08 November 2008

HE probably didn't whisper "I am the Lord your God"

Quick table-setting: I'm an atheist, born of a lapsed Catholic father and a Jewish mother who eats bacon. So get where I stand. Now, some would argue I'm an agnostic, because if irrefutable evidence of God's existence were presented to me I would accept it, but since I *know* that's not going to happen I stick with full disbelief.

I am a Jew who does not believe in God.

Not a half-Jew, not a Catholic, and not a secular atheist. I'm a Jew. My disbelief is colored in certain ways, and if that aforementioned evidence were ever to be presented to me, it would make me believe in YHWH in all his majesty, power, petulance, and arrogance. Not some mealy-mouthed softie, afraid to meddle in the affairs of man.

So when I see something like this (offered without context or finger pointing because I'm not looking to make someone feel bad:)

...it comes from the bottom up, as God worked the change in our lives. He didn't come down in a shower of glory and light and fun pyrotechnics to capture our attention...
He came as low as he could get, fit himself into a peasant boy, basically, and worked with the most hopeless people at their level.
Uh, no. Read the *whole* bible next time you pick it up. Not just the stuff written in the four hundred years after the death of Jesus, but the part that the rest of us believe, Jews and Muslims as well as Christians.
  • He came with fire and brimstone and destroyed the cities on the plain.
  • He came with anger at man's arrogance to build a tower to heaven and destroyed it, scattering and confusing the languages of the world.
  • He came with wicked vengeance on Pharaoh, sending plague after plague after plague on his people and burying his army beneath the waters of the Red Sea.
  • He came with a flood that destroyed the world.
Look, I don't know who y'all's god is, but this is the one I was taught about. So do NOT tell me he wouldn't use pyro-GODDAMN-technics to capture attention!


mikeo75 said...

Well, you are both right really. Obviously the guy is talking about Jesus being sent to us, which was exactly what your quote is saying.

He also did the things you say, but in the old testament, before he sent Jesus to save us in a different way.

R.A. Porter said...

But why? Why would God change the way he interacted with the world? Why behave differently?

mikeo75 said...

I don't think we can understand WHY someone like God would do something, but I do believe he sent his son to give everyone a chance to be saved and have eternal life, without having to obey the Law from the old testament. It used to be that the Law was the only way to show your worth to God, but he knew we were all sinners and fall short, so Jesus was sent to die for those sins and save anyone who believed in the same thing would be saved.

That's the meat of it I think...

R.A. Porter said...

The way you say that, it sounds like He changed his mind. Like He found the old way wasn't working and needed a new way.

mikeo75 said...

Well, I'm not a theologian or anything, I don't know the entire story...but I think the old testament had prophecies to the effect that Jesus would come and be born to a virgin...long before it happened.

Obviously God knows everything...I think what he did was give us the Law and he KNEW we couldn't live by it, so he sent his son to show us how much he loves us by giving an ultimate sacrifice.

It's not that he changed his mind, it's just that he already knew it wasn't going to work and all of it was to show what a loving and caring God he is.

R.A. Porter said...

See, I think the people of Sodom and Gomorrah and well, everyone who wasn't in Noah's ark would differ with that statement. Even if your argument is that Jesus saved the righteous amongst them during his sojourn in Hell, that's a lot of people who spent a long time burning in the pits waiting for their savior.

It strikes me as a retcon of high order to say that God knew he was just testing people pre-Jesus just so He could save them later. It also makes Him look very petulant.

These are my opinions, obviously, and I don't begrudge you yours; I just don't understand how the God of the Torah can be reconciled with Jesus.

mikeo75 said...

Who are we really to judge who God is and why he does things?

Look at it from his point of view maybe...he creates this perfect world, creates man to share it with, wants to walk and have a relationship with him, and what does man do? They disobey and sin against him.

As far as I'm concerned, he could have been done with us right there.

He told people how to live and what laws to follow, and they chose to break those laws. Not a single person in Sodom was living in his will, and Noah and his family were the only ones as well when the flood happened.

R.A. Porter said...

And that makes me question His omniscience. Couldn't He foresee man failing to live up to His hopes?

mikeo75 said...

Of course he could...we'll never know why God makes the decisions he does. That would require us to be equal to him somehow.

If he foresaw it somehow, would it have been better if he hadn't followed through?

2old4this said...

Reading this back and forth, it occurs to me that God is like an American auto company.
Built a crappy product,and then his lawyers advised him to send Jesus down in order to change tactics a bit.
We have here a God with lousy engineering skills, poor management ability, but a great marketing power.

Now if God were closer to Toyota or Honda, what a wonderful word this would be!

R.A. Porter said...

So what you're suggesting, is that if Christianity, while under attack from all sides - secularism, Islam, etc. - were to accept a white knight offer of takeover from Shinto, things might finally turn around?

tjonsek said...

I probably know more about the bible than the average christian & what I've found is that most of them don't really know diddly-squat about their own religion. Most people never get farther than their Sunday School reader, never question what they are told, never bother to learn it for themselves. And that is dangerous.

I have and that is probably why I no longer believe. By the way, did you see Religulous. It was laugh out loud funny.

R.A. Porter said...

The reviews on Religulous were mixed, so I figured I'd just put it on my Netflix queue.

mikeo75 said...

Enlighten us Tjonsek on your deep knowledge of the Bible and how it makes you an unbeliever :)

I've figured since this debate has reduced God to an auto company, I'll step away now...

tjonsek said...

I do feel a bit sorry for Mikeo75, but understand where he is coming from. It is a very upsetting feeling to think others don't feel the same as you do about your god and listening to it is probably a bit scary as well.

I'm sure he won't come back to hear the answer to his question but I have read the entire bible through multiple times, studied it extensively for several years as part of a Theology College course & read it every day for almost 20 years of my life. I didn't just read it - I looked into the ancient Greek & Hebrew and tried to discover meaning myself.

To go into a dissertation as to why I have the beliefs I have would take too many hours and too many words. Needless to say, I not only found discrepancies in the words themselves, but in the people who claimed to be the proclaimer of said words. I also studied briefly the various religions around and before the dawn of christianity and what I discovered there opened my eyes.

Like R.A. Porter, I don't dispute the chance of a probability that God exists, just that the religions in this world don't seem to have a corner on him/her. And it's likely as well, God does not exist. Don't know. Would say I'm an open agnostic.

But please Mike, don't let my decision frighten you or keep you from holding your own tightly to your chest.

mikeo75 said...

Nah, I am subscribed to this thread, so of course I'm reading it :)

I'd like to hear these discrepancies...I am not as studied as you obviously, but we've been reading books in a group we every week in our house, and the historical accuracy of the new testament gospels is supposed to be undisputed.

Either way, it wont knock me off what I believe :) My faith and experiences in life have shown God to be real and true, and Jesus the way.

Proved beyond a shadow of a doubt.

tjonsek said...

That's good to hear (that I cannot dissuade you). I'm not against faith or religion, except when it is used to kill, torture or otherwise persecute people. And this is usually enabled by people not actually studying what it is they say they believe.

I respect people's faiths regardless of what it is. However, I've found most (family, anyways) can not respect mine.

As long as you feel comfortable with where you are that is all that matters. My first post was not directed at anyone in particular just my own observations. For instance, in the movie religulous, most people couldn't answer Bill Maher's questions and even though I don't believe, I kept thinking, if you just studied for yourself, you'd be able to answer that one. Now, whether or not the answer would have satisfied Maher is another question.

But this is the whole matter of faith, is it not? To put trust in something that can not be proven scientifically or seen with the eye? the subtance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen....