Hard Sayings Of The Old Testament

by Jimmy Akin

in Bible

A reader writes:

I have a very important question about God and right now my faith is at stake.  I doubt you will be able to provide a satisfying answer but please try your best.

In the Exodus and several other instances God ordered the Israelites to perform what I think we can all agree is genocide.  Samuel told Solomon to go forth and kill and kill every man, woman, child and beast.  Making no distinction between age, sex or whether or not they were innocent. 

These were real people living real lives.  They were not wicked evil doers in some cases, they were just in a land that was supposedly promised.  The people God ordered executed had been living there for generations and the Israelites came and murdered them for their land. 

I now know two men who will be dead soon from cancer.  A girl that was in my kindergarten class was hit and killed by a bus in first grade.  I have experienced death first hand and will soon do so again.  Nobody deserves to die and what God did was a despicable, disgusting and unjustifiable crime. 

God said every man, woman, and child.  Put yourself in the shoes of the murdered.   Maybe you have a son/daughter, perhaps a nephew or a co-worker has a child.  Imagine any child that you regularly come in contact with and then imagine some terrorist coming in and killing him/her.  "They say, oh our God ordered it.  You see, even though you own this land it really belongs to us because our God told us it was ours so we have to kill you."  You don’t believe in their God but that doesn’t matter to them.  You are just in their way and you happened to worship a different God, therefore you deserve to die.

How could a God that supposedly loves us perform genocide on us at the same time?

I am sorry to hear that your faith is currently being challenged, and will certainly pray for you. I encourage my readers to do likewise.

It is understandable that, if anything were to challenge your faith, this kind of thing would. Not only are the passages in the Old Testament difficult to understand, but the reality of suffering and death in our lives is the hardest thing for many people to endure. I have had to endure it myself, and I sympathize entirely with your situation.

Let me do what I can to see about answering your questions. I hope you’ll bear with me as I lay some principles that will become relevant later in the discussion. I want to give you as thorough an answer as I can.

First, regarding the commands to exterminate particular populations, these are, indeed, horriffic from a modern-day point of view. Such commands are incompatible with the Christian age, and anyone today who would claim to have received such commands–such as the terrorists you mention–is wrong. God does not work that way today.

The question is whether he ever worked that way, and the answer to this question must be either yes or no. We will look at both possibilities.

Suppose that the answer to the question is yes: God did at one time
command the extermination of whole groups of people. How could we
possibly make sense of this?

It would seem that the point of departure for the discussion would be this: All life is a gift from God.

Because all life is a gift from God, it is up to God to determine
how much of that gift we receive. Whether he gives us a day or a
century, it is his gift to give, and because it is a gift, it is not
something we are owed. We therefore cannot claim that God is being
unfair if he gives us one amount of this gift rather than another.

In fact, he gives all of us an infinite amount of this gift because,
once we are created, we will endure forever. After the resurrection, we
will all–every one of us–have an infinite amount of physical life
ahead of us. What we are discussing, therefore, is whether some of us
receive an infinite amount of physical life plus a varying amount of
finite physical life as well.

In some cases, such as a person who dies one day after conception,
the person receives an infinite amount of physical life plus one day.
In other cases, as with a person who lives for a century, the
individual receives an infinite amount of physical life plus a hundred
years.

From a mathematical point of view, these two gifts are
indistinguishable. Infinity + 1 and infinity + 36,524 (the number of
days in a century) are the same. In both cases, a person is given an
unlimited (infinite) amount of life.

Further, we are also given non-physical life even in the space
between death and resurrection, and that is a gift as well, even if we
are not in our bodies at the time.

The question, it seems, is thus not how much life we receive,
because (a) it is all a gift from God that we do not have a claim to
and (b) it is always an unlimited gift, even if there is a temporary
period in which we don’t have the use of our bodies.

Instead, it seems that the question is whether we suffer unjustly in this time.

Here is where the problem of evil comes in, because it is clear that
God does allow suffering to exist in the world, including for the
innocent. Why he does so is something that we have some theories about
(e.g., that he allows it in part in order to allow a certain kind of
free will to exist in the world), but much of it remains a mystery.

But the fact that God allows unjust suffering does not strike me as meaning that God himself is unjust. It would
mean that he is unjust if he was inflicting it for its own sake. That
would be cruel on his part and thus unjust. But it seems to me that God
can avoid the charge that he himself is unjust if two things occur.

The first is if he is allowing the unjust suffering for a good
cause. We have already mentioned one reason he is thought to allow
this–so that he can allow us to have a certain kind of free will–but
this explanation may not explain everything–partly because we can’t
always be sure of what the good reason is that God is allowing
suffering and partly because we ourselves may not be the beneficiary of
that good reason.

Suppose, for example, that God allowed this to happen: He allows me
to be conceived in my mother and then, one day after conception, he
allows me to die. I never have the ability to exercise free will in
this life, and so I am not the beneficiary of the reason (or at least
the best-known reason) for which God is thought to allow suffering.

That much actually happens in the real world. Some people do die a day after conception. But what happens next?

If it were the case that God allowed me to simply be damned at this
point and suffer in eternity as well as in this life then it would
indeed be possible to charge God with injustice. I was an innocent, I
never got to exercise free will and thus could not choose for or
against God, and to automatically be sentenced to eternal suffering
when I myself was innocent would be to condemn an innocent person to
hell. (I know Calvinists have ways of trying to argue around this, but
I don’t think that they are successful). God would be unjust. Nobody
should inherit an eternal and thus infinite amount of suffering if he
didn’t choose this.

The Church shares this intuition and concludes, therefore, that this is something God does not do. Nobody will suffer in eternity unless they themselves have chosen it.

What are the alternatives, then?

It would seem that there are two:

1) God miraculously allows such a dying infant to choose whether to
embrace God’s offer of salvation or to reject it. In this case the
child would be in the same state as anybody else. If they end up
suffering in eternity, it is because they chose it themselves and thus
are not innocent. If they end up in eternal beatitude, it is because
they chose it. In neither case would God be unjust toward them, for he
enabled them to freely choose what destiny to embrace.

2) God does not miraculously allow the dying infant to exercise free
will and instead automatically grants the child a positive destiny in
the afterlife. This could be either a positive natural destiny (one
which does not include the full glory of heaven but which is
nonetheless positive, as the speculative state of limbo is commonly
understood) or it could be a positive supernatural destiny (one that
does include the full glory of heaven, as in recent speculations about
the fate of children dying without baptism). Once again, either way you
go, God is not unjust toward the dying infant because his destiny is
positive.

It seems, then, that God is not ultimately unjust as long as he
makes sure that the innocent do not get a raw deal from the eternal
perspective. As long as the innocent person ends up with a positive
eternal destiny then God has not been unjust to that person. Further,
since all eternal destinies are infinite in duration, a positive
eternal destiny means an infinitely positive one. Over the course of
eternity, those with such destinies will receive an infinite amount of
natural and/or supernatural happiness.

This means, as St. Paul says, that "the sufferings of this present
time are not worth comparing with the glory that is  to be revealed to
us" (Romans 8:18).

All of our sufferings in the present are finite and so cannot compare to the infinite beatitude that awaits us.

With these principles in mind, we are able to return to the
situation of the populations that God commanded the Israelites to wipe
out. What could one make of their situation?

First, in any population of human beings, some of them will not be
innocents. Some will be people who genuinely do deserve death (mass
murderers, to take an obvious example). Therefore, in the original
population of Canaan (i.e., the holy land), some of the Canaanites were not innocents.

I am sure that the reader recognizes this, as his question focuses on the suffering of the innocent
Canaanites, and we will discuss these in a moment, but it is proper to
note that some Canaanites had committed sins that were worthy of death.
Probably more than we realize, given the brutal nature of their
cultures.

Further, the Canaanites did have a relationship with God. It
isn’t the case that El (the Hebrew equivalent of "God") was a foreign
deity that they had never heard of. There are passages in Scripture
that indicate that the Canaanites were already familiar with El and
worshipped him. This is the case, for example, with Melchizedek, the
king of Jerusalem who was a priest of El, or Balaam at the time of the
Exodus, who was a prophet of El.

Archaeology confirms this. We have dug up religious texts written by
the Canaanites, and they confirm that the Canaanites did indeed worship
El. The problem is that they didn’t recognize him as the one true God.
They recognized him as the high god, the chief god of their pantheon,
but they also worshipped other gods and goddesses, such as Ba’al and
Yam and Ashera and Anat. Since El was the original, true God, this
suggests that they had departed from the true faith at some point and
become idolaters.

This may shed light on what God told Abraham in Genesis 15:16, which
was that he would not give Abraham and his descendants the promised
land immediately, because "the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet
complete."

In other words, the Canaanite culture had not yet become so
thoroughly corrupt (through idolatry or other sins) that God felt a
clean start was necessary. He knew that this time would come–since
from his perspective outside of time he could see that the
Canaanites would become that corrupt–but he was unwilling to have
their culture be destroyed before it reached a certain level of
corruption.

That level of corruption, incidentally, is one the Israelites
themselves brushed up against. Not only did God repeatedly discipline
them in order to wean them away from idolatry (an effort that was
eventually successful, following the Babylonian Exile), but even at the
time of the Exodus itself their corruption reached a point that
Scripture says God was willing to let them all die and start over with
Moses.

How literally this language is to be understood is open to question, but the point that it makes is that the Israelites were not
better or morally superior to the Canaanites. What was different about
their situation was that God was determined to fulfill his promise to
bless the world through Abraham by creating a body of people who would
be vessels capable of conveying his truth to the world and so bringing
his light to all mankind.

God therefore allowed calamities to fall upon those who were
unwilling to cooperate with his grace and become vessels of light and
truth. This happened with the Canaanites. It happened with the Jewish
people in all their trials (including most notably the Babylonian
Exile). And it has happened to Christians as well. The reason that the
Christian community is fragmented and has suffered many setbacks is
that many of us have not been willing to cooperate with God’s grace and
have turned our back on God’s truth.

And yet, through the drama of the last almost forty centuries
(taking us back to the time of Abraham), God has progressively advanced
his program to the point that now fully half of mankind
(counting Jews, Christians, and Muslims) worships the Creator of the
World and the God of Abraham, even if they do not all understand him
perfectly. By the standards of the Old Testament, when the world was
swallowed in pagan darkness, we are living in an age in which the
ancient prophecy has been fulfilled and "the knowledge of the Lord
covers the earth like the waters covers the seas."

This has been with many setbacks and failures, and with the guilty
among Canaanites, Jews, Christians, and others suffering the
consequences of their actions, but through the sweep of history God has
still accomplished his promises of old.

And this sheds light, even if it does not address in particular the
question of the innocent who have suffered, on the overall purpose that
God is pursuing.

Now let us address the question of the innocent.

It is quite true that not all people in the Canaanite culture were
guilty, just as it is true that not all Jews at the time of the
Babylonian Exile were guilty and that not all Christians who have
suffered are guilty. So what of them?

Let’s look back at God’s plan of the ages for a moment. If we begin
with the premise that God wished to create for himself a distinct
people that could carry the knowledge of him to the world then it is
logical for him to give this people a homeland in which he could purify
them from the corrupting influences of the cultures around them. This
is what the Old Testament says he was doing with Israel, and it is what
history suggests has been accomplished, as illustrated by the vast
numbers of humans who now honor the Creator and the God of Abraham.

But if we put ourselves back in time and culture by thirty two or
more centuries, taking us to the time of the Exodus, what would have
been involved in giving the people of God a homeland in which he could
purify them?

It would seem–since there were already humans everywhere
(habitable) on earth–that he would need to remove whoever was already
living in the homeland that he gave them. Since these people would not
want to move, war would result.

War at this time also had a different character than it does now. In
the ancient world, when people were organized in a tribal fashion,
people’s primary loyalty was to their tribe. It was the tribes and the
protection that they gave to their members that allowed society to
function. Consequently, when people from one tribe went after those of
another, it often meant total war between the two tribes. If a person
in one tribe killed a person of another tribe, the tribe of the killer
had to be taken on in a general way. It was usually not possible to
extract just the guilty party for judgment.

This tribal reality shaped the mentality of the people of the day
such that they thought in terms of total tribe-on-tribe conflict. They
did not have the experience that we do of relying on a strong, central
government to carefully investigate matters and punish only those who
were personally guilty. For them, since the whole tribe could be
counted on to come to the defense of the guilty, the whole tribe was
complicit in the offenses of the guilty and it was legitimate to make
war on them all.

This is one of the reasons that we today have so much trouble in
parts of the world where society is still organized along tribal lines.

And it is one of the reasons why God had so much trouble dealing with the whole of the world thirty or more centuries ago.

In other words: In working with the early Israelites, God was dealing with a blunt instrument.
He wasn’t working with a people who had already been broken of their
tribal mentality and who were used to distinguishing those who were
personally guilty from those who were fellow-members of the guilty
party’s tribe.

This may shed light on why God allowed a total tribe-on-tribe
warfare situation to result, because this was what the people of the
day understood. The development and purification of their ideas about
collective versus individual guilt and innocence had not yet taken
place.

The fact that God needed to shield the Israelites from idolatry adds
a further consideration here. If God allowed remnants of the Canaanite
culture to survive then this would tempt the Israelites–even more than
they were already tempted–to embrace polytheism and ruin their ability
to convey the truth of God to the world.

All of this deals with what God could have done if he had a way of making sure that the innocent were ultimately taken care of. It sketches a possible
reason for why God commanded what he did in the Old Testament, but this
theory is no good if it still results in the innocent–or even one innocent person–receiving a raw deal. If even one person gets the short end of the stick with God then God is acting unjustly.

So what about it? Given his commands in the Exodus, could God make
sure that all of the innocent Canaanites who suffered would come out on
the plus side?

Yes.

As we noted, all life is a gift from God, and it is his choice how
much of it we get. Further, he gives us all an infinite amount of life,
and no one will suffer in eternity without choosing this.

Suppose that there was a Canaanite child who was four years
old–young enough to still be an innocent, but old enough to experience
the horror of watching her civilization killed around her before being
killed herself.

From a purely human perspective, that is HORRENDOUS. My heart is SICKENED at the thought of what such a child would go through.

But is God–who is infinitely powerful–INCAPABLE of making it up to this child?

No, he is not incapable of making up to her the sufferings that she experienced on earth, however horrible they were. If he gives her an infinite amount of happiness (natural or supernatural) then that more than makes up for the finite
amount of unhappiness that he allowed her to suffer in this life. And
if he assigns her a positive destiny in the afterlife, an infinite
amount of happiness will be hers.

I know that if I myself were in her situation–if I
experienced a horrible, devastating, but still finite amount of
suffering in this life–and then God gave me an infinite amount
of happiness in the next that I would count myself fortunate. I would
say with St. Paul that–no matter how horrible they were–"the
sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory
that [has been] revealed to [me]."

As long as God makes sure that I receive more happiness than
unhappiness as an innocent then I cannot claim he was being unjust with
me, and as long as God compensates the innocent for the sufferings that
have come to them in this life then I do not see the grounds for him
being fundamentally unjust.

It thus seems to me that if we make the
assumption that God did give the commands to wipe out the Canaanites
that this would not prevent him from making it up to the innocent
Canaanites who suffered and thus he would not be unjust toward them.

But suppose that he didn’t do this. We mentioned earlier the question
of whether God ever gave this kind of command, and we said that the
answer to this question is either yes or no. To this point, we’ve been
considering what if the answer was yes. But what if it was no?

In this case the commands found in the Pentateuch concerning the
Canaanites would not be meant to be taken in a literal sense. We know
that the early history in Scripture contains symbolic elements as well
as literal ones, and these commands would then turn out to be symbolic.

Presumably, they would symbolize things like the need to be totally
separate from pagan culture, of how radically incompatible the pagan
lifestyle is with faith in God. On this theory the books of the
Pentateuch would have reached their final form some time after the
events they describe, and these stories about wiping out the Canaanites
(which the Israelites did not actually fulfill; there were still
Canaanites living later) were included to teach the later readers how
they must reject paganism, and that the original audience was meant to
understand the nature of these stories as cautionary tales from which
they were to draw a moral lesson (i.e., don’t be pagan; stick with God).

If this is the case then God never did command the extermination of the
Canaanites and we, because we are not familiar with the way literature
was written at this time, tend to take as literal something that was
never meant to be literal. (It’s certainly not the first time that’s
happened!) It is just that because we live in such a different age and
because our literature works so differently that we don’t easily
recognize which parts are literal and which are not.

It thus seems to me that, either way one goes (assuming that the
commands were literal or that they weren’t), a rational account can be
offered that shows God was not acting unjustly.

Now let me go a step further and address the question of the reader’s potential loss of faith concerning this matter:

Whether or not one buys the above account, this is not going to change
the fact that suffering–including innocent suffering–exists in this
life. It just does, and us wanting it to be otherwise will not change
this fact. The question is how we interpret the existence of suffering.

It seems that we can interpret it in one of two ways: Either the
sufferings of the innocent are meaningless and can never be redeemed or
they are part of larger plan in which they do make sense and they can
be redeemed. It is belief in God that allows the latter possibility to
happen.

I, personally, would not like to believe that the innocent who suffer
are just out of luck, that their suffering was meaningless and that
nothing will ever happen to make it up to them. I’d rather believe that
there is a meaning and purpose to what happens to us–even if I don’t
fully understand it in this life–and that we live in a world in which
those who have suffered innocently will ultimately be comforted and
have their sufferings all made up to them.

So that’s what I do believe–that we’re not living in a
meaningless world in which people suffer to no purpose and they will
never be compensated. Instead, even if we can’t understand it all from
our tiny perspective, we’re living in a world that is guided by a
loving God who will vindicate the innocent who have suffered, who will
wipe away their tears and give them happiness, who will make sense of all the pain and anguish
that they have had to bear, and who will ultimately bring good out of
their sufferings–just like he did the sufferings of his Son on the
Cross.

When faced with the reality of innocent suffering, one can either suffer a loss of faith and suppose that the world is meaningless and cruel or one can make a leap of faith and believe in a world were suffering can have meaning and where the innocent will be compensated.

I choose to leap.

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{ 129 comments }

bill912 February 1, 2007 at 12:27 pm

I also choose to leap. Some years back, my mother and aunt, who was my godmother, were killed in a car crash. It made no sense to me, except when I looked at a Crucifix. Then, I realized, as my mother and godmother had taught me, that I was sharing in the Cross of Christ. The night they were killed, I told my father in the hospital that we had been found worthy to share in the Cross of Christ. I still believe that. “Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I complete what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church”. (Col. 1:24).

Craig February 1, 2007 at 12:41 pm

Wow. This is the best example I’ve ever read that explains the issue of suffering of innocent people. Ever.
Thanks Jimmy, this is brilliant.

Leah February 1, 2007 at 12:49 pm

I’d like to add a plug for Roy Schoeman’s book “Salvation Comes from the Jews” – his explanation of why God would command the Jews to wipe out the Canaanites was the first I found satisfying. He, like Jimmy above, places it in the context of the role the Jews play in salvation history.
A must read! I’ve given away many copies of this book.

Leah February 1, 2007 at 12:50 pm

Sorry – just looked it up and the correct title is “Salvation is from the Jews” – published by Ignatius Press.

JohnD February 1, 2007 at 12:55 pm

After this life, our reward or punishment will be eternal (not in time as we understand it). Some might call it a state of being… a state of our choosing to be united or separated from God in whom alone we can find true happiness and peace.
But I’ve heard philosphers say the reward/punishment is not *infinite* because only God is infinite, and only God has the actual capacity for the infinite.
From Kreeft:
“Just as in Heaven, one saint is more saintly, more great-hearted, more loving, and therefore more able to contain God’s joy in heaven than another, and in a sense is “higher” than another, so one sinner is “lower” in hell than another (i.e. more deep-set in despair and pride and hate.) There are limits. Hell’s punishment fits sin’s crime because sin is divorce from God. The punishment fits the crime because the punishment IS the crime. Saying no to God means no God. Those who object to hell’s overseverity do not see what sin really is. The probably look at sin externally, sociologically, as “behaving badly”. They fail to see the real horror of sin and the real greatness and goodness and joy of the God who is refused in every sin. We all fail to appreciate this. Who of us fully appreciates God’s beauty? The corollary immediately follows: who of us fully appreciates sin’s ugly horror?”
Jimmy, maybe you could blog about the eternal (outside of time)versus the actually infinite.

Barbara February 1, 2007 at 12:57 pm

I’ve given away many copies of this book.
I gave my copy away to a Jewish co-worker, who is searching.

Tim J. February 1, 2007 at 1:13 pm

I’m sure every thinking person has dealt with the mystery of suffering at some point.
Jimmy points out that a godless universe means that our sufferings are pointless. But it is just as devastating to remember that a godless universe also means that our JOYS are pointless.
This is not WHY I believe in God, but it is part of why I am GLAD I believe in God.
I also believe in God’s goodness, in spite of the suffering I see. He did not spare His own Son from suffering. Why should I expect to be somehow immune? There must be something terribly important about the story of man, if it entails darkness like this.

tim February 1, 2007 at 1:17 pm

Jimmy, well said. Thank you. But, one quibble?…
“God has progressively advanced his program to the point that now fully half of mankind (counting Jews, Christians, and Muslims) worships the Creator of the World and the God of Abraham, even if they do not all understand him perfectly. By the standards of the Old Testament, when the world was swallowed in pagan darkness, we are living in an age in which the ancient prophecy has been fulfilled and “the knowledge of the Lord covers the earth like the waters covers the seas.”
I understand you are making a point here, but do you really think we all (Christians, Jews and Muslims) worship the same God? I mean, really? Really?

Curious February 1, 2007 at 1:43 pm

Jimmy,
Great post! You could illustrate examples of hyperbolic speach in the scriptures by mentioning Jesus’ injunction to rip one’s eye out if it causes you to sin. If we followed these literally, there’d be alot of maimed Christians walking the planet!

MenTaLguY February 1, 2007 at 1:52 pm

tim, Jimmy addresses that at some length here.

Anonymous February 1, 2007 at 1:56 pm

Dialogue of Comfort Against Tribulation by Sir/Saint Thomas More

For God is, and must be, your comfort, and not I. And he is a sure comforter, who (as he said unto his disciples) never leaveth his servants comfortless orphans, not even when he departed from his disciples by death. But he both sent them a comforter, as he had promised, the Holy Spirit of his Father and himself, and he also made them sure that to the world’s end he would ever dwell with them himself. And therefore, if you be part of his flock and believe his promise, how can you be comfortless in any tribulation, when Christ and his Holy Spirit, and with them their inseparable Father, if you put full trust and confidence in them, are never either one finger-breadth of space nor one minute of time from you?

Esau February 1, 2007 at 1:59 pm

Ooopss, I did it again.
That post was from me.

Paul February 1, 2007 at 2:04 pm

Tim -
This argument has, I think, been had in Jimmy’s comboxes before, and it’s a tough one. It would be very difficult to maintain that Jews and Christians do not both worship the same God. As for Muslims, it gets trickier. They quite obviously have some very, very wrong conceptions about God, to the degree that if we were to take Christian and Islamic conceptions of God and examine them side-by-side, you probably would not be able to identify the worshiped being as the same in both cases.
Jimmy’s point, however, is that Muslims’ conception of what God IS (i.e. the single omnipotent and eternal being who created everything and to whom worship is owed) is correct, even if they have most of His other attributes wrong. This separates them from, say Buddhists, who clearly don’t believe that is what God is, and unites them with Christians. It’s a compelling line of argument (at least it was when Jimmy did it fully), even if I can’t say I agree with all it’s conclusions.
As for the bit on life and suffering, Jimmy, great job.

Esau February 1, 2007 at 2:06 pm

Most important point in that quote:
…And therefore, if you be part of his flock and believe his promise, how can you be comfortless in any tribulation, when Christ and his Holy Spirit, and with them their inseparable Father, if you put full trust and confidence in them, are never either one finger-breadth of space nor one minute of time from you?

Mike February 1, 2007 at 2:41 pm

A very well written essay. I have been pondering questions like this lately, and just the other day I was wondering about the plagues of Egypt, specifically the killing of the first born of Egypt. I have always had difficulty with that one, and this essay has certainly given me another way of looking at it.
Also, if any other comboxers know of a book that can explain some of the theological thought behind the plagues, I’d certainly appreciate it. :-)

Esau February 1, 2007 at 2:52 pm

To preempt any potential posting of Realist:
I am in the “Conservative Jewish camp” when it comes to the OT i.e. none of the OT is historic e.g. the Job commentary was added by a well-meaning Jewish scribe to the fictional story of a man who through all of God’s imposed hardships, still loves God. There is probably some parallel story in Greek and/or Babylonian mythology.
Posted by: Realist | Oct 9, 2006 5:28:34 PM

Joe February 1, 2007 at 2:57 pm

This was a great post. It is so understand, however, the command to committ an intrinsic evil–the killing of an innocent; even if the score is settled after death.

joe February 1, 2007 at 2:59 pm

Typo above. I meant to write: It is so *hard* to understand…

David S. February 1, 2007 at 3:19 pm

Thanks Jimmy! I agree with Craig, above, that this is one of the best explanations of the suffering of the innocent that I have ever read.
However, there is one difficulty about the massacre of the Canaanites which seems to be addressed only periphally here, and which has always been for me the hardest part of these events to understand. My problem is that God seems to be commanding the Isrealites to perform an intrisically evil act, that of killing innocents, which would be something contrary to God’s nature. I mean, God PERMITTED the Jews divorce and remarriage, but I don’t think there is any instance in the old testiment of God COMMANDING someone to divorce and remarry. So my problem isn’t so much with God causing or allowing the deaths of the Caananites (As you pointed out, we all die sometime, and compared to the glory of Heaven, the loss of even a long and happy life on Earth is insignificant), but more with God seemingly commanding the Israelites to perform a moral evil.
I guess for this reason, it seems to me that the only satisfying answer is that God did not actually command the extermination of the Canaanites, that instead he commanded the Israelites to make war on them, and that, due to the tribal mindset you explained, this meant to the Isrealites a total extermination. One thing which might give credence to this explanation is that I seem to remember one incident near the end of the book of Joshua where the Isrealites did spare a Canaanite city without being reprimanded by God. If I remember correctly, this city pretty much begged for mercy instead of fighting the Isrealites. (I could be wrong on this, though)

David S. February 1, 2007 at 3:21 pm

Whoops, Joe beat me to it!

Cajun Nick February 1, 2007 at 3:39 pm

Thanks, Jimmy.
I suggest making this one a permapost.

Esau February 1, 2007 at 3:41 pm

My problem is that God seems to be commanding the Isrealites to perform an intrisically evil act
This initially struck my mind at first when I had read Jimmy’s article above.
However, weren’t there prescriptions in the Mosaic Law that actually called for (where it was, in a sense, a commandment of God) the deaths of certain persons as well?
Assuming that one of Jimmy’s assertions above is correct (i.e., Some will be people who genuinely do deserve death (mass murderers, to take an obvious example)); just how different is God commanding the deaths of such Canaanites (who were murderers) from God’s command in the Mosaic Law which actually says to put murderers to death?

bigolclown February 1, 2007 at 3:41 pm

Jimmy – that was an excellent post! Thank you!

Esau February 1, 2007 at 3:47 pm

To clarify, my preceding post was meant for David S.

David S. February 1, 2007 at 3:51 pm

Esau–
My problem is that, at least from a literal reading of the book of Leviticus (and other places), God appears to specifically command the Isrealites to kill the innocent among the Canaanites. Of course, it’s not intrinsically evil to kill the guilty (as was prescribed in various parts of the Mosaic law), but killiing the innocent is a different matter.

Jordan Potter February 1, 2007 at 4:22 pm

“God did not actually command the extermination of the Canaanites”
That’s true — He commanded them to overthrow their cities, to kill them, and to expel them, to drive them out of the land or exile them. In the case of the Canaanities, total extermination is a hyperliteralist interpretation of God’s instructions, which are in a Hebraic idiom.
Now, when we get to the Amalekites in the reign of King Saul, then yes, that is a command to exterminate the entire nation. . . .
On the other hand, in the sense that all souls have contracted original sin, there really is no such thing as an “innocent” human soul apart from the redemptive life and grace of Jesus.

Esau February 1, 2007 at 4:25 pm

…but killiing the innocent is a different matter.
I agree; which is why when I had initially read this article, at the beginning, I found this quite disconcerting.
Yet, take notice of another possibility that Jimmy introduces:

In this case the commands found in the Pentateuch concerning the Canaanites would not be meant to be taken in a literal sense. We know that the early history in Scripture contains symbolic elements as well as literal ones, and these commands would then turn out to be symbolic.
Presumably, they would symbolize things like the need to be totally separate from pagan culture, of how radically incompatible the pagan lifestyle is with faith in God. On this theory the books of the Pentateuch would have reached their final form some time after the events they describe, and these stories about wiping out the Canaanites (which the Israelites did not actually fulfill; there were still Canaanites living later) were included to teach the later readers how they must reject paganism, and that the original audience was meant to understand the nature of these stories as cautionary tales from which they were to draw a moral lesson (i.e., don’t be pagan; stick with God).
This makes sense. Scripture was not written by people in our culture, and so, as a result, it frequently contains figure of speech and symbols and things like that which are not familiar to us — literal conventions that we don’t use in our writing; and so we might misunderstand what exactly the text originally intended to say to its readers.
For example, if people had read some of the things we’ve incorporated into our literature, into our language, idioms such as “flogging a dead horse”; wouldn’t a person unfamiliar with this expression actually think: “Why the heck would anybody want to flog a dead horse?”
Or, better yet, how about people who “close the stable door after the horse has bolted”?

Esau February 1, 2007 at 4:25 pm

my bad

David S. February 1, 2007 at 4:43 pm

Esau–
Yeah, that (or some variation thereof) seems like the most likely explanation to me. I think my only qualm about Jimmy’s post is the question about whether or not it is justifiable from a literal reading.

Dano February 1, 2007 at 5:02 pm

I also read somewhere that there’s very little archaeological evidence for the kind of wholesale slaughter and destruction that would have occured if the Israelites had actually exterminated other tribes, which would seem to support the contention that God didn’t actually command extermination.

Esau February 1, 2007 at 5:06 pm

David S.:
Love the fact you actually read the bible though; I love bible study stuff!

Mary February 1, 2007 at 5:57 pm

…And therefore, if you be part of his flock and believe his promise, how can you be comfortless in any tribulation, when Christ and his Holy Spirit, and with them their inseparable Father, if you put full trust and confidence in them, are never either one finger-breadth of space nor one minute of time from you?
OTOH, we should remember that you may not feel the comfort. Jesus was never separated from God, but the comfort the angel brought Him in the garden did not prevent His feeling abandoned by God.
The feeling is horrible enough without facing the contrapositive of the statement above: if you are comfortless in any tribulation, you are not part of his flock and do not believe his promise. We must remember that the feeling is not part of the promised comfort, and therefore the lack of it is not proof that we are comfortless.

francis 03 February 1, 2007 at 6:56 pm

So, what’s our take-away from this troubling passage? Why did God inspire Moses or whoever it was to write this story down, and why did He permit it to be written the way it is? Is the message “be really really really hostile to idolatry?”

Dean February 1, 2007 at 7:23 pm

This is a really helpful post by Jimmy. One other treatment of the subject that I’d really recommend is Glenn Miller’s (from his A Christian Think Tank site):
How could a God of Love order the massacre/annihilation of the Canaanites?.

Esau February 1, 2007 at 7:42 pm

Mary:
The feeling is horrible enough without facing the contrapositive of the statement above: if you are comfortless in any tribulation, you are not part of his flock and do not believe his promise.
I believe this is an erroneous reading of St. Thomas More’s thoughts on the matter in Dialogue of Comfort Against Tribulation (more precisely, Anthony’s advice), which many, not necessarily Catholics but Protestants and, in fact, non-Christians too, find quite a great read during times of adversity.
Furthermore, you sorely neglected the second part:
…when Christ and his Holy Spirit, and with them their inseparable Father, if you put full trust and confidence in them, are never either one finger-breadth of space nor one minute of time from you.
Because of it’s antiquated style of writing, allow me to simplify –
Put simply: You have nothing to fear if you trust in God.
Now, if you were to take the contrapositive of that statement; certainly, you will have something to fear if you don’t have trust in God.
Whether you want to acknowledge the truth or not, you fear because you don’t trust in God or your trust in him has become diminished.
Whenever anybody, regardless if s/he is a devoted Christian, experiences fear in such times, it may very well be because of a trust that starts to waver.
Yet, if somebody truly trusts in God, his/her fear in such times would be negligible, if not, non-existent.
Just observe in the lives of the saints those martyrs who came to be tortured and, ultimately, met their deaths at the hands of their various persecutors. It has been consistent throughout history, in the testimonies of the lives of the saints, how much they showed, even in the face of these atrocities and tribulations, no fear but, above all else, trust in God–especially in the end.
Plus, I believe Saint Thomas More would actually be an expert on the subject considering the many injustices and tribulations he personally suffered in his own life; the lost of all his wealth, his property; his family essentially reduced to poverty; him being locked up in the Tower of London and, ultimately, loosing his life in the end; all for what??? Because he wouldn’t betray his Catholic Faith!
He didn’t have to suffer or die in that manner. After all, he was the prestigious Lord Chancellor of England and friend to Henry VIII. Yet, his Catholic Faith meant more to him than any of these. It is without a doubt that his trust in God carried him even unto the end.

Esau February 1, 2007 at 7:46 pm

Mary, I believe you must take in the entire quote:
Dialogue of Comfort Against Tribulation
by Sir/Saint Thomas More
For God is, and must be, your comfort, and not I. And he is a sure comforter, who (as he said unto his disciples) never leaveth his servants comfortless orphans, not even when he departed from his disciples by death. But he both sent them a comforter, as he had promised, the Holy Spirit of his Father and himself, and he also made them sure that to the world’s end he would ever dwell with them himself. And therefore, if you be part of his flock and believe his promise, how can you be comfortless in any tribulation, when Christ and his Holy Spirit, and with them their inseparable Father, if you put full trust and confidence in them, are never either one finger-breadth of space nor one minute of time from you?

Carolyn A February 1, 2007 at 8:20 pm

Thank you, Jimmy, for this thoughtful post. Having lost two babies to miscarriage in the last six months, just seeing the following in print was so comforting:
< >
Certainly not the total gist of this valuable post, which is helpful in so many ways, but itbrought a smile to my face when I think about why these babies were brought into being but I was never able to behold their faces.
Thank you.

Weeze February 1, 2007 at 8:34 pm

Jimmy,
Thank you. That was fantastic.
-Weeze

John February 1, 2007 at 8:54 pm

It strikes me that the innocent being “compensated” in the afterlife for his suffering here on earth, argument, might be somewhat flawed. Shouldn’t the point be that what happens here on earth to an individual, from the perspective of what is inflicted on that individual, really doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of things; that life is really just sort of a transitional state where we are conceived, come to know God, and hopefully make good choices so we can live with God forever? Placing the priority on our relationship with God, and not so much on our experience in this world seems more the point to me.

Questioner February 1, 2007 at 10:40 pm

Jimmy,
Excellent explanation of the OT attitude of God and the Chosen People. I wonder if you could address, for the sake of “Christian Zionists”, how this attitude is no longer applicable to the current political state of Israel, not even at its political inception in 1948. And how the commands in the OT do not give the current political state of Israel the right to kill and take lands from the Christians and Muslims and others who are not of Jewish extraction who have resided in that land long before the current political state was established. And how the original OT attitude does not give them the right to continue to mistreat those who are not of the ‘correct race’, by enforcing racist laws against non-Jews similar to the racist laws against Jews in Nazi Germany.
Thank you kindly.

J.R. Stoodley February 2, 2007 at 12:23 am

Excelent explanation Jimmy.
To Questioner, in case Jimmy does not respond, he has said in the past that the question of whether the commands of God to occupy the Holy Land and all that apply today is something the Catholic Church leaves open. He did not say what his own opinion on the matter was. I for one agree with you.

Questioner February 2, 2007 at 1:45 am

Thank you, JR Stoodley. I should read Jimmy’s archives, no doubt and I appreciate your comments, but I must correct you in one matter. “Christian Zionism” is in fact a heresy which apparently the Church has made declarations on. New Oxford Review recently ran an article to this effect, if you care to look at it, here: Christian Zionism: Israel’s False Friends

J.R. Stoodley February 2, 2007 at 2:12 am

Questioner, either Jimmy was wrong then or I misinterpreted what he was saying. I believe it was on one of the posts during or shortly after the attack on Lebanon this summer.

Jrose February 2, 2007 at 3:47 am

Can this become a permapost? Excellent explanation Jimmy!

erick February 2, 2007 at 4:49 am

To Questioner:
There is an other explanation.
According to the Dispensationalist view of Theology, God is not finished dealing with the Jewish people…..yet!.

David February 2, 2007 at 5:32 am

Jim,
Excellent post, you have a gift.

Vlastimil Vohánka February 2, 2007 at 8:39 am

Recently, I watched in the cinema The Nativity Story. A good movie; however, it caused me to wonder about some particluar commands of God, which can be found in the Bible and seem cruel. I will present several similar problems concerning divine commands which are, prima facie, harsh. I’m a Czech Catholic. So, excuse my English, please. I take myself as orthodox, but it is not diffucult for me to raise questions.
(I) Divine command to Abraham to kill Isaac in Genesis 22
I’ve already thought about different attempts to solve this puzzle. Currently, there are three known to me.
(A) Abraham was too literal interpreter of the divine command. Once, I read the Internet apologist Luke Wadel to say: “Abraham may have failed the test of imagination, not imagining such a thing as non-literal interpretation of a divine command to be possible, but he did pass the test of obedience , for which reason Jews and Christians are edified, and moved to get up on the proverbial wood of sacrifice ourselves, as Christ did.”
(http://www.geocities.com/Athens/7273/biblicalcontradictions.html )
(B) the divine command in the Bible is a real, historical event, but is recorded quite roughly.
(C) It can be OK for God to kill intentionally some (relatively) innocent person (like Isaac; or someone else who does not, according to some right human legislation, deserve capital punishment) and it can be OK for God to command some person ( e.g., Abraham or an angel) to kill or sacrifice intentionally some innocent person; even if none of these can be OK for a human. There is some relevant difference between humans and God, and hence the dissimilarity. But some similarities between humans and God still remain: it cannot be OK for God to lie, to rape, to command to rape or lie, to command to practice idolatry, to command to kill some innocent person regardless of or in opposition to divine commands, etc. Sure, the question is: what is the mentioned relevant difference? And isn’t the distribution of dis/similarities between humans and God arbitrary? Again, no smooth solution. But I suspect that the Abraham-Isaac puzzle is constructed to have no smooth solution.
Cf. (C), which seems to be most orthodox, with J. P. Moreland and W. L. Craig, 2003, Philosophical Foundations for a Christian Worldview, p. 531f.:
“Kant’s distinction between following a rule and acting in accordance with a rule has proved helpful. God may act naturally in ways which for us would be rule-following and so constitutive of goodness in the sense of fulfilling our moral duties, so that God can be said similarly to be good in an analogical way. … God is essentially compassionate, fair, kind, impartial and so forth, and his commandments are reflections of his own character. Thus they are not arbitrary, and we need not trouble ourselves about counterfactuals with impossible antecedents like “If God were to command child abuse, …” God may be said to be good in the sense that he possesses all these moral virtues … – and he does so essentially and to the maximal degree! Thus God’s axiological perfection should not be understood in terms of duty-fullfillment, but in terms of virtue. This conception helps us to understand the sense in which God is to be praised: not in the sense of commendation for fully executing his duties or even for his acts of supererogation, but rather in the sense of adoration for his axiological perfection. Nonetheless, the fact that God is not duty-bound should alert us to the fact that he may well have prerogatives (for example, taking human life at his discretion) that are forbidden to us. Taking the life of an innocent person is something we have no right to do; but God is not similarly restricted … God can command a person to perform an action that would be sinful were the person to undertake such an action on his own initiative, but that is his moral duty in virtue of God’s command. The most celebrated example is Abraham’s sacrificing his son Isaac … in the extraordinary case of Abraham and Isaac, it was not unloving of God to so try Abraham’s devotion, and God had good reasons for testing him so severely.”
Which solution do you prefer?
(II) Pregnant women being stoned
The movie Nativity Story presents pregnant Mary as threatened by a very real possibility of being stoned. My first point is that this possibility were grounded on Deuteronomy 22:20-21, and it seems that because of the rule in Deuteronomy God is irrespective of unborn human lives – because it is very plausible that some humans were concieved and then stoned with their mothers.
What do you think?
(III) Commands to kill, involving killing innocent (like four years old children) or relatively innocent people
See Numbers 31:17, there Moses says: “Now … kill every male among the little ones, and kill every woman who hath known a man by lying with him.”
1 Samuel 15:1-3 similarly says “Samuel also said unto Saul, “The LORD sent me to anoint thee to be king over His people, over Israel. Now therefore hearken thou unto the voice of the words of the LORD. Thus saith the LORD of hosts: `I remember that which Amalek did to Israel, how he lay in wait for him on the way when he came up from Egypt. Now go and smite Amalek and utterly destroy all that they have, and spare them not; but slay both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass.’”
There is also Judges 21:10-11 is similar, but maybe its command does not represent the will of God: “And the congregation sent thither twelve thousand men of the most valiant and commanded them, saying, “Go and smite the inhabitants of Jabeshgilead with the edge of the sword, along with the women and the children. And this is the thing that ye shall do: Ye shall utterly destroy every male and every woman that hath lain with a man.”"
Now, consider the following argument.
1. All that the inspired authors, or sacred writers, affirm should be regarded as affirmed by the Holy Spirit. This is granted by 2nd Vat., Dei Verbum, 11.
2. Moses is the author of the Pentateuch. See the following claim by William Most, SJ: “Fr. Eugene Maly, a first rank exegete, has this to say in the Jerome Biblical Commentary: “Moses … is at the heart of the Pentateuch, and can, in accord with the common acceptance of the ancient period, correctly be called its author.” http://www.catholicculture.org/docs/most/getchap.cfm?WorkNum=215&ChapNum=3 .
3. In the Numbers 31:17 Moses says: “Now therefore kill every male among the little ones, and kill every woman who hath known a man by lying with him.” Judges 21:10-11 is similar, but maybe it does not represent the will of God: “And the congregation sent thither twelve thousand men of the most valiant and commanded them, saying, “Go and smite the inhabitants of Jabeshgilead with the edge of the sword, along with the women and the children. And this is the thing that ye shall do: Ye shall utterly destroy every male and every woman that hath lain with a man.”"
4. To command to kill an innocent (or relatively innocent) when the killing causes a great suffering to the innocent is intrinsically evil (even if the score is settled after death!). This is a very plausible premise. See comments here by Joe and David S.
Thus, is seems to follow,
5. God commanded something intrinsically evil (in Numbers 31). A conclusion from (1)-(4).
Thus, it seems, a Catholic should not accept the premise (2). What do you think?
See also that if (2) is granted, it seems that we can’t take Numbers 31 and similar passages in the Pentateuch as a Hebraic idiom or hyperbole.
Finally, if the comment here by Jordan Potter (“He commanded them to overthrow their cities, to kill them, and to expel them, to drive them out of the land or exile them. In the case of the Canaanities, total extermination is a hyperliteralist interpretation of God’s instructions, which are in a Hebraic idiom. Now, when we get to the Amalekites in the reign of King Saul, then yes, that is a command to exterminate the entire nation.”) is true, then a similar argument can be made from 1 Samuel 15.
1. All that the inspired authors, or sacred writers, affirm should be regarded as affirmed by the Holy Spirit.
2′. In the case of the Canaanities, total extermination is a hyperliteralist interpretation of God’s instructions, which are in a Hebraic idiom. Now, when we get to the Amalekites in the reign of King Saul, then yes, that is a command to exterminate the entire nation.
3′. 1 Samuel 15:1-3.
4. To command to kill an innocent (or relatively innocent) when the killing causes a great suffering to the innocent is intrinsically evil.
Thus, is seems to follow,
5. God commanded something intrinsically evil (in 1 Samuel 15).
Thus, a Catholic can’t accept (2′).
What do you think?

bill912 February 2, 2007 at 8:45 am

I think Rule 3 applies.

Sifu Jones February 2, 2007 at 9:06 am

Vlastimil,
That post was somewhat too long to abide by Jimmy’s post rules, but it seems you genuinely have questions that need addressing, so here’s my two cents:
- Abraham and Isaac: God was testing Abraham’s obedience, and making a point. Remember that from Abraham’s perspective, pagan “gods” did order their followers to do things like kill children all the time. God knew Abraham would find this horrific, and it would be difficult for him. But Abraham did not live in a Christian culture; a divine command to kill his son would be unfortunate, but not unheard of.
God, of course, never intended for him to go through with it. He was just waiting to see that Abraham was willing to give up everything to follow God. Isaac was safe the whole time; there’s no way Abraham could “surprise” God and sacrifice the boy too quickly.
Once the angel stopped him, Abraham knew two things: one, his God was not like the other “gods”, because He didn’t demand human sacrifice. Two, Abraham had been willing to sacrifice his son: anything else God would ask of him would be easy by comparison.
That’s what I’ve been taught, anyhow.

Esau February 2, 2007 at 9:15 am

Vlastimil:
There is a parallel between the story of Abraham (the Father) willing to sacrifice Isaac (the Son) AND that of God (the Father) willing to sacrifice Jesus (the Son).
In fact, the author of Hebrews does exactly that. He likens the sacrifice of Christ to the sacrifice of Isaac and notes that just as Abraham figuratively received Isaac back from the dead when he didn’t have to kill him; Jesus literally was received back from the dead after the Resurrection.

Anonymous February 2, 2007 at 9:23 am

It is essential to remember that God is holy,righteous and just, and that His love is not the same as sentimentalism.
I keep seeing “innocent” mentioned. But in God’s eyes, and thus rightly, no mere human is innocent.
He is our Creator, our lives belong to Him. Remember Jeremiah being shown the potter and clay analogy by God.
As our Creator, He has the right to take our lives any time He wants, and indeed, He does, for absolutely every last one of us, except for Enoch, Elijah and possibly Mary.
God was not unjust in ordering the slaughter of the Canaanites.
Our civil governments only have the right and duty to take life where God has so specifically commanded in Scripture ie: for murder, rape, homosexuality and beastiality, and adultery. And in those cases only where there are two or more eyewitnesses who agree in their testimony, the exception being rape – if the rape took place out of earshot, the woman is assumed to be telling the truth if she brings charges.
That Rome would reject the teaching of Scripture is troubling.

Anonymous February 2, 2007 at 9:26 am

For those of us who’s sins are forgiven, we do stand as innocent before God, and yet, we still die. God owns our lives even if we are without any guilt in His eyes. He has made promises, and He is bound by Himself to keep them, but as far as I know, Rome still believes in original sin, so the arguments for the “innocence” of the Canaanites when God is the judge, and the Israelites are merely officers of the court, would have to be seen as unintentionally heretical, because they assume the rejection of the dogma of original sin.

Esau February 2, 2007 at 9:26 am

That Rome would reject the teaching of Scripture is troubling.
Rome rejection the teaching of Scripture???
Now, just tell me exactly, how has Rome rejected the teaching of Scripture???Care to back that up with evidence rather than innuendo?

bill912 February 2, 2007 at 9:27 am

“That Rome would reject the teaching of Scripture is troubling.” Yeah, it would be…if it were true.

bill912 February 2, 2007 at 9:31 am

In the second anonymous post, I see the problem: the writer didn’t understand anything posted above, as proven by the words: “because they assume the rejection of the dogma of original sin.” No one did. A distinction between original sin and actual sin was made above.

Esau February 2, 2007 at 9:33 am

Rome still believes in original sin
So there’s no such thing as Original Sin????
Let’s see what Scripture says:
“Who can make him clean that is conceived of unclean seed ?…”(Job xiv.4)
“For behold I was conceived in iniquities; and in sins did my mother conceive me.” (Ps. l. 7).
“Wherefore as by one man sin entered into this world, and by sin death; and so death passed upon ALL MEN, in whom all have sinned….But death reigned from Adam unto Moses, EVEN OVER THEM ALSO WHO HAVE NOT SINNED AFTER THE SIMILITUDE OF THE TRANSGRESSION OF ADAM, who is a figure of him who was to come. But not as the offence, so also the gift. For if by the offence of one, many died; much more the grace of God, and the gift, by the grace of one man, Jesus Christ, hath abounded unto many. And not as it was by one sin, so also is the gift. For judgment indeed was by one unto condemnation; but grace is of many offences, unto justification. For if by one man’s offence death reigned through one; much more they who receive abundance of grace, and of the gift, and of justice, shall reign in life through one, Jesus Christ. Therefore, as by the offence of one, unto ALL MEN to condemnation; so also by the justice of one, unto all men to justification of life…”(Romans v.12, 14-19). St. Paul tells us even those who themselves have not Sinned ARE still guilty of Adam’s transgression “EVEN OVER THEM ALSO WHO HAVE NOT SINNED AFTER THE SIMILITUDE OF THE TRANSGRESSION OF ADAM ”
…and yet, we still die
…would have to be seen as unintentionally heretical, because they assume the rejection of the dogma of original sin.
Furthermore, kindly clue us into what you believe is the Catholic Teaching on Original Sin???
From what you’ve just mentioned, there is much ignorance and misunderstanding in your supposed understanding on the subject.

Jordan Potter February 2, 2007 at 10:39 am

Vlastimil asked: “What do you think?”
I think you also need to take into account an important truth that I and others have mentioned: none of us is truly “innocent,” but in fact merit damnation on account of original sin alone, not to mention actual sin. Consequently, as Jimmy has indicated, and as Jesus said, the death that we really need to fear is the second death, the eternal death of the soul in Gehenna, not the mere death of the body. If God in His incomprehensible providence and wisdom elected to have ancient Israel, ancient Canaan, and ancient Amalek manifest His glory and His justice, and in so doing give us examples to learn from (as St. Paul told the Corinthians), then that is His decision. But we don’t know that the Amalekites who fell by Israel’s sword have been damned, any more than the people who died in the Flood or who were incinerated in Sodom necessarily lost their chance for eternal beatitude. Jesus speaks of the men of the Sodom having an easier time on Judgment Day than Jews of Galilee who would not believe in Him, so we may hold out the hope that those who suffered divine wrath in ancient times may not have to feel His wrath in eternity.

John E February 2, 2007 at 12:52 pm

Isiah 55:
[8] For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways, says the LORD.
[9] For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.

Not in any way to imply that reason is of no importance, but there will always be mysteries that reason cannot attain.
I found some of the discussion about determining whether God is just or unjust to be amusing. God is just. If we can’t figure it out, that’s our defect, not God’s. On the other hand, for those who have doubts as to whether or not God is just, or for those who wish to suspend belief for the sake of argument, the explanation was very helpful. Thanks.

Some Day February 2, 2007 at 2:33 pm

Some thing is amiss.
God can work that way. Today. And He certainly will do things that will be terrible. But not unjust. Our Lady in Fatima said that whole nations will be anihalated; Jimmy can explain the orgins of the word pretty good. It means nothing. Made into nothing. Not a change of governments or name. Nothing. But there is good people in there? Maybe, God can sort them out in Heaven.
That saying that God doesn’t punish is wrong. Or even that was in the Old Testament. No, that is not true. God is the same God of the Old as in then New. He has greater demonstrated His mercy in the New. No doubt. But love has a flip side. Authenthic love hates evil. So when we love God we must hate evil. And when we hate something we must wish it the worst. Now we must want the conversion above all. But when there is a definite “no”, like when people have sinned so much that they sin against the Holy Spirit, there they become enemies of God. And we must want to avenge God, for revenge is only God’s, and if we are called to, must be instruments of that revenge. Has not this world and its people, governments and even the very predilect children of the Church, the clergy, turned against God.
The immorality and atheisim has reached a never seen high. Sodom stays way behind us.
That cannot stand. So long as there is one saint on this Earth, God cannot stay dormant.
Exurge Deus quare obdormis?
Iniquity must be extinguished.
Many saints have said it, Our Lady in Fatima, La Sallette and countless in other places have prophesied the punishments to come for the sins of the world.
Global Warming? Not even close.
Slow economy? Try finding something to eat with out an electric current in the whole country.
The War on Terrorism? Try not getting killed by your neighbor.
Ah if we only knew.
But there is hope. Regardless of what happens Our Lady promised
“In the end my Immaculate Heart will triumph”
What does this triumph mean?
Many saints, especially St. Luis de Monfort, said it will be a time where once again the Gospels will reign the nations, and the people will be holy. We will “breathe” Mary like we breathe air.
The continuation of what should have been Paradise, that which the medieval spirit was begining to capture.
In essence a Heaven on Earth.
That is why little matters. Nukes or tsunamis crossing the Andes, Our Lady gave us her word.
That is all that matters.

Toby February 2, 2007 at 9:00 pm

How’s that saying that if God destroyed Sodom then He better do something quick.
I don’t know. Anyone?

Damascus Boy February 3, 2007 at 10:55 am

At Regensburg, Pope Benedict rejected the idea that God permits the killing of innocents.
I would crudely say that the Old Testament is a dialog between God and His chosen people. The revelation was incomplete. Sometimes (in the early days of the dialog) the people thought that God commanded them to kill innocents or that other gods existed. The people misunderstood. God later corrected them.
Jews and Christians have rejected the idea that these genocidal incidents are examples for today. Unfortunately, a minority of Muslims believe that the Verses of the Sword in the Quran and Muhammad’s war crimes are examples for today.

Mary February 3, 2007 at 11:57 am

Yet, if somebody truly trusts in God, his/her fear in such times would be negligible, if not, non-existent.
Which must mean that Jesus did not truly trust in God, because He sweated blood at the thought of His passion.

Eileen R February 3, 2007 at 7:11 pm

An intersting post, Jimmy, but I think you should have also mentioned that a certain school of orthodox Catholic biblical scholars have differing ideas about the historical accuracy of the Old Testament. One needn’t go to Realist lengths to hold different ideas about what exactly we’re to believe.

Some Day February 3, 2007 at 9:45 pm

God has the right to do anything with us. He made us, saved us and sustains us.
Now His infinitly perfect justice will not let Him do wrong to us. He is incapable of it. Now what may seem wrong to us may not just be. Especially if God commands it. Sorry but I doubt there is a lost in translation momment when He orders an attack on His enemies. So throw that theory out. God does not punish. Nope throw that out too, the Dead Sea kind of says otherwise. So what is left?
We need to reformulate our thinking. A psalm that speaks of perfect hate ( I believe it is 139) was not only valid back in OT. No, Heaven and Earth might pass but not His word. We need to look into the justice aspect of God, something not done enough today. True love of God will bring hatred towards evil. And please, for those with the mentality of abortion ending or world hunger and education will save the world, sorry but only effects of greater more complex evils.
Perfecto odio óderam illos
et inimici facti sunt mihi

So if this whole post is to diminish the perfect justice of God, which will manifest itself soon because this evil and sin of the world cannot stand so long as the Church does.
He promised Hell can do nothing against Her.
Even if the Church got to a point that it seemed dead, never will it be. It will have always some of Her faithful sons and daughters to be paladins in this battle against evil. God will intervene.
In fact He will release Nature, who for our offenses against the Order of the Universe, seeks revenge against us. Nature claims vengance, but it is God who in His mercy holds it back.
This is more the cause of things like Global Warming and tsunamis than others.
And climatic chastisement is not the only thing.
War, pests and hunger, metaphysical punishments.
It all awaits us in the days to come, for we heeded not Our Lady’s warnings.
But there is hope. God demonstrates His Glory with His Mercy than with His Justice, but He shows still. But after our due paddling, we are docile and God grants graces so big that it will generate saints that will leave the others of the past like a shrub next to a redwood giant.
St. Louis called it the Reign of Mary.
That is the Her triumph. That is what the world will convert into. But this world has no solution.
This “order”must fall so Order can reestablished.
So let us pray to see the Resurection while we cross dark days.
Virgo Acies Ordinata, Ora Pro Nobis

Peter February 4, 2007 at 1:27 pm

Kind of late to chime in here. However, I would recommend:
“Which God Ought We to Obey and Why?”
Alasdair Macintyre
Faith and Philosophy, 3 No. 4 (1986) 359-371
Macintyre argues that our concepts of justice are continually being updated as we continue through human history and God continues to reveal Himself to us akin to Newman’s development of doctrine. In other words, all of God’s revelations happen in a particular cultural context in a particular time and place . However, while located in a particular context, theses definitions point to a universal definition applicable to all cultures for all times. In this development, certains parts of our definitions may have to change and develop and ( here is the kicker ) certains parts will be negated and even overruled. Thus, “an eye for an eye” in the OT is actually a restriction in retribution in a time where cultures gladfully exacted collective punishment for individual crimes ( this happened even in Israel ). But with Jesus, “an eye for an eye” is develops into something new and more loving. The development is not always linear and not always has forward progress, but it eventually happens ( thanks to God’s continual care for His creatures). Thus, for God’s harsh decrees for warfare in the OT, theses rules were common to most cultures in those days, and thus mark the beginning of the rules of engagement which would eventually end in the “just war” theory of Aquinas. The Church Fathers were ever apt to point out the very real historical developments of heresies. However, even truth has a history. Macintyre’s article has helpmed understand these and other “hard” sayings of the OT, so it might help here.

Aleii February 5, 2007 at 11:15 am

God orders that an entire area be decimated, including infants and children before the age of reason. How is this different from Hiroschima, which was condemned by the Catholic Church? Your proposed answer to how we can reconcile a child living through that horror is that God will compensate them for what God ordered to happen to them? God is not supposed to need to compensate anyone for an action He ordered against them(something they did not agree to) because God is not supposed to err. If I rob someone, even giving them 100x the money I stole does not compensate them because they never agreed to be violated in such a matter in the first place. In one fell swoop God could have wiped out the city, granting immediate death and none of that additional suffering. Instead, God intentionally caused unspeakable harm with the intent of “compensating” them later? How is this suffering, commanded by God, compatible with an omnimax perfect God that could have easily made the suffering (that He commanded) never happen in the first place? The argument that the culture of the time accepted that does not make sense. Truth, justice, good, and evil, are timeless. If something is evil today then it was evil 2000 years ago, even if it was accepted by a culture. God had the means to easily do things differently. We can’t even begin to imagine how much horrendous suffering people like that 4 year old experienced. When a person, any person, dies, we all hope that they died quickly, to be spared needless pain of the body and mind. The knowledge that God had that option but didn’t utilize it is sickening. Its like hearing that a kidnapper raped a child before killing them. But this is actually worse. It isn’t suffering that happened because of nature/biology, or freak accidents, or one person’s free will. Its suffering because of what God commanded.

bill912 February 5, 2007 at 11:27 am

Aleii, you ought to try reading the posts before posting. Then you wouldn’t post something that has already been refuted.

bill912 February 5, 2007 at 11:31 am

“Explained” would have been a better word than “refuted”.

Some Day February 5, 2007 at 6:11 pm

Aleii,
You do know every human being is cursed from the instant we are concieved as a result of Original Sin right?
And you do know the consequences of a person dying in that curse right?
Eternity in Hell?
Chosir Madame.
Hell or the possibility the “innocents” killed will go to at least Limbo?
Dunno, but I take Limbo.
Lot cooler.
And less populated.

Esau February 5, 2007 at 7:54 pm

Which must mean that Jesus did not truly trust in God, because He sweated blood at the thought of His passion.
Mary,
Again, you refuse to take note of the ENTIRE quote:
Dialogue of Comfort Against Tribulation
by Sir/Saint Thomas More
For God is, and must be, your comfort, and not I. And he is a sure comforter, who (as he said unto his disciples) never leaveth his servants comfortless orphans, not even when he departed from his disciples by death. But he both sent them a comforter, as he had promised, the Holy Spirit of his Father and himself, and he also made them sure that to the world’s end he would ever dwell with them himself. And therefore, if you be part of his flock and believe his promise, how can you be comfortless in any tribulation, when Christ and his Holy Spirit, and with them their inseparable Father, if you put full trust and confidence in them, are never either one finger-breadth of space nor one minute of time from you?
Mary — here, let me shorten it for you since it appears you have severe difficulty in digesting long quotes:
If you put full trust in God, He is never one finger-breadth of space nor one minute of time far away from you.
Now, Mary, doesn’t the fact that an Angel actually appeared to Jesus in order to comfort Him during the Agony in the Garden prove the efficacy of this quote?

Esau February 5, 2007 at 8:20 pm

Mary,
Actually, I’m surprised that you seem to be experiencing such difficulty in digesting long quotes as the one here. I thought you had a background in law. I’m sure you would have seen contractual language that far exceeds the length and conditions inherent in this. God bless!

Vlastimil Vohánka February 7, 2007 at 1:39 am

Thanks for your reactions.
The nub of my posts aro those two above argument (1)-(5) and (1)-(5′). Please, address them in detail. Which premises are false? Are not the conclusions probable with respect to the premises?
I think the premise (4) is the key. Your objections seem to me to not to deal with this premise. All of you say something like: (6) God can choose to take anybody’s life at any time. (6) is prima facie plausible. But (4) is also prima facie plausible. Thus, we have these two propositions, (4) and (6), which are intuitively just as plausible, but incompatible. And this, in the first stage of our inquiry, results in epistemic stalemate. We don’t know to which proposition attach ourselves.
Secondly, in the next stage of inquiry, (4) seems to me to be more plausible and probable than (6). (4) says: Any command to kill an innocent (like four years boy) or relatively innocent (i.e., not deserving, according to a right human legislation, the capital punishment) person – when the killing causes a GREAT suffering to this innocent person and this innocent person DIDN‘T consent freely to his killing – is intrinsically evil (even for God). But let’s have a restricted modification of (4): (4′) Any command to kill an innocent four years old boy – when (a) the killing causes a GREAT suffering to this boy and (b) this boy DIDN‘T consent freely to his killing – is intrinsically evil (even for God). (4′) is more probable than (4) because the scope of (4′) is restricted. Currently and in reference to (4′), I do not grant your axiom (6); (4′) is incompatible with (6), but is more plausible. It seems to me that God can’t kill (or command to kill) four years old innocent boy when conditions (a) and (b) are satisfied. I grant God can do it when some of those two conditions is satisfied; e.g., when God wipe him out without great suffering, or when the boy in advance and freely agree with his horrible death. Please, note that when I say the boy is innocent, I mean he does not have actual sins. Be sure I grant he has original “sin”. But he is not responsible for this state, and so the premise (4′) still holds. Further, I repeat, (4′) is true even if the score is settled by God after death: i.e., even if God gives the killed person an infinite amount of happiness for the finite amount of unhappiness in this life. As Aleii notes, if I rob (or command to rob) someone, even giving them 100x the money I stole does not compensate them; and even if it “compensates” them somehow (i.e., the total score in settled and positive), my robbing was evil. Finally, the case of Isaac is epistemically different because it is not clear that Isaac satisfied the condition (a). But it is clear that the Canaanite or Amalakite small boys suffered a lot. And the case of the Lord Jesus Christ is different because He satisfied (b): He assented freely with his (extremely) painful death.
I repeat, I’m a Catholic. I’m not loosing my faith. But my faith seeks for understanding.

Tim Hop February 7, 2007 at 8:08 am

Jimmy said:
This tribal reality shaped the mentality of the people of the day such that they thought in terms of total tribe-on-tribe conflict. They did not have the experience that we do of relying on a strong, central government to carefully investigate matters and punish only those who were personally guilty.
My comment:
I need to raise a libertarian hackle here. I would argue that the ability of various levels of government in the U.S. to investigate crimes and punish those found guilty is not due to the strength of the government, but is in fact due to the strength of character and tradition in the western world. Our culture and tradition in the western world is what demands a fair, honest and open investigation and trial. The government happens to be the instrument of those procedures. But it would not have to be. A related for instance, is it the fact that the government will investigate, prosecute and incarcerate you that keeps you from stealing your neighbors nice new BMW? Or is it rather that you know right from wrong and have a deeply ingrained sense of honor and duty about you that keeps you in check and if the virtue is deep enough, even keeps you from coveting your neighbor’s car? Centralized and strong government is an instrument of the deeper sense virtue that actually keeps society healthy, stable and free of violence.

Aleii February 7, 2007 at 10:33 am

Bill: I did read the responses before posting, but found the responses as not fully explanatory. For example, people have posted that “God can do whatever He wants”, yet, that doesn’t give a full rational explanation as to why God chooses the option that gave pain, nor does it explain how what transpired would be considered OK and absolve how troubling the scripture is. It doesn’t seem reasonable or rational or right. Some responded that children are not innocent due to original sin, but that does not give reason for forcing such suffering on them. “Compensating” as Akin wrote, does not seem to answer the issue, as I wrote in my last post.
Some Day: Yes, I am aware of Original Sin concept, and would agree that Limbo is probably a better alternative than Hell. However my issue comes from the fact that God could have wiped them out with little or no suffering quite easily. Instead, God chose to say a command that meant that horrific suffering was beheld by children. It seems rather senseless and pointless and wrong to do it that way. God can see all possibilities. Tell me how choosing mass suffering and pain is the better way. What good comes out of children suffering tremendously before their death?
Vlastimil elegantly states the same concerns I have regarding the anguish these people were forced to endure. I look forward to seeing full, detailed responses to his posts, as people have only responded to bits of what he wrote.

Inocencio February 7, 2007 at 11:23 am

Aleii,
It seems rather senseless and pointless and wrong to do it that way. God can see all possibilities. Tell me how choosing mass suffering and pain is the better way.
I would charitably remind you that we must acknowledge we are in no position to judge God. Please don’t let these questions and difficulties lead you to believe that you are somehow more just or wiser than God.
Faith is a gift from God but it must be accepted. I am in no way suggesting you do not ask questions. In seeking Truth we must remember that He is all perfection and we are not. In the end we must acknowledge we cannot know everything but stil choose to accept that God’s justice, like His mercy, is perfect.
Take care and God bless,
Inocencio
J+M+J

Some Day February 7, 2007 at 2:46 pm

1.Original sin is enough to go to Hell.
2.Eternal hapiness is the ultimate goal of humans,
that is to be in the Beatific Vision.
3.If that does not compensate then that is because your mentality is not correct, in which Purgatory and Hell exist for.
4. Things are evil because God says they are.
Ergo, if He orders it, its not evil.
5. God could have chosen to not allow the possiblity of mortal sin. He could have also forgiven us instantly. He could have not created us. What else could He do? Everything?
6. At four years old the child has not achieved use of reason ( usually) therefore cannot sin on his own mortally, but venially yes. A venial sin does not allow for that person to enter Heaven though.
7. God living in the omnipresent, may have forseen that every inhabitant there was going to lose his soul eventually. Including the 4 year old, so he prevents them from ever reaching that stage of sin.
8. In spanish we have a saying “Tell me who you are with and I’ll tell you who you are.”
Bad company, bad things.
9. The very thought of you thinking God can do an injust thing is probably a sin. Keyword probably.
10. I don’t remember the saint, but I heard that his/her parent’s or another parent’s children died because they were going to be perverted by them and never let them complete their vocation.
Could apply here.
And Mr. Jimmy, Melchizedek is not king of Jerusalem, but Salem. And he is a priest of God, not one of many. His life is one of the most mysterious. He has no orgins nor record of death.
And the “Christian Age”sounds like God could and will not give such severe commands again. You certainly must know that God still must show his perfect justice. Even if sin was never commited, God must somehow demonstrate His justice.
And this world of ours is much worst then the past world. And to take advantage of His mercy with dynamic decadence for the past 500 years is not some thing to take lightly. We will see things greater than the great miracles and apotheosis of the past.
Let us pray it comes soon so that Her triumph and reign comes soon as well, as She promised in Fatima.
Haec est clara dies Domine omnipotens.
Haec est gaudio dies quia venit ira tua.
Accepisti virtutem tuam et advenit tempus judicari.
Haec est festa dies, amen, veni Domine.
Tu qui es et qui eras et qui venturus est!

bill912 February 7, 2007 at 2:49 pm

Salem is what Jerusalem was called at that time.

Esau February 7, 2007 at 2:49 pm

Salem is what Jerusalem was called at that time.
HINT: Jeru-Salem

Some Day February 7, 2007 at 2:50 pm

Well, ok given.
But it was in the north though I believe.

Esau February 7, 2007 at 2:53 pm

SomeDay-
Remember:
Jeru, City
Salem, Peace.
Thus, Jeru-salem means: City of Peace

Esau February 7, 2007 at 2:54 pm

On the other hand:
Melchi-Zedek means: King (Melchi) of Righteousness.

Vlastimil Vohánka February 8, 2007 at 8:43 am

Some Day,
I do not take my arguments as really showing from true (or probable) premises that God is unjust. I merely use them as a presentation of a problem.
Thanks for that point 6.
You also say that original sin is sufficient for hell. I do not agree (at least with the formulation). See http://www.ewtn.com/library/SCRIPTUR/ORIGSIN.TXT by Wm. Most, SJ. (Note: Mr. Most IS orthodox. See http://www.catholicculture.org/docs/most/start.cfm .)

Vlastimil Vohánka February 8, 2007 at 8:47 am

Aleii,
I discuss the problem also with Dave Armstrong at
http://socrates58.blogspot.com/2007/04/open-forum.html
You can take a look.
Currently, I study extensive texts on the topic by Glenn Miller (http://www.christian-thinktank.com/hway.html ), too.

Aleii February 8, 2007 at 12:43 pm

1- Under debate
2- ok
3- That is a rather dismissive argument. Akin proposes the compensation reasoning as to why it was OK for God to order horrendous actions on children. This may or may not be the correct answer to the problems that the scripture poses. There may be an entirely different reason out there. I gave an explanation as to why the compensation theory doesn’t hold weight with me. Please respond to that instead of saying that if I don’t understand it that means that I’m incorrect. Akin seems to be saying that these children were “wronged” due to God’s commands, and God compensates them a billion-fold. I’m saying it doesn’t make sense how these children can be wronged by God in the first place if God is supposed to be perfect.
4- The fifth commandment is thou shalt not kill (with exceptions such as self defense). God had a choice, and knows the future. He could 1) wipe them out himself. Or 2) tell humans to wipe them out, which caused great suffering as adults, children, infants were brutally murdered. Or 3) other. Give me a reason how a child suffering before getting murdered by a human is acceptable when there are other options? For example, these children could be taken in and taught Gods’ ways, instead of being murdered. Or God could have poisoned the water or air to cause a quick painless death, etc.
5- The issue is that God seemingly employed a much worse choice than what He could have here. He didn’t have to intervene at all, but God decided to intervene, and God’s choice caused massive suffering, when he could have easily chosen a different way.
6- The issue of what happens to children before the age of reason who die is still up for debate.
7- If you use this argument, you can say that God could have either prevented them from being born, done more to keep Satan out of their lives, ensured that that specific community never formed, etc, instead of commanding mass murder. There are many pain-free options that could have been employed.
8- see 7
9- God knows what is in my heart. I have to ask these questions because they seem horrendously uncharacteristic of God, and seem to be the opposite of what is taught. Dismissive arguments or scare tactics don’t help me feel any better about this nor do they help my diminishing faith in Christianity.
10- see 7

Aleii February 8, 2007 at 1:10 pm

Inocencio, it sounds like you have a good heart and are trying to be charitable in your post; I am not saying I am better or wiser than God, I am saying there is a big problem here, and it seems to point to the (literal) Bible being wrong. I have already pointed to the fact that God is perfect, and thus this story makes no sense because it involved more pain than was necessary and more death than was necessary – its uncharacteristic of God. I am looking for any rational, logical answer to my questions that would say otherwise, to help me understand better. These portions of scripture bother me immensely, and to me defy logic and reason if they are literal. People who dismissively say “God can do whatever He wants” and “If you don’t understand, you’re wrong” really don’t help reconcile these problems, and only more serve to make me question them, because if no one can give a logical explanation, that gives credence to the idea that no reasonable explanation exists, which gives credence to the idea that the Bible is not literal here.
Now, another argument which Akin touched on is that it may be the case that some of the Bible is to be thought more of as stories, and not literal truth. However, Akin seems to be more debating the scriptures from an inerrant Bible standpoint which I am arguing against, as the story seems to make no sense if it is to be taken literally, even with Akin’s compensation theories. The only way I could see this story making any iota of sense is if it is not literal, and even then it would still be strange to extract a lesson from.
Vlastimil: thanks for the website. It looks pretty extensive and will take some time to read through thoroughly ;)

Some Day February 8, 2007 at 2:19 pm

You also say that original sin is sufficient for hell. I do not agree (at least with the formulation)…
I did not say it is enough for Hell. I said you can’t get into Heaven.
You cannot challange the Bible in its events.
That book has a historical nature and not a metaphoric nature as the Apoc., ergo the events are not to be doubted, God said so, they obeyed.
God is INCAPABLE of sin.
Well isn’t He omnipotent?
That is a reason why He can’t sin.
Sin is the offense of God.
You can’t offend yourself in funcion of yourself.
It is offensive because it is contrary to God.
SO GOD CAN’T COMMIT AN INJUSTICE BECAUSE INJUSTICE IS A SIN AND HE CAN’T SIN!
Is that a good enough ergo to help you see.
It is a dangerous path to challange these things.
If you don’t understand it does not mean its wrong, and hopefully you aren’t being so either.
Oh and when a book is mainly historical, it rarely holds riddling things.
I think you have a problem with the pain.
This world repugnates pain and suffering more than anything.
The Cross. They hate it, they fear it.
“Oh wouldn’t it be better if God didn’t let us sin or not punish us.”
No, it is better the way God wants it.
Just pray:
“Lord, I believe, yet help my incredibleness.”
“Lord increase our faith.”
Trust in Our Lady. She will help you in this probation.
Auxilium Cristianorum!
Ora Pro Nobis!

Aleii February 8, 2007 at 3:32 pm

Some Day said, (regarding original sin quote) “I did not say it is enough for Hell, I said you can’t get into Heaven”.
Not that I’m involving myself in that debate, but scroll up to your previous post before that; you said exactly: “1.Original sin is enough to go to Hell.”
I replied to your post point by point but you are still not providing me with logical answers to mine, you merely keep falling back on “God can do whatever He wants”. You are saying the Bible is literal and inerrant, yet can not answer any of my questions why God chooses option 2 instead of option 1 or 3 that spares pain and suffering and death. You can not tell me any good that came out of children suffering before they died even though I can clearly show you how different, less torturous, options were available to God, and God deliberately picked the one that included seemingly needless anguish. This, right here, is the crux of my issue. That is what I need answered.
I don’t know why you seem so taken aback, by my supposition that the Bible is not to be taken literally, as Akin talked about the potential for the Bible to not be literal in those passages as well. I agree that a supposedly historical text is not supposed to be riddling. I have written a lot about why it is, though.
in•jus•tice
1. the quality or fact of being unjust; inequity.
2. violation of the rights of others; unjust or unfair action or treatment.
3. an unjust or unfair act; wrong.
As to your statement that God can not commit an injustice, I agree, God is supposed to be perfect. No one, however, has shown me how choosing suffering is not unfair, wrong, or a violation of another, therefore I continue to be left to question the Bible as literal.
Yes, I do have a problem with pointless, needless, unasked for, intentional suffering (pain) to another, especially a child. It makes no sense, and since it was deliberate seems all out wrong and evil. You’d be hard pressed to find anyone, anyone who isn’t abhorred by unnecessary pain to a child before their murder. I never said it would be better if God didn’t allow us to sin. I’m not talking about man’s actions, I’m talking about God’s supposed actions that contradict His teachings.
Thanks for trying but this issue has not been cleared up for me in the least.

Some Day February 8, 2007 at 3:39 pm

Its not unneccesary for one thing. Merit is not everything, but it could be that that suffering bought them Heaven.
I will research tonight.
Second, I said this part is literal, but not the whole Bible. The 7 days of Creation could be 7000 years or 7 years, but 7 has to do with it.
But when it said He created man, it is literal.
He did not create monkey who became man.
The Apocalypse is a highly metaphorical book.
So high that the Church has not pronounced definite explanations for it completely. Perhaps in the future the Holy Spirit will show us, assuming that He hasn’t to someone.
I’ll look into it, but rid yourself of that doubting Thomas attitude. Trust that it is just and as it said in the Bible.
God Bless

Inocencio February 8, 2007 at 4:12 pm

Aleii,
“I am not saying I am better or wiser than God, I am saying there is a big problem here, and it seems to point to the (literal) Bible being wrong.”
I would suggest that if you think the Bible is wrong then you should in humility consider that it is you who are in error. There are many things in life we will not be able to understand completely.
“I have already pointed to the fact that God is perfect, and thus this story makes no sense because it involved more pain than was necessary and more death than was necessary – its uncharacteristic of God.”
We are made in the image and likeness of God. We cannot make God into an image we like. You are trying to fit God into your limited definition of logic, justice, and mercy.
Do you really think with our fininte minds we can understand an infinite God or His ways? Since we know God is perfect and good we must always accept His ways as just especially when we can not understand how.
To pretend that we can decide that God is acting uncharacteristically, doesn’t that strike you as foolish.
Is it logical in your mind that God the Father sent His only begotten Son to redeem fallen humanity, many of who would reject Him, by his passion, death, resurrection and ascension?
Take care and God bless,
Inocencio
J+M+J

Mary February 8, 2007 at 5:41 pm

Again, you refuse to take note of the ENTIRE quote:
Again, you repeat the quote, which still does not invalidate my point, which you are ignoring.
Actually, I’m surprised that you seem to be experiencing such difficulty in digesting long quotes as the one here.
I have read and digested your long quotes, Esau. My problem with your posts is not that I do not understand them, but that — well, the first one could be misinterpreted. As for this one,
Yet, if somebody truly trusts in God, his/her fear in such times would be negligible, if not, non-existent.
is wrong — Jesus’s fear was obviously not negligible — and furthermore, it is scandalous, because it is an incitement to despair.
I thought you had a background in law
*snort*
Perhaps you should consider that if your guesses about my background are so far off, perhaps your judgment in other matters might need to be revisited

Esau February 9, 2007 at 9:25 am

Mary:
You didn’t go as far as taking into consideration the second part of the quote which goes:
…how can you be comfortless in any tribulation, when Christ and his Holy Spirit, and with them their inseparable Father, if you put full trust and confidence in them, are never either one finger-breadth of space nor one minute of time from you?
Again, this can be roughly interpreted to mean:
If you put full trust in God, He is never one finger-breadth of space nor one minute of time far away from you.
In fact, if you go over what he says at the beginning, he mentions just how much God loves us; that He ever keeps watch on those whom He loves and would never leave His loved ones without care or comfort — especially in the worse times; and that is why he is saying we should not have anything to fear:
For God is, and must be, your comfort, and not I. And he is a sure comforter, who (as he said unto his disciples) never leaveth his servants comfortless orphans, not even when he departed from his disciples by death. But he both sent them a comforter, as he had promised, the Holy Spirit of his Father and himself, and he also made them sure that to the world’s end he would ever dwell with them himself.
Again, Mary, doesn’t the fact that an Angel actually appeared to Jesus in order to comfort Him during the Agony in the Garden prove the efficacy of this quote?
Now, as for your snotty remark:
I thought you had a background in law
*snort*
Perhaps you should consider that if your guesses about my background are so far off, perhaps your judgment in other matters might need to be revisited
My previous comment was referring to some past posts you’ve made in other threads — not an actual assessment or even ‘guess’ on your background.
Now, on the other hand, if you have anything against what I’ve said in the past, please, kindly disclose them unless your intention here is simply to be snobbish and insulting.

Esau February 9, 2007 at 9:32 am

CORRIGENDUM:
Again, this can be roughly interpreted to mean:
If we put full trust in God, we shouldn’t have anything to fear since He is never one finger-breadth of space nor one minute of time far away from us whom He loves.
I don’t know if that makes it any clearer for you — but there it is.

Aleii February 9, 2007 at 9:33 am

Inocencio, I reworded my post, asking that people give me a rational explanation and not just dismissively say “God does what He wants” and “If you don’t understand, you’re wrong”, yet that’s how you responded. Obviously humans can err, and if I didn’t believe that I wouldn’t be posting here asking for explanations.
It seems like you are not taking that quote you posted in the context of my entire post to see I am arguing that it is possibly incorrect to take this story literally. (You state that “if [I] think the Bible is wrong” is not what I am saying, I am saying taking this story literally is possibly wrong.) If you feel the need to state that I need to admit I might be wrong when I say the Bible might not be literal here (do you not understand that I am debating this?), you need to be saying the same thing to Akin, an apologist, as he writes about the possibility of it not being literal as well. I don’t blame you for not knowing the reason why God chose actions that make me physically sick, but I don’t see the point of going in circles with you when you won’t debate my points.
Some Day, how do you determine which parts of the Bible are to be taken literal, and which parts aren’t? Akin doesn’t seem to be so sure that this is to be taken literal, so why are you so sure that it is? I’ll be interested in hearing the results of your research, however to say I can rid myself of the questions and uneasiness about this faith would not be the truth – it is not a light switch I can turn off. I’ve spent the last 12 years unsuccessfully trying to do just that.

Esau February 9, 2007 at 10:09 am

Aleii:
About:
…and not just dismissively say “God does what He wants”
I can certainly understand where you’re coming from. This is not an uncommon dilemma. It is one that many face concerning the faith.
There’s often a parallel that’s drawn between such crisis of faith to that of the story of Job.
But, you should also take into consideration that God is, in fact, God: Creator of all things.
Job 38:4 ¶ Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth? tell me if thou hast understanding.
Also, remember, that it was we, as a human race, in its first members, Adam and Eve, who rebelled against God and, therefore, deserve just punishment.
Yet, we see that God is truly a just and, in fact, merciful God even in spite of this since He had sent His Only Son, Jesus, to redeem us.
The following is an extract from Crossing the Threshold of Hope by His Holiness, Pope John Paul II:
God is always on the side of the suffering. His omnipotence is manifested precisely in the fact that He freely accepted suffering. He could have chosen not to do so. He could have chosen to demonstrate His omnipotence even at the moment of the Crucifixion. In fact, it was proposed to Him: “Let the Messiah, the King of Israel, come down now from the cross that we may see and believe” (Mk 15:32). But He did not accept that challenge. The fact that He stayed on the Cross until the end, the fact that on the Cross He could say, as do all who suffer: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Mk 15:34), has remained in human history the strongest argument. If the agony on the Cross had not happened, the truth that God is Love would have been unfounded. Yes! God is Love and precisely for this He gave His Son, to reveal Himself completely as Love. Christ is the One who “loved to the end” (Jn 13:1). “To the end” means to the last breath. “To the end” means accepting all the consequences of man’s sin, taking it upon Himself. This happened exactly as prophet Isaiah affirmed: “It was our infirmities that he bore, /We had all gone astray like sheep, / each following his own way; / But the Lord laid upon him / the guilt of us all” (Is 53:4-6).
So, if you have any doubt regarding the nature of God in these respects, just remember to reflect on the cross.
As far as this particular Old Testament story goes, as I’ve said previously:
…but killiing the innocent is a different matter.
I agree; which is why when I had initially read this article, at the beginning, I found this quite disconcerting.
Yet, take notice of another possibility that Jimmy introduces:
In this case the commands found in the Pentateuch concerning the Canaanites would not be meant to be taken in a literal sense. We know that the early history in Scripture contains symbolic elements as well as literal ones, and these commands would then turn out to be symbolic.
Presumably, they would symbolize things like the need to be totally separate from pagan culture, of how radically incompatible the pagan lifestyle is with faith in God. On this theory the books of the Pentateuch would have reached their final form some time after the events they describe, and these stories about wiping out the Canaanites (which the Israelites did not actually fulfill; there were still Canaanites living later) were included to teach the later readers how they must reject paganism, and that the original audience was meant to understand the nature of these stories as cautionary tales from which they were to draw a moral lesson (i.e., don’t be pagan; stick with God).

This makes sense. Scripture was not written by people in our culture, and so, as a result, it frequently contains figure of speech and symbols and things like that which are not familiar to us — literal conventions that we don’t use in our writing; and so we might misunderstand what exactly the text originally intended to say to its readers.
For example, if people had read some of the things we’ve incorporated into our literature, into our language, idioms such as “flogging a dead horse”; wouldn’t a person unfamiliar with this expression actually think: “Why the heck would anybody want to flog a dead horse?”
Or, better yet, how about people who “close the stable door after the horse has bolted”?
Posted by: Esau | Feb 1, 2007 4:25:04 PM

Aleii February 9, 2007 at 10:41 am

Esau wrote: “Yet, take notice of another possibility that Jimmy introduces:”
Right, and this is about the only thing that makes an iota of sense out of these scriptures to me, if they are not literal. But then, this leads to the question of how do you determine which parts of the Bible are not to be taken literal and which parts are?

Esau February 9, 2007 at 11:00 am

Aleii wrote: But then, this leads to the question of how do you determine which parts of the Bible are not to be taken literal and which parts are?
Okay, well, there are two senses of the term ‘literal’ that have to be distinguished.
One of the senses that is recognized by the Church is the literal sense of the text is what the text intends to convey. So, whatever the text is trying to convey, that’s the literal sense.
There is a second sense, though, which is not what the text is trying to convey necessarily, but what is suggested by the words themselves.
The Catholic Church recognizes Scripture is to be interpreted literally in the first sense (i.e., we have to pay attention carefully to what Scripture is trying to convey).
In fact, if you read the Catechism of the Catholic Church, in the section where it talks about the interpretation of Scripture, it says that the literal sense of the text is the foundational sense for all other senses in which the text could be taken.
You have to identify that one first before you can start applying, say, the moral sense of the text or, you know, one of the other senses.
So, the Church most definitely takes Scripture literally in that sense, but in some passages the words (if you just read the words on their own) they do seem to point a certain way. They don’t seem to be symbolic. They seem to be referring to concrete historic realities and in those passages, we have to take the nature of the text seriously. If the text is trying to communicate this really happened, then because it’s inspired by God, and God doesn’t make mistakes, we have to take it seriously if that’s what the text is communicating.
If the text really means this actually happened and we can establish that that’s what it means, then we have to say, “Well, okay, then that really happened.”
I would suggest that you read Jimmy Akin’s article at Catholic.com entitled “History as the Ancients Wrote It” and those contain some guidelines.
Please note: I recommend Jimmy Akin’s materials on my own accord and he does NOT in any way, shape or form provide any monetary compensation (or otherwise) for any such endorsement of his materials to me. I say this in the case where there may be those of the personality cult mindset who might go so far as to think this outrageous thought.

Mary February 9, 2007 at 8:25 pm

Again, this can be roughly interpreted to mean:
If we put full trust in God, we shouldn’t have anything to fear since He is never one finger-breadth of space nor one minute of time far away from us whom He loves.
I don’t know if that makes it any clearer for you — but there it is.

I don’t know how I can make it any clearer for you: your problem is not clarity. Indeed, the clearer you make the point, the worse your problem is. Your problem is that you are wrong. You have stated that passage means that
Yet, if somebody truly trusts in God, his/her fear in such times would be negligible, if not, non-existent.
But Jesus’s fear was certainly neither non-existent, nor negligible. You have yet to address this point, because your statement can only mean that Jesus did not truly trust in God.
And if you have not misinterpreted St. Thomas More’s passage — I think you have, but if you have not — well, then, More was wrong.

Mary February 9, 2007 at 8:34 pm

Now, as for your snotty remark:
I thought you had a background in law
*snort*
Perhaps you should consider that if your guesses about my background are so far off, perhaps your judgment in other matters might need to be revisited

My previous comment was referring to some past posts you’ve made in other threads — not an actual assessment or even ‘guess’ on your background.

And what about “referring to some past posts” means that you are not assessing or guessing about my background?
And sorry, you went on to say,
I’m sure you would have seen contractual language that far exceeds the length and conditions inherent in this
In the context of your claims about my alleged inability to fathom your posts, that is past a mere guess or asssessment; that’s an assertion.
Now, on the other hand, if you have anything against what I’ve said in the past, please, kindly disclose them
I’ve already told you what I have against what you’ve said in this thread: your posts are factually wrong and furthermore scandalous, being an incitement to despair.
unless your intention here is simply to be snobbish and insulting.
My intention here is to try to mitigate the chances that your posts will be a near occasion of sin.

Some Day February 10, 2007 at 7:26 am

Well so far one of the easiest answers I found out is this:
Sometimes a civilization reaches a point in sin, that they will never ever leave it, even if they haven’t gotten to their ultimate point of evil.
God in the omnipresent saw this in the Great Flood.
Any person left alive would have continued into a terrible abyss of sin, and good could not reign with one of those.
And according to Blessed Anne Catherine, when the Ark was going to be closed, a distant relative of Noah was allowed on to it. Probably a legal relation.
And in doing so that boy who should have drowned, was the father of the people who made the Tower of Babylon.
Iniquity penetrates a whole place and the people in it and their offspring.
But even in the Great Flood, many converted as they died. And that is the greatest gift we can recieve.
This world needs that grace, a chastisement to save this damned world of ours.
And it will come.
And I cleared up on the Original Sin/Hell issue.
Original Sin was a mortal sin by Adam( he repented), but not his decendants, but enough for us not to get into Heaven, but it still takes a personal sin to go to Hell.
The interpretions you say.
The Church and Her sons and daughters have many times explained certain parts of the Bible exactly. She also has taught us that certain BOOKS are metaphorical, and some historical.
They do mix in a bit though. Genesis is historical, yet like anything, it can have a metaphor. Like a said before:
When it said He created man, it is literal.
He did not create monkey who became man.
But the 7 days could be 7 months, 7 years, 7 centuries or even 7 million years (I doubt the last one though.)
Yet it remains historical.
Now the Apocalypse is HIGHLY METAPHORICAL.
Yet it is the historical or more accurately the prophetic account of something that will have place within Time. Yet it is not considered historical. Exodus is not a huge metaphor.
And believe it or not, the best answer is that God knows best, and we may not understand it.
But man does not guide himself by reason.
It is by love, love of God or love of himself because he cannot love another being for itself execpt for those two. And then the reasoning comes, he will attempt to explain on basis of that love.
So I say to you: Love and do what you want.

Inocencio February 10, 2007 at 7:52 am

Aleii,
Saying that maybe we should not read a part of the Bible in a literalistic way is understandable and different from saying “there is a big problem here, and it seems to point to the (literal) Bible being wrong.”
I would still caution anyone from thinking we can somehow judge God on the parts of the Bible we do not understand.
“I don’t blame you for not knowing the reason why God chose actions that make me physically sick,…”
And I don’t blame you for not being able to know the reasons for the tragedies I have suffered in my life.
“but I don’t see the point of going in circles with you when you won’t debate my points.”
Will you at least answer my one question?
Is it rational in your mind that God the Father sent His only begotten Son to redeem fallen humanity, many of who would reject Him, by his passion, death, resurrection and ascension?
Take care and God bless,
Inocencio
J+M+J

Aleii February 11, 2007 at 8:54 am

Some Day: The search for answers will continue to be a lifelong one. I appreciate any tidbit of information I can gather along the way. Thanks for taking the time to research and dialogue with me.

Inocencio February 11, 2007 at 9:16 am

Aleii,
A dialogue is more than just asking questions. I would still hope that you would be kind enough to answer my one question.
Is it rational in your mind that God the Father sent His only begotten Son to redeem fallen humanity, many of who would reject Him, by his passion, death, resurrection and ascension?
Take care and God bless,
Inocencio
J+M+J

Esau February 12, 2007 at 12:23 am

Mary:
You refuse to accept the truth inherent in the quote, which purpose is not to incite despair of any sort, but, in fact, to promote hope for those in such troubled times.
As I’ve tried to express repeatedly in my subsequent posts (which you have purposely ignored for some reason):
If we trust God, we shouldn’t have anything to fear since He is never one finger-breadth of space nor one minute of time far away from us whom He loves.
The very fact that an angel appeared to Jesus to comfort him in the Agony of the Garden proves that God is never far away from those whom he loves.
People who have Faith in God have nothing to fear in the world because God will never be far from those who believe in Him because of the fact that God loves them and will always be with them but, above all, would never abandon them — especially in times of adversity. In fact, it is during times of tribulation that He is ever close to us.
If you took into careful consideration the entire quote (as reproduced again below for your convenience) from More’s book (better yet, if you read the book), you would actually come to see, then, that the Christ that appears in “Footprints” is the Christ that More speaks of here; that Christ loves and, indeed, cares for us so much that He would never leave us — especially in times of tribulation for it is then when He is not only near us, but that He is, in fact, actually carrying us through such times of hardships and pain.
Now, I just don’t see how a beautiful thought as that which is inherent in this quote from More’s book would be of such scandalous nature as you claim and that, furthermore, it would incite despair when, clearly, this is not at all the case.
Dialogue of Comfort Against Tribulation
by Sir/Saint Thomas More
For God is, and must be, your comfort, and not I. And he is a sure comforter, who (as he said unto his disciples) never leaveth his servants comfortless orphans, not even when he departed from his disciples by death. But he both sent them a comforter, as he had promised, the Holy Spirit of his Father and himself, and he also made them sure that to the world’s end he would ever dwell with them himself. And therefore, if you be part of his flock and believe his promise, how can you be comfortless in any tribulation, when Christ and his Holy Spirit, and with them their inseparable Father, if you put full trust and confidence in them, are never either one finger-breadth of space nor one minute of time from you?
Now, about the so-called assessment that you seem to claim I’ve made; these comments, again, were primarily in reference to some posts you’ve made on other threads in the past.
I was hoping the ‘contractual language’ and such would have made that evident. But, as these posts of yours I was referring to here were so long ago, I can’t really blame you.
Let me just end by saying that you’ve got to examine the entire work before jumping into conclusions about it. You’ll find it a very rewarding experience if you read the book.
Also, you’ve got to take into consideration all I’ve said in my posts and not limit your examination to select points which do not reflect the entire message of my posts at all.
At any rate, God bless and I hope you do read the book.

Esau February 12, 2007 at 10:21 am

Psalm 27:1
1 ¶ (26-1) < > The Lord is my light and my salvation, whom shall I fear? The Lord is the protector of my life: of whom shall I be afraid?
To expound even further, the very fact that Our Lord endured times of tribulation personally while He was amongst us here on earth speaks to the fact such that He, Himself, knows what it’s like to be in the midst of such dark and troubled times and, therefore, promises to be ever with us all times (especially during such times of adversity), until the end.
So, just as we see the glory of Easter Sunday follow the tragedy of Good Friday, so our Lord will bring about the best from times that appear the worst!
Although we, ourselves, never perceive this initially because of the seeming overwhelming darkness of such tribulation, we must, nevertheless, hope in the Lord still, as the Psalmist says:
Psalm 42:11
11 Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why dost thou disquiet me? Hope thou in God, for I will still give praise to him: the salvation of my countenance, and my God.

Vlastimil Vohánka February 21, 2007 at 1:39 am

A post by Dave Armstrong on the issue and my comments at http://socrates58.blogspot.com/2007/02/reflections-on-catholic-viewpoint-on.html

Tom March 11, 2008 at 9:14 am

This entire thread proves that if a God exists, he or she had nothing to do with the Old Testament. The book was written by men, not God. Slavery, wife stoning, murder in the first 8 pages, a man builds an arc and takes all the animals with him! Did he take all 30,000 species of bettles on the earth? God must love bettles. And what’s with the anti-gay thing from one line in the book? We know for a fact that dinosours roamed the earth 10 million years ago. This book is 6,000 years old, do you really believe it has the answer to the creation of the earth?

bill912 March 11, 2008 at 9:27 am

“This entire thread proves that if a God exists, he or she had nothing to do with the Old Testament.” And the proof is what?
“The book was written by men, not God.” Actually, the Old Testament consists of many books. We know they were written by men. No one ever claimed anything different. We believe that God inspired those men.
“…the anti-gay thing from one line…” Huh?
“We know for a fact that dinosaurs roamed the earth 10 million years ago.” This will come as a surprise to all the paleontologists in the world, as they claim that dinosaurs died out 65 million years ago. Something about an asteroid.
“The book is 6,000 years old…” That would place it more than 2,000 years before Abraham.

Tom March 11, 2008 at 2:57 pm

When you claim something (God exists) It is on you to give FACTS to back up it, not me to disprove it. “I saw a UFO the other day” can you prove I’m wrong?
No answer for the ‘Shalt not lie with another man’ line, that so many claim is God’s feelings on homosexuality. I thought Christ was about all Gods children. Did God make them gay? If so, why? Did God create hurricane Katrina because He is angry about abortion and homosexuality?
My dates are wrong, true, but we know the earth is much older than all religions. In fact most scientists believe the earth has ‘started over’ as many as 8 times.
One last question, why does God place so much on whether I believe in him or not? The child murderer can go to heaven if he repents, I might be an outstanding person, but will end up in hell simple because I don’t believe. Sounds like something man made up to scare me into believing.

bill912 March 11, 2008 at 3:37 pm

Tom, I can’t make hide nor hair out of your post, but I’ll pray for you.

Tom June 12, 2008 at 6:36 am

Just read the section about Lot and his daughters. His wife is turned into a pillar of salt?
The 2 daughters get Lot drunk and have sex with him? Talk about screwed up DNA.
This is fiction people! You can’t tell me you really believe this.

bill912 June 12, 2008 at 6:45 am

Don’t you want to interact and respond to my responses to your posts, Tom? Or are you just a drive-by poster?

David B. June 12, 2008 at 12:03 pm

Tom,
The child murderer can go to heaven if he repents, I might be an outstanding person, but will end up in hell simple because I don’t believe. Sounds like something man made up to scare me into believing.
The murderer is saved not by his acts, but by the Sacrifice of Jesus. If you don’t believe in God, you are refusing His Grace. People who reject God won’t be happy with Him in Paradise. God doesn’t damn people: people damn themselves.
Furthermore, the Bible doesn’t approve the sins mentioned in it. It tells about the crimes of man because it concerns in large part the FALL of man and man’s redemption by Jesus Christ.

Tom June 16, 2008 at 6:34 am

I’m a drive-by poster.
Do you know the origins of religion? Early man had no explanation of things like earthquakes, rain from clouds, floods, ect. So man assumed that God (or many Gods in this case) must be behind all unexplainable events. Now we know what causes these things and God has nothing to do with them. Now the argument is over evolution vs. creationism. Because it is difficult to understand, religion says, ‘we can’t understand it, so it must be God.’ Do really think the earth was created in 6 days and all the evidence of natural selection is bogus?
If God created the earth, who created God?
Lastly, do you think if you were born in Iraq or Pakastan, you would be a Christian? Your religion is based on birth place and what you are told as a child. A lot like a fairy tale.

bill912 June 16, 2008 at 6:43 am

“I’m a drive-by poster.”
Well, atleast he got something right. I can understand why he doesn’t want to interact with us; I wouldn’t want to try to rationally explain his emotinally-based positions, as emotions are, by definition, irrational.

bill912 June 16, 2008 at 6:52 am

“So man assumed that God (or many Gods in this case)must be behind all unexplainable events.”
Evidence, please?
“Do you really think the earth was created in 6 days…?”
No. As a Catholic, I am permitted to believe that some of the Old Testament was written symbolically. But you didn’t know that, you just assumed, and did what people do when they assume.
“If God created the earth, who created God?”
God is, by His Nature, self-existent. His Name, revealed to Moses over 3,000 years ago is Yahweh, or I-Am-Who-Am. The Name Yahweh is an archaic Hebrew version of the verb “to be”.

bill912 June 16, 2008 at 6:54 am

“Now we know what causes these things and God has nothing to do with them.”
This news would have come as a surpise to Einstein.

bill912 June 16, 2008 at 6:57 am

“…religion says, ‘we can’t understand it, so it must be God’.”
I don’t know of any religion that says that. Would you care to name one and show us the evidence?

bill912 June 16, 2008 at 7:00 am

I will continue to pray for you, Tom.

David B. June 16, 2008 at 7:15 am

Drive-by Atheist Tom, :-)
Early man had no explanation of things like earthquakes, rain from clouds, floods, ect. So man assumed that God (or many Gods in this case) must be behind all unexplainable events.
As opposed to some scientists believing science can explain all things, even that which no man has witnessed.
Now we know what causes these things and God has nothing to do with them.
From a scientific standpoint, yes, we know what cause earthquakes, etc. But believing that God effects nature is not disprovable by science. It is Theology.
Now the argument is over evolution vs. creationism. Because it is difficult to understand, religion says, ‘we can’t understand it, so it must be God.’
No, the Catholic Church says: “There is a debate. Either way, Christians must believe God created man in a special way, giving him a soul, an intellect and Free Will.”
Do really think the earth was created in 6 days and all the evidence of natural selection is bogus?
A Catholic is not bound to the interpretation that the Creation of the Earth took place over six 24-hour days.
If God created the earth, who created God?
God is the Uncaused Cause. It is only reasonable. Life does not rise from lifelessness. Anything in motion now was put in motion by something outside of itself. The original Cause must be uncaused, or we must seek backwards forever. This is impossible since, as Science tells us, the universe did not always exist.
Lastly, do you think if you were born in Iraq or Pakastan, you would be a Christian? Your religion is based on birth place and what you are told as a child. A lot like a fairy tale.
Where were you born, that you are bound to be an atheist? I take responsibility for my beliefs. I am an adult, and the base of my belief in God is not controlled by my location or ‘what I was told.’ I hope it is the same for you. I have been strengthened, not weakened, in my Faith through studying it. Any questions that have arisen have been answered to my satisfaction.

SDG June 16, 2008 at 7:27 am

Drive-by Atheist Tom:
Please note that while your opinions and arguments are welcome here, posters are expected to follow DA RULZ. Inter alia, please be aware of the following:

I don’t mind disagreement. I do mind rudeness. … Rudeness towards others on the blog is also out of bounds.
Conversation involves an ability to talk about more than one thing, not an obsessive harping on one subject. Say your piece and move on.
It constitutes rudeness to make inflammatory assertions that one is not prepared to back up by anything more than hearsay.

Thanks for your cooperation.

Tom June 16, 2008 at 9:35 am

Where was I rude? I see I’m called the ‘drive by atheist’
At no point did I say I’m an Atheist. I can’t prove there is not a God, but you can’t prove there is a God (don’t tell me because of the Bible).
Religion is my problem, not spirituality. Look at all the wars and conflicts that religion has caused and continues to cause; Jews/Arabs, Sunnis and Shites, Catholic/Protestant…how about the Inquisition? How many people were murdered in the name of religion?
It constitutes rudeness to make inflammatory assertions that one is not prepared to back up by anything more than hearsay…..Religion is all hearsay! It’s on you to prove it, not me to disprove it.
If it works for you, great, but don’t tell me or my kids that I’m going to hell because of YOUR beliefs.

bill912 June 16, 2008 at 9:44 am

Who here said that you or your kids are going to hell? You seem to do an awful lot of pre-judging of people you don’t know.

Tom June 16, 2008 at 9:53 am

Bill, do you feel that I’m going to hell? If I continue to not belive?

bill912 June 16, 2008 at 9:58 am

Interact. Answer my question. That would be the polite thing to do.

bill912 June 16, 2008 at 10:01 am

“Bill, do you feel that I’m going to hell?”
I don’t allow my feelings to do my thinking for me. Nor do I make judgments I am not competent to make. I do not have the ability to read the souls of others or to predict the future. Judging the state of another’s soul is the one thing that Jesus told us not to judge.

bill912 June 16, 2008 at 10:05 am

Now: “Who here said that you or your kids are going to hell?”

tom June 16, 2008 at 10:13 am

Nobody here said that me or my kids are going to hell (I have had that said to me elsewhere).
The Bible does.

SDG June 16, 2008 at 10:19 am

Where was I rude?

I didn’t say you were. I just wanted to call your attention to the rules. You called yourself a “drive-by poster,” a type of behavior that can closely align with rudeness. It was just a caution.

I can’t prove there is not a God, but you can’t prove there is a God (don’t tell me because of the Bible).

Nobody here would say that. You’ve got way too many assumptions about the people you’re talking to, possibly because of past experience with different people.
I think I can show it’s rational to believe in God, although I wouldn’t say I can “prove there is a God” in the sense you mean. So I’d say you’re defining the issue wrongly to start with.

Religion is my problem, not spirituality.

Whatever that means.

Look at all the wars and conflicts that religion has caused and continues to cause; Jews/Arabs, Sunnis and Shites, Catholic/Protestant…how about the Inquisition? How many people were murdered in the name of religion?

Yes, I see that religious people kill others in the name of religion. I also see that anti-religious people kill others in the name of irreligion.

Religion is all hearsay! It’s on you to prove it, not me to disprove it.

If I make inflammatory remarks, it’s on me to prove them. If you make inflammatory remarks, it’s on you to prove them. Like your imaginary history of “where religion comes from,” for example.

If it works for you, great, but don’t tell me or my kids that I’m going to hell because of YOUR beliefs.

As others have noted, there is no one here who will tell you that. Where you or I or your kids or mine go when we die is for God to judge, not us.

The Bible does.

Which text(s) are you thinking of?

Tom July 29, 2008 at 12:11 pm

Ex.22:20 “Whoever sacrifices to any god other than the LORD must be destroyed.”
Lev.24:16 “He that blasphemeth the name of the LORD, he shall surely be put to death, and all the congregation shall certainly stone him.”
lev 20:27 “A man also or woman that hath a familiar spirit, or that is a wizard, shall surely be put to death: they shall stone them with stones: their blood shall be upon them.”

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