Job: An Assault on Logic and the Character of God

jobs-dreamsI’ve said it before and now I’ll say it again, “The Bible is it’s own worst enemy”. I think this rings true for any former Christian that decided to read it as if it were not a perfect book, thats one of the steps I took  before I got to where I am today.

In my recent plea for someone to ask questions of me for better inspiration one OscarGecko asked me the following:

In your post, “Ex-Timony,” you said, “…alot of the stories, the book of Job in particular, really make g-d look like a huge asshole if you think about it more critically…” can you explain this further? ~OscarGecko

First let me just say thanks to Oscar for being my muse for this round of Ask the Atheist…I appreciate your cooperation very much sir!

Next, I want to clarify my position a little bit and then we will go through the specific example of Job, as the picture it paints of God to the unfaithful. My position is that the Bible and Job in particular are testaments to the character of YHVH, that they exemplify who he is at his very core rather than who he is  when you look at the prettier picture painted by the story of Christian “salvation”. This, not the sacrificial god found in Jesus, is who YHWH truly is, everything else is just what he needs to be to be more acceptable to the masses. I say that the intent of the new testament is like a huge Public Relations campaign to make YWHW more palatable to those that may not be “God’s Chosen People”. Of course this is a rather rudimentary simplification of my view, but it should serve my purpose here.

Please note that I am going to present this as if it were not a work of fiction. As far as I can tell that was not the intention of the author, but many people actually read it that way, so I will do the same.

Job’s Wealth (Job 1)

For those unfamiliar, the book of Job starts off with a description of Job’s properties and family, he is relatively wealthy for the time period and location in which he lived (Uz). He had seven sons and three daughters, 7000 sheep, 3000 camels, and 1000 oxen, etc. Job was so dedicated to YHWH and his family that he would offer up burnt offerings to God just in case his family sinned in their hearts or cursed God without his knowledge. Job was dedicated…but he also had no real reason not to be, in his view all things come from God (as later revealed in his debates with his friends in the next few chapters).

YHWH makes a wager with an old friend

Though it isn’t well explained in the Bible, part of my former indoctrination was an understanding that Satan is not and never was actually physically in Hell, most of that understanding  comes from Job 1: 6-7 and experience as an exorcist (you know, that thing I won’t talk about on this blog?…that’s it).  My understanding of Lucifer, anthropologically speaking, going back into the early theology of the Jewish cult is that he is much less an actual enemy of god than modern Christianity accepts, but he is more known as a servant of YHVH who’s job it is to temp man…I am not going to get into all the details nor am I going to debate it, it’s just a side note in this thing…but I know someone will gripe about it.

So in Job 1: 8 YHVH , unprompted by Lucifer, asks if he had considered his servant Job. He just up and says it…have you considered Job and trying to test him? God even continues to talk about how good of a servant Job is,  about how Job loves him, and is a righteous man. Despite the goodness of Job, God just wants Satan to reek havoc on the man and his family. Permission is then granted for Lucifer to have his way with Job.

Lucifer then opens up the gates of hell on Job. All of his cattle, all of his servants (innocent people in this wager), all of his children…killed. Just because YHWH wanted to prove Lucifer wrong. (Isn’t an omnipotent deity supposed to just know what is true and what is not? Suddenly he want’s proof that Job loves him—and I’m the bad guy because I don’t believe Creationism????? Give me a break!)

Is this acceptable behavior for our loving Creator?

So, to begin my examination of the problem of Job I would like to  simply ask:

Is it OK for a (loving) God to offer our wealth, happiness, and the lives of our loved ones and other innocent bystanders just for the sake of proving a point?

I will let you answer that one on your own.

Job defies all logic

All this turmoil befalls Job; who by the way has no clue that this wager between God and Satan has been made–he Job in despairdoesn’t know what do think, he doesn’t have any way to know that this is nothing more than a pissing match between two beings far more powerful than he. The next many chapters are devoted to Job having debates with his acquaintances. Some of  them thing that Job must have been doing something bad for God to allow all of this bad stuff to happen to him, others think that Job should just say “Screw God” since he won’t protect him from all of it.

Job does not fall unto this temptation though, he simply continues to praise YHWH even in the rubble that was left in his life…

What Job does defies all logical thinking, he worships God, he barely questions God and he submits to God…while everything in me would be giving YHVH the finger Job is on his face before him. Job neglects his own need for real answers and justice…My guess is that he does this out of a mixture of fear and devotion.

God makes it all better!

So this whole book ends with God pulling Job out of the ashes of his former glory and providing his status back to him. YHVH decides to provide Job with all his cattle, donkeys, servants, and his camels…and he doubles them! Afterward God even gives job a new set of daughters (prettier than the others) and sons. His life is restored to it’s former glory and beyond….HOW WONDERFUL!!!!

But…but wait…

So, all that sounds well and good, I know…God let Job get tested by Satan, Job was faithful to God, so God rewards Job with more stuff…that’s good right?

Of course it is, until you think about all that blood…you know, from Satan’s trials on Job….What about all of Jobs dead kids and servants and cattle and such? Are their  lives so worthless that Job will just forget about them after being provided with shiny new models? We aren’t talking about the Lamborghini you wrapped around a tree last year, these are people’s lives – Living, breathing, talking, loving people. Can you really justify God’s decision to allow all of those deaths (which, to me, is just as good as pulling the trigger himself) just to prove a point to a fallen angel and servant Lucifer?

Does that not fly in the face with Luke 12:7:

But even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not therefore: ye are of more value than many sparrows.”

According to this verse mankind is of value to God, the same mankind destined for hell if his lordship is denied, yet he would use our lives as wagering chips in a bet against someone he is supposed to be far more powerful than.

I think Job is the perfect example of the fallacy of the benevolent Biblical model of God, and an assault on my sensibilities.

Stumble, digg, etc please.

  • I remember the first time I really read Job as a Christian. I was blown way, but still didn't really think about his family and servants, because God only does good, right? Reading it after my deconversion blew me away again. God in the Bible sanctioned the deaths of all those people. Wow.

    Since the Bible was written by many authors over a long period of time, I don't really see any clear, concise view of God. I know the one I served for 20 years, but as I read scripture now I see just how fragmented it is, and how you really have to try to get the loving god of Christianity out of it.

    Even though I'm an atheist I tend to be more agnostic in that I do believe there could be some higher being out there, but the god of the Bible at least as mainline religions see him, doesn't seem possible to me.

    Good post. Thanks for taking the time to read Job and write about it.

  • You've raised some good questions, Matt. Certainly this is a difficult book and as you point out, defies logic. In fact, as I've stated here before, I'll fully admit that there are things about Christianity that from a human standpoint just don't make sense (Triune Nature of God, Nature of Christ as both True man and True God, Christ's sacrifice for humanity, just to name a few). Even Scripture recognizes this – 1 Corinthians 1 – God's "foolishness" is wiser than man's "wisdom". So nothing really surprising there.

    The thing that's not connecting for me is that you're making a leap from "God allowing Job's servants and family to die" with "God hating them, using them as pawns, and damning them to hell." Everyone dies. Some in peaceful ways, some in tragic ways. In fact, it may be correct to think of God "taking someone away" from us (as the famous line from Job himself in Job 1:21 "The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away"). Basically, if you can show me without a doubt that in Job or anywhere else in Scripture that it says "and God damned them to hell" simply because He felt like it, then we can talk. As far as I know, certainly God caused/allowed a lot of death in the OT, but unless they explicitly turned against God in unbelief, I can't think of a single case where it actually mentions their eternal destiny, can you? In other words, even if God caused/allows someone to die, doesn't necessarily mean their eternity will be spent in hell. Everyone is going to die. Everyone is going to have junk happen to them in life. That's a fact. But where everyone spends eternity depends on their relationship to God in Christ, not how good/bad of a person they are and not based on how much good/bad stuff happens in their lives. So again, if you can show me in Scripture where God arbitrarily sends someone to hell, then you've really got a point. Otherwise, you're just making assumptions that I don't believe are accurate. And if you want to pull the "why would God send someone to hell just for not believing in them" card, I think that's really a bit of a straw man argument. I can give you a million dollars, but I can't force you to keep it. The promise and gift of eternal life is offered to everyone, but God doesn't force you to keep it. So anyone who ends up in hell only has themselves to blame for rejecting God's free gift. It's not like He wants it that way.

    • Where did I imply that any of those victims went to hell? If I did I certainly didn't mean to. Biblically speaking I believe they would be in Abraham's Bosom . My point is that people are dying for…well…what I view as an absolutely ridiculous cause. In most circles death is a bad thing….which is the thought process I am trying to appeal to…not the hell concept

  • Looks like my first comment didn't go through? Part of it was saved and I'm rewriting the rest of it from memory.

    I remember the first time I really read Job as a Christian. I was blown way, but still didn't really think about his family and servants, because God only does good, right? Reading it after my deconversion blew me away again. God in the Bible sanctioned the deaths of all those people as part of a bet, to prove a point. Wow.

    We're not talking about them dying of natural causes, but of Satan actually being allowed to kill them as part of the test.

    When I read the Bible now I don't see the continuity that I had forged in my mind as a Christian. I see how much of it only fits together due to many years of people studying it and rationalizing it together. As an atheist I don't believe in God and certainly I don;t believe the Bible to be of divine origin, however I tend to be more agnostic when it comes to the possibility of some higher being out there who is perhaps called God by some. Regardless, I do not believe in the God of the Bible at least not in the way that any of the common belief systems/religions do.

    • it's always been one of those books that…just bothered me….but i ignored it…you know how that is

  • Lynn

    Hey Matt, things have certainly taken a turn since the last time you and I spoke. I think it was when you came and spoke to my youth at church? Anyway, the question you asked "is it ok for God to offer our wealth, happiness, and the lives….." My question is, who are we to ask that? God is GOD for pete's sake. He's our creator. He gives and He takes away. We're not promised anything. Our purpose in this lifetime and our lifetime to come is to glorify and bring glory to Him…. That brings joy to my soul… Do athiest have joy? I'm asking because I truly don't know.

    • Hi Lynn, nice to hear from you, thanks for visiting my site.

      things certainly have changed over these last few years….I have gone from being on fire for god to wanting to set the idea of god on fire. In my view this is a massive improvement, but I certainly understand why you might think it a bad thing.

      in answer to your question of whether or not we have the right to question god, I say we most certainly do, we are his victims….we should always be able and willing to question him, not settle for an injust god. Just because god is god doesn't make him a just god, a righteous god…those are the questions you should be asking yourself, especially as you read Job. My understanding of the god that i once served is that he is nothing more than a construct of my mind and biblical teaching….a being I created, a being I felt, kind of like an imaginary friend…perhaps if you ask the same questions you will find a similar answer to that.

      I once lived to glorify god and to make him known…it was my every breath. Now I can live for me, I can live for my wife, for my happiness and to better the world around me…that brings joy to me….yes, Atheists have joy, lots of it….and we lack bondage and the pain and suffering brought upon by religion…. all the self doubt and guilt is no more….It is better here…i know because I have been both places.

      • Matt, at the risk of beating a dead horse here, I still don't understand why living for God and living for my wife, etc. have to be mutually exclusive? Or even why by living for God that somehow takes away from living for all the other things? You're talking about it as if it's some kind of pie chart "God gets 51% and the rest goes to everything else." The way I see it, I live for God BY living for all those other things. So it's not as if God takes a majority and others in my life get the leftovers. Rather, God is in everything and enhances those other areas of my life.

        As for the "self doubt" and "guilt" you speak of – man, I feel for you. If that's how I saw Christianity, I probably would have left too. It's somewhat ironic because for me, it's avoiding those issues that keep me a Christian. I don't have to wonder, "am I doing enough to please God?" Rather, I thank Him for the forgiveness He offers in Christ and the freedom from that guilt and self-doubt. The brand of Christianity you speak of sounds like it was works-righteousness to me, which only leads to guilt and doubt because we can't do enough. And in a manner of speaking, it just doesn't sound Christian. After all, that's why Luther sought to reSTORE (not so much reform) the church – because it had lost sight of the freeing power of the Gospel of Christ and instead played on people's guilt to milk them out of their money for indulgences. I just don't understand why some Christians see the need to try to add to God's grace with our works to earn forgiveness. It's kinda pointless and unduly burdens the conscience. Certainly we're called to do good works, but not because they somehow earn God's grace or forgiveness.

  • Sorry about the double post. Since they are a little different I'll leave them both.

    "My question is, who are we to ask that? God is GOD for pete's sake. He's our creator. "

    Lynn, people have applied that logic to men for thousands of years, he could do what he wanted with his wife and his children, because he owned them, it was his right. Most of us find that view abhorrent today, and yet it's ok for the god of the Bible to do it?

    Christians make a big deal out of Jesus never sinning, he never breaks any commandments, but it's ok for God the Father to do sanction the killing of Job's family? It's contradictory views like that which make people doubt the whole deal.

  • Dusty Jones

    Regardless of the way it was written to personify God and Lucifer and the supposed callousness of their wager, there are still powerful lessons to be learned from this story. One that you rarely hear discussed is that of judgment. For a good 80% or more of the story, Job is harassed and judged by his own friends and acquaintances for the sins he committed to deserve such punishment or for being a fool for still praising and believing in a God that would bring such tragedy to his life for no good reason. I’d say it was not just a test of Job’s faith, but of the compassion of those around him. Compassion in the face of judgment actually turns out to be a prevalent theme in the New Testament.

    It is never denied in the story that God knows the outcome of the wager, yet constantly judged with the most contempt in this story is the Creator, himself, that holds the flow of linear time in his hand.

    • Hi Mr Jones,

      Thanks for the comment. I am very suprised at the way you are looking at this…I like this view very much and I have never really thought about it as a study in Job's peers…im gonna reread it and focus a bit more on those dialogs and perhaps do another commentary later on.

      regardless, God should be held to a higher standard than that of a serial killer. IMO

      • Dusty Jones

        Comparing God to a serial killer is pretty hardcore, but it’s still judging him by the standards of men and our own ideas of good and evil. If you want to judge God by men’s standards, there’s always Jesus Christ. See where men’s ideas of good and evil ended up in that story.

        • Yea I think I have heard that story before.

          My point is that Gods standard should be AT LEAST as good as mans…hopefully better…in the Book of Job it is clearly much lower than the standards of most men. Man is far more moral than BibleGod.

          Our ideas of Good and evil, according to the Bible, actually are sourced from God (he inscribes his laws on the heart of men)…so our standards must be where he wants them to be (assuming his existence again).

          One of my points is that the Bible is a flawed book..self consuming and contradictory. If this is the God you want to serve, one that can't keep his own book straight, fine by me, but I think we can all rise above it.

          If I want to call god a serial killer…would I really be stretching it very far from the truth? I could also call god an inspiration to Hitler seeing as how one of the first mass genocides was commanded by him…and his Chosen People were the ones instructed to do the killing.

          • Dusty Jones

            Biblically, men's idea of good and evil is something we were told we were not ready for yet but chose to partake of anyway. The 'evils' we endure are the consequences of that decision, yet also help to mold us into beings that can better understand who we are and what we are capable of. It’s funny you bring up Hitler and the holocaust. What truths did the Jewish people hold on to while enduring such atrocities? What stories did they reflect on? What would be the consequence to mankind if that period of time was forgotten; dismissed as no longer relevant to the current state of the world?

          • Dusty Jones

            There is a reason that these books still exist after thousands of years, despite being salted so heavily sometimes they barely quench our thirst for truth. There are still lessons to be learned from them. I get the impression that you’d rather have a world where they are forgotten and dismissed. We will never be able to rise above anything if we forget or are no longer free to reflect on who we are and where we have come from. You’ve made it clear you no longer find value or truth in these books, but is it not still important to respect those who do? We owe much of the freedom we currently have to the mutual respect for one another’s beliefs.

          • I don't think I was being disrespectful to your beliefs…certainly not intentionally….I can't very well think you stupid for believing the very things I once dedicated my life to and would have gladly died for…you didn't know me then so you may not know about just how devoted I was….so even though I may antagonize the idea of your faith, the fact that you have it doesn't bother me in the least and I wouldn't want to insult that aspect of it, however…the Bible and God i feel are open to my criticism…if they are as great as they are supposed to be, should be able to adequately stand up to it.

  • ARGON

    Just curious Oxley, what is your real reason for "Ask the Atheist" and this whole site? Is it for you to just vent and rant and rave about the benefits of atheism? Or do you sincerely want to take a look at ALL belief systems to see if there really is only ONE that is "the truth"? Are you willing to make that journey? And also are you willing to sincerely analyze and critique your own belief system to see if it really holds water (to see if it really is the most legitimate and logical)? Is your logic any more logical than what the christians use. You seem really bent on disproving the bible and the christian faith, but no others.
    ARGON

  • Any book of the Bible is difficult, if not impossible to read, because of all the symbolism and word connotation that comes from an unimaginable ancient culture and written by authors with styles like Johnathan Swift and J R Tolkien.

    And from that difficult/impossible read, sincerely devout modern Christianity proudly preaches: "But where everyone spends eternity depends on their relationship to God in Christ, not how good/bad of a person they are and not based on how much good/bad stuff happens in their lives…. And if you want to pull the "why would God send someone to hell just for not believing in them" card, I think that's really a bit of a straw man argument. I can give you a million dollars, but I can't force you to keep it. The promise and gift of eternal life is offered to everyone, but God doesn't force you to keep it. So anyone who ends up in hell only has themselves to blame for rejecting God's free gift. It's not like He wants it that way."

    Christianity has made a shambles of the divine intelligence of human beings and God's greatest gift to us of Freewill to use that intelligence to choose doing good things instead of bad. For example, Mel Gibson doesn't have to worry about his DUI arrest because he is going to Heaven no matter what. Mel can choose, like a zombie, to do other bad things with his precious human life but he is still going to Heaven and his incentive to do good is diluted. Also my niece was assured by her parents she was going to Heaven no matter what else she did, since she had accepted "God's free gift". So she committed suicide to be free of her earthly problems and go to Heaven.

    Christianity has made God look like a short sighted old man sending His Son to be tortured and killed to pay for what people do wrong. No greater love than to gives one's life for another paints a beautiful picture of courage and devotion but it is for such a fraudulent cause of nullifying human Freewill/intelligence. Christians are zombies if they are not concerned about mucking up their lives today because they are going to Heaven tomorrow.

    • First, I am sorry to hear the tragic story about your niece taking her own life so she can get to heaven faster. That truly is a tragedy and my heart goes out to you and your family for that loss.

      As for the example of Mel Gibson and even your niece thinking "now that I'm forgiven, I can do whatever I want," that's the error known as antinomianism – lawlessness. The idea that since God has forgiven me in Christ, I can just sin all I want because it doesn't matter. The truth is that this is what's known as cheap grace (read Deitrich Bonhoeffer's Cost of Discipleship sometime). This is certainly a tension in the Christian faith. On the one hand, it is by grace through that we are saved, not of works, so that no one can boast – it is a gift from God in Christ Jesus (Eph 2:8-9). On the other hand, this is a gift we don't treat like trash and just go on living however we want – we have been created to do good works and they are the result of true faith (Eph 2:10, James 2:14-26). The way we talk about it in our Lutheran understanding of Scripture is that good works are necessary, but not necessary for salvation. Just because we have been forgiven doesn't mean we have license to do whatever we want. So you're right, if we as Christians walk around thinking "I'm going to heaven so it doesn't matter what I do here and now," that's just un-Biblical. There is forgiveness for all sin, but it's not something we should take lightly. Put another way, yes our sin is forgiven in Christ but should we spit in the face of that and have total disregard for how we live here and now, we can harden our hearts and forfeit that gift God has given. That's the point I was trying to make in the comment you quoted me on.

      • Thank you Rev for your beautiful explanation on Lutheran understanding of the gift from God in Christ Jesus.

        You have helped me understand that Lutherans believe that good works are necessary, but not necessary for salvation. What is necessary for a Lutheran's salvation is grace from Christ Jesus suffering and dying. Furthermore, one gains grace by believing Jesus suffered and died for the forgiveness of his or her sins and thus their salvation. And finally you cannot take that gift lightly and go on living however you want.

        Still I have a problem with that belief because it allows Lutherans a responsibility loophole or to have zombie inclinations. Feeling weak one day, Mel Gibson has an inclination to drink and makes the mistake of DUI. But he's good 99% of the time so he feels one little (possibly disastrous) mistake is no big deal. Thus, he falls back on the responsibility loophole that his belief in what someone else did, namely Christ Jesus, in the end saves him from what he chose to do in a moment of weakness (an excuse for being irresponsible).

        Likewise all Lutherans could have zombie inclinations because of Christ's love, suffering & sacrifice. Mel's zombie inclination is drinking. My niece's zombie inclination was suicide. Other zombie inclinations could be things like overeating, smoking, or having sex with a best friend's wife because one feels a little weak for a moment etc…. The full incentive to use one's Freewill and take full responsibility for choosing to do what's best for oneself and others is weakened or diluted since Lutherans are depending on what someone else actually did for their salvation.

        Here is my understanding of the gift of God in Christ Jesus: God's most precious gift in human life is the Freewill to choose what to do and reap the result as a sign of whether one is going in the right direction salvation or not. That reality of life was demonstrated by Jesus rising from the dead, which showed His crucifixion was painless.

        Therefore humans are inherently free of suffering if we choose to do the things that will keep us out of suffering. Moreover, Christ's whole life, which was a long list of miracles demonstrating that by choosing to do all the right things to not suffer one can go all the way to walking on water or pulling bread out of thin air.

        Thus, Christ Jesus suffered painless crucifixion to demonstrate mankind is inherently free from suffering; and God sent His Son to demonstrate mankind can be free from suffering and even death if one chooses to do the best they can possibly do for themselves and others.

        • Heather

          I am sorry, but this is the most incoherant b.s. I have ever heard. I would really appreciate it you would stop calling Christians zombies, and I would love it even more if you got your facts straight on Christ's crucifixion. It was not painless, he rose from the dead three days late to fullfill scripture. Honestly, I would love it people would honestly know about a religion before they bash it. I am a Christian who is an advid learning of world religions. I love knowing what others believe. I believe that this has only helped my faith. I strongly advise that you learn and truly desire to learn about Christianity before you say anything else about it. And after you do learn, I would strong advise against bashing it. I firmly believe that to bash another religion only proves ignorance.

  • Testings are good. Testing are necessary. They build you up and they make you stronger. God will not allow something to happen in your life you can't bear it. 1 cor. 10:13.

    God is the potter and we are the clay. Let him transform us into the person he planned and purposed for us to be. I cannot and will never question God's actions. His wisodm is far beyond our wisdom. in fact our wisdom is foolishness before him. 1 cor 1:25.

    God Bless you more!

  • 1 Corinthians 10:13 is about temptation, not possibly unbearable things in your life.

  • I think the first problem is is that your looking at the story of Job from the view that
    A. all Christianity claims its a completely historical account(even though it was written in what seems to me poetic language) and
    B.our best life is NOW. You no longer believing in the afterlife, it would appear easier to see the injustice of God allowing the terrors to befall Job and particularly the death of his loved ones. Because to you…thats it…thats all life has to offer. I guess as a universalist, it may just be easier for me to gander at the "whole picture" of Gods plan for them in that those who died would be united with Job in the end in a better life anyhow. But again, I realize thats proabbly not the majority view.(though the whole "who goes to hell in the old testament" debate is controversial to most)

    Personally I dont feel God can actually make "wagers". For one to make a wager one would not know actually know the outcome, but God being "all-knowing" as most claim, He would and did know the outcome. Take notice to Job 1:12
    "behold, all that he has is in your hand. Only against him do not stretch out your hand"
    While God gives satan permission to do evil unto Jobs possessions he keeps job himself safe…I think some translations even say something like "do not touch the soul". God allows sufferings and trials upon us but He has ahold of our souls, he knows the ultimate outcomes of every thing that happens.

    I cant explain why the death of humans are sometimes apart of that process. But I feel I can say that God is more focused on our good life to come, rather than our "good life now". God wants blessings upon us in this life, but its not the goal. This life is just one step in creations realization that it needs HIM, and I believe thats why he allowed sin to begin with. The ultimate result will not be that Satan forever claims the majoirty of souls, but instead the restitution of all things back to God.

    • A: I stated that in the first place, that was my intent…that is how most Christians read it…my appeal is to them.

      B: Our best life is the only life we KNOW we will have, to assume an afterlife is to assume far too much.

      the problem I have with Universalism is that it is just so damn comfortable…you have no book in which to trust because the Bible is fallible so you have to go on your own emotions and what you WANT god to be…which fine by me, but it is impossible to debate…with no standards to refute there is no way to get a common ground going….your convenience is that if something ends up being wrong about your perception of god, you will simply change that perception to fit it, rather than throw the whole idea out…which is what I personally think would be healthiest for you.

  • I feel the bible is a ground, just because mainstream interpretation would say otherwise. its just not compleltly bipasing any sense of normal human justice for the sake of a what the mainstream defines as a"just" God

  • If our time in this world is all that is meant to be of our existences, then I would share in your assessment of the Book of Job in particular and our Heavenly Father in general. For the Book of Job serves as a good example of just how fair life in this world can be, but to ignore the fact that our lives in this world has always been meant to be just the beginning of an eternal existence is to miss the point entirely.

  • "B: Our best life is the only life we KNOW we will have, to assume an afterlife is to assume far too much. "
    thats exactly what I was trying to get at Matt…youre running the story of Job through an atheistic truth test…saying that God cannot be just in it because people are allowed to suffer and die (and death is the end of all life in the athiest view). But the authors of the Bible apparently believed in an afterlife, in Heaven…in the best life being the one to come not now.

    So I dont think its fair to therefore try and place such a morality treatment on a story that was written from an entirely different paradigm

  • The reason why is different for our Heaven Father than it is for us is that we, and everything else, belong to Him–regardless of whether we want to acknowledge it or not. The principal is a matter of common law until certain things are specifically forbidden. For an owner generally has the right to do with their property as they please if it does not pose a threat to another. An example of that would be me having the right to burn down my own house as long as the fire did no harm to another's property, but you do not have the right to burn down my house. Hence, the way it is with us and all that exists. For He has the right to do with us and everything else as He pleases, but none of us have a right to do anything without His permission because nothing actually belongs to us–not even our own lives.

  • Interesting point of view. I have never thought of it that way.

    What I found most interesting about the book of Job wasn't the character of YWHW (God) but rather the character of Job. Maybe it is just irony, but Job was wrestling with the idea of becoming an atheist.

    To add to the irony, it took a post from RagingRev for me to see this.

  • mnucer

    An assault on logic would be to waste time Blogging about Fairy Tales. I suggest for your next topic you consider whether lying Pinocchio’s nose would be limb or root growth. To even care about the book of Job and to criticize it just show your rebellion towards a god you claim does not exist. If he does not exist no one can malign his character. This site is not about logic, it is an attempt to erase a god from your life. A god you once called on. If you had just made a graven image you could have burned it and forgot it, but you searched for the creator and now he haunts your mind. If he does not exist let it go, don’t waste this one short life on such folly. The truth is, you suspect a creator but have no idea who it is. Furthermore, you did not find the creator in Christianity so now you must fight against their teachings. If this were not true you would be blogging against the 2 million plus gods of Hinduism, against Buddhism, Krishna, and so many more. This is personal not logical.

    • where did you learn psychoanalysis?

      • Though he may lack some tact, his last point is actually a pretty good one. Just why do you spend so much time attacking Christianity and not the other world religions? Not being moody 🙂 – Just curious.

        • Atheists primarily attack Christianity, it's various offshoots, and Islam, because those are the faiths that include people who actively recruit (evangelize) and get involved in politics and try to legislate their own brand of morality, then there's also the assualt on science by fundamentalists. Of course, Matt has his own reasons.

          • pretty much…also…Christianity is the one religion i know best….so naturally I would talk about what I know more than things I don't know.

  • mnucer

    You claim to be a atheist but you’re concerned about a gods character? You make a few statements that contradict atheism. First, your position is “… the Bible… [are] testaments to the character of YHVH, that [they] exemplify who he is at his very core…”. Again you say “This,… is who YHWH truly is,…”. You also state “…we are his victims….we should always be able and willing to question him, not settle for an unjust god. Just because god is god doesn't make him a just god, a righteous god…”. These are statements of a believer. First you capitalize “Bible” as to respect it, second you use a personal name for god, you claim to know his “true” character and claim we are his victims, and then you slander him and claim to have authority to question him.

    • I think i have made it clear that I do not believe the Bible is infallible or inspired at all, I am writing this from the perspective of a person that does believe those things and takes it literally. I know it was not written from that view point at all but very few Christians these days even know or understand that fact.

      • Sorry, I'm a little confused (probably lack of sleep). What exactly is the "fact" that very few of us Christians know or understand?

        • That the entire Bible isn't to be taken literally, of course it's really only the extreme fundies or those who aren't too familiar with the Bible, that miss that fact.

          I've really got to stop answering questions directed at Matt. Sorry, Matt! 😉

          • yea…pretty much.

            It is clear that Job had two authors and was meant to be read as an allegory….kind of like a parable really. At least I always thought it was fairly clear.

          • Yeah, I'm pretty sure there are plenty of scholars who would beg to differ with you that Job is not an allegory but actually a narrative. So as far as your assumption being a "fact", I'd have to disagree. (Just as I'd disagree with the "fact" that evolution not creationism is true). That's not to say all of the Bible is literal (parables of Jesus), but this isn't one of those.

          • some "scholars" don't realize that Noah's flood was stolen from Noe's flood and other predated mythologies…doesn't make it any less of a fact.

  • mnucer

    Your position is dangerous if you are wrong, and that is something you logically cannot know. You would be better off not poking sharp sticks at things you know nothing about. The assumption of an afterlife is the safest bet. To bet against god and loose would be to pay the highest price, to bet on god and loose you have lost nothing. Good moral people loose nothing by acknowledging a god. The guilty (and those feeling guilty) gain a judge by acknowledging a god. The fact is 1.) god does not exist or 2.) god does exist. No amount of debating will change either case. There is no logical scientific test to prove the non-existence of god. The most logical choice would be to hedge your bet on god and risk losing nothing.

    If god does not exist, the book of Job has no meaning.
    If god exists, only he has the authority to forgive and to grant freedom.
    Are we not moral freeborn agents, masters of our own destiny, free to choose, free to believe? Choose wisely!
    You can put your faith in a creator (as you once did) or in man (as you now do).

    Do not insult my logic and to draw me into a argument trap.

    • how am I insulting your logic? I didn't invite you here did i? do i know you?

      Pascals wager means little to me, If I am wrong that is fine, it merely proves my point regarding god's cruel nature if that is so. I don't want to be in heaven with that god, fuck that god.

      speaking of faith…do I really have a choice to believe or not to believe?
      I don't feel that I could possibly ever believe again, I just don't believe….i don't see how I ever did, how could I possibly change that fact about myself? Doesn't God provide faith anyway?

      • @mnucer

        "If god does not exist, the book of Job has no meaning. "

        If God exists and the Bible as we have it today is his literal, inerrant word, then Job has the meaning you claim it does.

        As to Pascal's wager, it completely falls apart because it applies equally to all theistic faiths.

        Wouldn't you be better off living as if Vishnu or Allah or Zeus were real?

    • Umm..it looks like you're only arguing with yourself.

      • he just showed up and started arguing…who knows

    • God gave us Freewill to choose the best things for our health and happiness in this life because, like you say, the afterlife is not something you can logically know. If you bet on God only being important for afterlife then you will probably lose a lot of health and happiness in this life because you are, so to speak, waiting to die to go to Heaven.

      If what we do in this life is out of harmony with God's Will (health and happiness) we suffer. And likewise if what we do in this life is in harmony with God's Will we prosper and live long. And my experience of being in harmony with God’s Will tells me that Jesus was demonstrating with His miracles what anyone can do when he or she is in complete harmony with God’s Will.

  • Rox

    I recommend this book:

    God's Problem: How the Bible Fails to Answer Our Most Important Question–Why We Suffer by Bart D. Ehrman

    He goes into quite a bit of detail in his exegesis of Job – and if I recall correctly there's evidence that what's in the bible now is actually a mashup of the story by two different authors.

    Ehrman's "Misquoting Jesus" is also an excellent read.

    • NPR interviewed Bart Ehrman around a year ago when God's Problem was a new book. I enjoyed the interview as he discussed problems with the Bible being translated and interpreted many times by different people from different cultures for different reasons, which I totally agree with.

      So I see the Bible as mankind's creation and problem not God's problem. God gave us Freewill to create and do as we please, but if what we do is out of harmony with God's Will (health and happiness) we suffer. Suffering is our problem because we have chosen to suffer by doing things that make us unhealthy and unhappy. Job (great name for someone to suffer with) as Bible scripture has all kinds of interpreted word connotation and symbolism that fails to tell modern culture everything about Job.

  • fykus

    Failblog is fail.

  • Rox

    Odd, I got email that there was a reply by Blissfit, but it's not expanding here… good thing the email included the whole reply!

  • You said: (I’ve said it before and now I’ll say it again, “The Bible is it’s own worst enemy”. I think this rings true for any former Christian that decided to read it as if it were not a perfect book,)

    1.) To make such an academic statement, would you have to be an expert in the field of "Biblical Studies" and or "Christian Theology"?

    You have a post-secondary education from a well recieved and nationally accredited institution..?

    2.) Why would an "Atheist" even bother with an "imperfect manuscript"? There would be nothing to be gained, and only valuable time wasted that could have been spent in legitimate pursuits.

    I figured I would ask seeing as you were still touting a link to Dawky on your website, and the unbelievable amount of time he wastes on the "imperfect manuscript", instead of pursuing legitimate scientific acedemia. 🙂

    • 1: as if the one and only Guy Vestal gives any respect to formal education or post-secondary education. Don't insult me in that way guy. Secondarily why in the hell would that be necessary to understand the word of God laid forth for man's edification and understanding? Isn't that a bit of a contradiction in terms….God will provide his word for mankind yet it is necessary to have a ThD to understand it? that's got to cover what…less than 1% of the population.

      2: There is something gained if my post brings some ignorant Christian out of the dark ages of believing the archaic words of the Bible and begins to accept logic and reason vs blind faith.

      and I have made my position on dawkins fairly clear.

      now…where the hell have you been old man? I've tried to call but get no answer….we need to catch up soon.

  • EatenByChtulu

    Ayup, the book of Job was a big problem to me too -even while I was a Christian. It's not so much the idea of the test that bothered me, it was the idea that Job & Job's family are merely pawns to dog so it can glorify itself. (Hell, christians can be irritating, I'm glad I changed my mind!)

  • this may be a bit random.. and I may be a bit drunk..
    but why the fuck would we believe in an "all superior being" that supposedly JUST created us to worship him..and if we don't, we get eternally punished? does anyone see this as complete and total bullshit? that's my rant, amen.