Tag Archives: Old Testament

Sin and Morality

I was born this way

In an online discussion about morality, one participant wrote this:

“maybe i misunderstand morality but as i define it, it’s to feel remorse when no strings are attached”

The following was my reply.

That’s not morality: it’s guilt. It’s not uncommon for Christians to confuse the two. If you are a Christian, then I think the biblical focus on sin might be confusing your concept of morality. No matter what our positions on faith, we all know Christians are just as imperfect as anybody else: just as virtuous; just as venal; just as caring; just as petty . . . just as human.

Dictionary.com defines morality as “conformity to the rules of right conduct; moral or virtuous conduct” and it defines sin as “transgression of divine law: the sin of Adam”. Morality is a human construct. Sin is a biblical construct. Morality is affirmative. Sin is negative. The point of morality is self-improvement. The point of sin is guilt.

The human condition is all about our potentials. Good and bad, right and wrong, greatness and mediocrity. Morality can’t deny reality and remain valid. It MUST recognize the human condition. I look around and see that people are imperfect. Most of us are basically good but make mistakes. As we mature and learn, we try to improve. But we’re humans — not saints or angels. We’ll never be perfect: we’ll never stop making mistakes. All we can do is be honest with ourselves and strive to improve.

But that’s not what the Bible (and the religions it has spawned) teaches, is it? No sirree! We’re all wretched sinners unworthy of salvation unless we do (depending on the doctrine of your faith) one or more of the following . . .

  1. Love and profess Jesus Christ
  2. Get baptized (receive the Holy Spirit)
  3. Obey God’s word (revealed in scripture)
  4. Seek pardon from sin (through prayer or confession) when you fail

Some doctrines preach Original Sin: others don’t. The ones that do are adhering faithfully to the Genesis story of Adam and Eve. Regardless, we’re born imperfect humans unworthy of eternal life because of our God-given nature. Oh yeah, I forgot to mention, Genesis says God created Adam and Eve perfectly sinless. Well, duh! How can you sin before you’re created? If our nature is God-given, then he created us imperfect: doomed to fail. If God were a more ergonomic designer, he would have created us with fig leaves permanently affixed over our genitalia.

Other than stupidity, what else, but indoctrination, can explain how oblivious so many people are to this heads-I-win-tails-you-lose sham? God made us imperfect humans, then immediately punishes all humanity with death – by revoking our immortality — the very first time one of us was imperfect.

Even if you view this myth as a symbolic moral tale, what exactly is the moral of the tale? The inescapable lesson is a negative one: we should be ashamed of ourselves. We are guilty for our very nature – as if we had some choice in the matter.

And speaking of choice . . . if God endowed us with free will, then you don’t need to be omniscient to know that there’s only one way for us to be perfect but an infinite number of ways to incur God’s devastating, knee-jerk, wrath. If we could only preserve our immortality by obedience to God, we clearly never had a real choice: we never had free will in the first place. Not that it matters. After all, our immortality went down the drain with Adam and Eve – as if we had some choice in the matter.

Biblical sin is the ultimate con: a damn sham and scam. What purpose could it possibly serve for God to place us in opposition to ourselves? Why, by default, are we wretched sinners instead of basically good people who sometimes make mistakes?

What else?


Now, contrast biblical morality with secular morality: the morality of reason. Is it better to make choices based on the promise of heaven and threat of hell – of is it better to make choices based on logic and reason? It’s true that objective morality can only come from a perfectly objective source, such as (allegedly) God. But which God? The intolerant, genocidal, war-monger of the Bible? What’s that you say? That’s the Old Testament? So what!! Old Testament . . . New Testament . . . he’s allegedly the same God. Besides, Jesus demonstrated an appalling lack of concern for the subjugation of women and slaves. How perfectly objective is that? Do we need that kind of New Covenant in our world?

Morality tainted and twisted by biblical sin is inherently self-loathing. All you have to do is take the primitive spirituality of ancient, superstitious, ignorant, people and apply just enough pretzel logic to hopelessly confuse them. Voilà . . . spiritual entrapment: mission accomplished. As Friedrich Nietzsche once observed: “Morality is the best of all devices for leading mankind by the nose.”

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God is Flawed

God tells Adam and Eve not to eat of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. If this was the only way they could understand the difference between good and evil, how could they have known that it was wrong to disobey God and eat the fruit?” ~Laurie Lynn

Satan and Jesus square off

Have you ever done something you regret? If so, how does that compare to eating a fruit from the “Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil”? If sin is disobedience to God and all sins are the same to God, then eating the apple was, by God’s own terms, a pedestrian sin.

Yet God condemned all of us to death because of a single sin: the first sin ever sinned. Are you guilty of Eve’s sin? Of course not! No more so than for Lindsay Lohan’s sins or for mine. Right off the bat, common sense tells us that the Bible, in Genesis, is preaching a twisted morality. It puts us in opposition to ourselves by claiming our nature is sinful.

I’m no genius but I know a scam when I see one. Biblical sin is God’s heads-I-win-tails-you-lose con game: it’s a sham used to manipulate and control us via fear and guilt. I reject the neurosis of biblical sin: I believe our nature is basically good but we sometimes make mistakes. Hell, if we believe we’re not good, we probably won’t be.

But that’s definitely not what the Bible preaches, is it? We’re ALL unworthy, wretched, sinners.

The Bible says God created the universe and everything in it, including Adam and Eve. He did this in 6 days; executing his allegedly perfect plan on schedule and without a hitch (except that Eve was an afterthought). Adam and Eve were pure and sinless: they had all eternity, in Eden, to bask in God’s glory.

Unless, of course, they pissed Him off.

And it doesn’t take much to piss off God. No sir! And second chances? Forget about it. One mistake and you’re history. By the way, all of your offspring, forever, will also be cursed with death. How do you like them apples?

Because of Adam and Eve, we’re all born guilty of “Original Sin”. So much for God’s perfect plan (let’s call it, “plan A”). In fact, Original Sin made the human condition so intractably degenerate that God had to wipe out all life (human or not) with a catastrophic flood so that Noah’s family could start humanity anew, from scratch. This was God’s idea of plan B.

Well guess what? God’s plan B was all for naught. A few thousand years later, humanity had repopulated itself from Noah’s incestuous Ark and – surprise, surprise – was no better than before. I guess that’s what inbreeding gets you. You’d think God would have learned that the first time around.

Time for plan C.

This time, instead of genocide, God chose suicide. He came to Earth personally, as Jesus, to act out a script he divinely inspired, in biblical prophesy, that ended with his own trial, crucifixion, resurrection and ascension back home to heaven.

Why did God do this? Original Sin. Because of Original Sin, we can never be innocent enough for eternal life. We must be forgiven before heaven’s gates will open for us. If you know your dogma, you know Jesus sacrificed himself on the cross so that we may be redeemed from sin (and have everlasting life). Because God eternally cursed mankind with death, he had to provide some means for our redemption. The alternative was to abandon us. Quite a conundrum God put himself in, no?

Basically, God had to “save” us from the curse he imputed upon us to begin with. I’m amazed that so many people don’t see through this preposterous charade. Perhaps the pretzel logic is too tangled for most to unravel. The Bible would have us believe – and doctrine upholds – that we are all miserable wretches who will be granted eternal life only if we love Jesus. Of course, this assumes we can trust God not to resort to a plan D or E or whatever. After all, God is perfect and all-powerful: who’s going to stop him from tossing out plan C if he decides, yet again, that he still hasn’t gotten creation right?

God must regret cursing mankind with death. God is perfect, so we can’t say he makes mistakes; I prefer to say he has regrets. Anyway, I suppose God was hot-headed in his youth; the Old Testament clearly depicts him with a short fuse. So once he imputed death upon us, he couldn’t “un-impute” it. I mean, he’s God! Right? His word is law and immutable. What kind of self-respecting, omniscient, God would change his mind? If God is love, then I guess it’s true that, “love means never having to say you’re sorry”.

Eventually, God found a loophole in his own immutable law: leave mankind cursed but offer individuals an exemption by redemption. Yeah, that’s the ticket! For Christ’s sake – why didn’t God think of plan C before plan B? After all, if redemption is a workable plan, God flooded the Earth and wiped-out humanity for nothing. I hate when that happens!

From Original Sin to redemption, Eden to Gethsemane, the story twists a pretzel-logic plot of servile spiritual entrapment, with a theme of self-loathing morality.

You know, the more I think about it, the more I think the Supreme Being should be an elected position. Surely we can put somebody with more compassion and foresight onto the throne of the Ruler of the Universe. At least, if we elect poorly, we can vote for a replacement next time.

© Copyright 2011 AtheistExile.com
eMail: AtheistExile@AtheistExile.com

The Death of Christian Apologetics


Many Christian apologists try to give the impression that slavery was upheld in the Old Testament only. The fact is, it was also upheld – by none other than Jesus himself – in the New Testament. It’s gospel! Here’s the verse (Luke 12:47 – 48) . . .

Beat slaves who did wrong with many stripes, unless they knew not their wrong, then few stripes.

. . . Paul and Peter also upheld slavery in the New Testament. Come to think of it, there’s not a single word against slavery in the entire Bible.

There’s all kinds of immoral acts condoned, upheld or even encouraged in the Bible: bloodlust, incest, genocide, vengeance, battlefield atrocities, slavery, etc. But, as far as I know, human subjugation (slavery and male dominance over women) is the only one endorsed by BOTH the Old and New Testaments. This fact is important because it preempts the old apologist cop out: “That was the old covenant of the Old Testament but Jesus changed things with his new covenant of the New Testament”. They can discount the Old Testament all they want but slavery is also upheld in the New Testament by the ultimate authority: Jesus himself . . . God in the flesh.

Apologists are persistent, so next they’ll likely attempt to claim the word, ‘slave’, is a mis-translation. But it’s not. The Greek word, ‘doulos’, plainly means slave and is used unambiguously in the Bible. Some translations of the Bible soften the word into ‘servant’ but that’s an intentional attempt to mask an obvious weakness.

Once you shoot down that lame claim, you’re likely to be told slavery was kinder and gentler back in the Biblical era. The other day, one such apologist claimed slaves were better treated because their masters knew that, by law, they had to manumit their slaves after 7 years (some experts claim it was actually 6 years) . . . and this foreknowledge “tempered the master’s temper”. However, that claim was a conscious, calculated, misrepresentation. The fact is: only indentured Jewish MALE slaves – Hebrew MEN who sold themselves into bondage because of extreme poverty or debt – had to be manumitted. But non-Jewish slaves (mostly Canaanites) were chattel for life and could be passed from generation to generation through inheritance. And guess what? Females sold into slavery by their families – even if they were Jews – were slaves for life! That’s right, Hebrew male slaves get manumitted after 7 years . . . but Hebrew female slaves were chattel slaves for life. The human subjugation double-whammy, in the Bible, is reserved for women.

The bottom line is that real slaves (not the indentured, Jewish, MALE, slaves) were property for life and could be whipped or raped at the discretion of his/her master. Chattel slavery is chattel slavery: human subjugation is not kind or gentle. Or moral.

Some will claim that, when Jesus spoke (in Luke 12:47 – 48) about beating slaves, he was telling a parable. That’s not true. He wasn’t telling a parable – he was explaining one (Luke 12:35 – 40): clarifying a point about responsibility and accountability. But even if he was . . . parables take commonplace ideas to convey, by comparison or analogy, deeper ideas. So, if Jesus used the beating of slaves to convey lessons about responsibility and accountability . . . what does that say about his concern for slavery? It says he doesn’t give it a second thought! It’s a natural part of the order of things as far as Jesus is concerned.

The final, desperate, maneuver of the Christian apologist is to claim the “culture” or “prevailing attitudes” were different in the Biblical era. And that is the final nail in the coffin of the hapless apologist. By suggesting slavery is morally relative – justified by prevailing attitudes – one is admitting the immutable word of God is subjective, not objective, and not immutable or perfect or moral after all. Besides, God had always upheld slavery . . . nobody needed “prevailing attitudes” to make it okay.

Apologists can’t have it both ways. Either God’s word is immutable or it’s not. Either God is good and perfect, or he’s not. Either God is the source and final arbiter of morality or he’s not. Either the holy Bible is true and the divinely inspired word of God or it’s not.

And if God and the Bible are moral, true and perfect, then so is the slavery they uphold. But we know better. Don’t we? Slavery can no longer be upheld. We’ve grown beyond that. There’s no way in hell we will ever re-normalize slavery in order to align mankind’s morality with God’s. That slave ship has sailed. It’s over.

This fact puts slavery out of reach of Christian apologetics. Anybody can see – unless they refuse to – that if God’s morality grows outdated, it was never true or perfect to begin with. Clearly, God’s word is not the objective truth. In fact, God stands corrected by us ALL: believers and nonbelievers alike. If we must overrule God, we’re better off without him.

The single issue of slavery is all it takes to prove God is not moral, timeless or perfect – and neither is his split-personality scripture. If the allegedly omniscient, omnipotent, God or his scripture can’t stand the test of time, they’re frauds.

Of course, all this presumes the Biblical God exists in the first place.

© Copyright 2012 AtheistExile.com
eMail: AtheistExile@AtheistExile.com

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Why Harris Lost His Debate With Craig

I just stumbled upon a year-old YouTube video named, “Sam Harris gets destroyed by Dr. William Lane Craig”. It’s the 2-hour University of Notre Dame debate held on April 7, 2011, between Harris and Craig. It was titled: “The God Debate II: Is Good from God?” The video can be found at the bottom of this page.

And guess what? Harris really was destroyed by Craig! What a disappointment.

Craig started off with the premise that objective morality can only exist if God exists and, alternatively, if God does not exist, objective morality can not exist.

Harris then presented his premise that science can identify objective morality by determining what contributes to the well being of conscious creatures.

Craig rebutted with a scholarly evisceration of Harris’ premise that cited: the absence of moral objectivity in atheism; the subjectivity of human flourishing; the is/ought distinction; and more.

As Harris walked up to the podium for his own rebuttal, I realized that he CAN’T rebut Craig because he agrees that there is an objective basis for morality: namely the application of science to the question of human flourishing (well being). And sure enough, Harris didn’t counter a single Craig rebuttal. Instead, he launched into his usual attack on the Bible and its morality.

In disgust, I stopped watching when Craig came back to the podium and rightly pointed out Harris’ lack of a rebuttal.

Harris was so invested in his flawed thesis that “science can solve moral problems” that he was blinded to the risk of agreeing that morality is objective. The fact is that Craig is right! Objective morality can only exist if God exists: if God does not exist, objective morality can not exist.

The atheist position should have been that objective morality can not exist because God does not exist. In other words, morality is subjective. But even if you were willing to entertain God’s existence, Craig is arguing divine command theory, which was dismissed centuries before Jesus came along, by Euthyphro’s Dilemma (“Is the pious loved by the gods because it is pious, or is it pious because it is loved by the gods?”). Euthyphro’s Dilemma stemmed from a famous conversation between Euthyphro and Socrates that took place just before Socrates stood trial for impiety and corruption of minors . Surely, Harris is familiar with it. I have no idea why he wouldn’t use it.

Euthyphro’s Dilemma can be rephrased as: “Is an act moral because God wills it or does God will it because it is moral?” If it is moral because God wills it, then it is arbitrary or capricious: without basis in reason. Anything God commands, no matter how horrendous, would be moral. If you uphold the divinity of the Bible, then you are forced to accept that God’s will is arbitrary. But if God wills a thing because it is moral, then morality is independent of, and external to, God. If morality is independent of God, we don’t need God to have morals. Indeed, God is not omnipotent if he is constrained by an external morality.

But that’s an old argument. Thanks to advances in human understanding, particularly evolution, we have a perfectly human explanation for morality that does not require God at all. Because atheists do not believe in God and the supernatural realm, only the natural realm is left: the universe and everything in it. Nature has only a prime directive: survive. There is no good or bad, right or wrong, in nature. Morality is an entirely human construct and, as such, must be subjective – because humans can never be perfectly objective: as Craig points out, that would require a perfect God – an infallible authority.

As an atheist, Harris should have had a 2-pronged strategy: 1.) point out the lack of perfection in the biblical God and 2.) provide a naturalist understanding of morality; admitting up front that it is subjective and relative but, in the end, far superior to the flawed morality of an imperfect God.

Euthyphro’s Dilemma reveals the myth of God’s moral perfection so I won’t go into much detail on that count except to flesh out the slavery criticism because it’s upheld in the New Testament as well as the Old. This is important because Christians typically cop out by claiming fidelity only to the New Testament, since it represents a new covenant with God through Jesus.

I’ve recently written on the naturalist understanding of morality. If the following is familiar to you, just skip to the end.

The naturalist understanding of morality asserts that we have evolved empathy as an impetus to cooperation. Combined with personal experience, empathy leads most of us to a “Golden Rule” sense of morality. From experience, I know what hurts me: with empathy, I know the same things likely hurt you too. Experience and empathy is all we need to decide most moral matters. “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you . . . because we need each other to survive and prosper.” We are complex social animals, so this rule of thumb isn’t sufficient for every moral decision but it is fundamental to most. Without this impulse for cooperation to counter our impulse for violence, we would probably squander the intellectual prowess responsible for our survival advantage.

It’s a fallacy (with obvious religious motivations) that “we can not be moral without God”. Our morality is part of the human condition and existed long before Moses. Morality is not a dispensation from God: it is subjective and personal and, because it is informed by experience and empathy, develops as we mature. As a matter of fact, we ALL use our personal morality to overrule Biblical morality. And by ALL, I really do mean ALL: believers and nonbelievers alike. This fact is amply demonstrated by our universal rejection of slavery and the subjugation of women (well, maybe not the Muslims so much). Even though God/Jesus condoned the subjugation of our fellow humans in both the Old and New Testaments, we ALL overrule God’s morality with our own and reject such human subjugation. Not only is God NOT the source of morality but he stands corrected by us all. WE decided what is moral. WE decide what is religiously worthy. NOT God.

You need to ask yourself: “If we overrule God, why do we need him at all?”

This subjugation of our fellow humans is a failing of Biblical morality that can’t be reasonably addressed by apologetics. This is critical for all believers to understand. THEY CAN’T HAVE IT BOTH WAYS. Either God is perfect or he’s not. Either the Bible is divinely inspired or it’s not. Either God is the source of morality or he isn’t. Even a believer, if he’s honest with himself, must admit that if God’s morality grows outdated, it was never perfect and timeless to begin with. The alternative is to claim that God is right and that the subjugation of our fellow humans is NOT at all immoral – that it is, in fact, desirable. But we ALL know that’s an untenable position. We all know that is WRONG. We will not reverse our hard-earned moral progress to align it with God’s morality. This is why the issue is out of reach of apologetics.

The truth is that the Old Testament, New Testament and Quran reflect the morality and level of ignorance that existed in their respective eras and areas . . . precisely as they MUST if they’re written without the benefit of God’s input. These ancient tomes are NOT divinely inspired. God is NOT perfect. The issue of human subjugation proves that the personal, revealed, theist, God of the Abrahamic religions is irrefutably false. This doesn’t completely close the door on God, however: there’s still supernatural hope for the impersonal, cosmic, God of deists and pantheists.

Empathy is a human trait that spawns a number of other human traits just as naturally as it spawns morality. Empathy also spawns human dignity and worth, cooperation and compassion. We can live reasonably moral lives without God but not without empathy.

© Copyright 2012 AtheistExile.com
eMail: AtheistExile@AtheistExile.com