Can I Judge the Judge?

Christians claim I cannot say God punishes us in barbaric ways even though I think he did so in many examples found in the Bible. If any judge turned someone into a pillar of salt for looking back (Lot’s Wife), or if he struck Uzzah down for steadying the Ark, or if he killed Ananias and Sapphira for lying, I would consider these punishments barbaric by all decent standards in today’s world. Christians claim I do not have a standard of morality to judge how God purportedly punishes us. They claim I must have an objective standard to know what good and evil is. They claim God is the objective standard, so by definition he does what is good, and I have no reason to judge the Judge of all creation.

But this all begs the question. I am seeking to know whether or not God exists from the way he supposedly judges people in the Bible. It’s not that I see myself actually judging the Judge as if he exists. Even if he does exist I don’t see why I can’t assess how he officiates in his court room, just like I do with any other judge in my society. Regardless, I’m looking at how the Bible claims God judges us and asking whether or not he exists. And my conclusion is that if this God exists then he’s not a good God. Since Christians claim God is good, this means their conception of God does not exist. And this is one of many reasons I reject Christianity.

Let's say you didn't believe in God, like me. Would that change anything with regard to how you thought a judge sentenced someone for a crime? Let's say before you became an atheist you thought that if a molestor was merely sentenced to probation, then he received a slap on the wrist for his crime. Would that view of yours change if you became an atheist? NO! I can indeed say when the punishment is too great or small based upon how serious I think the crime is. [At one time the Bible codified the standards of its own day when it proscribed capital punishment for a son who cursed his parents, but Christians no longer believe in that kind of law because history has moved on, and them with it.] Christians say I have no objective standard to claim this, but I say I am well within the standards of decency in modern America, which are more humane and civil than in the barbaric past. Christians say America has no ultimate standards for their morality, or those that do exist are based upon the Bible, but I say there have been a number of civilizations that have had little or no influence from the Bible that would agree with my standards.

Christians say humans beings as a whole have some kind of moral code written within them from God, and I disagree for one obvious reason: there is such a wide diversity of moral standards among the people in our world, along with the fact that there is a wide moral diversity among those who claim to be Christians too. Where is this moral code that is supposedly written into all human beings? Take a poll on the great moral issues of our day. If God writes a moral code within us then he’s writing in invisible ink, as far as I’m concerned. We cannot read it, and if that’s so, what’s left of the claim that God has done so?

Christians claim that God writes this moral code within us, but people just suppress it. However, no one is consciously aware of any suppression. Almost every person thinks his or her moral notions are true. People hold their moral convictions sincerely. For one side to say that the other side is not being sincere, doesn't help know who is correct at all. In fact, I have seen Christians hotly dispute other Christians on so many moral and political issues that it's difficult to see how such a claim makes any sense at all, since not even Christians can claim to know what that code is. This becomes a problem for the existence of the Holy Spirit who is supposed to guide the Christian as well. Where was he when Christians went to war with each other over interpretations of the Bible? Apparently he's not properly doing his job, and never has. These facts strongly suggest to me there is no moral code given us by God, and there is no Holy Spirit either, contrary to the claims of the superstitious people who wrote the Bible, and those who believe those claims. The hard evidence is against it.

The progression of Christian morality that can be read in any history of Christian ethics book will show this. How the Christian judges morality is not necessarily learned from the Bible, but it is brought to the Bible; that is, Christians develop their morality in tandem with their culture and find justification for that morality in the Bible. [Key issues here are slavery, democracy, women's leadership roles, abortion, capital punishment, and what to do about poverty].

In fact, if a Christian became an atheist his or her behavior wouldn't change much either, which is another reason why it's not the Bible that forms our ethics. Michael Shermer asks the Christian one simple question. “What would you do if there were no God? Would you commit robbery, rape, and murder, or would you continue being a good and moral person? Either way the question is a debate stopper. If the answer is that you would soon turn to robbery, rape, or murder, then this is a moral indictment of your character, indicating you are not to be trusted because if, for any reason, you were to turn away from your belief in God, your true immoral nature would emerge…If the answer is that you would continue being good and moral, then apparently you can be good without God. QED.” [Michael Shermer, The Science of Good and Evil, pp. 154-155].

Furthermore, it seems obvious to me that punishing the whole human race for the small sin of curiousity and selfishness that was created within them by God in Adam and Eve, was absolutely horrible of the Biblical God. God would have known that he had not given them enough evidence to believe that eating the fruit would cause so much horrendus suffering. If they had enough evidence to actually believe this would happen, they wouldn't have done it. Besides, God purportedly knew full well in advance they would indeed sin. The sentencing of this God for this crime is warped and barbaric. I think a case can be made for entrapment here.

The only reason Christians don't agree is because they believe in God, and the reason they believe in God has more to do with a felt need for some higher power taken together with when and where they were born, called "the accidents of birth." Their religion was the one experienced within their culture. For if they were born in Turkey they would be a Muslims, and if they were born in Mongolia they'd be Buddhists right now.

If Christians didn't believe in God, they would see what their God concept purportedly does for what it truly is, barbaric. Their God concept clouds their eyes from seeing what seems obvious to others.

And as far as the naturalistic standard of morality goes, I believe at root we all have the same standard, based in nature, it's just Christians refuse to acknowledge it. Christians think they find their morality in the Bible but they don't, as I've indicated. If their morality is to be found inside the pages of the Bible, then they need to explain why Christians have disagreed about that morality down through the centuries, and even today. People have their morality and then they try to find it in the Bible, for the most part, although, since the Bible is part of our culture then it helps to shape our standards in a dialectic conversation.

20 comments:

Daniel said...

Compassion is the basis of all morality. Arthur Schopenhauer German philosopher (1788 - 1860).

Anonymous said...

I love people who are thoughtful and sensitive - who consider the welfare of others, but ultimately, it is man, not God, that fails to do the loving thing. Spiritual insight is gained through overcoming all the prideful boundaries we instill in one another. I can't do it on my own so I no longer stigmatize the need for a loving God.

I have in the past, been a little like both of the thieves on the crosses next to Jesus. One of the thieves seemed to be rescued instantly into heaven, but, my sightedness, like that man, had been honed through a lifetime of failing to do the right thing and I was able to finally concede that. The other thief was blind to Jesus's innocence because he held to pridefulness and bitterness - I used to want to control because I didn't understand that God could be trusted as an authority.

Jesus spoke harshly to the Pharisees, but He could be trusted doing that - it was out of love. He wasn't trying to vent hositility or control them -He was attempting to unsettle their hypocrisy so they could be set free from it. One would not sit by the side of a highway and politely negotiate with a child in the road about to be run over by a Mack truck. Jesus's admonitions are of a loving God, not a punishing one. That is the context in which Jesus confronts people who are caught in destructiveness and pride.

Gina

DBULL said...

There are many reasons why you guys get things wrong when trying to debunk christianity. One of the primary reasons is your analysis and reasoning is based almost entirely on a look at apostate Christianity. Not all that is called christianity, is christianity. Throughout the bible we see the Lord wiping out or punishing the majority of the house of Israel and saving only a remnant. why?

Matthew 7
13"Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. 14But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.

^^^^ what that means is that most of what has called itself christianity will not be saved, why? It's a fraud.. FEW find the gate that leads to life, the bible could not be more clear. You do a great job debunking the many, the frauds- I do a decent job of that myself, but when it comes to debunking the real deal everything I've ever read here falls flat. The best you guys have come up with yet is "Yea, hath God said...?"

Genesis 3:1

sound familiar?

Same tricks different day..The bible confirms it's truth over and over for those with eyes to see. Is the bible REALLY the word of God? Can you trust it? Don't you guys see how you play right into this?

Berlezebub said...

anonymous said:
I love people who are thoughtful and sensitive - who consider the welfare of others, but ultimately, it is man, not God, that fails to do the loving thing.

Too true, anonymous. But there are several examples in the Bible of the deity not doing the loving thing.

dbull said:
Matthew 7
13"Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. 14But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.

^^^^ what that means is that most of what has called itself christianity will not be saved, why? It's a fraud.. FEW find the gate that leads to life, the bible could not be more clear. You do a great job debunking the many, the frauds- I do a decent job of that myself, but when it comes to debunking the real deal everything I've ever read here falls flat. The best you guys have come up with yet is "Yea, hath God said...?"


And what makes you so sure you have it right, dbull? Isn't it the height of arrogance that you believe you have it all figured out, when your quote should bring some doubt?

The reason I became an atheist was the inconsistencies in the Bable. The reason I started questioning it in the first place, is pious idiots like you. Every xian thinks they're right in their interpretation, but it's all just a rationalization for living a life that you want to live. Not to mention giving you the excuse to look down on others. Maybe, just maybe, your [sarcasm]creator[/sarcasm] wants you to not blindly follow. Maybe he wants you to use your noggin for something besides a hat rack, and question why you believe. Wouldn't it be funny, if all the atheists disappeared during The End Times and all of the rest were left behind to deal with it all. You'd show up at the Pearly Gates with the atheists on the other side, having a debate with your sky daddy, on why everyone thinks they have to believe in him to do the moral thing.

Oh, and good post JWL. This is one of my favorite blogs.

-Berlzebub

Anonymous said...

Now some might wrongly believe that it is the worst hurtful thing in the world to be called a pious idiot and be accused of being arrogant, but in fact, I've been treated this way for for much of my life and I understand these sort of dynamics - I don't encourage it but I am familiar with it. This blog sort of feels a lot like my old home - :-) I agree with Berlzebub, it's one of my favorite sites as well.

God Bless,

Gina

Martin Wagner said...

One of the primary reasons is your analysis and reasoning is based almost entirely on a look at apostate Christianity. Not all that is called christianity, is christianity.

Dbull, the way I see it, this is all you Christians' problem. If you guys can't get your storybook straight, is it any wonder you provide critics with such a target-rich environment? Constantly saying "Oh, you're not critiquing true Christianity" doesn't really strengthen your position.

Glenn Dixon said...

dbull said Not all that is called christianity, is christianity.

What if I don't believe in the Bible at all? Is there some other book that presents a 'real' christianity?

Anonymous said...

(I agree with your post, however...) For Christian morality, God serves the role (or we are led to believe, at the very least that he serves the role) that reason serves in secular morality (for LACK of a much better term). Regardless if a person subscribes to deontology, virtue ethics, utilitarianism, and so forth, there is still something that these rest on. That, namely, is reason (with the different versions disagreeing on what the appropriate reason is (e.g. Motivations if you are a (classical) Kantian; pain if you are a (classical) utilitarian; etc).

So, yes, the Christians do beg the question. But so do, to a certain extent, those of us who subscribe to reason and not a deity as the source of our morality. We are more prone to question the foundational reasons than many Christians are of questioning God. But we, very rarely (if ever) do question that reason (in some form) is the base of morality, much like Christians very rarely question that God is the base of morality.

But, the key difference, as you point out, is that we do not say X cannot question the source of our morality.

("We" is used in a very broad, inclusive sense in this post.)

Michael Ejercito said...

Morality is obedience to God. Immorality is disobedience to God.

Daniel said...

Gina,

Now some might wrongly believe that it is the worst hurtful thing in the world to be called a pious idiot and be accused of being arrogant, but in fact, I've been treated this way for for much of my life and I understand these sort of dynamics - I don't encourage it but I am familiar with it

I'm afraid I have to dismantle your martyr complex -- the "pious idiot" being referred to here by Berlzebub was clearly DBULL, not you.

Michael,

Morality is obedience to God. Immorality is disobedience to God.

Because human beings who rely upon externally-revealed morality place their trust in the writings of other people to guide them, fooling such people is rather trivial. Take, for example, the relativistic outlook of persons who have to say, "X was wrong in the OT, but not today." Such people have no sense of objective ethics, and can be told that they are "interpreting" something wrongly.

Kool-aid drinkers?

"But of course you are, dear."

berlzebub said...

Daniel, thank you for clarifying what I said. I meant nothing of the sort against Gina.

Gina, I want to apologize if you took my comment as an afront to all Christians. My comment was directed at dbull, and those like him, who have the arrogance to assume that their way is the right way, and then quote a passage from the Book that supposedly proves their stance. I'm no expert on it, but I'm pretty sure, that with a little study, I could find twenty passages to refute what dbull said.

I'm going to be starting a blog soon, and in it I will explain my anger towards those like dbull. They are the reason I became an agnostic (while still in elementary school), and then an atheist (after college).

-Berlzebub

Anonymous said...

Berlezebub, thanks for the apology - I really value those as it takes courage to humble onesself to do that. Daniel, i can see why you think I'm a martyr - I hope one day that could be the case, but I don't think I'm that much of an influence. I would reword my post to say that it's okay if someone is angry toward the message - I don't let that govern my life so much anymore - not that I'm indifferent to hurtful words or undermining, but I've done those things myself and it's understandable.

thanks!

Gina

Anonymous said...

oops, I meant to say "Daniel I can see why you think I have a martyr complex." Actually, that is one of the things I require salvation from - operating from a victimhood stance. Deliverance takes awhile -sometimes a kid can be made to believe that seeking to quench a heartfelt need is a crime and a lot of times that can result in lifelong dysfunctions like manipulation, presumption, lying, undermining, etc. etc.

Thanks,
Gina

Daniel said...

operating from a victimhood stance

Unfortunately, along with moral bankruptcy (God is justified in killing babies, because babies are inherently evil; it's okay when God wipes out races of people, but not Hitler...etc), Christianity also foments this sort of mentality. You are a "victim" of the Fall, of the Devil, of God's own will.

And how much like spousal abuse is your relationship to God?

Anonymous said...

Why are you focusing on these things (lot’s wife, etc.) we are not them! Have you ever been in a court room when a judge passes sentence without mercy. It’s the same difference, its also a horrible moment for the accused, we (believers ) are not under judgment we are the forgiven, the chosen, I am not the pillar of salt, nor the one who placed my hand on the ark, or the ones who lied to the Holy Spirit, he’s not going to judge me in this fashion, beings that he is the loving Father. I believe you have in essence , made a judgment of the judge, but so what, God is loving and merciful, he can take it.

This argument that you make is a visa versa consideration, and it all depends on what you want to focus on and, how you translate. I will give this in the favor of all who make arguments against Christianity, there definitely is some big issues of foolishness that should be addressed, and also there is a movement gaining momentum, and as predicted “a great falling away” and the love of many waxing cold. None the less make your statements, think them through, and come on back.

I really don’t know what kind of experience you had, but this one thing is obvious, it didn’t work, or can I say you didn’t see him work! Well if that was the case with me I would be posting in agreement.

If it doesn’t work, trash it, that’s my motto, and your is, it didn’t work and I trashed it ! What about all the directives, that encourages us to come to him with promise, you mean to tell me you never experienced his answers to your prayers, tisc tisc, improper teaching! hummm! If the end results to your religious experience is denial, it has to be a big question with me what you actually learned, to view in the negative is a easy thing to do. Your fighting awful hard to be right, I’ll leave you with this one that I know you know, come unto me all you who labor and are heavy burdened, learn of me for I am meek and lowly in heart and you shall find rest unto your souls.

John W. Loftus said...

Pville63, but what if the people I mentioned were your mothers and fathers, or you yourself?

As far as your encouragement to come unto God for rest, Christianity has already given us a bad taste.

Aaron Kinney said...

Great post John! Morality is one of my favorite topics.

And just yesterday I gave a basic lawdown of my godless moral framework in a response to a christian's thoughts on the Euthyphro Dilemma. Basically I showed that its impossible to have a foundation for morality based on a decree from any outside agent, and that the only foundation form morality can come from the facts of what you are: a self-owning individual.

If anyone wants to, they can read my post here.

Anonymous said...

Daniel, thanks for the connect to your website - just one more comment because this seems to be going off topic - but the victim stuff came through secular, moral people, not religious people . It's a human heart that doesn't always know how to love. I am able to assert constructive boundaries for myself now because of faith - and I don't get infected with every spiritual virus (hatred, revenge, cynicism, etc) that comes down the road anymore. Thanks for the information though.

Gina

Anonymous said...

I invite you to re-read the account of Annanias and Saphira in light of the gospel message - this is not an account of God punishing people, but of people responding to the truth in a way that belies their heartfelt belief that God is condemning and punishing. Pretense and compulsion go along with fear of exposure/shame (Jesus lifted off shame of sin)- The apostles posed some questions and revealed the truth to Annanias and he, along with his wife, responded with terror. They were not Belivers of a merciful, generous God so their actions were in accordance with disbelief. That is why they initially felt the need to give the appearance of generosity while holding money back. Jesus spoke of this perspective throughout the parables (superficial spirituality - only doing good works to receive man's praise, the parable of the talents, etc. etc.). Pretense versus heartfelt. Believing in Jesus, I know I have the freedom and ability to set a boundary, honestly and openly, on my finances - I don't have to pretend to be generous if I really am not.

Anonymous said...

John, you mentined this; "Christians say human(s) beings as a whole have some kind of moral code written within them from God, and I disagree for one obvious reason: there is such a wide diversity of moral standards among the people in our world, along with the fact that there is a wide moral diversity among those who claim to be Christians too."

I believe you are in agreement with God's word - afterall that is why we need a savior.

I believe that it is within our natural creation to desire a connection with others on some level (although those who do not seem to want intimacy are not excluded from the love of God). I also believe that we house the potential to be extremely destructive towards one another - that we can be provoked to be cruel and rejecting of one another.

God acknowledges the truth - He acknowledges that both desire for intimacy and destructiveness are housed within the human being. He is not intimidated by our expression of hatefulness or whatever comes out of us that is destructive. His ultimate goal for us is to be merciful and compassionate towards one another.

Morality can be an expression of love or an expression of self-righteous pride. The motive is manifested and becomes apparent upon viewing the larger community -are people being marginalized, castigated, persecuted? These are the fruits of pride, whether they are from a secular or religious standpoint.

Prideful, self-righteous people were offended when Jesus said to eat His body and drink His blood. His words were a simple acknowledgement of the truth and an invitation to bring our hard feelings to Him - His words were not intended as a rejection or threat of punishment towards us - on a spiritual, mental and emotional level, we are cannibalistic towards each other - it can be extremely damning to be mistreated by other people. Jesus just wants us to bring everything to Him - He is not intimidated by us - He loves us.