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Bill Maher: The God (of the Old Testament) is a psychotic mass murderer


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Here's a video clip well worth watching.

 

What is the response to this of the Biblical literalist? Why is it OK for God to kill millions, including babies? How is the God of the Old Testament not a complete and utter tyrant?

 

When you take the OT literally, it actually makes more sense that Jehovah is an alien overlord, like Zecharia Sitchin believes, rather than a divine and loving father. But if the OT is right, then God is the biggest a-hole in the history of the world.

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Because it isn't a real question.  You guys don't want to have a conversation.  Its the same thing I said in the last thread where AJ was making fun of Christianity.  TF, I think we have kind of come to an understanding on this forum, we don't agree a bunch but I think we respect each other's point of views.  Do you really want to have a real conversation about this subject?  If you do, pm me and I will gladly answer any questions you have to the best of my ability.  

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MT, I'm not as extreme as Bill Maher in that I don't think religion is inherently ridiculous, just literalism. I don't as much "make fun of Christianity" as point out the limitations of fundamentalism. So its only certain brands of Christianity, or the most literal/fundamentalist version, that I poke at. Why? Because literalist religion is the cause of a lot of the world's problems.

 

I am honestly curious about your, or someone else's response, to these questions:

 

1) If every word of the OT is literally true, then God's behavior is akin to a mass murderer - he killed millions of people, including children, out of anger. How is this a just, kind, and loving God? Or to put it another way, how can one worship such a being that displays such tyrannical behavior?

 

2) If every word of the OT is not literally true, how do you determine what is true and what not? What is to be taken literally and what not?

 

I think the key is determining whether or not one takes every word as literal truth or not. If everything is literal truth then we're left with fundamentalism, which I view as highly problematic - not only is there no room for discussion, but this sort of literalism leads to all kinds of problems. If every word isn't taken as literal truth, then there's room for discussion - and individual discernment of truth. This in turn means that such beliefs as "homosexuality is sinful" can be questioned--are questioned, and by Christians no less.

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AJ, there's a ton of great material out there that addresses this very topic. One book I revisited recently is "Reason for God" by Tim Keller— he discusses how we can look for clues within the genres and language of Scripture to determine what's meant to be taken literally and what isn't.

 

Granted, much of the Old Testament is intended to be historical and therefore taken as fact. I've struggled at points in my life with reconciling my faith in Christ with some of the recorded instances in the OT. I once heard a great sermon that was part of a series called "Asterisk — Examining the fine print of Christianity." It dealt with some of the controversial topics in faith: homosexuality, sexual ethics, etc. This sermon was about how we can reconcile the God of the Old Testament with the "God is love" God that Christians profess to believe in. I wish I could find the audio of the sermon and post it here.

 

I guess my point is that for every Bill Maher, Sam Harris, or Bart Erhman, there's a Tim Keller, Ravi Zacharias, or Os Guinness who can provide reasonable and intellectual arguments for belief in Christianity. These topics are never as black-and-white as many Christians and non-Christians alike make it seem. 

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 TF, I think we have kind of come to an understanding on this forum, we don't agree a bunch but I think we respect each other's point of views.  Do you really want to have a real conversation about this subject?  If you do, pm me and I will gladly answer any questions you have to the best of my ability.  

PMing

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Good post, Taylor! I agree with you about these topics not being black and white, and as much as I like Bill Maher, I find that he looks at religion in just such a black and white manner.

 

What you present here is a bit more nuanced than the more fundamentalist approach. That's all I'm advocating for - is nuance.

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Good post, Taylor! I agree with you about these topics not being black and white, and as much as I like Bill Maher, I find that he looks at religion in just such a black and white manner.

 

What you present here is a bit more nuanced than the more fundamentalist approach. That's all I'm advocating for - is nuance.

 

Nuanced is a great word for it. It's impossible to have constructive conversations about anything when people on both sides are just yelling at each other and throwing stones (or being snide and condescending).

 

As a youth pastor, something I want teens to know is that they should never accept everything at face value— including the things they hear at church. They need to examine it for themselves and develop nuanced explanations for why they believe what they believe. "For the Bible tells me so" might be enough for little kids, but teens and adults need to go deeper than that. Sadly, many of them don't. 

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Taylor, I imagine that you're an excellent youth pastor and offer a lot to your kids. Keep it up!

 

I would extend your attitude towards science - that a lot of teens and adults say, or think "but science says so" - and science becomes another religion, when the whole purpose of science is experiential, open-ended knowledge and learning.

 

As for snide and condescending, I admit to occasionally acting as such. I come off tougher online than in real life (don't we all?).  But again, its not because I'm complete anti-religious or hate Christians, but because of the real dangers of fundamentalism (of all kinds), and the harm it has done--and continues to do.

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My opinion as an agnostic: I've never thought anything in the bible was meant to be taken literally. I have always seen it as a bunch of stories meant to lead people on the right path. Not that Jesus doesn't exist or isn't the Messiah or anything like that. But I think the stories are meant to be just that; stories. From my discussions with Christians in my lifetime it seems they have a similar outlook.

 

When looking at the OT it certainly could be seen that these stories don't paint a positive light on God but you have to consider the time they were written.

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  • 2 weeks later...

My opinion as an agnostic: I've never thought anything in the bible was meant to be taken literally. I have always seen it as a bunch of stories meant to lead people on the right path. Not that Jesus doesn't exist or isn't the Messiah or anything like that. But I think the stories are meant to be just that; stories. From my discussions with Christians in my lifetime it seems they have a similar outlook.

 

When looking at the OT it certainly could be seen that these stories don't paint a positive light on God but you have to consider the time they were written.

 

Exactly. When those stories that make up the bible were written, people were basically iliterate (except very few scholars). For a long time, people lived in an oral culture, which means, that stories were told in a figurative, sometimes repetitive manner, so that people would memorize them. In the case of the bible, they are allegories, supposed to transport morals and beliefs and not to be taken literally. I'm sure Mr. Maher is intelligent enough to find other reasons to prove his atheist viewpoints, but imo, making fun of OT is a cheap way to do so. Of course, they don't make sense in our culture today, because those stories are thousands of years old and come from an oral culture.

Sure, a frightening number of people do take the OT literally and use this to cause harm. Nevertheless, I don't think Maher is doing himself a favor in trying to argue with those peole and using them to discredit religion as a whole.

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I'm pretty sure any hierarchy controls with fear, whether it's the government and terrorism or God and going to hell for sinning.

There needs to be some over the top repercussion to manage policy.

Would a father and son fit into this role as well?  

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AJ, there's a ton of great material out there that addresses this very topic. One book I revisited recently is "Reason for God" by Tim Keller— he discusses how we can look for clues within the genres and language of Scripture to determine what's meant to be taken literally and what isn't.

 

Granted, much of the Old Testament is intended to be historical and therefore taken as fact. I've struggled at points in my life with reconciling my faith in Christ with some of the recorded instances in the OT. I once heard a great sermon that was part of a series called "Asterisk — Examining the fine print of Christianity." It dealt with some of the controversial topics in faith: homosexuality, sexual ethics, etc. This sermon was about how we can reconcile the God of the Old Testament with the "God is love" God that Christians profess to believe in. I wish I could find the audio of the sermon and post it here.

 

I guess my point is that for every Bill Maher, Sam Harris, or Bart Erhman, there's a Tim Keller, Ravi Zacharias, or Os Guinness who can provide reasonable and intellectual arguments for belief in Christianity. These topics are never as black-and-white as many Christians and non-Christians alike make it seem. 

 

so the guy can cherry pick stuff that doesn't make sense from the old testament and spin it for his agenda. good stuff.

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so the guy can cherry pick stuff that doesn't make sense from the old testament and spin it for his agenda. good stuff.

 

Unfortunately, both Christians and non-Christians cherry pick from the Bible. Actually, I've done it before too. Confirmation bias seems to be human instinct. 

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