Conversation with an apocalyptic christian

Since I am now getting a few Referrers from a specific website, I figured I’d give those here to see what one of the “pigs, dogs, wolves, wicked, hypocrites, generation of vipers, seplecurs (sp?), and children of the devil” is all about a place to leave their comments, criticism, and of course give them a chance to “convert the sinners” who frequent this blog.

The following is a back and forth I had with the head of a christian based blog where the topic at hand was “an open thread to post any questions or comments about any aspects of scripture …” Since this is where the referrers are coming from I decided to post it here as a starting off point for their benefit.

Admittedly, I was a bit condescending a few times, and a few of my comments were specifically designed to elicit certain replies; but I think that overall I made the point I intended to make, even if there is little, if any, chance that anybody from that forum will be swayed in even the slightest. However, I believe the exercise is worth it. While I could have stayed a bit more on topic, instead of veering off into my particular comfort zone, I do believe that the flow of the conversation dictated the switch.

I do believe that the next time I do this, I will spend more time preparing before hand to gather my thoughts, examples, and specific passages. This particular time I just went off the cuff based on happening to run across this random blog thread that I felt was an easy invitation to debate, and I do think that in a few of my comments it showed.

And now… on with the show…

Rodibidably says:

My scripture question is relatively simple…

Why does jesus condone slavery?
Remember, ALL of these are taken from the new testament, not the old, so the idea that god changes his mind about 2000 years ago won’t work…

“According to the New Testament and the texts attributed to the Jesus character, he also had nothing to say against slavery; everything said regarding slaves was in favour of and promoted the use of slaves.

Ephesians 6:5 Servants, be obedient to them that are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in singleness of your heart, as unto Christ;

Other version:

Ephesians 6:5 Slaves, obey your earthly masters with deep respect and fear. Serve them sincerely as you would serve Christ.

1 Timothy 6:1 Let as many servants as are under the yoke count their own masters worthy of all honour, that the name of God and his doctrine be not blasphemed.

1 Timothy 6:2 And they that have believing masters, let them not despise them, because they are brethren; but rather do them service, because they are faithful and beloved, partakers of the benefit. These things teach and exhort.

Other version:

1 Timothy 6:1-2 Christians who are slaves should give their masters full respect so that the name of God and his teaching will not be shamed. If your master is a Christian, that is no excuse for being disrespectful. You should work all the harder because you are helping another believer by your efforts. Teach these truths, Timothy, and encourage everyone to obey them.

More:

Peter 2:18 Servants, be subject to your masters with all fear; not only to the good and gentle, but also to the froward.

Titus 2:9 Exhort servants to be obedient unto their own masters, and to please them well in all things; not answering again;

Luke 12:45 But and if that servant say in his heart, My lord delayeth his coming; and shall begin to beat the menservants and maidens, and to eat and drink, and to be drunken;

Luke 12:46 The lord of that servant will come in a day when he looketh not for him, and at an hour when he is not aware, and will cut him in sunder, and will appoint him his portion with the unbelievers.

Luke 12:47 And that servant, which knew his lord’s will, and prepared not himself, neither did according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes.

Matthew 10:24 The disciple is not above his master, nor the servant above his lord.”

Reply:

Christ does not ‘condone’ slavery. You have used quite a few of those scriptures out of context (eg the Luke ones) which are a parable.

However what the Bible states is that for those who are in the position as servants or slaves, they should act righteously and not be lazy or dishonest etc. The Bible also states that those slaves who can win their freedom, should. However on the converse side it says those who are masters should act righteously towards their slaves and pay them a fair wage. The Bible nowhere supports social or economic injustice – in fact it repeatedly and consistently states the opposite. You need to read what was said about these things in context.

Rodibidably says:

As a society we have come to the conclusion that slavery is one of the most immoral things man has ever done to one another(if not THE most immoral).

So one might thing that a benevolent god might perhaps say somewhere in his book “hey dumb asses, don’t put people in slavery”… Instead the bible (in both the old and new testament gives rules on HOW to treat your slaves, or how to act if you are a slave.

THAT is condoning slavery any way you read it. And that IS taken in context, thank you very much.

Reply:

As to servanthood or ’slavery’ there are definitions of this for what is right and what is wrong. I think your problem is you fail to understand ’slave’ or servant in the correct context. You have a view of slavery like perhaps the bondage the African Americans went through but not all ’slavery’ is or was like this throughout history. The Bible never condoned the way the Negro slaves were treated, do not ever blame God for that or treatment like that.

There are always richer and poorer people within society, always have been, always will be. Paid work is by nature a kind of paid servanthood. If a poor person works for a rich person that makes him a slave or servant of sorts even today, hence the term ‘work slave’. Does it make the employer by default unrighteous? No (although there are many unrighteous employers). ‘Servants’ go and work in restaurants, or go into offices, or deliver the mail, or work in hospitals, on computers, or even work high up in the White House. Do you disagree with this?

The point must therefore be, not that paid work is wrong, or even ’servanthood’ or ‘work slavery’, but that an employer must not abuse the workforce, and treat them all fair and equally. If one has a servant or slave (by my definition) and treats them fair, equally and well, then what is the cause for complaint? Why are you still so angry? That is the point the Bible makes. And furthermore it is also fair and right that the servant does the job he is paid for well and honestly.

Being in bonds and shackles, beaten up, etc – that is wrong, always has been. The Bible has never condoned this, and in fact speaks out against treating slaves like pieces of meat.

Rodibidably says:

So what you are saying is that the translations of the bible do not mean what they say…

So then how can you know that a day is just a day (and not perhaps 1 day = 2 billion years)…

And how can you know that when the bible speaks of love they neighbor as thyself that is doesn’t mean something completely different…

Oh yes, I know, it’s because YOU are the one person in history who has a complete and correct understanding of god’s intentions, and his “writings” and can correctly understand their meaning.
YOU are the one person in history who will not misinterpret a “holy manuscript” and use it as justification for murder, war, genocide, slavery, or other untold horrific acts.
YOU are the one person in history to see things clearly and make the correct choices.
YOU are the one person is history that “gets it” and we should all follow your personal interpretation.

Well thanks for clearing that one up for me. I feel MUCH better now.

Reply:

No, I did not say that at all. I am saying you have misinterpreted them, or see them only through anger colored spectacles, because of your wrongly directed bitterness.

For the record, I am not the ONE person in history who knows these things – many others do. The trouble is people say the Bible says this and that because of surface study, or because they are told one thing by someone else, and then think it says something it does not. They therefore get the wrong end of the stick. A bit like me if I delved in a Stephen Hawkings book and just read a couple of sentences from that without absorbing the whole and made a whole theory on what Hawkings says and does not say.

Anybody with evil or impure intent – even you, if your mind was set to it – could twist scriptures to say what you want them to say to justify any wrongs. But you would not be right in your interpretation, many would say this, but some fools would follow you as they are not that interested in truth and just want to justify their own prejudices. Hey, that is in fact what you actually just did, you twisted them to say something they never did! Think about it if you will. But you are not interested in the truth. You are angry and bitter. Stop blaming God for man’s wrongs. Perhaps one day you will realise you need to address your rantings elsewhere.

You hate prejudice, but you prove yourself to be a very prejudiced individual yourself.

Rodibidably says:

You claim I blame god for man’s wrongdoings. This is not at all the point which I make.

I blame man for man’s actions.
I blame man for slavery, war, famine, murder, rape, hypocrisy, and all the other “evils” in the world today.

I also blame man for claiming they do many of these evils in the name of their god.

The Spanish Inquisition was done of the “name of god”.
The crusades were done in the “name of god”.
19 men flew planes into 3 buildings and a field in Penn “in the name of god”.
Women are brutally killed because they “dared” to show their face, or allow a man to rape them.
Slavery was condones for countless years by southern christian men because “the bible condones it”.

Countless atrocities have been justified through the history of man because somebody felt that it was their duty to defend, honor, spread the word of, teach about, or stop the heretics of their god and religion.

I completely, 100 percent, unequivocally, without any doubt put the blame for these acts on the men (and women) that committed them, and I abhor their attempts to justify their actions based on their “truth” of their god and their religion.

Unlike the VAST majority of “christians” I have actually read the bible. I spent many years trying to understand what it is about this collections of works about a a petty, unjust, unforgiving control freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully called “god” that so captured the imaginations of so many people and made them behave the way they do.

I am no closer to understanding why it is that some people believe in zeus, thor, appolo, jesus, jehovah, allah, budda, zenu, etc…

I do however have a slightly better understand of why some people have the need to believe in something higher than themselves. People like being able to use these beliefs to justify their actions, because then they are not responsible for the hatred they spew, “god is”.

Reply:

you seem to miss our point.

I am as against man justifying evil actions by twisting the word of God as you are. This is abuse. To stop this abuse, the truth must be taught. I and others like me am standing up for truth, for what the word of God actually contains, so that people cannot justify their behaviour by the Bible to the majority any more, as the majority will ideally be educated.

It is as ridiculous to blame God for a zealot doing sinful actions in the name of God, as to blame David Beckham for an obsessed fan who does wrong and does it in the name of David Beckham …..

You are very bitter against God as you do not understand Him. With all due respect you cannot have studied the Bible well to have come to the conclusions you have, nor with an open mind – hence I refer again to the hatred fogged and bitter tinted spectacles.

Rodibidably says:

You are “standing up for truth”?

Really, from the perspective of everybody else on the planet (by which I mean those who do not agree with the christian faith, or those “christians” who do not agree with YOUR personal interpretation of your “holy book”) your version of the “truth” is in fact wrong.

By “standing up for truth”, you in fact mean standing up for your interpretation of a book which you happen to believe is special. The overwhelming majority of the rest of the world would in fact disagree with your truth. Some may believe that allah or buddah or john smith or l ron hubbard have the “truth”. Other might believe that “truth” can only be found in science.

It’s lucky for you that you’re correct and everybody else is wrong, isn’t it?

Another point, you claim I am “very bitter against God”.

I am not at all bitter towards god. Just as I am not bitter towards unicorns, the flying spaghetti monster, vampires, pixies, trolls, ogres, ghosts, little green men, etc…

I AM however incensed towards people who hide behind faith and religion to justify their petty, unjust, unforgiving, vindictive, bloodthirsty, misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent actions.

Reply:

you are not even reading what we are saying properly – that is how biased you are.

I said I/we are standing up for the truth of what the Bible actually does say and does not say. Your band of tyrants and other evil people and misfits claim it says x and I say it does not say x or even y, they may claim the Bible is behind them and it is not and never has been. So how can the Bible or even the God of the Bible be blamed if the Bible never supported their evil position in the first place – they may say it did, but so what, that is no proof. People say all sorts of things. They just said it did, just like you wrongly say the Bible supports positions it does not.

Just like David Beckham could not be fairly blamed for the actions of an obssesed fan doing something in his name, how can God be blamed for the actions of religious zealots who have not checked the facts out first or misuse people’s ignorance for their own ends?

I could blame your writings for doing something really evil tomorrow. I could say I was doing it all in the name of Rodibidably, as I’d read some of your writings, and you’d say ‘I never said such an evil thing’ and try and justify yourself against such an equally foolish arguement as your present one coming from someone else, saying because somebody did it in your name it must make you sick – see how illogical and also unfair you are?

BTW To have the amount of hate and anger you have toward a ‘concept’ only, you must actually believe, me thinks.

Rodibidably says:

Again, you do not understand my position…

Not ONCE have I blamed “god” for the actions of these type of people. As I stated numerous times already, I do not “blame” god. I do not “blame” the bible.

I put the blame 100 percent on the PEOPLE that commit the acts.

I see the use of religion and faith as a crutch, or a shield, to protect people from their actions.
The people are completely and totally responsible for their actions.

Faith and religion are to these people nothing more than a convenient way to justify their actions.

To blame the object of their faith is ludicrous. You can worship a ball point pen for all I care, but if a person commits an act of hatred, don’t blame the pen; they should take responsibility for their own actions.

Where I have a problem with faith and religion is allowing an environment where people can feel themselves justified in “pushing the blame” onto their religion.

Islamic terrorist do not blow people up because they “want” to kill; they do it because they truly believe that god wants them to do this.
The christian crusaders did not kill untold thousands because they were evil; they did it because they believed that “god” chose them to recover the “holy land”.
The “branch davidians” at waco did not kill themselves because they were evil, or the government was out to get them; they did it because they believed that david koresh(sp?) was the second coming of jesus.

All of these groups (and obviously many, many more) commit horrible acts of violence against themselves and others because they believed that they understood the “truth” of what “god” wanted them to do.

They believed this, at least in part, because they were told their entire lives that something bigger and better waits for them when they die. That “god” will honor those that follow a specific set of rules told to them by their “church”.

When religion and faith can cause so much pain and suffering in this world,
when religion and faith can cause so much controversy,
when religion and faith can cause so much hatred and venom,
when religion and faith can cause so much anger towards others,
then I believe we need to take a look at the foundations of why we believe, what we believe, and how we follow those beliefs.

Consider for a moment the infinite number of possibilities of the “truth” of “god”.
Consider also and that no matter how certain you are that you are 100% correct, that there are many more others who are absolutely certain that they are 100% correct, and that you are completely wrong.
And consider that this certainty on both sides has caused more pain, suffering, hatred, and death than anything else (hell, more than everything else combined) in the history of man.

Perhaps just one person will consider this, and think twice for even an instant, and perhaps have a better understanding of others who are just as “certain” as themselves.

Reply:

you are missing my point, and your logic is also flawed for you backtrack and contradict on your original arguement.

You originally asked why Jesus Christ and the apostles supported slavery. I told you he/they did not. We were arguing about the Bible did or did not say, not about what you thought was absolute truth or not – that is another topic. It is up to you to say ‘I do not believe the bible’ or in God – fine, but if we are going by what the Bible states, which is what this discussion is about, no reader can come to your conclusions who has properly studied it. YOU MISQUOTE THE BIBLE and mistate its position. THAT IS THE POINT I made. You were wrong about the Bible.

It is another thing entirely to say the Bible is not true. Here, we are talking about literary and also historical facts, that can be verified just as if you misquoted any other book.

The fact that other people misquote the Bible (in error or because of evil ends) does not make the original flawed or evil – it makes the people who twist it evil.

So if, what you state is now your position, is that you blame man and not the Bible, then why even bother still insisting the Bible is condoning slavery and that God is ‘a petty, unjust, unforgiving control freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully called “god”’. For something you claim that does not exists, you sure hate him!

You have a huge problem with your perceived content of the Bible, and on God’s purported character, not just on how men interpret their religion – otherwise why the lengthy diatribe? If your points were really what you claim, we would not even be having this discussion as it would be a case of ‘ok, you do not believe in abusing people, good, you are all for treating people well and fairly, that’s what I like, thank you very much’. But no, this is not what you are really after!

You slander God as you do not understand him, and you do not want to truly know Him as you are too bigoted in your views and too bitter.

>>>The christian crusaders did not kill untold thousands because they were evil; they did it because they believed that “god” chose them to recover the “holy land”.

Read up history better, this was political and it was Roman Catholics who did it because their popes were evil and power hungry and it had nothing at all to do with Christianity. The Roman Catholic church persecuted Christianity for years, and more Christians died at its hands than ever Moslems did.

I too have a problem with people – any people – justifying their evil behaviour by misquoting the Bible, so where do we disgree? Many points on this blog are on this. (But this is not what this conversation is really about for you.) That is why I spend time educating people into what the Bible actually says so they will not get taken in by these people. However like I have said before, just because someone claims to be Christian, does not make them so. Just because they claim the Bible supports their position does not make it true.

So what really is your point here? I suspect it is in proseltising your atheism and saying ‘how dare you claim to be the only ones who are right?’ That is what makes you mad.

But there is a differance between Christians and every other religion, which is why Christians can be so bold in saying Christ is the only way – did you ever find out about that in your bible study?

Rodibidably says:

Personally I put no more stock in the bible as being any more “divine” than the holy blood holy grail or the tao of pooh.

I think they are all works of fiction based loosely on collections of historical facts.

However you do believe that this book is special. You believe that it is 100% true, and infallible. (I think that is fair to say, is it not?)

Therefore by asking you a simple question about this book, which is very easy to have multiple people come up with multiple interpretation based on the same passages.
During the Civil War (United States, but I am guessing that’s where you are from) both sides used the bible to argue for their stance of slavery. The Union claimed that the bible condones slavery, while the Confederacy claimed that it supported it.

For a book that have a number of VERY SPECIFIC written out rules (keep holy the sabbath, don’t eat pork, don’t kill, etc) you’d think that perhaps there would be spelled out plainly “don’t enslave other people, it’s probably the worst thing humanity could ever do”.

Personally from my reading of the bible, “god” is the type that would condone slavery. And there are many passages that can be plainly read as falling on that side of the coin. For every example like “love thy neighbor as thyself” there are multiple examples like Lot offering his daughters up to an angry crowd to “do to them as you please”. Keep in mind, that in “god’s” view Lot was the pure one that god wanted to save from sodom and gomorrah.

Apparently then it’s ok to give your daughters up to be raped, but avoid the bacon, cause that in certainly a sin.

Then you got into the concept of different interpretations of the same passage, and how the “truth” is that the translation of the bible that say “slave” do not mean “slave” they mean worker class (essentially). For a book written by “god” you’d think that there would be some way to make certain that people use the correct translation.

At this point you claimed I was “blaming God for man’s wrongs”. This could not be further from the truth. The point I was making is that the bible, like other “holy scriptures” was written by man. And that works of fiction can be misinterpreted quite easily, especially if they are translated over and over again throughout hundreds or thousands of years. You can quite easily see the mistranslations by comparing the “current” old testaments to the dead sea scrolls. There are numerous examples of words and complete phrases differing between the two. Given that the scrolls are much older than the copy of the copy of the copy (etc) that the current bible is based on, you’d have to guess that the scrolls are the more accurate depiction of the original.

At this point I attempted to correct your mistake (claiming I blame god). I stated, in what I thought was simple enough language to grasp:
“I blame man for man’s actions.
I blame man for slavery, war, famine, murder, rape, hypocrisy, and all the other “evils” in the world today.
I also blame man for claiming they do many of these evils in the name of their god.”
and
“I completely, 100 percent, unequivocally, without any doubt put the blame for these acts on the men (and women) that committed them, and I abhor their attempts to justify their actions based on their “truth” of their god and their religion.”

Apparently that was not quite clear enough, because you later kept up with your “David Beckham” line about how could I blame him for a fans actions. When I stated (fairly clearly if I do say so myself) that I blame man, not “god”.

This was also where I quoted one of my favorite lines from Richard Dawkins about the god of the bible (and koran and talmud) being a “petty, unjust, unforgiving control freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully”. I’ve always liked that quote, and if you really read the bible (and talmud and koran) you can find soo many instances of each one of those traits being ascribed to “god”.

The entire point of this endeavor, at least from my point of view, is to show that just because YOU PERSONALLY interpret your “holy scripture” in one way, does not mean that the translation that you go by is accurate, or that your interpretation of it has any relevance to the original intent of the author(s).

While you may believe that “god” wrote down his thoughts (through the scribes of the bible) in his own words, you must acknowledge that there is much room for debate as to the actual original intent and meaning behind these words.

The fact that there are numerous different “holy books” in the world that drastically disagree with each other means something.

And even if you assume that all of the non-christians in history are mistaken, and the bible is in fact the “word”, then the fact that it is so easily “misinterpreted”, by your understanding of it, must at least put some small seed in your head that allows you to question.

How unlikely is it that in the last 2000 years so many people have “gotten it wrong” and you have “gotten it right”?

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About Rodibidably

Jeff Randall is a frequent volunteer for free-thought organizations, including the Center For Inquiry – DC. Having been blogging since January 2008, he decided that a community of bloggers would be an interesting new experience (or at the very least a fun way to annoy his friends into reading his posts more frequently). Since finding out about about the existence of, and then joining, the atheist/skeptic community in 2007 he has been committed to community activism, critical thinking in all aspects of life, science, reason, and a fostering a secular society.
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