Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Answers for the Hillbilly Atheist: Part 4

Hello there to the Hillbilly Atheist! He's started reading my blog, so I guess I'd better get on with answering all his questions...

For what its worth, I don't think you should simply address the questions on your page to Christian Fundamentalists - if you're sticking to your atheist worldview, you are rejecting all forms of belief in all sorts of divine beings. I believe that belief in the divine is reasonable and rational, although I'm not a fundamentalist, in the contemporary useage of the word (I would like to be able to call myself a 'fundamentalist', in that I believe the fundamentals of Christianity without all the unnecessary baggage, but the word has been claimed by those who insist on believing all the baggage as well, sigh). Anyway, on with the questions:

31. If you believe the bible word for word, why does he kill two people for lying to peter and yet won’t smite a child rapist?

Well, as I've said in previous posts, I don't believe the bible word-for-word. But having said that, there are two things about the case of Ananias & Sapphira (Acts Chapter 5) that are worth noting:

The first is the timing of their actions. It could be that God wanted to get the church off to a good start, and if the rot set in too early the thing would collapse before it had a chance to grow properly. Nowadays, the church is big enough to sustain quite a lot of rotten parts (and I don't deny that they are there), so such drastic action is not required.

The second aspect in this case is Peter. As I said in an earlier response to your questions, for some unknown reason, God always works through people. Or rather, God gives his power to his people for them to use. In this instance I'm sure the decision to kill the two folk was Peter's, not God's. God empowered Peter, Peter decided to use that power to remove the rot in a spectacularly hot-headed way (he is always shown to be an impulsive character).

Or maybe the story is a myth that got added in at some later date.

32. Since Jews don’t believe in Jesus they are going to hell, now Hitler on the other hand could have converted on his death bed and went to heaven while the Jews he killed went to hell no matter how good they were, so isn’t god infinitely worse than Hitler? Also in Thessalonians 2:13-15 god apparently agrees with Hitler.

1 Thessalonians 2:13-16... My understanding of these verses relates to Paul's interpretation of world events in his time. 'The Jews' in this instance does not refer to all people who are ethnically Jewish, but to the current rulers of Judea. Who (I think) were in the process of being wiped out by the Romans at the time. Paul saw the events unfolding and interpreted the events as a punishment from God for Jesus's crucifixion.

Now, will Hitler be judged less harshly than the Jews? No. Will the Jews be judged with different criteria than Hitler? No. According to Revelation, everyone will be judged according to what they have done (Revelation 20v12).

As far as I know, Hitler did not convert on his deathbed, so this question is fairly pointless. However, I'm sure that somewhere in history a Jew will have converted on his deathbed.

33. Why didn’t god smite Hitler but did smite a guy in the bible just for touching a box? (see 2 Samuel 6:6 7)

God doesn't generally smite. As I've said on a few occasions, he generally works through people. However, the 2 Samuel story is an odd one. Maybe it's just a myth. But maybe the power of God did exist in some form in that box, if that was the case, it wasn't smiting but simply a genuine discharge of power that killed the guy.

34. If you think god isn’t happy about casting people into hell why does he say in proverbs that he will laugh at you while he does it? (first chapter start around the 2oth verse and read on)

The bible was written by people. Not all of them had a rational and reasonable view of God.

35. if Adam and eve were perfect before the fall, than how come they sinned, did god create imperfect beings, what about the devil, wasn't he perfect, how did he fall, did god mess up with him too?

See my post about Freewill. God created good things and hence the possibility of evil. And where does it say that Adam & Eve were perfect? They were merely 'good' and mucked up.

36. As an atheist I simply don't realize your god is real so how is it right to torment me for all eternity for an honest mistake?

As I've said before, 'torment' is a loaded word. And I'm certain that we have a totally wrong concept of both heaven and hell. But for what its worth, I believe that the world is filled with people who fall into one of two categories: those who, given the choice, would choose to live with God and those who wouldn't. God will not force those who don't want to live with him to do so.

37. How does the soul interact with the brain, what scientific evidence is there that shows how it happens and where it happens.

None. But there is no scientific evidence as to where consciousness is in terms of the brain. But you believe in consciousness, don't you?

38. What is a soul made out of?

Don't know. Does it matter?

39. Do retarded people have retarded souls?

This question offends me. I worked with adults with learning disabilites for a while a few years ago. These were folk right at the bottom of the IQ scale. What amazed me at the time was the way that some of them responded to God in an open and loving manner, while some totally rejected belief in God. Pretty much the same pattern that I have seen with intelligent people at the other end of the IQ spectrum. It would seem that God doesn't judge people according to their intelligence, he accepts the clever and the stupid. However, some of Jesus's parables warn that we will be judged according to the gifts we have been given - more will be expected from those who had more to begin with.

What I think God gets out of all this is love. And the capacity to love is not related to intelligence in any way.

40. Why does a righteous god think virgin women are war booty (numbers 31:17-18)

I think that was an incorrect rationalisation on the part of the writer of the book, several hundred years after the event. I think the thought process went something like this: We won the battle. This must have been because God was with us. We took the virgins as booty. This must have been because God told us this was OK...

More another time.

No comments: