“We agree there, then. So a good measure would be to see if the God of the Bible can indeed do better than that.”
In which we will see.
“Government has one role in a world (whether you like to consider it fallen or not): to implement strategies of governance. This tends to have desperately little to do with good and evil, and more to do with things like common infrastructure (roads, water, fire/police, etc), economy and the protection of rights. In fact, most countries, including the US, form their criminal law, which is the closest thing to "condoning good, punishing evil" not around good/evil but around the protection of human rights.”
So if it's not around good or evil how then can you have any human rights? Copy and paste from the dictionary much, but have you really thought about what governance means? Where do the evil atrocities or failure to do good get refuted or even punished? All the things you describe above are seen as good. Whether or not we see on the micro scale of those being the “Job” of the government the act of supporting such services has the ability to be seen as the government condoning good. The whole point of a government funded police force is to execute and enforce the law. The law is created to define actions that are negative to human rights and value. Quite frankly you are arguing the wrong point, in your argument you are actually agreeing with me. Where you really need to be focusing though is on the human rights aspect and by what authority are we given said rights. What gives us the value to even have rights?
“Your definition of government is blatantly false, but I understand how attempting to see the world through the lens of the Bible leads to that. The problem is that it doesn't agree with reality; so you need to choose between the reality around you (governments are not about good/evil) and the Bible (in which they are, and in which God grants each one their position).”
Well yours is blatantly false because it's not seeing through my lens, which is based on how I feel.. See how ridiculous that sounds? If you're going to waste my time at least pretend like you're giving me more then conjectural statements. Again you said it was about human rights.. so human rights have no morality attached to it? The value and the rights of humans are not seen in anyway as good, and the abuse of those rights and the devalue of humanity is not seen as evil.. In that case human rights are a rather pointless endeavor. What then gives us a right or a value to live at all? Is there an absolute good and bad (truth) or does society define human rights. What gives society the the authority to define human rights, then is society wrong for prejudice of human rights even to the point of genocide? Going back to my corruption Rome example that supposedly had nothing to do with the fall of Rome. When the Roman Senate chose to not take Alaric serious because he was a Barbarian and to insult him with slurs (according to Edward Gibbon) because they saw themselves as being greater then the Barbarians, by doing such then allowing Rome to be sacked because of their lack of respect of another race of people. Would you say that wasn't corruption? Would you say the government at the time wasn't acting evil and was not condoning good? That good and evil had nothing to do with the Senate's decision and corruption in Rome was not a factor in its demise? I would take my reality over yours any day as history multiple times has told the story of governments that loose control over defining good and evil.
“The God that condoned slavery? (Keep in mind that it was not indentured servitude, and that there were different laws for Israelite and non-Israelite slaves before you respond to that..)”
Well if you really want to get into the difference and why some laws were different you can read the Bible yourself hopefully not taking it out of context. Obviously a majority of the salves in the Old testament and this was even in Roman culture sold themselves into slavery. So the term slavery, though very much a loaded term in our culture was not then. Let's look into that more:
"'If any of your fellow Israelites become poor and sell themselves to you, do not make them work as slaves. Leviticus 25:39
So yes you weren't supposed to allow a family member to work as a slave, but anyone from outside could. The term slave though looks not to be the same term as slave that we attach in our minds in America with the African slave trade. Obviously people sold themselves willingly to other people out of their own volition. If I'm going to sell myself to someone to get out of debt I would hope I would be rather careful about who I would sell myself to. Of course slaves of abject slavery weren't given that choice were they? However that's clearly not what the Bible is talking about here.
If any of your people—Hebrew men or women—sell themselves to you and serve you six years, in the seventh year you must let them go free. And when you release them, do not send them away empty-handed. Supply them liberally from your flock, your threshing floor and your winepress. Give to them as the Lord your God has blessed you. Remember that you were slaves in Egypt and the Lord your God redeemed you. That is why I give you this command today. But if your servant says to you, “I do not want to leave you,” because he loves you and your family and is well off with you, then take an awl and push it through his earlobe into the door, and he will become your servant for life. Do the same for your female servant.
Even though this might be for the Hebrew people God empathetic to slaves, reminds them that they were slaves once, and even gives the option for slaves that want to stay.. if they were so beaten and oppressed why stay?.. to forever be part of the family.
These verses have no designation for Hebrew or not..
People were to be punished if they killed a slave..
“Anyone who beats their male or female slave with a rod must be punished if the slave dies as a direct result,
In fact if a slave sought asylum because of a harsh master you were commanded to protect the slave.
If a slave has taken refuge with you, do not hand them over to their master. Let them live among you wherever they like and in whatever town they choose. Do not oppress them.
Slaves even had economic rights and could own their own slaves.
Then the king summoned Ziba, Saul’s steward, and said to him, “I have given your master’s grandson everything that belonged to Saul and his family. You and your sons and your servants are to farm the land for him and bring in the crops, so that your master’s grandsonmay be provided for. And Mephibosheth, grandson of your master, will always eat at my table.” (Now Ziba had fifteen sons and twenty servants.)
2 Samuel 9:9-10
If you were injured on the Job you got to go free.
“An owner who hits a male or female slave in the eye and destroys it must let the slave go free to compensate for the eye. And an owner who knocks out the tooth of a male or female slave must let the slave go free to compensate for the tooth.
I really hope you aren't comparing abject slavery to the slavery of the Old Testament. It is rather offensive you would be using the same arguments as some of the southern bigoted plantation owners which of course were refuted then about their abuse of the Bible and still are now. However I find these points are rehashed by Atheist blogs, who would rather try and prove a point then really care about what slavery truly was and still is in parts of the world today.
“The God that commanded the Hebrews to slaughter all those before them with the sword? To take virgin girls from their conquests? A God who could have cleared the land in any sort of manner resorted to commanding horrific slaughter and directed his people to genocide.”
Again you have to see the context. You aren't even quoting a verse so I have no clue what you might be talking about. I can only surmise from memory. I do know that God has resorted to mass genocide on more then one occasion. Your bringing up this instance is nothing compared Sodom and Gomorrah or more so to the flood of Noah. All of these events reflect a just God. A God who adheres to His own character. What's interesting is people have no issue with locking people up for a lifetime who threaten human rights and even the most gross punishment can be death to protect society from that individual ever harming again. However, when a just God inflicts punishment, on horrific atrocities that were happening in the countries God was using the Israelites to judge, countries that were destroyed by the Israelites because of things listed like burning of babies. People tend to ignore that (or never read the Bible to find it) and want to say look there is a crazy verse where God is mean. However God gives us our value and knows our hearts. He judged the hearts of the people then in many cases giving hundreds of years of warnings, not for His benefit but for theirs. One example would be the story of Jonah. If you don't believe in a truly just God then I could see how you would have issues with that. Obviously even in our time there has been times when justice has cried out for blood, who cultures have been lead to agree with and conduct genocide and those on the side of human rights had no issue with using death (some times massive) as in the very least a defense and in a lot of minds judgement. If we are Man and obviously don;t know everything and have resorted to death for judgement how can be shake our fists at God and tell Him he's wrong. How do you tell something you don't believe in He's not moralistic, when obviously you're biased if not for His very existence but how you condone your own justice and morality or lack thereof.
"The God that commanded that women should not be heard?"
Paul commands the Corinth churches to have women be quiet in church because they were causing disruption or confusion..
1 Corinthians 14:33-35
for God is not a God of confusion but of peace, as in all the churches of the saints. The women are to keep silent in the churches; for they are not permitted to speak, but are to subject themselves, just as the Law also says. If they desire to learn anything, let them ask their own husbands at home; for it is improper for a woman to speak in church.
It seems at the churches in Corinth some of the women were causing a disruption. Paul said wait and talk about it with your husbands at home. These churches were also having issues with back biting and false rumors being spread as well. Kinda makes sense, I am not seeing that as a over reaching statement for all churches. In fact Paul tells older women to instruct younger women in Titus 2:4 if they're supposed to be silent how would they be able to do that? Granted there are roles in a church that have long been debated (at least in the last 50 years) but even in the least women to be silent in a Church is much different then your sweeping statement that "women should not be heard" which is obviously not Biblical.
“That the punishment for things ranging from a child's disobedience to rape is stoning to death?”
Yes laws were pretty harsh with 3 Million (some estimates, at least 1 Million) people wandering in the desert. To keep people in check there had to be real consequences to behavior. One disobedient kid could put hundreds at risk of death. If you have ever lived in a desert with a limited food supply, limited care facilities and lack of sanitation you would know. We obviously don't follow those laws anymore as we are not wandering in the desert (maybe you are?) the Bible is pretty specific about us no longer following those laws even to the point where Jesus in John 8:1-11 stands up against the Pharisees when they try to stone a women caught in adultery.
“The God of the Bible is hardly a beacon of morality. He does, however, sound a lot like the forms of justice that were prevalent among st "imperfect man" in that area at that time.”
That's rather your opinion as I don't know by what authority your morality is taken from so I can't tell if your a good judge of morality. Is morality just something you make up as you go along borrowing from society? For that matter do you have experience in leading a few million people in a desert for 40 years to say the punishment didn't fit the crime?
"A majority of the mythological Gods reflect the inadequacies of man, they are always flawed."
“Agreed; the same is true of the God of the Bible.”
Again I can't agree with you or even take your statement seriously with the objections you have tried to pontificate there's a over abundance of written work refuting such points. I am actually being nice and most likely not being as studious and as detailed as I should be with you because.. if you have an issue with a absolute truth or morality there's nothing to work upon to prove anything. I can't even use science as it takes from absolutes. Science is based on finding patterns (observational truths) to prove absolutes. So if we don't live searching for absolutes everything is rather meaningless.
“By-the-by, did you know that many of the kingdoms, kings and cities mentioned in the taking of the promised land under the leadership of Joshua did not exist at the time those events supposedly took place? This is but one historical reality that leads me, and millions of others, to categorize the Bible as historical mythology rather than historical fact and to place its God in the category of mythological.”
That's a pretty unstable place to say you have solid ground on. In actuality, you need to check out recent finds at Hazor, where they have found the palace of the King and found just like the Biblical account depicted in Joshua 11:11 it was burned with fire. You even have the Amarna tablets that talk about the conquest of the Habiru (Hebrew) reflect the events of Joshua's conquest and ask Egypt for support in fighting them. The arguments about Joshua's conquest at least for me are put in the same categories of the once claimed non existence of Nineveh, or that Israel becoming a nation after 2000 years wouldn't happen either. Even though both are depicted in the Bible and of course Nineveh has been found (multiple times) and Israel is a nation now again.
“I define it as each person being valued equally and having equal opportunities, rights and privileges without regard to who they are.”
This is not true though, because obviously my handicapped cousin will never have the equal rights as someone who is not handicapped. He can not have equal opportunities or privileges as he is not physically capable. So you are telling him he does, despite the fact it may endanger his very lively hood and right to live?
"We do not have equal purposes"
“I find it sad when people excuse discrimination with such excuses.”
haha, just like my cousin I am used to people looking down there nose at me
“It is true that I can not run as fast as many people, nor jump as high. My "purpose" is not to be a tremendous athlete. Likewise, women and men have physical and psychological differences that are to one degree or another innate. However, despite my athletic limitations, I deserve all the rights you do. Despite being different from a man, a woman deserves to be heard as an equal, not shuffled off to a corner or made to wear a headdress because the Bible says it is OK to discriminate because we are different.”
No the Bible says discern. For example if my wife was blind and told me she had every right to drive to the store and I should let her.. and I did because I believed she had the right.. would I not in anyway feel responsible for her crashing and harming her or others? Would our modern law not try and hold me accountable for knowing and not hiding the keys from her? We see this with bars and drunk driving. Do drunks have a right to get into a car and kill someone due to their impairment? If the bar knows it should they not try to do something about it, for the welfare of others? Do we really have equal rights? Or do we and our government need to discern good and bad.. or more so evil and good and protect the innocent sometimes of our own supposed rights.
“The idea that treating people poorly and not as equals is OK because we have different attributes and abilities runs counter to the exact freedoms you later espouse as the cornerstone of America's foundational documents.”
You supposed “treating people poorly”, if anything treating people within the confines of their capabilities is something that is much more loving rather then letting blind people walk off cliffs. Do we always know each others capabilities, nope. Let's assume an all knowing God does though.
As for it being in our foundational documents that (again) everyone despite their inabilities has the right to do whatever job they want is a rather sweeping statement. Last I checked you where a programmer not an expert in American History, though maybe you are, from previous points I have reason to believe you are not.. So reference (prove) what you are saying. I have a right to write plasma 2 code even though I don't know much about C++ and you have no right to keep that from being accepted in git.. am I correct? We have equal rights despite our inabilities? I really don;t think the equality and rights we talk about today were close to anything that was meant by any constitutional document. If so that would be rather absurd as that's not even the reality in which we live today.
“Amazingly, the perfect God of the Bible was unable to discern this basic concept.”
So far you are more then on rather shaky ground with that statement. At this point you have proven nothing, and even more you've shown your lack of knowledge of God by the very point of taking the Bible horrifically out of context.
"Please give a few examples of secular democratic nations that are content and I will give you nations that for the most part are following (with a few exceptions) a rather Biblical view of work and social order, ie. Balancing work and social activities."
“That wasn't the question. I did not ask for nations that have attributes that one can find by interpreting what one cherry picks from the Bible. The question was about nations that expressly and purposefully put theocracy at the core of their governance.”
Well then you are left with Islamic states.. I have been to a few. If you're attempting to compare the god of Islam to the God of the Bible you are creating your own illogical fallacy. I hope you are not going down that road because I am rather familiar with the differences. I could just as easily compare a Godless nation to that of Communist Russia, or Pol Pot and say all God hating nations will end in mass genocide. So let's not lump all ideologies together, because in the last century Godless nations have killed more people then any so called religious wars combined over known history, I would say we can't take those who were killed by genocide in godless nations opinion into account as they are dead.. maybe they are more content and happy now at this point in the conversation I wouldn't encourage you to go and ask them though.
"When we do that, we see secular states are more equal, have a higher standard of living and greater individual and social happiness."
There's really nothing to compare, find me a Christian based country that is theistic based. You won't find one because Christians much like the founding fathers knew beliefs should be a freewill choice. Like other religions Christianity does not (or is not supposed to) convert people by force. Christ says if they reject you just leave Luke 9:3-5. We are never to impede judgment in that caliber (as be-headings etc..) but just warn and leave. However having the nation based on the foundation of Religion (Christianity in majority) and Morality as all of the founding Fathers agreed allowed for that freedom, more so then any other world view and still does.
"Firstly, there absolutely were Christian founders. Many of them got pretty busy persecuting other religions once they got here (see the history of Massachusetts, such as that concerning Mary Dyer), but ignoring that .. as you noted there were non-theists in their midst as well."
Not just theist over whelming Christians, our dictionary our law everything was based upon the Biblical principal of morality as a foundation to the nation, but still we refrained from being a theistic government.
John Adams says:
"Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other. " (October 11, 1798)
"But don't take my word for it, take theirs:"
I won't take your word for it, because I am rather familiar with theirs..
"As the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion - Treaty of Tripoli 1797http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Treaty_of_Tripoli
Man and I saw this coming it's a common argument with atheists despite the number of written works around it explaining it's context. I'm assuming you haven't read up on it (or John Adams) yourself or most likely you may have refrained. Granted I'm sure you know Wikipedia most likely isn't your best source for a reference especially when the books I quoted in the last post where a few hundred years old some of which I personally own. The Treaty of Tripoli was signed and ratified to protect American merchant ships from Islamic Pirates in the Mediterranean who declared war on any Christian vessel. Some of our ships had already been captured. So President John Adams wanted to secure commercial shipping rights, and the countries he wanted to negotiate with happened to be Muslim, and happened to justify piracy by declaring war on Christian nations. Did Wikipedia say that.. I don't know I didn't read it I tend to go to libraries and read those old antiquated things called books, instead of witnessing history getting rewritten by a 12 year old. In actuality though we were never a true Christian theocracy and I never said that. Therefore it's easy to say we are not a Christian Nation for the purpose of trade, because we weren't. The beauty of the Christian point of view (that can only come from a Christian point of view), is that we have a free will (even to do wrong and take things out of context for our own bias). This again was something that the founding fathers used. Christianity was the only world view that could truly say we have unalienable rights and that those were endowed by our creator. That we have freedom to chose to believe or not to believe. However rights and freedoms are never without consequence, especially for those who end up on the wrong side of truth.
“20th century, not founding principles. The USA lost its way during those years and has been in decline since the citizenry tightened their grip on their Bibles.”
In God we trust has been written on coinage since the 1860s.. “In God We Trust” was suggested by Reverend M R Watkinson November 13th 1861 in a letter to United States Secretary of Treasury Salmon P Chase. Kinda made “One Nation Under God” an easy choice I guess. I would argue that people have not been truly gripping onto their Bibles in the last 100 Years, no where near to that of the founding fathers. Have you read Patrick Henry's works? If people actually read the Bible in it's context and followed God and not power or greed then we'd be in a better place. I guess a founding father like Patrick Henry had it wrong though and it was flawed from the beginning, despite it's growth into one of the most successful democratic nations. I guess the Biblically based point of view for freedom, equal value and liberty helped us loose our way.
“Aqueduct construction is fully described in the 1st century BC by Vitruvius in "De Architectura". The first aqueduct in Rome itself was completed in 312 BC. This is firmly in the period of the Republic.”
So yes going off of memory I was about right, I do apologize though, regardless you can't say though it with the first aqueduct construction ended as we have Aristotle and some of the greatest thinkers during 400 B.C. on. Many also regard the eastern empire as the new and improved Rome due to their vast improvements in building that allowed them to be fortified until the Ottoman empire started using gun powder. Those improvements where done under more of a monarchy then anything else and sometimes a rather vicious one at that.
“You ask what kind of history books I read (factual ones, as it happens), but can't get anything related to history quite right yourself.”
You are completely discarding the Senate, the closest thing to our modern day congress (a bunch of rich corrupt people) which had bargaining power during the sack of Rome in 410, the Senate (in the western empire) actually existed though in limited form until around 600 A.D. They were rather corrupt and as I dive into above their own bias helped lead to Rome being sacked in the first place. Sorry if I am 80 years off recalling from memory. I do believe though I have been (maybe not as much as I should be) quite studious in giving sources and I did about as well, if you research the author I quoted above.
“The Bible tends to give people this sense of correctness that is disastrous: they are girded with absolutes and in so feeling this way they plunge forward with the best of intentions but usually the worst of information.”
So are you telling me there are no absolutes? Could that be a sense of correctness that is disastrous? Where do you obtain your truth? Again you are not telling me anything new, I am used to being looked down upon and treated as if I know nothing because I follow the Bible. Especially those who cry the loudest about human rights.. could you believe they want to take my rights away? I wonder what absolutes they are following.. Interesting.
“One does not show how an example did not affect something (that's an absurd request), but rather how something does affect something.”
Not absurd at all when you make a statement that conflicts with a majority of history, suddenly being rewritten, when there have been books written on the lack of morality of the Roman Government and how it affected it's citizens.. it's quite a logical response when someone says "that's just not true" to say site your sources and explain to me how it's not. Maybe in your world view people can just say "nope I don't believe or feel that way" and everyone one excepts it, but I live in a world of reason (some would say reality, though you do not think so) and I like evidence and proof. The Bible tells me to seek the truth. So I do so, maybe you think it's wrong there as well though.
It's pretty obvious from history, I gave my reference above, I try to when I make sweeping statements.
“Let me point you to the book "Why Nations Fail"; while I do not agree with all of their conclusions, it has a very, very good examination of what led to the fall of Rome, written by actual historians who specialize in the topic. I offer that as suitable evidence; it is not short (no examination of such a topic could be) but it is complete and compelling and, most importantly, based on actual facts from history."
Yeah it's pretty good read very passionate but rather disputed, and when it didn't offer any good footnotes to be honest I put it down. I see your world view is rather swayed by this book so I will be generous, but if someone or something makes statements of grander please do yourself a favor and ask for the source, if not you're most likely basing your world view off of someones conjecture which is rather dangerous, but done way to often.