Dispatches from the Creation Wars

I came across this post at Howard Friedman’s religion law blog and it got me to thinking. The post is about Pakistan amending their state law to allow for women convicted of premarital sex to be “rehabilitated” rather than put to death, as their law previously demanded. I was repulsed by the notion that anyone could possibly be so barbaric as to think it’s okay to kill a woman for not being a virgin. I’m sure most people agree with me. I’m sure most Christians, even most theologically conservative, inerrantist Christians (everyone but the reconstructionists, essentially) would agree that it’s difficult to imagine anything more barbaric and vile than women being stoned to death for not being virgins. But it seems to me that this is a problem for their beliefs.

Why? Because the Bible demands precisely that barbaric punishment for the same thing. Deuteronomy 22 specifies that if a man marries a woman and finds that she’s not a virgin on her wedding night – i.e. that she has engaged in premarital sex – he is to bring her to the city elders and, if her father cannot prove that she was a virgin, she is to be stoned to death by the men of the city. Surely it’s inconsistent to condemn Pakistan as barbaric for doing the very thing that they believe God himself declared to be the law.

The only answer I can think of from those of an inerrantist mindset would be to argue that the law no longer applies because Jesus fulfilled the law. But that really doesn’t resolve the problem. The question is not whether Pakistan should do that, but whether the act of stoning a woman for that crime is barbaric and unjustified or not. They cannot admit that God is or was barbaric in his commands, yet they surely would agree that those Muslims who engage in the same behavior today are barbaric. But they not only excuse God for ordering the same thing, they praise him for it.

Honestly, this is the primary reason why I am no longer a Christian. There’s a scene in the movie Rounders where the professor is explaining why he spurned his family’s desire for him to become a rabbi. “For all my knowledge of the Torah,” he said, “I never saw God there.” That line struck me because it’s the same reason I ultimately rejected the Bible’s authority – I can’t see God in it. I don’t see a loving God, I see a tribal war God whose commands reflect the primitive and barbaric morality that the human race has spent centuries slowly throwing off. And if we are going to reject the Muslim’s worship of a barbaric God, we must do the same for the God of the Bible.

Comments

  1. #1 steve s
    July 11, 2006

    I think most christians remain christians because they don’t know much of what’s in the bible. It should be pretty obvious to people that the god of the bible is pretty much what you’d expect to see if it was made up by some middle eastern primitives.

  2. #2 Ed Brayton
    July 11, 2006

    Steve-

    My best friend was on his way to becoming a Baptist minister 20 years ago. He says now that he would be a minister today if he had not read his Bible so much. I feel the same way. I don’t know how many conversations I’ve had with Christians where I’ve described something the Old Testament said, like the law that a rapist can pay the father of his victim and take her for his wife or the slaughter of the Midianites, and had them say, “It doesn’t really say that.” They’re invariably shocked when they read it; they literally did not know that the Bible said such things. The passage that did it for me was Numbers 31, where God commands Moses to commit war crimes that we would find unimaginable today. I simply could not reconcile the OT conception of God with the notion of a loving, benevolent creator.

  3. #3 John Cercone
    July 11, 2006

    You know I drive fundies crazy?

    I tell thme that I can easily reconcile the OT God wiht Jesus message of love and tolerance.

    I tell them that the NT evidence is clear. Jesus came to bring moral relativism to God’s law.

  4. #4 kehrsam
    July 11, 2006

    I realize that this forum is not intended as a place for proselytising or theological debate. However, I would like to 1) answer the charge that God is a barbarian; and 2) whether Christian legal principals should include stoning non-virgins. Ed, if you chose to delete this post as off-topic, that’s okay with me.

    1. Some years back when I was moving in the other direction (from agnosticism to Christianity) I had a similar reaction to the Bible, only opposite. When asked by a person trying to convert me why I was even interested in Christianity (seeing as I was giving him frustrating answers with regard to evolution, school prayer, etc) my response was, “If there is a God, I want Him to go to ridiculous lengths for my salvation, especially if I don’t deserve to be saved. I simply don’t care to believe in a God who does less.” Needless to say, this did not please the questioner.

    Seen from this perspective, yes the OT can be a problem, what with the genocide, abominations, stonings and all. The simplest solution is to view the long-term plan.

    If God’s goal is to culminate in Jesus bringing “salvation to those who believe in His name,” then God has to prepare for this to happen. The master plan involves selecting a man named Abram, “on the other side of the river” and living among his father’s idols. From this bedrock beginning, he creates a clan, some tribes, and at last a frontier nation.

    Now frontiers are hard places, even when the goal is not to maintain complete separation from the peoples around them. They require tough laws, unreasonable ones even, at least from the standpoint of suburbia. Could God have devised a plan that did not involve so much violence, death and suffering? No doubt, He is God.

    But God did not create the suffering and violence, he merely set his plan in action in the world as it was. Second, once paradise is ruled out, there is no logical necessity for God to make the world better than the one we have, since we would always be able to claim that a better world could exist.

    So having created a frontier state, it then took a thousand years for the idea of “king” to tranform into “messiah” to transform into “savior.” At which point the idea could be released to the rest of the world.

    So were the genocides et al of the OT necessary? No, but neither was any other world. God took the world as it was and used it.

    2. So is it necessary post-Jesus to put OT law into force? Dominionists certainly think so, as do lots of mainstream Xtians with regard to homosexuality and such (but apparently not divorce).

    But we Xtians are commanded to go into all the world to spread the good news, not maintain a fragile frontier community that might be snuffed out at any time (which is how a shocking number of religious leaders seem to view things). Further, the things of this earth have ceased to matter, government among them. Render unto Caesar. Religious law is now a guide for the individual heart, not a club to brandish against our neighbors.

  5. #5 Barry
    July 11, 2006

    “But God did not create the suffering and violence, he merely set his plan in action in the world as it was. Second, once paradise is ruled out, there is no logical necessity for God to make the world better than the one we have, since we would always be able to claim that a better world could exist.”

    On the contrary; God did create the suffering and violence. Who else did?

  6. #6 DOF
    July 11, 2006

    Uh, Kersham, did you forget that God specifically commanded the OT genocide(s)?

  7. #7 kehrsam
    July 11, 2006

    No, I know the Bible pretty well. My point was that God was creating a frontier community surrounded by folks who would gladly pay the children of Israel back in the same coin. Again, God used what was there, he didn’t create the chaos.

  8. #8 kehrsam
    July 11, 2006

    Besides, the situation could and did get worse before things got better. Read Judges.

  9. #9 Ed Brayton
    July 11, 2006

    Kehrsam:

    But according to the Bible, God did not merely allow genocide to happen, he commanded it. And he commanded it in a manner that even the most brutal tyrants today would not permit. Even Hitler, when he invaded a nation, did not order his soldiers to kill all of the men, women and male children but to keep the virgins for themselves as the spoils of war. That act is so mind-boggling in its barbarity that even a Pol Pot would not think to commit it. Given that, I find it impossible to believe that it could be ordered by the God from whom we allegedly are to receive our moral instruction.

    I’ll go one step further: the Bible also clearly indicates that God knows all that is to happen. If, as you say, his goal was to bring about Jesus as our savior, then he knew, for example, that flooding the world to get rid of sin would not work – yet he did it anyway. And if indeed he is God, then – as you admit – he could certainly have come up with far less barbaric ways to bring about the future he wanted. That fact alone condemns him (more accurately, condemns the conception of him posed in the Bible).

  10. #10 Mikado
    July 11, 2006

    >But God did not create the suffering and violence, he merely set his plan in action in the world as it was.

    Uh, remind us who created “the world as it was”?? The Creator cannot avoid responsibility for the world He created.

  11. #11 geoff
    July 11, 2006

    There’s no point worrying about those who are ignorant of what’s in the Bible. My concern is with those who do know what’s in it. I’ve had various conversations which follow this pattern:

    Me: I assume you know exactly what it says in the Bible at Numbers 31, etc. etc.?

    Christian: Yes.

    Me: So do you believe that this is the word of your god?

    Christian: [Mumbles about gospel of love superceding the old tribal stuff, or words to that effect.]

    Me: So you agree that there are horrifying, immoral actions ascribed to god in the OT, things that you personally disavow. But in your religious services you hold up the whole book – OT and NT – as “the word of god”. You don’t say, “it’s the word of god, except for verses X, Y and Z”. If you don’t believe in the horrible stuff, why don’t you rip it out of the book? Who said it had to be kept in, anyway?

    Christian: [Mumble about tradition, continuity...]

    Me: So is tradition more important than honesty and moral integrity?

    Christian: [No answer.]

  12. #12 dogmeatIB
    July 11, 2006

    The commanding element of the genocide not withstanding, isn’t an all powerful God who created everything capable of stopping genocide?

    That one truly boggles my mind. This all powerful supreme being, can create entire worlds, is incapable of stopping the horrors of our history? If “He” is capable of stopping these acts, but Chooses not to, is that not then tacit approval?

    Getting back to the commanded genocide and atrocities. If those who commit them based upon God’s law aren’t condemned to hell, then what about those who commit them without regard to God’s law? Isn’t that hypocritical? What if they commit them honestly believing that they are adhering to God’s law, but they’re wrong? What if they commit a little bit of genocide, a tiny bit of robbery, but no raping? Are they OK then? What if they’re good 364 days a year but then have one day of Genocide, murder, mayhem, raping, and pillaging (in God’s name of course). Are they then OK?

  13. #13 kehrsam
    July 11, 2006

    As stated, this is really not a forum for theological debate — and I am not a theologian. But I can address the logical fallacy. ‘-)

    Imagine a continuum of all possible worlds, from Paradise down to absolute Hell (from UNC to Duke, if you will). Since humans have already messed up Paradise, that is not an option. Therefore, it does not matter which of the other worlds is chosen: They are logically equivalent, and even in the best of them folks would whine about how things might be better. God’s orders to the Israelites take place in the context of that world; they are no better or worse than the peoples around them.

    The fact that God, being outside of time, knows what we will do is not the same as to say He causes our behavior. Human beings are more than capable of genocide without God to spur them on. Perhaps Pol Pot just wasn’t creative enough.

    In any case (staying within the NT argument) we are sinners and deserve eternal damnation. Tell me, how else could one explain Duke winning back-to-back national championships?

  14. #14 Ed Brayton
    July 11, 2006

    The other big problem for me – and these are issues I confronted when I was a Christian – that is tied up with all of this is God’s omniscience. The Bible clearly indicates that God has foreknowledge, but what that does to all of this is render it completely incoherent (at least to me). That means that God created the world and human beings and gave us the choice to sin or not, knowing that we would choose to sin and that the world would become filled with sinful people. And he knew, of course, that this would lead him to drown the entire world to put an end to sin – but again, he knew that wouldn’t actually rid the world of sin. And he knew that eventually he would have to send himself as a sacrifice to himself to satisfy his own sense of divine anger over the behavior he knew we would exhibit before he created us. I’m sorry, but that simply makes no sense. It would require a completely irrational God (or more accurately, an irrational conception of God that is invented and altered and changed along the way to render that conception incoherent).

  15. #15 Ed Brayton
    July 11, 2006

    kehrsam wrote:

    In any case (staying within the NT argument) we are sinners and deserve eternal damnation. Tell me, how else could one explain Duke winning back-to-back national championships?

    Thou shalt not blaspheme Coach K (peace be upon him)

  16. #16 kehrsam
    July 11, 2006

    Ed

    Sometimes cognitive dissonance is a gift of God.

  17. #17 Sastra
    July 11, 2006

    Presumably God would have known that if He inspired a book filled with commands, instructions, and examples on how to properly obey, follow, and worship Him, then people who got hold of the book and looked for commands, instructions, and examples on how to properly obey, follow, and worship Him might think they were supposed to obey, follow, and worship accordingly. If it’s all an elaborate metaphor or master plan requiring misleading, flawed, poorly interpreted cultural and historical blunders, it is a shame God didn’t realize maybe He just might be misconstrued by people who mean well.

    Sorry, but this argument here is a bit like saying that the holocaust was a necessary part of God’s plan because otherwise your father would never have met your mother while on military leave. God had to promote and encourage all sorts of evil behavior among some people in the past because that’s the only way other people TODAY could get properly prepared to learn about Jesus.

  18. #18 dogmeatIB
    July 11, 2006

    That response doesn’t answer the base problem. If God is all powerful, all good, all knowing, outside of time, etc., then wouldn’t God know that the world he had created would be f’d up? If so, He had three choices, fix it (before hand or later), not create it, or just let it go.

    And we are all sinners and deserve eternal damnation? Why? Because of the “original sin” of Adam and Eve? Seems rather harsh doesn’t it? Billions of people condemned for the actions of one couple on a Tuesday afternoon in 4004 B.C.?

  19. #19 windy
    July 11, 2006

    If God’s goal is to culminate in Jesus bringing “salvation to those who believe in His name,” then God has to prepare for this to happen. The master plan involves selecting a man named Abram, “on the other side of the river” and living among his father’s idols. From this bedrock beginning, he creates a clan, some tribes, and at last a frontier nation.

    Oh silly me, I thought this God was supposed to have created all nations and everything else, not just one “frontier nation” in the Middle East. If the goal was Jesus, why not just bring him on and not fuck around with this “frontier nation” for thousands of years?

  20. #20 Will Error
    July 11, 2006

    Theology never makes sense. Why didn’t a god just skip the sacred scriptures all together & just encode all this knowledge into our DNA, into our very brains? What is the genetic code for original sin? Hmmm…

  21. #21 kehrsam
    July 11, 2006

    windy

    Because it required more than just the appearance of Jesus. It required the creation of an idea, one to which humans have been most resistant.

    As to having created the whole world, yes, that was my point. He did not pick Abram because he was a great man of God: He wasn’t at the time. God just picked Abram, it could have been anyone.

  22. #22 windy
    July 11, 2006

    Because it required more than just the appearance of Jesus. It required the creation of an idea, one to which humans have been most resistant.

    Hmmm, I wonder why God got saddled with these pig-headed humans that are so resistant to his ideas.

    Oh, wait, he created them.

    Cue the “ineffability”.

  23. #23 dogmeatIB
    July 11, 2006

    Kehrsam

    None of that makes logical sense. Humans are resistant to God’s ideas? Why would He make a creation resistant to his ideas? If you do make such a creation, why become vengeful and spiteful when your creation does precisely what you created it to do?

    “He” has a master plan? I’m sorry, I don’t buy that. Why create 5000 years of misery and destruction? What good can come of the Holocaust? What good can come of the genocidal campaign against Native Americans? God created evils like Pol Pot, Hitler, Stalin, Columbus, Caligula, etc. etc. etc. Why? Is it because “He” has a master plan and all of this will make sense when it’s all over? We just don’t understand? Or is it because its an anthropormization of powers a tribe of people didn’t understand but put together in a book to explain their history, why they were so special, and how they should treat one another?

    I’m leaning towards the latter personally…

  24. #24 John Cercone
    July 11, 2006

    My own feeling is that God simply doen’t have the power he claims.

    “Yahweh was with Judah; and drove out the inhabitants of the hill country; for he could not drive out the inhabitants of the valley, because they had chariots of iron”

    Judges 1:19

  25. #25 kehrsam
    July 11, 2006

    Where does the notion that all things are part of God’s plan come from? Since when is He the nanny responsible for keeping the Pol Pots etc away? No, we don’t understand, and we don’t have to.

    The existence of an all-powerful, all-knowing creator god does not make the world deterministic.

  26. #26 dogmeatIB
    July 11, 2006

    Your “God” then is responsible for all of the horrors of the world. The Earth is “His” creation, therefore all parts of it are “His” as well (including the Pol Pots, Hitlers, etc.). Genocide, Holocaust, murder, all occur either through “His” direct approval, or through “His” approval through inactivity.

  27. #27 Mikado
    July 11, 2006

    The existence of an all-powerful, all-knowing creator god does not make the world deterministic.

    Actually, yes it does. If God knows with perfect knowledge what I will do, then I am perfectly constrained to do exactly what God already knows I will do. “Perfect constraint” == “deterministic”. In the presence of perfect knowledge of the future, free will is an illusion.

  28. #28 Mikado
    July 11, 2006

    Because it required more than just the appearance of Jesus. It required the creation of an idea, one to which humans have been most resistant.

    Funny. I always thought that omnipotence meant there was nothing stopping God from having things exactly the way He wanted them.

  29. #29 Julia
    July 11, 2006

    It’s sadly true that many Christians haven’t read the Bible through. And for the record, yes, I have, a number of times, every word.

    Speaking only for myself, I see the Bible as a record of human beings’ interpretations of God. These OT stories are to me valuable and revealing accounts of a group of people struggling to know about God and being wrong as often as people are today. I think when they were threatened by other groups in war, some wanted the other groups completely removed as a threat. When these stories were recorded, some of those telling the stories were no doubt convinced that God also wanted these people to disappear.

    If an ordinary decent person today had a neighbor family who was making every effort to kill him, he might be capable of persuading himself that God would approve of him helping make those people vanish from the earth. That would be more a reflection of human rationalization than of the nature of God. The support of decent and even religious people for the modern death penalty is, I think, a left-over of that ancient notion.

    I’ve seen on television a Moslem woman saying she was proud her son had killed random people, including children, in a suicide bomb attack because, in her belief, God wanted all those people dead. But rather than decide God is either homicidal or non-existent, I simply think the woman is mistaken.

    I think we must each look for truth and not let the behaviors and beliefs of others distract us. Nazi doctors tortured and murdered children in their search for information, but that doesn’t cause me to deny the worth and value of scientific experiments. Darwin apparently wasn’t correct in everything he said, nor were his ideas sufficient to explain evolution, but that doesn’t cause me to deny that evolution is a valid and productive scientific theory. Early Jews claimed that God told them to murder children, but that isn’t enough reason for me to say that either their limited human understanding was completely correct or else God doesn’t exist.

  30. #30 Sastra
    July 11, 2006

    windy wrote:

    If the goal was Jesus, why not just bring him on and not fuck around with this “frontier nation” for thousands of years?

    kehrsam wrote:

    Because it required more than just the appearance of Jesus. It required the creation of an idea, one to which humans have been most resistant.

    I think that Ed’s point here — and ours — is that one reason we are “resistant” to the idea that Christianity is the Truth is because the “frontier nation” theory (God once had to explicitly promote and encourage barbaric evil in order to set up the only conditions which would allow people in the future to recognize that God is good) doesn’t make any sense. And it’s unethical.

  31. #31 Ginger Yellow
    July 11, 2006

    If God’s goal is to culminate in Jesus bringing “salvation to those who believe in His name,” then God has to prepare for this to happen.

    This is the bit I never understand. Why are we supposed to be grateful that God made humans suffer horrifically just to satisfy his worship-lust? Why should we need salvation in the first place? And don’t give me the crap about “ruining paradise”. Even leaving aside the whole “sins of the father” question, all they did was disobey God. You know what we call people who set up arbitrary rules to hide truth from people and then punish them brutally when they disobey? Dictators. As Ed says, the God of the (OT) Bible is not a loving God.

  32. #32 VoiceOfGrog
    July 11, 2006

    Ginger Yellow says:
    As Ed says, the God of the (OT) Bible is not a loving God.

    And it seems that the God in the New Testament isn’t much better… depending on whose interpretation of Revelations you believe, the human suffering isn’t over.

  33. #33 Chance
    July 11, 2006

    Damn kersham,

    I usually really enjoy your thoughtful comments but as usually happens to people when they set to make sense of irrational ideas they spout some really silly material. I mean a ‘frontier nation’ is, well, thats a whopper.

    do lots of mainstream Xtians with regard to homosexuality and such (but apparently not divorce

    The OT permitted divorce, Deut even explains the proper way to go about it. It’s the same for the judaism today and islam also essentially maintains OT divorce customs.

    Because it required more than just the appearance of Jesus. It required the creation of an idea, one to which humans have been most resistant.

    Humanity has certainly not been resistant to the idea of religion. Thats just baloney. Most humans are simply overwhelmed to accept every illogical premise.

    The concept of a savior/sacrifice far predates your ‘frontier nation’ idea. People have been sacrificing animals/humans to various deities since some cave man thought it brought rain or the herds. What is strange is the notion that one needs a sacrifice for forgiveness. It’s a particuarlly primitive idea.

  34. #34 Caliban
    July 11, 2006

    All xian attempts to reconcile the abhorrent moral commands of the OT fail. At roughly the same time the Hebrew war God was commanding the Hebrews to commit genocide Confucius was admonishing his followers to follow the “golden rule” that Jesus would have “introduced” thousands of years later.

    Killing girls for not being virgins is either rationaly justifiable (ethical) or it isn’t. If it isn’t and the god of a particular holy-book commands such behaviour, then that book has zero moral authority. Period. No amount of excuses can reconcile away the moraly bankrupt terrain of the OT(and much of the NT as well).

    And even if xians could, the cosmological worldview thier holy book describes makes no sense at all: God’s “Great Plan” is to make humans sinfull so we can rebel against him so he can send himself down as a blood sacrifice to appease his anger so we won’t have to be tortured for all eternity in the Hell he made for demons because deep down he really loves us even though the overwhelming majority of mankind is doomed to be tortured for eternity for picking the wrong religon.

    Wow… What a great “Plan”. It’s so awe inspiring. Such a plan couldn’t possibly have been erroneously thought up by uneducated goat-herders two thousand years ago. No, this Great Plan is so profoundly amazing that it could only have come from an all powerfull, all knowing, all loving being who created the universe itself.

  35. #35 John Cercone
    July 11, 2006

    And all because Eve listened to a talking snake.

  36. #36 Gretchen
    July 11, 2006

    No, we don’t understand, and we don’t have to.

    Well, I don’t know about you, but I do have to understand. I’m not worshipping something that appears evil based on some infallible human being’s assurances that it really isn’t.

  37. #37 Gretchen
    July 11, 2006

    Fallible, pardon.

  38. #38 Ed Brayton
    July 11, 2006

    Let me jump into the conversation here again and make a couple of things clear. First, my intent with this post is not to say “ha ha, look at the stupid things those stupid Christians believe.” This isn’t a flippant issue for me. I spent some 2 years of my life trying to find some way to reconcile this in my own mind because, like anyone else with a firmly held belief, I didn’t want to let it go. I tried to give that belief the benefit of every doubt. In the end, I simply couldn’t. I could not maintain my intellectual honesty and continue to believe that this conception of God was an accurate one.

    Second, I want to make clear that this is not the same as the argument from evil. I’m not arguing that God is responsible for the actions of Hitler or Pol Pot. I’m saying that I cannot conceive of a loving God who would issue commands that are, in fact, worse than even the most diabolical characters could devise today. Even a Hitler or a Stalin would not conceive of doing what God allegedly ordered against the Midianites, it’s that obscene and that beyond the pale of decency. How, then, could I possibly believe that a being who would order such atrocities is the unchanging source of morality? I cannot reconcile them, and believe me when I tell you that I’ve heard every conceivable argument in its defense. None of them are satisfying to me.

  39. #39 kehrsam
    July 11, 2006

    My dear friend Chance (and others)

    As stated on my first post on this thread, my point is not to evangelize anyone. I was brought up in a non-religious family here in the middle of the Bible Belt, and I resented attempts to push relion at me the same as most of you do now; in fact, I still do.

    My point was therefore merely to make the argument that one does not have to read the Bible and conclude that the God it portrays is some kind of monster. Your readings may disagree from mine, but that does not deny the validity of either reading.

    I recently saw a quote about the NT being the birthplace of situational ethics, and that’s not too far from the truth. Rather than ironclad rules for behavior, the NT opens up the view that our behavior should reflect a better way of viewing the world.

    As I said in that first post, if Ed wanted to remove it, that was okay. Sorry to have stirred the hornets nest. Peace.

  40. #40 kehrsam
    July 11, 2006

    God: Midianites:: Hitler: Lidice

    There’s probably a master’s thesis there.

  41. #41 John Cercone
    July 11, 2006

    I rather enjoy these threads.

    My way of reconciling Jehovah and Jesus is to read the bible as a history of God.

    God matures as he goes along, and the Jesus comes and fully repudiates the ancient law.

  42. #42 Ed Brayton
    July 11, 2006

    kehrsam-

    No need to apologize. I was the one who broached the subject, not you. It’s appropriate to be discussed here simply because I brought it up.

  43. #43 Chance
    July 11, 2006

    As stated on my first post on this thread, my point is not to evangelize anyone. I was brought up in a non-religious family here in the middle of the Bible Belt, and I resented attempts to push relion at me the same as most of you do now

    No problem. I didn’t think you where evangelizing anyone. I’m a Baptist of the American variety not the southern. I simply found your arguments, well, honestly weak and pretty humorous. Don’t be offensed, your regular comments I find pretty pointed. I just think you likely a smart guy who has become pretty good at rationalizing something inherently irrational. Shermers idea about smart people using the intellect to defend irrational ideas fits this discussion.

    My point was therefore merely to make the argument that one does not have to read the Bible and conclude that the God it portrays is some kind of monster. Your readings may disagree from mine, but that does not deny the validity of either reading.

    This I’m not sure I can see totally, Obviously as a Christian of one of 10,000 sects I have my views and you have yours. BUT from an honest objective perspective it’s hard to validate the positive view given the obtuse and debatable meaning of virtually every moral idea/rule, the sheer number of horrendous events listed in the posts above, as well as slapping those who disagree with any of it with eternal suffering.

    Is that to say there are no positives of course not. But I am more universalist/fidest in some regards.

    p.s.

    God matures as he goes along, and the Jesus comes and fully repudiates the ancient law.

    Good grief, he is eternal. Why? just why?

  44. #44 Gryph
    July 11, 2006

    1) answer the charge that God is a barbarian; and 2) whether Christian legal principals should include stoning non-virgins. Ed, if you chose to delete this post as off-topic, that’s okay with me.

    I think that in context the charge was that the God of the Bible is a barbarian, not that “God” in general is one.

    I guess that my own disconnect with the Bible stems from the idea that whether the God it describes is barbaric or not, it gives God a distinct personality. A personage. The God of the Bible as described is not “God” it is more like an extremely powerful person or human-like being.

    When I started to learn about the world around me, in particular Astronomy, is when I really began to doubt the veracity of the Bible. When I started to get an idea of just how vast the universe is, and the things that are going on in it, well, it just seemed so much “bigger” than the person described as God in the Bible. The God of the Bible just got smaller and smaller the more I learned.
    I was supposed to believe that this mean-spirited old man described in the Bible created all of the universe, with stars, galaxies, quasars, black holes, etc. It just didn’t make any sense, and today it still doesn’t, unless the Bible’s God is a metaphor. And if its just a metaphor, then its flawed, incomplete, or completely wrong.

    I still don’t know what God is, or even if he exists for sure, but I am pretty darn sure it just can’t be the God of the Bible. That God is above all else, simply too petty.

  45. #45 Caliban
    July 11, 2006

    The only objective means we have for determining the validity of claims, moral or otherwise, is to put them through the lense of reason.

    For those who don’t think that the OT is incompatible with reason or even the idea of an omnibenevolent God, i
    I would like to have shown to me, specificly, how the biblical order to kill non-virgin girls is rationaly reconciable.

    Not vague talk about God “maturing” through the ages (whatever that means) or vague talk about how such commands were somehow “okay” at one time but not now. I have yet to hear anything from a xian about these kinds of dilemas that can’t quickly and easily be shown to be in error.

  46. #46 Dave L
    July 11, 2006

    I have yet to hear anything from a xian about these kinds of dilemas that can’t quickly and easily be shown to be in error.

    The only ‘rationalization’ I’ve ever heard (and I think it was on this site) was to point out that God ordered these atrocities, which somehow make it different. The person seemed to say yes, it is wrong for humans to commit these atrocities but God is not bound by our ideas of morality and the ‘good’ thing to always do is to obey God regardless. I know, I know, I don’t understand it either and it seems that one would have to question whether they are worshipping an evil god or not, but I guess that’s faith for ya.

    I’ve never understood the phrase, ‘God so loved the world that he sent his only son…’ and so forth. I’m really at a loss to find much in the Bible where God showed much of this ‘love’; there’s plenty that would seem to be the opposite. It’s so odd; if it was Satan ordering people to commit these atrocities believers would of course call Satan evil. But as it is, Satan can’t hold a candle to the OT God as far as deplorable behavior; what’s some tempting compared to destroying the entire world (save brave Noah).

  47. #47 ImagoArt
    July 11, 2006

    Ed said,

    How, then, could I possibly believe that a being who would order such atrocities is the unchanging source of morality? I cannot reconcile them, and believe me when I tell you that I’ve heard every conceivable argument in its defense. None of them are satisfying to me. (emphasis added)

    I think that many of those commenting aren’t grasping the significance of your statements, Ed. As you say, there are Christian responses to the issues you raise. As for me, I have heard many of the non-Christian rebuttals to the Christian arguments, and none of them (especially those based strictly on naturalism) are even remotely satisfying to me. Whether or not one likes the actions of the God of the Bible is irrelevant to whether or not he is the one, true God. Of course, someone could claim that I’m “rationalizing something inherently irrational” through Shermer’s confirmation bias… but I could simply claim the same of them. Further, obtuse caricatures of Christian beliefs, as evidenced by some of those commenting, do nothing but expose their own ignorance of said beliefs (and thank you for clarifying the intent of your post).

    Rusty

  48. #48 Melissa
    July 11, 2006

    I’m no Christian, but it seems to me that Jesus does a little more than fulfill the law- he repudiates it to some extent in the scene where he stops the stoning of a women for adultery. However, that wasn’t enough repudiation for me.

    I always tell Christians to read the entire Bible (and not a messed with translation either) and then see how they feel about their religion.

  49. #49 Chance
    July 11, 2006

    Oh Rusty c’mon.

    Whether or not one likes the actions of the God of the Bible is irrelevant to whether or not he is the one, true God. Of course, someone could claim that I’m “rationalizing something inherently irrational” through Shermer’s confirmation bias… but I could simply claim the same of them

    No you couldn’t. Most people don’t come to find the stories troublesome because of confirmation bias. They are troublesome because they are actions the individuals reading them cannot just based on societies morality. many would have loved to confirm the stories but simply can’t. The exact opposite of the bias. Seeking to affirm such events simply because of a previously held belief is confirmation bias.

    obtuse caricatures of Christian beliefs, as evidenced by some of those commenting, do nothing but expose their own ignorance of said beliefs (and thank you for clarifying the intent of your post

    One true scotsman.

    I have heard many of the non-Christian rebuttals to the Christian arguments

    what possible argument could there be that would make any of the above make sense or even appear non-monstrous. And why would someone not want killing to appear monstrous?

  50. #50 kehrsam
    July 11, 2006

    “what possible argument could there be that would make any of the above make sense or even appear non-monstrous.”

    Well, I have provided two arguments, neither of which has been refuted, weak and humorous though they be. Frankly, I gave up, as we were approaching Fafarman territory.

    As for confirmation bias, I came to religion with a strong bias against Christianity. Sometimes it happens that way.

  51. #51 windy
    July 11, 2006

    Well, trying to avoid excess flippancy, but what the heck?

    God: Midianites:: Hitler: Lidice.
    There’s probably a master’s thesis there.

    God is to Midianites as Hitler is to Lidice? Is this just a dreadful joke or do you prefer to keep on digging?

    If you are trying to show the comparison is ridiculous, it isn’t working too well. Why Lidice, btw?

  52. #52 kehrsam
    July 11, 2006

    The argument has been made by several posters that “Even a Hitler or a Stalin would not conceive of doing what God allegedly ordered against the Midianites.” This is simply not true, and no, I was not being flippant. Even if one were to ignore trying to exterminate entire people groups, Hitler was quite capable of waging a scorched earth policy against those who angered him, such as the village of Lidice.

    The flippant part of the post was about a masters thesis being available. I apologise if that offended, but the rhetoric was getty ridiculously steamy at that point.

  53. #53 kehrsam
    July 11, 2006

    Lidice was chosen because it was the site of a particularly brutal massacre following the assassination of Reinhard Heydrich in Prague. It was alleged that one or more of the assassins had holed up there for a while.

  54. #54 Jon Krivitzky
    July 11, 2006

    I find this discussion fascinating, but much of it has been from the Christian perspective.

    I have to chime in here with the traditional Jewish view. Although I’m admittedly not an expert, I’ve taken a very curious journey towards a more spiritual outlook on life based solely upon (what I consider to be) rationality.

    Just to set the stage a bit, I have to point out that all of these questions about the inconsistencies of the Bible have been addressed and argued about for thousands of years by the greatest minds the world had at the time. Many of them were men of extreme faith and did not find these arguments to threaten their beliefs.

    The way I see it there are two main issues here… the issue of predetermination and the issue of human suffering. I’m not saying that this will convince anyone, but I am saying that there are ways to talk about this without resorting to “Well, I just believe it to be so, so that’s that.” That has never been a part of Jewish philosophy.

    Reconciling free will and divine omniscience is one of the big issues. According to Judaism (I can’t speak to Christianity) we are made human by the introduction of the divine spark… that part of us that has the capacity to choose. This is what makes people different from animals. When we make choices, we are emulating God.

    So how to handle God’s all-knowingness if we are really making free choices? Imagine a mother who instructs her son time and time again not to go outside without shoes. She says it a hundred times but, come Sunday, out he goes. Did she know he would? Sure… she’s his mother. Did the son make the choice? Of course. If you can amplify both sides infinitely (the magnitude of the choices and the fore-knowledge) then that is a reasonable understanding of how the two ideas can co-exist.

    As for human suffering, it relates to the choices. God may have known that there would need to be a flood beforehand, but he was powerless to stop it. Not because he’s not powerful enough to change humans to be better, but precisely because he empowered people to walk that path. Changing humanity to be sinless would mean removing that which makes them human.

    As I said, I’m no expert, but I’ve talked to countless rabbis about this stuff and I always find more to learn from them. Having a Jewish educator for a wife helped quite a bit as well.

    P.S. As for things in Deuteronomy and Leviticus that seem old-fashioned, remember that penalties like the stoning of a non-virgin bride can *only* take place in the presence of the Sanhedrin and a very specific type of Jewish justice system (which does not exist today). No Jew of any stripe would ever condone that sort of thing today. No matter how fundamentalist.

  55. #55 Chance
    July 11, 2006

    Well, I have provided two arguments, neither of which has been refuted, weak and humorous though they be.

    And how exactly would one refute such material. I don’t mean this offensively but it is a totally faith matter. It simply isn’t logical.

    Since humans have already messed up Paradise, that is not an option.

    Presumption. You can’t start with an irrational premise , i.e. Paradise existed, and then proceed to be rational about the rest without rationalizations.

    Therefore, it does not matter which of the other worlds is chosen: They are logically equivalent, and even in the best of them folks would whine about how things might be better.

    It seems to me here your arguing from an ideal rather than with any sense of logic. Yes none may be perfect but perfect is mythological. There are large gaps between a little imperfect to commanding the killing of virgins.

    God’s orders to the Israelites take place in the context of that world; they are no better or worse than the peoples around them.

    Only if one views premarital sex as the moral equivalent to murder. Only if one views man as fallen, otherwise it is quite clear some people are more peaceful than others. Hence if they where killing women for sex they could have been alot worse.

    One is free to have this view but in my view it is certainly not logical. And saying what this and that is to God is a nonstarter. You would be better(and more accurate) saying my version of God and more specifically my specific religion says.

    The fact that God, being outside of time, knows what we will do is not the same as to say He causes our behavior. Human beings are more than capable of genocide without God to spur them on.

    But as Ed mentioned he commanded it. You have to be intellectually honest here. Also how can God be outside of time? Why should you be able to make such ascertions in a ‘logical’ discussion?

    In any case (staying within the NT argument) we are sinners and deserve eternal damnation.

    Nice. Any logical evidence for that one. I mean your a bright fellow. You talk about logic and then toss this out there as a stand alone statement without even a hint of rationality.

    So having created a frontier state, it then took a thousand years for the idea of “king” to tranform into “messiah” to transform into “savior.” At which point the idea could be released to the rest of the world.

    And in the interim(and current) billions of humans died without a ‘saviour’ while this ridiculously long ‘plan’ came to fruition at a cost that would have to be infinite. Doesn’t seem very sensible or logical on any level. But as a faith matter your free to believe it.

  56. #56 Chance
    July 11, 2006

    I have to point out that all of these questions about the inconsistencies of the Bible have been addressed and argued about for thousands of years by the greatest minds the world had at the time. Many of them were men of extreme faith and did not find these arguments to threaten their beliefs.

    Does that say something about the arguments or the nature of faith?

    Changing humanity to be sinless would mean removing that which makes them human.

    That makes the punishment argument quite abit more difficult then doesn’t it. If one chooses to appreciate the humanity of humans one should not them condemn them for it.

  57. #57 windy
    July 11, 2006

    Even if one were to ignore trying to exterminate entire people groups, Hitler was quite capable of waging a scorched earth policy against those who angered him, such as the village of Lidice.

    ok, now I see your point. But are you sure you want to argue “sure, what God allegedly did was bad, but what Hitler did was almost as bad”? :)

    True, Lidice wasn’t the first or the last village to be slain to the last man, woman or child. But I guess the point was that the ordering the genocide of an entire nation *and* sex slavery for all the virgins was, for whatever reason, outside the repertoire of even the modern world’s most deadly dictators – yet, allegedly, a perfectly just God frequently ordered and condoned in the ancient world.

    I’m not saying that sex slavery a “fate worse than death” and the most evil thing anyone could ever think of, but it does seem strange that these kinds of things would have been required as preparation for Jesus.

  58. #58 Ed Brayton
    July 11, 2006

    kehrsam wrote:

    The argument has been made by several posters that “Even a Hitler or a Stalin would not conceive of doing what God allegedly ordered against the Midianites.” This is simply not true, and no, I was not being flippant. Even if one were to ignore trying to exterminate entire people groups, Hitler was quite capable of waging a scorched earth policy against those who angered him, such as the village of Lidice.

    It was I who said that, and I was specifically referring to taking the virgin females captive as the spoils of war. I wasn’t arguing that no modern dictator would kill in massive amounts, we’ve had many that have done so. I was arguing that even a Hitler or a Stalin would not and did not kill order their soldiers to kill all but the virgin females and to keep them alive for themselves. At any rate, I don’t think it’s really a compelling argument to say “Hitler was almost as bad”. That was the entire point of my post, that the notion of God as the source of morality cannot be squared with the notion of God as the commander of mass genocide.

  59. #59 386sx
    July 11, 2006

    Changing humanity to be sinless would mean removing that which makes them human.

    So then if humanty were sinless then everybody would be a bunch of… angels. Oh the horror!

  60. #60 Sastra
    July 11, 2006

    I’m curious. What sort of God-ordered atrocities would have had to have been in the Bible in order for a Christian (or Jew) to discover them for the first time and say “hey, this can’t be the word of God!”? It seems to me that these kinds of rationalizations (whatever happened, God must have needed to do it because of mankind’s sinful nature) are content-free wild cards which could be used to justify pretty much any religion or cult, including ones believers think are false or wicked.

  61. #61 kehrsam
    July 12, 2006

    This thread is way past done, but a few quick hits (and Joe Krivitzski, thanks for a great post).

    1. No, Ed, I don’t care to argue moral equivalency either; yes God should behave better than Hitler. Still, check out “germanic” polish girls forced into the Lebensborn program, or Korean “Comfort Girls” in Manchuria. Everything old is new again.

    2a. Chance, forgive me, but since we were discussing the morality of the Bible, I was assuming we could take its basic view of the universe for granted for the purposes of this discussion. So yes, that means I am assuming an expulsion from paradise and that man has a sinful nature. Also that God created the universe, and, as creator, he stands outside of time, which is part of that creation, assuming it has any real existence at all.

    2b. If we take the Biblical view that paradise has been punted, “a little imperfect” ceases to have any meaning: It is simply imperfect. We may quibble about what we think God should have done, but it remains a quibble and purely opinion.

    2c. For the most part, God has allowed us to create the world we have, not the one He might want us to have. Does this result in waste, tragedy and lost souls? Yes. Who are we to complain? Under a mechanistic view of evolution, we are nothing but glorified pond scum anyway.

    2d. I appreciate your saying I’m intelligent, if deranged. ;-)

    3. Miscellaneous points: No, the time of Joshua (@1200BC) was not really comparable to the China of Confucius (@450 BC).

    The idea to which humans have a problem is not religion or sacrifice, but the notion that God might offer Himself for sacrifice. Lots of folks still have problems with that one.

    Yes, I know the OT allows for divorce; my point was directed at Dominionists who presumably are following both OT and NT. Last time I checked Jesus on divorce, he was agin’ it.

  62. #62 Jon Krivitzky
    July 12, 2006

    I have to point out that all of these questions about the inconsistencies of the Bible have been addressed and argued about for thousands of years by the greatest minds the world had at the time. Many of them were men of extreme faith and did not find these arguments to threaten their beliefs.

    Does that say something about the arguments or the nature of faith?

    More than anything else, it says something about the nature of Jews. :-) Arguments are part and parcel of the beast. When the subject matter is the meaning of life and the nature of existence and all you have to go on is a few hundred thousand words, you can imagine the debates that go on after a couple of millenia.

    I know what you’re saying though. The point is that when an inconsistency is found in the Torah, it is seen as a challenge to learn, not a crisis of faith. The need for commentary to fully understand the Torah is something that is inherent to the tradition. The entire Talmud is nothing more than dozens of volumes of arguments between the great sages of the time, trying to figure out how God’s laws should be understood and applied to their daily lives. If it was totally clear on the face of it, it would be too simple to serve as a blueprint for life.

    And now I have totally veered away from the topic. :-)

    Changing humanity to be sinless would mean removing that which makes them human.

    So then if humanty were sinless then everybody would be a bunch of… angels. Oh the horror!

    Actually, you hit it right on the head. Angels, according to Judaism, are immortal, sinless, but choice-less. They are extensions of God’s will and nothing more. Hardly an attractive prospect. The beauty of choice is not that it permits sin, but that it allows virtue.

  63. #63 Caliban
    July 12, 2006

    It’s so depressing for me to read the retorts of xians defending something that should be as unambigously horrendous as it can get (the public execution of girls for being non-virgins).

    Reading the feeble excuses of xians trying to defend such things is so sad. It illustrates for me the absurd lengths people will go through to maintain thier tribal/religous identity.

    Side note: the “time of Joshua” is likely that of myth, unlike Confucious. The point i was making was that, in a culture completly removed from the ancient Hebrews, the basis for a more rational morality was already occuring elsewhere while the Hebrews of the bible were, apparently, behaving like barbarians. Strange, that a “heathen” culture was advancing faster ethicly than the one supposedly being guided personally by God.

  64. #64 JeremyHandlebars
    July 12, 2006

    The biggest problem is in Christians continuing to refuse to acknowledge reality.

    This discussion chimes well with the evolution debate: I don’t mind Christians or anyone else wanting to say that a god of some sort brought the universe into existence with a snap of his fingers as this is something no-one can prove or disprove one way or another.

    What annoys me is theists stubbornly refusing to deny the reality of the world their god did create: with a 4-5 billion-year-old Earth that revolves around the Sun, not the other way around, one with evolution and dinosaurs and everything. Either that, or he (she/it/whatever…) created a world that looks so convincingly like this is the case that it can hardly be considered naughty to believe it true, because every single thing in the world that god created confirms this to be true.

    When applied to the bible, christians in particular try to paint this picture of a moral, loving god which is only ambiguously present in a book with wildly inconsistent messages. I have heard them try and justify gay-bashing because god hates queers and it says so in the bible and that is the word of god and hence the end of the discussion.

    It seems to me there are only a couple of consitent positions for god-botherers to adopt:

    1/ Try and create a world view with valid moral guidance and love and forgiveness and goodness and so on which uses some of the teachings of the bible (ie, the less mad ones). This would involve accepting that the bible is not the literal word of god but more, as Julia suggested earlier, a history of how humans have defined god over the years combined with some practical, albeit slightly dated, farming advice and hygiene tips. It would also involve accepting the fact that the world is really very old indeed, that we all evolved from the same single-celled organism, along with bonobos, bacteria and bananas and so on and so on. This position would be sort of tolerable.

    2/ The other option is that the bible is the literal word of god, full-stop, end of story. This point of view is a little odd because it would involve accepting a capricious and unpredictable god with a capacity for deranged cruelty that flatly contradicts the moral teachings of the church whilst at the same time preaching tolerance and forgiveness. Also, despite the fact that god tolerates science to be successful when it comes to treating myriad diseases and creating all sorts of technological advances that exact same method and those exact same theories are wrong when it comes to studying the age of the earth and the origins of life and the universe. This point of view is a little more bizarre.

    Now, as I see it, anything inbetween these two interpretations is a logical fallacy and this is what Ed’s original point particularly highlights for me. This is why 99.38% (yes, I did considerable research to arrive at this very precise figure) of Christians irritate the living daylights out of me – because their arguments on one hand (word of god, etc..) make total nonsense of their arguments on the other (never mind the bit about stoning adulterers). Either it is the word of god and god is mad, or it isn’t and the church is just a big club. You choose.

    I also have a third position of course, which is that the whole god business is probably a load of bollocks anyway, but as I have no evidence either way I don’t think that is either a relevant or significant view. Who fucking cares, frankly. I’m sure we’ll all find out in the end.

  65. #65 JeremyHandlebars
    July 12, 2006

    Gosh I need to draw breath after that. Someone give me back my pills…!

  66. #66 Roman Werpachowski
    July 12, 2006

    Most people discussing Bible forget that was written by humans and needs to be put in a historical context. If you are a fundie who believes that every word of the Bible is 100% true, then I pity you. Christians have minds so that they should be able to see the true faith throught the words of the Bible.

    And there’s the problem of translation. Even the 5th commandment depends on the translation. Some people say it should be read as “thou shall not murder” and not “thou shall not kill”, implying that it’s not a sin to kill in self-defence or to execute a criminal.

    Since I’m agnostic, I really don’t care that much about what is written in the Bible. Torah or Quran. But there are some wise things said there which we should respect (like “love thy neighbour”).

  67. #67 386sx
    July 12, 2006

    The beauty of choice is not that it permits sin, but that it allows virtue.

    I think you mean the beauty of the choice to sin, not just the beauty of choice in general. If there were no sin, there would still be some choosing going on, except nobody would be choosing any sinful stuff. Anyway, I’m all for anything that allows virtue and permits sin.

    Your Truly,
    Beelzebub, Esq.

  68. #68 Chance
    July 12, 2006

    I know the OT allows for divorce; my point was directed at Dominionists who presumably are following both OT and NT. Last time I checked Jesus on divorce, he was agin’ it.

    He was although there is considerable debate on that topic from historical and theological circles as the meaning of the words and customs 2000 years ago differ significantly from today. It also makes God seem well, inconsistent. It seems to me Jesus understood it happens and just applied a value to it. But that my humble opinion.

    Real quick:

    Chance, forgive me, but since we were discussing the morality of the Bible, I was assuming we could take its basic view of the universe for granted for the purposes of this discussion. So yes, that means I am assuming an expulsion from paradise and that man has a sinful nature.

    Thats a view not necessarily shared by all Christians.

    2c. For the most part, God has allowed us to create the world we have, not the one He might want us to have. Does this result in waste, tragedy and lost souls? Yes. Who are we to complain? Under a mechanistic view of evolution, we are nothing but glorified pond scum anyway.

    Glorified pond scum? Is not even pond scum a marvelous wonder on some level? The fact that humans evolved from other organisms is not the least bit demeaning it is unifying. I dislike your view of what has occured here. Even if I accepted your view our origins do not place a value on the humans now in existence.

    2d. I appreciate your saying I’m intelligent, if deranged. ;-)

    Your a smart guy who is trying to rationalize something he concluded for ‘nonsmart’ reasons. But as always I enjoy your contributions here.

    To me rationalizations are unnecesary as which is more likely:

    A. An invisible superbeing who created the universe needed a ‘frontier nation’ and the inherent loss of time and souls that would occur to implement such a plan.

    B. God ordered these actions to show that while he can be merciful(later revelation) he also is a destroyer as he creates both good and evil.

    C. A barbaric tribesman wrote a book based on the practices and views of his prevailing culture. A culture where women were property and a virgin woman(usually 12-13) was important to ensure a paternity. A non-virgin tossed this into question. Hence a method to keep events in line. A big story missed here is that despite such a penalty teenagers still found the sex drive so difficult to contain that they likely didn’t toe the line.

    C. :-)

  69. #69 386sx
    July 13, 2006

    Whether or not one likes the actions of the God of the Bible is irrelevant to whether or not he is the one, true God.

    But can you understand why someone wouldn’t like the actions of the (alleged) God of the Bible? And can you understand why people would be suspicious about why everything has to be all invisible and shadowy all the time? I’ve asked you those questions a couple of times and I don’t recall your ever answering them without your being, as you say, “obtuse”. Something tells me there’s some Bible verse or other that makes you “irrational” when it comes to questions like that. I could be wrong though!

  70. #70 windy
    July 14, 2006

    Angels, according to Judaism, are immortal, sinless, but choice-less. They are extensions of God’s will and nothing more.

    How’d they manage to rebel against God, then?

  71. #71 386sx
    July 16, 2006

    How’d they manage to rebel against God, then?

    The “answer” is probably that they aren’t “really” angels. I starting googling for a solution to that, but ended up just staring at the screen in utter disgust and disbelief at all the different fairy tales that people “believe”. How they end up deciding which ones are fake and which ones are the “real” McCoy is beyond me.

  72. #72 Skemono
    July 16, 2006

    How’d they manage to rebel against God, then?

    Since when has that been a Jewish idea?

  73. #73 windy
    July 16, 2006

    How’d they manage to rebel against God, then?

    Since when has that been a Jewish idea?

    I wouldn’t know, but some Christians seem to be running away with the “angels are choiceless” idea.