Friday, April 16, 2010

Delving Into Theology

Did God understand what he was getting into when he created humanity? I mean, why would an all-knowing perfectly good God create a species who he knows he's going to be condemning a certain percentage of it?

Is it possible that God in fact did not know what he was unleashing when he gave humanity free will and that God only knows the future when he directly intercedes? Maybe Genesis 6:5-7 is to say that the future could have turned out differently and that God did not actually see that mankind would be so evil as to be deserving of a calamity?

Now as it is, I am a believer, but there's of course still questions that need to be hammered into answers.


jewish philosopher said...

I personally believe that questions about God's motives are unanswerable. Since God's intelligence is so much greater than ours, we cannot understand His motives, any more than an insect can understand a human's motives.

SJ said...

That is a possible opinion to take. I'm just not sure I'm happy with it. XD

Shalmo said...

There isn't a consistent definition of God in the Bible. Any non-biased person can see the theophanies of both the OT and the NT are quite distinct.

For example, it unanimously seen that YHWH in Genesis chapters 1 to 13 is a deity who makes mistakes, who is not omniscient and who quite literally working through a process of trial and error in his creation.

The Tower of Babel is the most enlightening story in the bible. Here YHWH scatters the original language that was hebrew to create the many languages today. The story of course makes no sense. Why would God scatter the languages? Does not the bible say god is not the author of confusion?

Two things become obvious. One its that the stories in the bible are made to answer difficult questions. The tower of babel story exists to explain in a pre-scientific era how different languages came to be, just as the story of Adam and Eve exist to explain why men have to work the land (the writer assumed mankind would forever be an agrarian people!) and why women suffer childbirth.

furthermore its obvious from the tower of babel story that the reason YHWH feared the building of the tower was because the people were going to reach his heaven with it. Of course any modern 21st century person knows that this is not possible seeing the great distance between us and the stars, but then again can we blame the 6th century BC YHWH for being as ignorant about astronomy as the writer of this story!

Shalmo said...

Something else to consider is that many have noted that YHWH in the Torah is not a moralistic, perfect diety. Througout the Tanakh his pettiness reveals itself.

Such as the story with Elijah and Elisha were 42 children are killed by YHWH simply for making fun of Elisha's bald head! Or the various tales of genocide, etc.

This wasn't a problem for ancient people. People in the past did not have a problem believing in deities with the same moral flaws as we humans possess. The various myths of greek gods highlight this.

And yet as the Torah based religion evolved we do see a moralistic deity forming in the books of Ezekial, Isaiah, and Malachi. We see YHWH evolving from a national god of Israel, to the most powerful god; a god who is greater than power over the gods of other nations. In Torah he performed the plagues to "bring judgment against the gods of Egypt". And then eventually YHWH rather than now being the most powerful god, becomes the only true god!

And yet again we see YHWH evolve. In one passage in Isaiah he came down as a Zeus/Odin type being to slay the leviathan with a sword. In Ezekial we see a man seated on a throne with his court.

And then again we see this anthropromorphic god evolve into an abstract deity. In Malachi for instance we see the "god does not change" verse.

It was not until the time of the Rambam, where thanks to his sufi teachers, Judaism completely evolved YHWH into an abstract moralistic deity, without parts, without partners.

And of course then in the NT we introduced to YHWH a second time. This time, he is presented purely as a god of love. Entire christologies are biult to emphasize this.

Marcion, the first person to cocieve of creating a NT canon, for example envisions seperating Jesus from YHWH completely by advocating that in fact the reason YHWH was such a genocidal maniac and Jesus was such a god of love is because they are two seperate deities! And that Jesus came to save us from that evil YHWH in the Torah!

Even Paul who calls the torah a curse and presents the jewish people as a people who are shackled to the Torah; see a new Moses in Jesus. for just as Moses freed the hebrews from slavery of egypt, jesus freed the Jews from the slavery of the Torah.

Shalmo said...

An excellent book you out to read is "Joseph's Bones" by Jerome M. Segal

What I find remarkable is his claim that the Bible through Joseph is trying to say that God and Moses were wrong to condemn the Israelites and is perhaps trying to save their legacy from them.

Segal and I both seem to have seen a certain side to the Bible. As we know the Israelites failed to live up to their end of the covenant and disaster struck because of it. So when the Ezra crew came together to finalize a canon we see a plethora of apolegia take root into the Bible. That is one of the reasons we could not live up to the tasks outlined by Yahweh are because they were impossible for anyone to do.

Breaking the sabbath is punishable by death, being disobedient to parents is punishable by death, in fact we see the extremely minor things for which unbelievably harsh punishments are outlined in the Bible. Why is that? What were the writers who came up with these impossible laws trying to say?

Or for that matter why do all the biblical heroes engage in rape, murder, incest and genocide? Such as Lot in his incestuous story with his own daughters? Why does Joseph after rising to such a high level of power in Egyptian politics because a cruel ruler who torchers the Egyptians cruelly? Why does Solomon, repudiated as the wisest king of Israel, gain 700 wives and 300 concubines, and become seduced to polytheism? What is going on here? It seems the writers while writing about their heroes are also purposely defaming them, but are they doing that?

Heck the Bible calls many of Yahweh's deeds evil or at least portrays a deity who makes mistakes:

Exodus 32:14
2 Samuel 24:16
1 Chronicles 21:15
Jeremiah 15:6
Jeremaih 18:8
Jeremaih 26:3
Jeremiah 26:13
Jeremiah 26:19
Jeremaih 42:10
Jonah 3:10

God cannot lie say some passages; where as other show him lieing by proxy; he sends forth lying spirits to deceive his victims (1 Kings 22:23; Ezek 14:9)

If their Yahweh can send evil spirits in their enemies, can he do the same to his own people?

Shalmo said...

Its amazing that Segal notes that God in the Torah at least, is not a moral deity. Nothing about his morality is laid bare. The very opening chapters of Genesis (1-11) show a deity who is not omniscient and seems to be doing things through trial and error.

YHWH is portrayed in such a way that he fits the bill of a deity not really worthy of worship, or at least not the all good, oneness we believe in today

So what is going on here? What are we to make to of the impossible laws outlined in the Tanakh? Why do we have such horrible role models as heroes of Israel? Why is YHWH portrayed the way he is?

The answer appears to be that its due to apolgetics. Israel failed in her convenant, and now we have scribes trying to hold the people together. They need to come up with a reason as to how they can continue being a nation, knowing they failed their mission. The answer thus is simple, they start defaming their heroes.

The apologetic becomes how could we have known any better, when all the heroes given to us possess horrible characteristics no one can emulate?

How can we follow these laws given to us when they are impossible to follow? Such as stoning for simply working on the sabbath, or absurdedly for simply disobeying one's parents?

And how can we follow a God who seemingly makes mistakes (Genesis chapters 1-11), who admits his errors as I showed in the above passages, and who just seems cruel, unforgiving and inflicting punishments for something as simple as mockery (as in the case with Elisha where 42 kids were killed just for making fun of the prophet's head)?

The impossible to follows laws, the shameless biblical heroes, the way YHWH himself is portrayed all add up to an apologia; we failed the covenant because YHWH himself is impossible to please, because he gives us impossible laws to follow, and because the heroes we were to look up to were themselves pitiful role models.

SJ said...

There's a simple explanation as to why theophanies of OT and NT are different. NT is the furtherance of OT, so in the NT we learn new stuff. From the plain text of the Old Testament, God does not appear to be as static of an entity as orthodox judaism claims.

The bible does say that God is the author of the diversity of languages. For the tower of babel episode, these sites provide better information than I can-

God was not afraaaaaaaaaaiiiiiiiiiid of the tower of babel, that's silly. It might be that God was like, WTF are these ppl doing O.O? I highly doubt it was fear though. lol

The Bible makes no such assumption that mankind would always be agrarian. In the Bible, Enoch founded the first city in Genesis 4:17.

I guess the answer to whether or not YHVH is evil depends on whether or not one is a believer. If one is a believer, one believes in reward and punishment. If one is not a believer, all punishment is automatically evil.

The Bible never says other gods exist, just that other religions existed. Going down that road will get you nowhere Shalmo.

This answers the issue of the making fun of Elisha episode. The bible is full of moralist statements. Read it, and don't worry about Marcion since he was classified as heterodox early on.

As for the curse of the law thing, I think Galatians 3:10-13 is talking about pepole who live by ritual and not by faith.

Lot is not that much of a protagonist. Joseph was not a cruel ruler that's ridiculous. Solomon was a diplomat and in a monarchy, royal marriages is the name of the game when it comes to diplomacy.

The NT and OT YHVH is the same, a God who rewards and punishes,

I think 1 Kings 22:23 Ezek 14:9 refers to people who were already false prophets.

The plain text laws of the OT is tough but not as difficult as present day orthodox judaism. If present day orthodox judaism was merely OT laws I myself would have less of a problem being orthodox. I'm not sure how valid it is to view the OT-only lifestyle in the lens of the chumrot that developed over time.

God is not unforgiving as far as the NT is concerned. The NT is that God went through the trouble to suffer for us. It kinda makes sense. The heat has to go somewhere, God probably can't just make it disappear, and loading it on humanity would likely make life quite difficult, so God came down and took care of it.

NT cedes that the Old Law is difficult to follow which is why NT prescribes people to live by faith and good deeds instead.

Shalmo, in the future, please try to discuss one point at a time since it is a pain in the neck to respond monologue to monologue. XD

Shalmo said...

SJ I am sorry but your responses are just too ridiculous. You don't deal with any of the issues, you just post pseudo-responses which I don't think even you take seriously.

I suppose I cannot argue with a blind believer. You seem to be as dogmatic as Garnel is with his precious oral Torah, even though you and I both know the Kings 22 argument is irrefutable.

That said you do bring up something interesting. You state that the NT removes the OT law because its impossible to follow.

Well why the fuck did your god reveal such a horrible, impossible to follow law in the first place, if he was just going to remove it anyway?

the same goes for the messianic age. if God eventually plans on removing free will, to ensure that in the future nations will not raise sword against nation, then he could just as well never have given us free will to begin with. Why not jsut start the messianic age with Adam and Hawwah?

If the wage of sin is death then I wonder. Why the hell did God make such a system in the first place, where due to the weight of sin he has to come down and committ suicide to save us from himself? Why not just make us in a form where he would not have to do that?

In the parable of the prodigal son Jesus teaches that sincere repentence alone was enough for the father to forgive his son for his sins. Yet with Pauline Christianity, all of sudden we are told without Jesus' suicidal atonement, there can be no forgiveness. In which case did Jesus contradict himself in the parable of the prodigal son, or is the more likely scenario, that Jesus was never even familiar with Paul's ideas on vicarious sacrifice?

SJ said...

Shalmo, get help.

Shalmo said...

LOL trully the last ditch pathetic response that comes from the blind believer who knows he can't defend his nonsensical theology.

When Garnel can't provide an answer for tough questions his usual canard is "go get a life". And it seems you too have reached that point.


Shalmo said...

epic fail!

trully the last ditch pathetic response that comes from the blind believer when he is pushed into a corner, knowing damm well he just can't defend his nonsensical theology.

SJ said...

Ok Shalmo, you win, you pushed me into a corner (sarcasm). Now get help.