Five articles appear below:

1 Biblical Barbarity                                        K Straughen
2 Biblical Ethics Sublime And Superior…  Anonymous
3 Biblical Ethics – A Moral Morass              K Straughen
4 Biblical Ethics – Excellent                          Anonymous
5 Biblical Ethics – A Final Reply                  K Straughen
 



Biblical Barbarity

Kirk Straughen

(Investigator 113, 2007 March)

Introduction

Christian fundamentalists believe that the Bible was written under the guidance of an all-wise and morally perfect being. If this is indeed the case, then Scripture would reflect the nature of God, and therefore would not portray this being acting in a reprehensible manner or endorsing barbaric acts. However, as we shall see, the picture the Bible paints of God is far from flattering which, needless to say, casts considerable doubt on the fundamentalist's assumption.
 

Adultery

"Thus says the Lord, 'Behold, I will raise up evil against you out of your own house; and I will take your wives before your eyes, and give them to your neighbour, and he shall lie with your wives in the sight of this sun.'" (2 Sam. 12:1 l)

If these are the actions of a morally perfect God, then our ideas about ethics are in need of drastic revision. This is a clear example of the Biblical god breaking one of Its own commandments, for by giving the men's wives to their neighbours It has violated: "Neither shall you commit adultery" (Deut. 5:18).

It seems that God is attempting to solve a problem by promoting the commission of sin and, needless to say, any being who advocates such a policy can't be considered morally perfect because the commission of further sins can only result in more sin, the very thing that God (supposedly) is trying to stop.
 

Ethnic Cleansing

"Little by little I will drive them [Hivites, Canaanites and Hittites] out from before you, until you are increased and possess the land ... I will deliver the inhabitants of the land into your hand, and you shall drive them out before you." (Ex. 23:30-31)

By now most people would be familiar with the brutal ethnic cleansing campaign, and associated atrocities carried out by Serbian forces in Kosovo, on the orders of the dictator Slobodan Milosevic.

Milosevic's orders (like the Biblical god's) were nothing more than a brutal land grabbing exercise that appealed to people's prejudices – the belief that certain ethnic groups can be mistreated merely because they are different.

If God is good, would It, like Milosevic, cause immeasurable harm by cruelly forcing people from their land and suffer the privations associated with such expulsions? Indeed, the Biblical god's actions are a breach of:

"You shall not wrong a stranger or oppress him, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt." (Ex. 22:21)

On the one hand the Biblical god says don't oppress strangers, and on the other It persecutes and dispossesses them of their land. This is hypocrisy of the worst kind.
 

Falsehood

According to Titus 1:2, God never lies. However, this statement is contradicted by the following passages of Scripture:

"O Lord, thou hast deceived me, and I was deceived; thou art stronger than I, and thou hast prevailed." (Jer. 20:7) "Therefore God sends upon them a strong delusion, to make them believe what is false, so that all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness." (2 Thess. 2:11-12)

Would a morally perfect god deceive people, make them believe what is false, and then condemn them for believing Its lies? Why not send them a strong antidote to delusion, so that they believe the truth?
 

Genocide

"Pass through the city after him, and smite; your eye shall not spare, and you shall show no pity; slay old men outright, young men and maidens, little children and women..." (Eze. 9:5-6)

What kind of god could give such a barbaric order – show no pity, kill maidens, little children? If God really did give such an order, then It is guilty of crimes against humanity. Based on this utterance, I have no choice but to conclude that the Biblical god is more satanic than saintly. Indeed, it is a direct violation of "you shall not kill" (Deut. 5:17).
 

Human Sacrifice

And Jephthah made a vow to the Lord, and said, "If thou wilt give the Ammonites into my hand, then whoever comes forth from the doors of my house to meet me, when I return victorious from the Ammonites, shall be the Lord's, and I will offer him up for a burnt offering." (Judges 11:30-31)

Unfortunately, Jephthah fails to consider the possibility that his daughter might be the first person to come forth from his house and, as this event occurs, he sacrifices her to the Lord. If this story is true, then God's moral perfection goes up in flames.

Firstly, God does not reprimand Jephthah for attempting to purchase Its aid with a human life, a hideous proposal at best. Secondly, It does nothing to stop the sacrifice of the young girl, and therefore can be considered to have accepted this barbarous offering. As a further example of the Biblical god's cruelty, I cite the following:

"I defiled them through their very gifts in making them offer by fire all their first-born, that I might horrify them; I did it that they might know that I am the Lord." (Eze. 20:26)

It's pretty clear from this passage of Scripture, that the Lord is a psychopathic egomaniac who arranges for people to be killed, for no other reason than Its own self-glorification.
 

Injustice

In the following passage of Scripture, God is portrayed as punishing David for his sins by killing his child:

"And the Lord struck the child that Uriah's wife bore to David, and it became sick ... On the seventh day the child died." (2 Sam. 12:15-18)

How can a god be considered morally perfect when It kills an innocent child as a punishment for someone else's sins? If God really did commit this monstrous act, then I can only conclude that It has a perverted sense of justice. Indeed, it is a direct violation of:

"The fathers shall not be put to death for the children, nor shall the children be put to death for the fathers; every man shall be put to death for his own sin." (Deut. 24:16)

As we can see, the Biblical god is not only a hypocrite, but a murderer of children as well.
 

Rape

"If a man meets a virgin who is not betrothed, and seizes her and lies with her, and they are found, then the man who lay with her shall give to the father of the young woman fifty shekels of silver, and she shall be his wife, because he has violated her; he may not put her away all his days." (Deut. 22:28-29)

This is another example of Biblical injustice. Firstly, the payment of fifty shekels of silver should have been made to the woman rather than her father, as she is the victim. Secondly, she must become the rapist's wife, hardly the basis for a happy marriage – this criminal has demonstrated a capacity for violence, and any woman forced to marry him is in very real danger of being subjected to repeated sexual assaults. Not only is the woman a victim of the rapist, she is also a victim of unjust Biblical laws. No decent god would endorse this barbarous statute.
 

Conclusion

It is impossible for many people to believe that the Bible reflects the nature of a morally perfect being when Scripture portrays God causing adultery, killing children, causing people to believe in falsehoods, ordering the commission of atrocities, accepting human sacrifices, and promulgating unjust laws.

If those passages of Scripture that portray God behaving no better than an evil man were recorded in a non-Christian holy book, most fundamentalists would not hesitate to condemn them. Indeed, some might even go so far as to attribute them to Satan. However, because they are found in the Bible, the same people would probably defend the Biblical god's actions with elaborate rationalisations and, in my opinion, this shows that there is no limit to human folly, especially where religion is concerned.
 

Bibliography

Holy Bible (Revised Standard Version)
 



BIBLICAL ETHICS

SUBLIME and SUPERIOR but MISREPRESENTED

Anonymous

(Investigator114, 2007 May)
   

HUMAN SACRIFICE CONDEMNED

The Bible says: "The LORD is just in all his ways, and kind in all his doings." (Psalm 145:17) Mr Straughen (#113), however, claims the Bible sanctions "barbarities" – such as human sacrifice.

Carthaginians, Druids, Aztecs, Canaanites, etc. practiced human sacrifice and killed millions – but the Bible condemns it:

And they go on building the high place of Topheth…to burn their sons and their daughters in the fire–which I did not command, nor did it come into my mind. (Jeremiah 7:31)
…every abhorrent thing that the LORD hates they [Canaanites] have done for their gods. They would even burn their sons and their daughters in the fire to their gods. (Deuteronomy 12:31; Psalm 106:34-38)

But didn't Jephthah, a "hero of faith", give his daughter as a "burnt offering" to thank God for a military victory? (Judges 11:30-31)

Young's Analytical Concordance says: "Burnt offerings … were mere voluntary offerings (unlike sin offerings and trespass offerings, which were compulsory), which, however, were to be presented in a uniform systematic manner, as laid down in Lev. i – iii…"

The burnt offering had to be a male bull, sheep, or goat, or a bird – never a person. (Leviticus 1)

Jephthah's vow was:

If you will give the Ammonites into my hand, then whoever comes out of the doors of my house to meet me, when I return victorious from the Ammonites, shall be the LORD's, to be offered up by me as a burnt offering.

Compare the bold print with what Hannah said when she dedicated her son Samuel to serve at Israel's religious centre:

Hannah: "I will set him before you … until the day of his death." (I Samuel 1:11)

The phrase "as a burnt offering" corresponds to "until the day of his death". It's Jephthah's figure of speech to show that his offer is voluntary and permanent. The word "as" here means "similar to".

The daughter, like Samuel, became a celibate worker at Israel's centre of worship. She "bewailed her virginity" (11:37) because she would never have children. It wasn't totally bad, however, since she would have the security and status of working with Israel's priests. Jephthah's vow was serious for him too – he would get no bride price and never have grandchildren.

Atheistic critics accuse Jephthah of "child abuse". However, in Jephthah's time parents decided if and whom their daughters will marry – and one quarter of the world's people still practice this principle.

Let's not forget that atheistic governments "sacrificed" 100 million people in the 20th century, not metaphorically like Jephthah but actually killed them!
 

CRIMINALS SHOULD PAY

If a man meets a virgin who is not betrothed, and seizes her and lies with her, and they are found, then the man who lay with her shall give to the father of the young woman fifty shekels of silver, and she shall be his wife; he may not put her away all his days. (Deuteronomy 22:28-29)   Was this "injustice"? No. It followed the principle that criminals should pay for their crimes and not some else. (Ezekiel 18:19-20)

In ancient Israel marriages were arranged by family heads. Unmarried daughters had to remain virgins. If they failed no man would want them, and marriage and motherhood – the roles that gave women status – were virtually barred. A raped woman's choices might come down to starvation or prostitution.

The rapist marrying his victim:

    1. Gave the woman security which would be monitored by her relatives;
    2. Allowed her to fulfil her role and saved her from ostracism.
Without centralized government there was no fairer way.

The 50 shekels the rapist paid the father replaced the bride price, which the father lost due to the woman's vanished marriage prospects. In Old Testament times fathers often invested this money for the daughter by buying a field, or retained it as a "trust fund for her use in time of trouble". (Madeleine, S. & Miller, J.L.1979 Encyclopedia of Bible Life, p. 99)

The Law of Moses expired when Jesus came. (Ephesians 2:11-16) However, the principles underlying it are still relevant. Today the principle that the evil-doer should pay the costs of his crime, and allowing for our very different sort of society, would in the case of a rapist mean making him pay the financial cost of restoring his victim medically, psychologically and career-wise.

There are societies today where the bride price is still paid. It acknowledges the cost of raising the woman from childhood and the value of her work. Many Western governments also recognize, by payment, the cost of raising children and their future value to the economy. They pay regular benefits to parents, and sometimes large cash sums for each child born.
 

GOD DOES WHAT?

The Bible teaches that God is behind everything – life and death, human actions, the natural world, the rise and fall of nations:

About ten days later the LORD struck Nabal, and he died. (I Samuel 25:38)

The young lions…seek their food from God. (Psalm 104:21)

I [God] will sell your sons and your daughters into the hand of the people of Judah, and they will sell them to the Sabeans… (Joel 3:8)

I will heal them and reveal to them abundance of prosperity and security. (Jeremiah 33:6)

  The Bible has hundreds of statements declaring what God has done, is doing, or will do including actions we recognize as "evil":

  I make weal [prosperity] and create woe. (Isaiah 45:7) Did not our God bring all this disaster on us? (Nehemiah 13:18)

The Bible, however, also declares God's "steadfast love" (Psalm 145:8-9) and says "God cannot be tempted by evil." (James 1:13)

So God "creates woe" but has steadfast love – is this inconsistent?

Evil, woe and suffering among humans is, according to the Bible, due to:

    1. A supernatural agent known as the "Devil" and "Satan";
    2. Human folly, ignorance and self deception.
In Job 1-2 Satan is presented as able to create destructive storms, send nations on plunder missions, and inflict sickness. God gives Satan permission to act but sets limits on how much evil he may do. (Job 1:9-12; 2:6)

However, if God created an environment where good and evil can happen, and if humans need God's guidance to avoid evil but this guidance humans reject and God therefore withholds – in that sense "God brings evil".

Consider an analogy:

A local government opens a national park to the public and erects a safety fence below a cliff and a sign "Danger–Falling Rocks". Janet gives the tour-guide the slip, ignores the sign and climbs the fence. At the cliff-top Janet's ex boyfriend deliberately dislodges a rock and splatters her brains. Who's to blame?

The government, Janet, the boyfriend and tour-guide contributed to her death in different ways. When "God" does evil it's comparable, in this analogy to what the government did (it opened the park) and to what the tour-guide did (he let Janet disobey the sign). The main blame, however, goes to the boyfriend.

We're dealing with different sorts of responsibility.

Bible verses that attribute evil to God such as (to use Straughen's words) "punishing David for his sins by killing his child" should therefore be understood as God permitting the stated evil. It's often put in the form of "I will…" to remind readers that God remains in control and decides what to allow/permit/let happen.

Once we understand this division of responsibility the phrase "I will…" translates to "I will permit…" or "I will not prevent…"
 

TRUTH

Straughen claims that "God never lies" (Titus 1:2) contradicts:

For this reason God sends upon them a powerful delusion, leading them to believe what is false… (II Thessalonians 2:11)

The PREVIOUS verse, however, tells about "the lawless one" who will rule the nations before the end of the world:

The coming of the lawless one is apparent in the working of Satan who uses all power, signs, lying wonders, and every kind of wicked deception for those who are perishing, because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. (II Thessalonians 2:9-10)

Note that "wicked deception" is blamed on "the working of Satan". What's going on? One verse blames God, another blames Satan.

In line with my previous analysis the Bible here teaches that God accepts part of the responsibility. "God sends upon them…" means "God permits upon them…"
 

ADULTERY

Adam and Eve were husband and "wife" (Genesis 2:25) and the New Testament says, "God will judge fornicators and adulterers."

What's so bad about "fornication"? For starters about 250 million deaths in the 20th century from sexually transmitted diseases. (Investigator 48)

II Samuel 12:11, however, says:

Thus says the Lord, 'Behold I will raise up trouble against you [King David] from within your own house; and I will take your wives before your eyes, and give them to your neighbour, and he shall lie with your wives…

In fulfilment of this, King David's son Absalom organized a revolt and made himself king. To publicly demonstrate his kingship Absalom had sex with David's wives in a tent on the roof. (II Samuel 16:20-23) His conduct flouted Deuteronomy 5:21 – "Neither shall you covet your neighbor's wife."

Based on my previous analysis we can rephrase II Samuel 12:11:

Thus says the Lord, 'Behold I will permit [or not prevent] trouble against you from within your own house; and I will let your wives be taken before your eyes, and given to your neighbour, and he shall lie with your wives…
 

WORLDWIDE PEACE

The Bible starts with humans in Paradise, portrays war as a human invention, and tells about world peace eventually being restored:

He [God] shall judge between the nations, and…they shall beat their swords into ploughshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more. (Isaiah 2:4)

Yet the Bible also has God commanding the slaughter of children:

Pass through the city after him, and kill; your eye shall not spare, and you shall not show pity; cut down old men, young men and young women, little children and women, but touch no one who has the mark. (Ezekiel 9:5-6)

Ezekiel 9 is a vision the prophet Ezekiel had near 600 BC. (8:1) In the vision one man marked all innocent Jews in Jerusalem who "weep and sigh because of the sins they see around them". After that another six men slaughtered all the unmarked or guilty ones.

The guilty Jews had abandoned Jewish law, were worshipping idols (8:14), and filled the land with "bloody crimes". (7:23)

The vision was fulfilled when Babylon, the superpower of that time, attacked Jerusalem. The Babylonians were not commanded by God. Their king, Nebuchadnezzar, was following his own agenda of empire-building.

The interpretation again is that God permitted the slaughter because the Jews had deserted Him and lost His protection. Presenting God as commanding the slaughter is a literary device to express the certainty of Jerusalem's fate and that it was just:

According to their way I will deal with them; and according to their own judgments I will judge them. And they shall know that I am the LORD. (Ezekiel 7:27)
 

CANAANITES

We saw from Isaiah 2 that the Bible advocates world peace. How then do we understand the extermination of the Canaanites? We'll study this another time. We'll see that that ancient conflict:

1 Followed ethical principles, which if generally heeded would have prevented all future massacres, genocides and invasions.

2 Followed, with some merciful amendments, the rules of war (or lack thereof) for those times.

3 Saved hundreds of millions of future lives, and brought "blessing" to "all the nations of the earth".

 

CONCLUSION

Anyone who claims the Bible sanctions "barbarities" ignores the larger context and is "hasty in his words". (Proverbs 29:20)

 



Biblical Ethics - A Moral Morass

Kirk Straughen

(Investigator 115, 2007 July)


Introduction

I have read Anonymous' related topic on page 46 of No. 114, and am unable to agree with him for reasons I shall now outline.
 

Human Sacrifice

Human sacrifice was practiced in ancient Middle Eastern cultures. Passages of Scripture do condemn it. However, this does not necessarily mean that it was eliminated from Israelite culture entirely.

Judges 11:30-31 is clearly about human sacrifice to God. The phrase "burnt offering" in this passage refers of course to the sacrifice – Jephthah's daughter, a fact accepted by rabbinical scholars:

"The sages ask us to believe that Jephthah's daughter is not merely resigned to her fate but positively eager to repose herself on the alter and expose her neck to her father's blade. According to the rabbinical writings, she is delighted at the opportunity to give her life in exchange for the victory of Israel against the pagan invaders." (Page 210 in Kirsch, Jonathan: The Harlot by the Side of the Road. Forbidden Tales of the Bible, Rider, UK, 1997.)

For further information the interested reader is also referred to the following website:

www.womeninthebible.net/BIBLE-1.9C.htm www.usbible.com/Sacrifice/jephthah.htm

Some apologists argue that God accepted this sacrifice to punish Jephthah for making the barbaric proposal. In my opinion, this does not absolve Yahweh. For example, suppose I was an anthropologist studying a primitive tribe, and that this tribe decided to sacrifice a maiden in my honour because of some assistance I had given them.

Now, let us further suppose that, after failing to dissuade them from their intention, I decide to let the ceremony proceed based on the principle that if the natives are so foolish as to practice human sacrifice, then I will let them kill the girl as a 'punishment' for their own folly.

Now, how many of my readers accept this specious reasoning as absolving me, let alone God?
 

Rape

How many of Investigator's female readers would be happy to marry the man who raped them? In ancient Israel a rape victim may well have been ostracised, but is having to marry her rapist really a sensible and humane solution?

Far better if the Bible clearly taught it was not the woman's fault, that ostracism was unjustified, and she was worthy of respect regardless of what happened to her.

Child Murder

Anonymous attempts to exonerate God by saying he permits evil, rather than directly engaging in evil acts, such as killing children or ordering them to be killed. However, there is nothing in those passages of Scripture I have quoted relating to the killing of children that justifies this interpretation. God clearly and actively is either doing or ordering the killing.

If the authors of Scripture meant something other than what is plainly indicated, then they should have stated what they meant in certain and unambiguous terms. It is not impossible for this to be done.
 

Conclusion

Firstly, when it comes to ethics, the Bible is a mixed bag – in it is good, but also evil. Anonymous quotes passages of Scripture that have a positive message. However, it's a bit like a lawyer giving a glowing testimonial of his client while ignoring the fact he has murdered three people with an axe.

Secondly, Anonymous has attempted to extricate Scripture from its moral morass by twisting the plain meaning of words and has, as far as I can see, offered no convincing justification for doing so.

Thirdly, if the Bible really was the word of an omnipotent, omniscient and morally perfect being, then these convoluted apologetics would be completely unnecessary.




BIBLICAL ETHICS EXCELLENT

Anonymous

(Investigator 116, 2007 September)
   

A FEW BUTTONS MISSING

In his book A Few Buttons Missing (1951) psychiatrist James Tucker Fisher wrote:
 

I dreamed of writing a handbook that would be simple, practical, easy to understand and easy to follow. It would tell people how to live - what thoughts and attitudes and philosophies to cultivate and what pitfalls to avoid, in seeking mental health. I attended every symposium...and took notes on the wise words of teachers and my colleagues who were leaders in the field. And then quite by accident, I discovered that such a work had already been completed.

What work did Dr. Fisher have in mind?
 

WEIZSAECKER and GANDHI

Carl F. von Weizsaecker (1912-2007) worked on Hitler's atomic bomb project. After WWII he became professor of physics and of philosophy. His books The Responsibility of Science in the Nuclear Age, Paths in Danger, The Consequences and Prevention of War, and The Threatened Peace exerted lasting influence. Weizsaecker was Germany's most prominent peace researcher and director of the Max Planck Institute. To confront problems of war and over-exploitation of nature he called on Christians for a "council of justice, peace and the conservation of creation" based on principles from Jesus' Sermon on the Mount:

What we need, Weizsaecker insists, are answers, and Christians can find a clear message in the Sermon on the Mount. (Schirmacher 1987)

Mahatma Gandhi (1869-1948) was famous for his non-violent struggle for India's independence. After the Round Table Conference (1931-1932) Gandhi said to Lord Irwin, Viceroy to India:

"When your country and mine shall get together on the teachings laid down by Christ in this Sermon on the Mount, we shall have solved the problems not only of our countries but those of the whole world." (Stuber & Clark 1949)

In his Sermon on the Mount Jesus gave great principles to live by and also endorsed other parts of the Bible. And the famous British statesman W. E. Gladstone (1809-1898) called the Bible, "the greatest and best gift ever given to mankind." (Knight 1956)

Given such positive comment would we expect the Bible to condone human sacrifice? Or would such a claim indicate the accuser has "A few buttons missing"?
 

JEPHTHAH

K. Straughen (Investigator 113) claimed the Bible teaches that Jephthah, a judge near 1200 BC, sacrificed his daughter literally as "a burnt offering".

Straughen's claim is wrong and was answered in #114. Jephthah's phrase "as a burnt offering" is a figure of speech and refers to perpetual virginity and religious duties.

Straughen responded by citing others with the same misunderstanding as himself. Repeating an error, however, does not make it correct.

Furthermore, if one part of the Bible is misunderstood, other parts may clear things up. In Hebrews (11:32) Jephthah's faith is praised, and that's the answer. If Jephthah flouted the Law of Moses, which condemned human sacrifice, by literally sacrificing his daughter, he would not deserve praise. Even the Romans, despite their blood-soaked arenas considered human sacrifice barbaric!

What critics call "contradictions" and "barbarities" in the Bible can better be called "logical puzzles". They are statements that seem incompatible but which further analysis reveal consistent. Some people read them and see "barbarity" or "contradiction". Others read them and get the right answer. The Jephthah story, and its seeming disagreement with Moses' Law, is like that.

With complex logic there can't always be "perfect clarity". But perfect clarity is not always the intention:

…you [God] have hidden these things from the wise and the intelligent and have revealed them to babes. (Matthew 11:25)

RAPE

Straughen also repeated his criticism about Israeli women who were raped (when the Law of Moses was in force) having to marry the rapist. As explained (in #114) the idea was compensation. A raped woman in those times had little prospect of marriage, and faced childlessness and possibly starvation or prostitution.

However, the Law included clauses that allowed for negotiation. If the raped woman felt so revolted by the rapist that she preferred singleness and childlessness she might appeal to the command, "You must love your neighbour as yourself." Then, if her father consented, some other compensation might be agreed on.

There's also the probability that a rapist having to support his victim for the rest of her life effectively deterred rape!
 

NOT A MIXED BAG

Are biblical ethics, as Straughen claims, a "mixed bag"?

Suppose a new immigrant to Australia wants to know the rules he needs to follow in Australia. His instructor, however, gives him:

The immigrant would get a skewed notion of life in Australia. This skewed approach is what critics take with Bible ethics. They dig out whatever is not meant to be literally followed and claim "This is what the Bible teaches."

Used soberly the Bible helped destroy slavery, introduce modern science, outlaw widow burning and infanticide (#115), and inspired numerous laws that now enhance quality of life worldwide. These are matters of history.

Critics need to allow for their own shortcomings such as:

The heart is devious above all else; it is perverse – who can understand it? (Jeremiah 17:9)

There are some things in them [Paul's letters] hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other scriptures. (II Peter 3:16)

   
JAMES TUCKER FISHER

Dr. Fisher's life was reviewed in Time (1951) as The Man Who Knew Freud. He was born in 1864, herded cattle, turned to real estate, then studied at Harvard, and practiced psychiatry almost 50 years.

Did you guess what work Dr. Fisher had in mind in my opening quote? Here he tells us:

If you were to take the sum total of all the authoritative articles ever written by the most qualified of psychologists and psychiatrists on the subject of mental hygiene – and if you were to combine them and refine them and cleave out the excess verbiage, if you were to take the whole of the meat and none of the parsley, and if you were to have these unadulterated bits of pure scientific knowledge concisely expressed by the most capable of living poets, you would have an awkward and incomplete summation of the Sermon on the Mount.


References:

Fisher, J. T. and Hawley, L. S. 1951 A Few Buttons Missing: The Case Book of a Psychiatrist.
Knight, W. B. 1956 Knight's Master Book of New Illustrations.
Schirmacher, W. Allgemeine Zeitung, Mainz, 27 June 1987.
Stuber, S. I. & Clark, T. C. (Eds.) 1949 Treasury of the Christian Faith.
www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,890111,00.html

 
 



Biblical Ethics - A Final Reply

Kirk Straughen

(Investigator 117, 2007 November)


I have read Anonymous Biblical Ethics Excellent (Investigator 116) and am unable to agree with him.

Before I begin my analysis of his arguments I would like to make it clear that I do not, nor have I ever intended to give the impression that the Bible is wholly immoral – that would be an extreme and untenable position to adopt. However, what I do maintain is that parts of Scripture are morally reprehensible.

Having made my position as clear as I can, I shall now examine Anonymous' defence of the Bible, which begins with the scrutiny of his assertion that Scripture should be viewed as a kind of logical puzzle that has to be read in a certain way to "get the right Answer" (page 25).

I do not mean to offend, but to me this sounds like a case of special pleading – the old "God works in mysterious ways" argument. The Bible is alleged to be The Word of God – a document authored (through human hands) by an omniscient being, the creator of the Universe, an entity whose intellect is so vast that it is beyond human comprehension.

If this is so then the book should be easily understood, with little, if any, confusion concerning the meaning of its contents. Yet, when I examine Anonymous explanations that he alleges satisfactorily resolve Scriptural contradictions, I find them simply too convoluted to be plausible.

Further on in his essay, Anonymous suggests that critics "dig out whatever is not meant to be literally followed and claim this what the Bible teaches" (page 26).

In my own defence I simply point out that what I have done is to merely quote the Bible and draw what I think are logical conclusions from what is written therein. With regard to Jephthah's daughter – I can find nothing in the passages of quoted by myself and Anonymous that suggest the account be interpreted in a non-literal manner.

With regard to rape – I find nothing in the passage of Scripture I quoted (or that of Anonymous) that allows for negotiation, ongoing compensation payments to the victim, or that fines are an effective deterrent to the crime.

It seems to me that the criterion apologists use for determining if a passage of Scripture is to be interpreted literally or figuratively, is largely one of convenience – the choice is based on whatever will extract them from a difficulty.

When Anonymous comments that I use quotes to support my conclusions and that "repeating an error, however, does not make it correct" (page 25) I respectfully suggest that similar conclusions can be reached concerning his own predilections.

Many Bible Debates – On this website:

http://users.adam.com.au/bstett/

http://ed5015.tripod.com/