matters, the details you can't be bothered with because you just "know" what slave and property means.

Another detail that is important is the genre of text you are dealing with. Here we have case law, which is not in this case prescribing or supporting the beating of slaves, but giving judges some guidelines on how to deal with stuff that comes to them to adjudicate. If the slave died, then the murderous intent was obvious and the punishment was set. If the slave didn't die, the master was given the benefit of the doubt and his intent was considered to be not to kill the servant. His loss in this case could be the permanent loss of the service of the servant if the injury was severe enough (understood from other passages), to having to pay the medical bills.

If one were a slave in Biblical times, the place to serve was in Israel compared to surrounding nations. You could earn your freedom; if you were mistreated you could run away and Hebrew law forbid that such a person be returned to his master. You could have your own servants. There were laws providing for fair treatment.

I don't think anyone argues that the OT laws concerning servants/slaves were ideal. Heck, even the Hebrew prophets railed against the practice, indicating that the practice was frowned upon and eventually replaced. But it is not what you claim it is.

Sorry, but the Bible does not support considering other people as property or farm equipment. It does not support the mistreatment of others, including bondservants. It prescribes penalties for killing or injuring a servant. It does not support chattel slavery. A Hebrew master could not do as he pleased with a servant, precisely because the servant was considered a person with rights, not a piece of trash that could be handled as you wish. That in and of itself proves that servants/slaves were not considered "property" as you (probably) define it.

Translation is part science, part art. Bible translation is no different. There are constantly choices that have to be made between two or more possible renderings. You might be surprised to know that sometimes translators translate in as general a way possible, and leave it up to the scholars to hash out the nuances. Insisting that translation x,y, or z says blah blah blah and that is the final answer is naive.




*Biblical Studies Press. (2005). The NET Bible First Edition; Bible. English. NET Bible.; The NET Bible (Ex 21:20–21). Biblical Studies Press.

**another detail that is important. The Hebrew word translated "punished" (in "Anyone who beats their male or female slave with a rod must be punished") is always associated in the Bible with capital punishment. That is why CEV translates it "Death is the punishment for beating to death any of your slaves" (The Holy Bible: The Contemporary English Version. (1995). (Ex 21:20). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.)
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Well then what I'm going to say will rock your world.

Barely a ripple, much less a rocking. Didn't want you to think I'm ignoring you. I'll prepare a more detailed response, but let's just say that I'm using contemporary -mainstream- translations. Not obscure translations by questionable scholars with an agenda. So you cannot accuse me of dishonesty.

You cannot make the statement than "the bible doesn't support chattel slavery" when clearly in many translations it DOES. You're picking a translation that is less clear, but most of the other translations do (at least half, doing a quick check of biblegateway.com).

But your post deserves more than a drive-by (even if it bordered on patronizing at times), so I'll compose more in the near future. On top of everything else our smoke detectors decided to go off last night without cause, and the ladder is the heaviest thing I've lifted in over four months. :-(
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Barely a ripple, much less a rocking.

I'll try harder next time

On top of everything else our smoke detectors decided to go off last night without cause, and the ladder is the heaviest thing I've lifted in over four months.

Ouch. Ours randomly went off last week, I was standing right under it. My wife used to say I was smokin, so maybe I still have it :-)
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it bordered on patronizing at times)

What I was going for was naive. You are not going to convince me of anything by quoting translations that use the word "slave". I already said that slave was in the range of meaning of the Hebrew. These translations made a choice, but they don't define "slave". Thats left up to others. You have to study, for example, what kind of relationship there was between the master and the servant/slave to determine what the author meant.
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My wife used to say I was smokin, so maybe I still have it :-)

Mine still says I'm "cute", but I am not convinced that was ever true. We got her new glasses last year, but she still insists I'm cute. I can't imagine her saying I'm "smoking" unless I was actually on fire.

No idea why they went off. Two of them had blinking red lights, which according to the label indicates they have been silenced (by whom?). I pushed the test button and it beeped and went green. While I was up there I changed the batteries. I now need to change all the rest of the batteries (I do them all at once normally, so I don't have to track which batteries are old and which are new).

Core muscles did OK. Didn't seem to pull anything, but they were obviously weak.
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Well, then we are at an impasse. I assume the translators used the words they needed to use. It would make no sense if they didn't, or if they translated into Shakespearean English (for example). They could have done so (and it might even be entertaining), but I'm certain they did not. They knew the meanings of the English (American) words, and chose accordingly. "Slave" means what it means. If the scholars needed to use a different word, they would have. For example, "servant". That is not the same as "slave". A butler is a servant, but he is not a slave.

Here are my thoughts (composed before I saw your message):

It's not that I "refused" to do it. I would reference any online dictionary to define "slave" and "property". If you were going to use another definition I would reject it because that is the standard definition, and the translating scholars also knew it.

I do not read Hebrew. So I rely on "experts" (biblical scholars) to read it for me and translate. And I even give the bible additional "chances" and usually look at at least two translations (usually NIV and NASB) to see if they are similar. Because, yes, some scholars differ. I can't say that yours is "wrong", just that it contradicts pretty much all the other translations.

https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Exodus%2021&...
https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Exodus+21&v...
https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Exodus+21&v...
https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Exodus+21&v...

You see, I am not interpreting it in an eccentric manner. Nor do I resort to KJV which I believe most scholars regard as obsolete and inaccurate (or at least that language has evolved substantially since the KJV was first written). These are mainstream translations used in modern pews. I think you regard it as "naive" because it doesn't agree with your preference. I have no preference (since I don't believe the whole deity narrative anyway). I just read the translations.**

To my footnote, a simple and clear statement against slavery would have settled the matter. We wouldn't be having this discussion now. But it never appears in all of the 66 books. I don't know if it appears in the 14 apocryphal books. But those were not considered "the word of god", so they didn't make the cut.




**Which is another thing, though very tangential; why did a deity create so much confusion in understanding his "word"? You'd think he/she/it would be more clear so that folks don't have to resort to all of this to figure out what is being said. He could have used Latin. Latin survives to this day, more or less unchanged.
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BTW, on a whim I referenced the Torah. After all, that's basically the OT. EX 21:21 says "But if he survives for a day or for two days, he shall not be avenged, because he is his property"

Though it does use the word "servant" in 21:20.

https://www.chabad.org/library/bible_cdo/aid/9882

Nonetheless, there can be no excuse for permitting slavery in any form. Not from a deity who supposedly is the epitome of goodness. He can forbid murder (and cooking a baby goat in his mother's milk), but he can't forbid owning people as property?? I don't think so.
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Nonetheless, there can be no excuse for permitting slavery in any form. Not from a deity who supposedly is the epitome of goodness. He can forbid murder (and cooking a baby goat in his mother's milk), but he can't forbid owning people as property??


So many issues here ... some brief responses.

What do you mean by slavery "in any form"? What various forms of slavery do you recognize? It seems like you are hung up on terminology, not factual conditions of the service in question.

Lets say for example you offer me money in exchange for work. You insist on calling me your slave, and I have to call you master. I have the same personal rights as you do (ie you can't mistreat me under penalty of law), and after the agreed upon amount of work is accomplished to our agreed upon terms, you pay me I leave you and never see you again. But you call this kind of arrangement slavery? You think it is immoral?


You note that your source uses the translation "servant" in this passage, so you must infer that there is some ambiguity as to the correct term to use, since your various sources don't agree. Did you know this source uses "slave" earlier in the passage, and that the same Hebrew word is used in both places, ebed? In the OT, ebed is variously translated as "slave", "servant", "officer", "official", "subject", and "vassal". The context determines what kind of relationship it is. "Slave" is most often used of the Hebrews time in Egypt.

God can at the same time be the epitome of goodness, and allow evil to exist in the world. He allowed some inferior kinds of work relationships to exist, but never intended for that to be the standard.

You insist on using the term "property", which granted, is often used in English translation here. I've offered reasons to doubt the accuracy of these translations, but regardless, you have to define "property". In what sense was the servant/slave the "property" of the master? I think it is clear from the context of the entire OT that "farm equipment" is not the proper understanding. These people had financial obligations to the master, which could be eliminated in various ways. This was the "property" of the master, the work owed under the arrangement they had. The master had a right to that, but didn't own the person. He owned the labor, not the humanity of the laborer. These servants/slaves in fact had the right by statute to not be mistreated. This is not "property" in the sense you want it to be.

Finally, you've yet to address how you can stand in judgement of Hebrew society, when you believe that "morality" is determined by group consensus. Since there is no objective standard for to judge other cultures by, if you were consisted you'd just shrug and say "Well I wouldn't do that because I don't like it". You seem to be implicitly appealing to a higher authority to judge owning people as cattle as immoral.

I'll let you ponder where that authority is located. You like to appeal to psychology when dealing with Christians, but let me use a little on you. I understand how difficult it must be for you to let go of this verse, at least your preferred interpretation. You sort of staked your reputation on it, as I've lost count of how many times you've mentioned "Ex 21:20" over the years as if that was enough, end of discussion.

I might not be able to change your mind, so be it. But at least I've offered reasons for people to look at it in a different light than the harsh one you use.
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I also have no illusions about changing your mind. In fact, you already said you mind was closed (i.e. "I won't accept any interpretation..."). Doesn't mean we can't have a discussion, though.

There are two classes of slaves. Foreigners and Hebrews. The rules are different for each. The Hebrews, at least in some cases, could be argued to be indentured servants. The foreigners were basically farm equipment to be bought, sold, inherited, beaten, etc, as the owner saw fit. You seem to be trying to obfuscate "property". It's extremely simple. Property is that which is owned.

If you're being paid you're not a typical slave. You are not "owned". However, "the company store" did come pretty close to that back in the day**. Slave is a subset of servant. When I go out to dinner (or at least when we used to be able to do that) we had a "server". A servant. I didn't own that person, and they were compensated for the efforts, and they could quit at any time. That's not a slave.

No, I don't appeal to a "higher" authority. My (and your!) morality is far superior to that of the Abrahamic deity. I don't need an authority to tell me in any case. And neither do you. You wouldn't stone your son in front of your city elders (or town council today). Sam Harris has a great argument, which you can read or listen to if you like, but it boils down to the simple concept of human flourishing and empathy. It's not that complicated. And, yes, our morality is partially defined by the society in which we were raised.

Do I stand in judgement of Hebrew society? Yes, I suppose I do. We all judge societies (past and present) through our lens. I also "judge" Roman society, the era of Jim Crow (US society circa 1940s and 50s), French society pre-revolution, southern US society pre-civil war (and even post), etc. Through the lens of the 21st century Bronze/Iron Age Hebrew society was cruel and barbaric, with rampant misogyny, racism, and genocide. I fully realize that for their time this was "normal", and it stands to reason their deity (which they created) would sanction such behavior. Men create gods in their own image, not the reverse. What I have a problem with is when someone in the 21st century tries to sell me on "these barbaric folks from 2000 years ago had it right; just ignore or reinterpret the bits you don't like so it doesn't make you sick".

That's not to say that those societies were all bad (e.g. Roman engineering was a marvel). I can acknowledge that Washington and Jefferson were pivotal figures in our constitutational democracy even as they were slave owners, and I don't believe either of them freed many slaves. In fact, our Constitution has racist elements in it (e.g. the 3/5 of a person clause). I judge that as wrong even as I judge that there were some lofty ideals too (e.g. freedom of speech, freedom of religion, etc). I know why those clauses were in there. If we were drawing up the Constitution today they wouldn't be (i.e. the 3/5 person clause, and some others).

I'm not quite sure what you meant by "harsh light" that I use. Do you mean judgmental? Guilty. Do you mean I take liberties with interpretations? I don't believe I do; relying instead on scholars who had a passion (probably) for "getting it right". They could still be wrong, but I'm not making things up or cherry-picking. I'm using mainstream translations.




**I assume you know the history about "company stores" and not being able to get out from under them. You couldn't escape without paying-off the debts, and you couldn't pay off the debts with what they paid you. You were trapped. I could be persuaded that was a form of slavery. The more I think about it the more I would fall on the side of "a form of slavery". It would be an interesting discussion. I do believe those are illegal now.
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you already said you mind was closed (i.e. "I won't accept any interpretation...").


Now you are making up quotes. Just to set the record straight, I said:

You are not going to convince me of anything by quoting translations that use the word "slave". I already said that slave was in the range of meaning of the Hebrew. These translations made a choice, but they don't define "slave". Thats left up to others. You have to study, for example, what kind of relationship there was between the master and the servant/slave to determine what the author meant.

And why should I accept "slave" as a translation? Your own quoted sources don't agree.


The foreigners were basically farm equipment to be bought, sold, inherited, beaten, etc, as the owner saw fit.

Then you haven't read a word I've said
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OK, ya got me. I didn't go back and excerpt you precisely. You are not going to convince me of anything by quoting translations that use the word "slave". So, in other words, you won't accept those interpretations. I just paraphrased, but it's the same meaning.

Your own quoted sources don't agree.

Interesting, isn't it? Apparently yours is the god of confusion. Contrary to what the texts claim.

:-)

Then you haven't read a word I've said

I have read every word. I just don't accept your blanket dismissal of mainstream translations because they say things you don't like. In most of the translations that is what is being described (i.e. farm equipment). It's even worse in Lev 25:44-46, because even your NET translation explicitly says "slaves" and "you own" and "may be bought". That is for non-Hebrew slaves, and it is much more clear (evidently) since the NET translation you're using and the ones I was using say basically the same thing.

44 “‘As for your male and female slaves[a] who may belong to you—you may buy male and female slaves from the nations all around you.[b] 45 Also, you may buy slaves[c] from the children of the foreigners who reside with you, and from their families that are[d] with you, whom they have fathered in your land; they may become your property. 46 You may give them as an inheritance to your children after you to possess as property. You may enslave them perpetually. However, as for your brothers the Israelites, no man may rule over his brother harshly.[e]

Are you now going to disavow the NET translation because it uses words you don't like?

Don't get me wrong. I applaud you for being bothered by this. I would question your decency as a person if you weren't. That's why I said, and continue to say, the your "morality" and my "morality" and really the vast majority of the planet's "morality" is superior to that of the bible. This is the low-hanging fruit. I could dig deeper into the tree, but this cannot (yet) be adequately answered, so I don't think there's a need. The bible is a reflection of the society that created it. A slave-owning, genocidal, misogynistic society.
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In most of the translations that is what is being described (i.e. farm equipment). It's even worse in Lev 25:44-46, because even your NET translation explicitly says "slaves" and "you own" and "may be bought".

This is the heart of my objection to your interpretation and "analysis". I've tried to get you to define slave and property so we could evaluate your claims properly but so far you have just wanted to assume what the words mean. I think, when all the evidence is evaluated, it is hard to sustain the claim that these slaves/servants were treated as or considered farm equipment. You've asserted such several times, but you have not argued for it. I have argued based on evidence from the context, that your assertion doesn't fit the evidence.

As to the NET translation of Lev 25 you quoted, I have no issue with it.

Don't get me wrong. I applaud you for being bothered by this.

I'm not bothered by it. What parts should I be bothered by?

That's why I said, and continue to say, the your "morality" and my "morality" and really the vast majority of the planet's "morality" is superior to that of the bible.

So you continue to assert, but have yet to justify. You stated before: "Do I stand in judgement of Hebrew society? Yes, I suppose I do. We all judge societies (past and present) through our lens." But you have not argued for the veracity of your "lens" yet. Why should anyone care what your personal preferences are? Or what evolution has fooled you into thinking is "morality"? As I've said, it seems to me that as an atheist, you can't really affirm that something is immoral. On what basis could you? In your view there can be no objective moral values or obligations. So I'm left puzzled by what you could possibly mean that you "stand in judgement" of these biblical texts. I think you mean "I don't like it", but I don't think you see it that way.
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I've tried to get you to define slave and property so we could evaluate your claims properly but so far you have just wanted to assume what the words mean.

From the Non-Sequitur cartoon I linked earlier: "Define 'wet'."

Now you're just playing games. Look up "slave" and "property" in any dictionary. Those are the definitions I am working with, just as they undoubtedly are the definitions that modern scholars who translate these texts are working with. They aren't going to translate into Shakespearean English. That would be silly. If anything it is you who are trying to utilize and/or justify an eccentric (or perhaps obsolete?) definition. I'm just using the dictionary definition of words that I know in our present usage of those terms.

I'm not bothered by it. What parts should I be bothered by?

Owning people as property, perhaps? That's what it says, even in your NET translation. If I were a xian I would be tremendously bothered by that being regarded as acceptable.

Why should anyone care what your personal preferences are?

Empathy? Human flourishing? Some form of the Golden Rule (that exists in most societies, but not the bible as I recall)? Enlightened self-interest? You certainly would care if suddenly people had to power to enslave YOU and YOUR family.

As I've said, it seems to me that as an atheist, you can't really affirm that something is immoral. On what basis could you?

All of the above I just mentioned, and probably more if I thought about it. It is you who have no basis. An edict passed down from on-high? That's just an edict, backed up by force (e.g. smiting). It does not follow that any edict from an authority is necessarily "moral". In fact, I would judge many of them in the various scriptures (not just xianity) to be decidedly immoral because they victimize the innocent, promote slavery (thereby reducing other people to little more than chattel), justify cruelty, and so forth. You have an authority which you assume issues only moral commands. You have no basis for that assumption (either its existence, or the edicts are in fact moral). That is removing your responsibility for thinking about these issues and saying "I was just following orders". That is not an acceptable defense for atrocities, no matter what authority you may be following. I fail to see why you are "puzzled".

The atheist thinks about these things, and most of the time seems to come to superior moral judgments. Which is probably why a few homosexual xians hang out on the atheist board because they know they're not welcome on the CF board. Sadly.

Though this thread has wandered off a bit. I said a while back I wasn't going to say you were wrong about prayer since it was your perspective. And I wouldn't argue the "good god" thing either, at least in that context. But now we're faced with the possibility of arguing about that in a different context. Just want to be clear that with respect to prayer I'm still not arguing with you. You said something I can grok even if I don't agree with the premise, which answered my original question. If we continue it must be with the understanding that the subject has now changed and I may need to start arguing the alleged goodness of the Abrahamic deity. I try to keep my word...it's a morality thing. ;-)
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Couldn't let this slide ;-)

Some form of the Golden Rule (that exists in most societies, but not the bible as I recall)?


God: "you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the Lord" (Lev. 19:18)

Jesus: "You shall love your neighbor as yourself." (Mat. 22:39)

Also Jesus: "So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets." (Mat. 7:12)
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Why should anyone care what your personal preferences are?

Why should anyone care about what God's personal preferences are?
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OK. Fair enough. Mat 7:12 is a reasonable restatement of the principle. It predates the bible by thousands of years, so the authors of the bible can't take credit for it. But it's in there nonetheless, so that's OK. Probably the most moral thing in the bible, too.
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I've tried to get you to define slave and property so we could evaluate your claims properly but so far you have just wanted to assume what the words mean.
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Now you're just playing games. Look up "slave" and "property" in any dictionary. Those are the definitions I am working with


Wow, first time I think anyone has gotten upset by being asked to define terms, and then suggesting the other person do their homework for them or read their mind. How am I supposed to know what meaning you are giving words unless you spell it out?

I wanted you to spell out two things, what you mean by slave, and what you mean by immoral. More specifically, I wanted to see what baggage you were bringing to the discussion. I got the distinct impression that you were imposing antebellum Southern US notions on the biblical text. In fact, I'm pretty sure you are by your use of "farm equipment". I wanted to know what standard of morality you were using to compare your notion of moral with what is in the biblical text.

I'm not bothered by it. What parts should I be bothered by?
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Owning people as property, perhaps?


No, I'm not bothered by the social arrangements that existed 3500 years ago in ancient Israel. God allowed for a time a less than ideal situation that already existed, regulated it to be more humane to ensure that the Hebrews treated others more fairly, and set out the ideal for them, i.e. no slavery.

The atheist thinks about these things, and most of the time seems to come to superior moral judgments.

This, again. You seem to be comparing your morality and the Bibles to some objective standard to evaluate the two against, in order to pronounce one more "moral". What is that objective standard, and why is it the standard? Or are you just comparing everything to your personal standard, and anything that doesn't match is "immoral"?

Alot of other things you said deserve a response, but that's what I got for now.
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I'm not upset. But you're dangerously close to "define wet". In fact, you really are asking me to define "wet". In modern English the term is not ambiguous. So it is a bit annoying that you appear to be disingenuous (or, as the cartoon says, "head hurts").

https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/slave?utm_campaig...

Now asking me to define "immoral" is a worthy question. In its simplest form "moral" is pertaining to ethics, and/or to "right and wrong". I really don't like the word "moral", as I don't like "evil", because those words can have a lot of baggage. But they'll do so long as people remove that baggage.

I wanted to know what standard of morality you were using to compare your notion of moral with what is in the biblical text.

I already stated that. My standard involves empathy and not doing to others what I would find repulsive if done to me. In a nutshell.

God allowed for a time a less than ideal situation that already existed, regulated it to be more humane to ensure that the Hebrews treated others more fairly, and set out the ideal for them, i.e. no slavery.

Baloney. I was wondering if you'd dust off that apologist argument, and you did it. So the great and might god (according to your texts; don't want you to think I'm making stuff up) can't command that we don't own people as property? He can be concerned with how you cook baby goats, and murder, and such as that, but he can't make that simple edict? It's not as if people follow those edicts anyway. Murder is perhaps less common today than 2000 years ago, but it's still common. And he didn't have any compunction about banning that. Why bother banning anything with the presupposition that people will violate it anyway? So I say again: baloney. By the way, god STILL allows it. Nothing has changed except that our modern society DOESN'T allow it. As usual, secular society is way ahead of religion in regards to liberties and equality and not allowing -for example- priests to rape children (which is mostly, but not exclusively, a Catholic problem).

You seem to be comparing your morality and the Bibles to some objective standard to evaluate the two against, in order to pronounce one more "moral".

Not at all. There is no "objective standard". My morality is superior because it victimizes fewer people, it involves NOT doing repulsive things to people that I wouldn't like done to me, etc. I would not want to be a slave under EX or Lev, so I do not do that to others. But the bible says I can. Therefore my morality is superior. As is the morality of almost every person on the planet. A few would perhaps like slavery to continue, but they are an extremely small minority. I think a lot of them would be classified as psychopaths. (And, to be pedantic, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/psychopath)

Alot of other things you said deserve a response, but that's what I got for now.

I'm not going anywhere. :-)

Both because of the virus, and because the final session of chemo has been delayed until 1poorlady is stronger. Hopefully next week so we can finish this thing. She's walking better today than she was Tues.
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What is that objective standard, and why is it the standard?

Why do you keep going back to this even though we've told you a gazillion times we do not hold to any objective morality. Just regurgitating standard apologetics at us while ignoring our past, very clear statements? Come on.
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Why do you keep going back to this even though we've told you a gazillion times we do not hold to any objective morality.

Because you guys keep using the language of objective morality. When you say someone is more moral than someone else, you are appealing to an objective standard. If you aren't, then what are you appealing to? Your personal preferences, in which case you can't say one is "more" than another, just different. You have no more moral authority than I do. 1poorguy at least thinks some things are objectively wrong, but can't or won't articulate a coherent theory of how that can exist.

He decried morality that is merely an "edict" from God. But how are his moral judgments anything more than an edict from himself (or a group he identifies with) who pronounce moral edicts?

Under Christian theism, God is the standard of morality, his qualities of goodness, justice, patience, love, etc. When he issues an "edict", it has moral authority, as it comes from the creator of everything who has these qualities. 1poorguy implicitly affirms that if such a God existed, he would be such a standard.

We can debate whether such a God exists. 1poorguy is attempting to show that he doesn't, because in his theory, this God isn't moral. So far he hasn't convinced me, partly because he cherry-picks his data to focus on the most controversial issues, distorts or ignores the contextual evidence while also ignoring the bigger picture: God created this world, and provided a beautiful environment for human flourishing and loving relationship with the Creator. WE messed this up, and continue to mess it up (something that cant rationally be denied). We broke the relationship with our creator, and with each other. He has provided a way to restore all the original goodness of our relationship with him and each other. He has promised to restore everything when it is time. To date he has welcomed billions of rebels back into his kingdom, forgiving their offenses, welcoming them with open arms. They all become brothers and sisters, people from every gender, social status, nation, tribe, language and ethnicity. They are all equal in God's eyes. Love God and love your fellow man is the morality of this kingdom.

Those who stand outside and throw stones will be welcomed too, just as soon as they put them down ;-)
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Both because of the virus, and because the final session of chemo has been delayed until 1poorlady is stronger. Hopefully next week so we can finish this thing. She's walking better today than she was Tues.

I'm praying that you both can put this behind you soon
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You have no more moral authority than I do. 1poorguy at least thinks some things are objectively wrong, but can't or won't articulate a coherent theory of how that can exist.

I don't think they are "objectively wrong". I freely admit that I have postulates. In quantum mechanics there are three postulates, unproven, that everything is based on. My "moral" postulate is as I said in previous replies. If someone has different "moral postulates" we can discuss it. Your moral postulate seems to be "what god says". Given that, I argue that my morality is far superior because it involves less human suffering.

Pretty simple.

We can debate whether such a God exists. 1poorguy is attempting to show that he doesn't, because in his theory, this God isn't moral.

The one has nothing to do with the other. There could very well be a profoundly evil (i.e. immoral) god. In fact, if the god of Abraham exists then there is a profoundly evil god. But I'm not arguing his non-existence. I'm arguing that there is very little morality to be found in the bible that secular society hasn't exceeded. I suspect none at all, but will leave a bit of wiggle room and say "very little".

So I won't address the existence question further in this thread. We're talking ethics.

Also, I'm not "cherry-picking". I selected one topic: slavery. And I exposed what the bible has to say about it. This topic isn't controversial at all. I think any random sampling of people will almost unanimously condemn slavery. Thus, no controversy. Except perhaps those trying to justify that those passages indicate a just, good, moral god.
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I'm praying that you both can put this behind you soon

I appreciate the thought. Sincerely.
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Under Christian theism, God is the standard of morality, his qualities of goodness, justice, patience, love, etc. When he issues an "edict", it has moral authority, as it comes from the creator of everything who has these qualities. 1poorguy implicitly affirms that if such a God existed, he would be such a standard.

Under Christian theism, God's personal preferences are given precedence for no good reason. Making 1poorguy more powerful wouldn't make his personal preferences more 'moral.' This extends all the way up to the power of a God.

Because you guys keep using the language of objective morality.

There is no language of objective morality. A morality sourced from a thinking being's personal preferences isn't moral, no matter how powerful or non-powerful that thinking being is.
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Argh.

"A morality sourced from a thinking being's personal preferences isn't moral, no matter how powerful or non-powerful that thinking being is." should be "A morality sourced from a thinking being's personal preferences isn't objective, no matter how powerful or non-powerful that thinking being is."
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Mat 7:12 is a reasonable restatement of the principle. It predates the bible by thousands of years, so the authors of the bible can't take credit for it. But it's in there nonetheless, so that's OK. Probably the most moral thing in the bible, too.

If you liked that, you're gonna love this. Jesus takes it to the next level:

“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect." (Mat. 5.43-48)
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"A morality sourced from a thinking being's personal preferences isn't moral, no matter how powerful or non-powerful that thinking being is." should be "A morality sourced from a thinking being's personal preferences isn't objective, no matter how powerful or non-powerful that thinking being is."


It depends on the type of thinking being we're talking about. If God gives commands that must be followed, those commands objectively exist just like the speed limit sign represents an objective civil law that must be followed.

Just because someone thought it up doesn't make it subjective. And I define subjective as existing only in someone's mind.
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If God gives commands that must be followed, those commands objectively exist just like the speed limit sign represents an objective civil law that must be followed.

Sure, but then 1poorguy's personal preference objectively exists too. My personal preference for chocolate objectively exists - but this doesn't mean that chocolate objectively tastes good. A speed limit sign and relevant laws establish theoretical consequences for disobeying, but so what?
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If God gives commands that must be followed, those commands objectively exist just like the speed limit sign represents an objective civil law that must be followed.
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Sure, but then 1poorguy's personal preference objectively exists too. My personal preference for chocolate objectively exists - but this doesn't mean that chocolate objectively tastes good. A speed limit sign and relevant laws establish theoretical consequences for disobeying, but so what?


God issuing moral commands to his creation have objective existence and authority. 1poorguys have no authority.
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But I tell you, love your enemies...

I agree with Hitchens on this one. That is a wicked preachment. If we did that the Third Reich could have taken over the world. I believe Hitchens referenced the Taliban when he made that statement, but the idea is the same. You must oppose "evil", which presumably your enemies are.
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God issuing moral commands to his creation have objective existence and authority. 1poorguys have no authority.

1pg has some authority. I'm sure he isn't the lowest ranking person at his company; he has some authority over some people. He is a parent and has/had some authority over his kids.

Increasing his authority - his power - wouldn't make his commands objective morality.

https://www.dictionary.com/browse/authority?s=t
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