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Old 01-20-2012, 05:24 PM
 
Location: Blankity-blank!
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It sure seems that god has a long list of wrath for people who practice any sort of sexual relations other than a married man and woman, but god gives a free pass to those who attack others and drop bombs on civilians?
Maybe it's because most people find sex to be a pleasure? Whereas war causes severe pain and suffering.
Does god reveal his true self in this way?

 
Old 01-20-2012, 06:14 PM
 
Location: Sitting beside Walden Pond
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Visvaldis View Post
Does god reveal his true self in this way?
Yeah, the Judeo-Christian god sure does.

For reference, read the first sentence in Chapter 31 of the Book of Numbers. Then read the rest of the chapter to learn what the Jews did to the Midianites.

In another thread, I asked an Orthodox Jew, who seemed very knowledgable about the Torah, if he thought his god was pleased with what the Jews did. He said Yes.

After reading this chapter, you can decide for yourself if the Judeo-Christian god approves war-mongers.
 
Old 01-20-2012, 06:21 PM
 
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god likes killing and suffering, it pleasing him especially when done in his names

god hates people having fun
 
Old 01-20-2012, 06:28 PM
 
Location: Blankity-blank!
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Asheville Native View Post
god likes killing and suffering, it pleasing him especially when done in his names

god hates people having fun
But maybe god likes it when the people have fun killing.
 
Old 01-20-2012, 06:31 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Visvaldis View Post
But maybe god likes it when the people have fun killing.
you might be on to something there
 
Old 01-20-2012, 07:17 PM
 
3,488 posts, read 3,149,618 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Visvaldis View Post
It sure seems that god has a long list of wrath for people who practice any sort of sexual relations other than a married man and woman, but god gives a free pass to those who attack others and drop bombs on civilians?
Maybe it's because most people find sex to be a pleasure? Whereas war causes severe pain and suffering.
Does god reveal his true self in this way?

I assume that you're deriving this from biblical references?
There are certainly sexual purity laws that were put in place in the Sinaitic or Mosaic Covenant, but I'm not sure I can find where that same Covenant gives a free reign to "those who attack others and drop bombs on civilians"; that's a pretty general, yet specific, allowance for the latter - whatever you might call them.

There seems to be a confusion, here, with ancient biblical sexual purity laws and modern religious justifications for war or violence. Another poster points out the example of the Midianite episode, and while this is certainly a terrible episode (and not that different from other people's normative standards of practicing war: compare the Assyrians and their dreaded reputation)- it's not a Law, or even a normative Israelite way of waging war; no standards were being set in the particular story to be followed in all war actions, so to derive some sort of "Biblical Law of War" from it is not accurate. The same Covenant that lists the sexual purity laws also lists rules of war, to some degree; if anything, comparison should be made to those laws, and not to modern war-mongers.

If one were to continue reading the Bible, they would soon find that many of the Prophets were adamantly anti-war. This is, of course, assuming one is getting all their data on God from the Bible. Which I don't think is the case. There's some strange mixture of ancient laws and modern politicians and middle eastern terrorists going on here.


Apart from all that - can one accurately determine a person's "true-self" from the laws they pass? Given that many laws are passed for a strictly social or self-interested reason, rather than a moral or "good" reason, it appears unlikely that one could posit a "true-self" from a rulers (or literary gods) laws. The "moral" laws might reveal something, of course, but then one is beginning to make subjective judgments on whether a law is a "moral" law or not, or strictly an amoral governmental necessity: some laws are obviously morality-based, but some many are ambiguous.
In the end - a ruler can be a hypocrite in his governmental policies very easily. Machiavelli wrote extensively and influentially on this in his political work The Prince. "Fake morality" was one of his key items on the menu of being a successful ruler, and religion as a tool was another.

With all that said - I do find it horrible when modern peoples invoke gods to justify their violent actions. Please don't think I'm arguing FOR theologically-based terror, simply because I feel a faulty analogy is being presented.
 
Old 01-20-2012, 08:13 PM
 
Location: Sitting beside Walden Pond
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Quote:
Originally Posted by whoppers View Post
Another poster points out the example of the Midianite episode, and while this is certainly a terrible episode ... it's not a Law, or even a normative Israelite way of waging war;
A few weeks ago, I asked an Orthodox Jew if he thought the Israelites were correct when attacking the Midianites, and he said:

Quote:
Originally Posted by theflipflop View Post
In those times, when Jews had a living prophet to tell them the wishes of G-d... for sure, I'd smite the Midianites myself.
I really don't care what atrocities were committed 3200 years ago. But when a person says they would do the same thing today if they had a leader who they believe was getting his orders from a god, I take notice.
 
Old 01-20-2012, 08:18 PM
 
Location: Florida -
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Default Are you happy with assumptions ... or 'can you handle the truth?'

Quote:
Originally Posted by Visvaldis View Post
It sure seems that god has a long list of wrath for people who practice any sort of sexual relations other than a married man and woman, but god gives a free pass to those who attack others and drop bombs on civilians?
Maybe it's because most people find sex to be a pleasure? Whereas war causes severe pain and suffering.
Does god reveal his true self in this way?
Sounds like you are seeking to 'be God' in your judgments of God. He isn't hiding. Seek Him openly and honestly and you will discover what type of God He really is ... and a lot of your pre-conceived notions will fly out the window.
 
Old 01-20-2012, 08:33 PM
 
Location: Sitting beside Walden Pond
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[quote=whoppers;22638108] Moderator cut: off topic

When I want to understand how the Judeo-Christian god views War Mongers, I read how the bible describes what that god actually did, not what he said. The first sentence in Chapter 31 of the Book of Numbers says exactly what that god did. In my opinion, it wasn't very nice.

Last edited by june 7th; 01-21-2012 at 08:47 AM..
 
Old 01-21-2012, 07:10 AM
 
3,488 posts, read 3,149,618 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hiker45 View Post
Moderator cut: orphaned

When I want to understand how the Judeo-Christian god views War Mongers, I read how the bible describes what that god actually did, not what he said. The first sentence in Chapter 31 of the Book of Numbers says exactly what that god did. In my opinion, it wasn't very nice.
Hey, I agree with you on this story - it used to be one of my favorite anti-Christian arguments when dealing with the "God of Love". As time passed on, however, and on further investigation of "The Wars of the LORD" and the concept of the Divine Warrior in Canaanite and Israelite literature, it became fairly obvious that there's a great divide between us and them - about 3000 years. Additionally, picking out one story which was - as the text notes - different from the other battles, is not a good basis for deciding on a principle. It's borderline cherry-picking. It uses the same argument that fundamentalists use when taking a verse out of context and then applying it as a fundamental principle of theology.

Now - I'm not trying to apologize for it. Absolutely not; but there are some things to consider.

1- The Divine Warrior: God is a god of war. He is frequently referred to as "Yahweh of Hosts" - which basically means "Yahweh of Armies" (or the standard "LORD of Hosts/Armies"). This wasn't surprising to the ancient Israelites - it's only surprising to those of us who have long associated Jesus with God. The flip-side of that interpretation is Jesus in the Book of Revelation.
"The Day of Yahweh" is another term that is related to this concept. The Israelites believed that this "Day" would come, and all of Israel's enemies would be destroyed - or at least, chastised. Some of the prophets would think differently, and warn Israel that they weren't the only concern or care of God, and that he would just as easily destroy them on that dark Day.
Frequent mythological elements inform the "Divine Warrior" motif, with references to the idea of a god defeating the Sea, or Death. Yahweh is said to bring fire from heaven (lightning) - which represents his arrows; he has a great bow (when he promises not to destroy mankind again in a Flood, he hangs his bow upside down - pointing at HIM and not mankind anymore: this rainbow idea is frequently missed); he rides on the clouds into battle, or marches while shaking the earth. He is mighty and defeats his enemies. A frequent refrain.
This concept is not something to be ashamed of, in the Biblical literature - it's to be embraced. For after all, in a world of dog-eat-dog and frequent warfare, a warrior god was a handy divinity to have around - as is attested by virtually all the other peoples of that time, and their gods.

2- Iron Age Ideologies and Modern Ideologies
This has been said before, but it still holds: we cannoy apply modern values to ancient texts and their writers. Yes - the bible approved of slavery, patriarchism, Holy War, and all kinds of other things that strike us as questioanble today. It's true. There's no denying this. But there's only one way in which this should bother us (once we've accepted the ancient context) - and that's if we still cling to some idea that God was real, was perfect and should have known better: he should have KNOWN that later moralists would have a problem with his behavior (this applies to the authors, as well); well - this is obviously problematic. Morals and ethical issues change over time, and the positing of Universal ethics or morals only opens the possibility of a Universal "standard-setter", which we want to avoid. By insisting that God should have known better and been "our idea of ethical" we are arguing, again, from a fundamentalist perspective that assumes the existence of God OR is just using that fundamentalist perspective to sound like one.

Times have changed. If anthropology has taught us anything, it's that it is faulty to apply external values to a people or culture when assessing them. It reminds me of a book extolling the virtues of Athens, Greece, in the heyday of it's Democratic and Literary fame; the author praises them because they were exactly the former: Democratic (the author is clearly comparing it to America Today). The author then concludes that it was one of the best countries (city-state) that ever existed because of this - BUT decides to remove this honor from them because they had slavery and less-than-ideal women's rights. Again - applying modern values to ancient peoples and then reaching a conclusion about them and judging them for it? Not a good approach! Times change.

3- The Midianites
As I said, this used to be (and still is) the favorite "proof text" of critics of the Bible and it's god's tendency to violence, but is wishfully paints a picture of normative behavior that is not supported by the rest of the text. This may be dissapointing to some who are looking for ultimate "proof texts" for the zeitgeist of tearing down religion, but it simply does not work as a normative principle. Everett Fox, in his translation and commentary on the Torah: The Five Books of Moses, sums it up fairly well - so, to save space I'll just quote a better writer than I. If he happens to concur with many of the things I have been saying, well - I suppose that means I'm not totally off my rocker in my assessment of Biblical warfare and the Divine Warrior:
The cruel aspect of this war [The War against Midian], while not unusual by ancient standards, fells jarring to modern Jewish and Christian readers, who perhaps expect the Bible to be more peace-oriented. It is not, although it often "seeks peace," and there are passages (e.g., Deuteronomy 20 and 21:10-14) where an attempt is made to mute some of the harsh realities of ancient warfare.

Niditch has pointed out that this chapter presents an ideology of war slightly different from some other biblical accounts. The term "devote-to-destruction" is not used; virgin girls, who are not yet of the status of "the enemy", are spared; and war is seen as a ritually defiling activity, i.e., contact with death. In other words, the text exhibits some ambiguity about war, which must then be dealt with via purifying rituals.
(p. 810, New York: Schocken Books, 1995)
The "War Against Midian" had a special place in biblical memory, as well, for it is referred to frequently as evidence of Israel's great sin in the matter of Baal-Peor in Numbers 25. It stands out not only as evidence of Israel's propensity to sin via foreign women and their gods, but as a reminder to them to always remember it. The story was not seen as we see it today - an example of horrific bloodshed, and possible rape. Far from being normative, as well, - it was seen as exceptional. Just peruse the rest of the battles in the Bible (and there are many!) and the laws in Deuteronomy for a more balanced picture.

4- What God said, and what God did:
That's an interesting suggestion- that rather than focusing on the laws of the Mosaic Covenant we should focus on the actual events that occurred. Without going into the philosophical issues of the actions of Israel in it's path to the Promised Land amidst a sea of enemies, and the idealistic laws of the Covenant, perhaps we can see if such a thing actually happened. DID the Israelites engage in brutal wars when they escaped from Egypt? Did they cleanse the land of "Canaanites" as the Book of Joshua suggests, but the Book of Judges emphatically denies?

>> Archaeology and the Conquest: For a long time, it was assumed that the biblical account of the Conquest of Canaan was accurate and true. Biblical archaeologists dug for cities to attempt to "prove" this biblical assertion, with mixed results. Jericho was discovered and many people were excited, until it was revealed that the "walls" of Jericho had crumbled to virtual dust centuries before the Israelites were purported to have arrived there, and that the city itself had been abandoned for an almost equal amount of time: the Israelites, if they had "invaded" it, basically could have walked right in. Michael Coogan, in his The Old Testament: A Very Short Introduction, writes that
....the information unearthed at such sites is often difficult to synthesize with the biblical record, for two reasons. First, the biblical record itself is inconsistent [compare Joshua and Judges and their assessment of how "thorough" the Conquest was], and also selective and ideological, not giving a comprehensive history of any single site but mentioning it when it suits the messages that the biblical writers are communicating. The second reason is the nature of archaeological evidence itself: material culture is mute. In only a handful of cases can we make a direct and unambiguous link between a person or event from the Bible and, say, a layer of ashes or the foundation of a city's wall.
(pp. 28-29, Oxford, 2008)
Only one of the characters from the Exodus to Conquest narratives are corroborated with external data, and that is Baalam - from the Midian story in Numbers 25 (see this thread for info). Even then, the date is from the 8th Century BCE - long after the purported events concerning him in Numbers, though it seems to attest to an earlier, famous non-Israelite prophet and the traditions surrounding him. The point is - archaeological evidence appears to discount the theory of the Conquest.
Israel Finkelstein and Neil Asher Silberman, in their book The Bible Unearthed: Archeaology's New Vision of Ancient Israel and the Origin of Its Sacred Texts (The Free Press, 2001), offer a very well-done (and many times controversial) over-view of the virtual impossibility of the Conquest as recorded in either Johua or Judges, from an archeaological perspective. One of the biggest problems in attempting to see it as a reliable historical witness is the date of it's composition, or final form - it's very late, in may ways, and if it records historical data, it's questionable as to how reliable the data is. Archaeology has now brought into sharp focus the problems inherent in an acceptance of the Bible's account as accurate.

Various theories have been proposed besides the Conquest Theory - among them the "Peaceful Infiltration" model, and the "Peasant Revolt" model; rather than being an outside people who violently conquered the land, the Israelites were just Canaanites, and had eventually established a separate identity for themselves. This is a large and interesting subject, but this post is already too long!

Suffice it to say: the dubious reliability of the historical account in the Bible, and it's ideological motivations (to show a people conquering their enemies from Divine command and with Divine assistance) lead me to believe that the account in Numbers suffers the same historical fate as other battles in the Torah: it probably never happened. So, attributing violent pschological attributes to the Israelite god, Yahweh, from this (probably non-historical) account is an exercise in futility. It would be better indicative of the biblical author's mental state - but even then, as I showed in an earlier post, the results of an authors ouput do not necesarrily give an open-sesame window into their soul, and the biblical context must be taken into consideration to avoid decontextualization (see this post, above). The stories in the Torah make for fascinating reading, and have served to inform countless religious convictions - but we should bear in mind it's intended readership. It's when this intended readership (the ancient Israelites) is broadened, and people use the Promise of the Land to justify modern actions, that it becomes difficult for me and I start having severe problems with it: but these problems are not with the Biblical text, but with how moderns are using it to commit violent acts.

Last edited by june 7th; 01-21-2012 at 08:48 AM..
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