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, 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 doesn’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!!!!
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.
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