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lordpeter (profile) wrote,
on 03-09-12 at 10:01am
Isaiah 45:7 (King James Version)
    I form the light, and create darkness; I make peace, and create evil; I, the LORD, do all these things. (Isaiah 45:7)
At face value, a truly troubling passage that seems to contradict the very essence of an omnibenevolent God; fortunately, this is not my first encounter with contradiction. It seemed peculiar to me that you listed a specific translation to read. In my experience, translations of the Bible are generally a matter of preference, as the core of what is being said remains the same. Needless to say, I expected a trap. There's a number of ways I tackled this conundrum.
  • First, I compared the KJV take with other editions of the Bible; the KJV seemed to be the exception to the rule in it's assertion that God "creates evil." Statistical analysis frequently requires that outliers be disregarded in order to make a meaningful interpretation of data; likewise, in literature, if one droplet in the ocean that is the summation of all the translations of Scripture contradicts the nature of God, it too should probably be investigated then discarded.

  • The New Testament is approaching its two thousandth birthday; the Old Testament is much older, older than the English language. Which means, what we read is a translation, and as any language student will tell you: there is room for error. I'm no Bible scholar, but thanks to the freedom of information propagated by the Internet, it took all of ten seconds to find such a scholar who had tackled this question already, concluding that the use of the word "evil" is probably mistaken, for number of reasons.
Yes.. Do thank God. He's done so much for you...
I try to. He does, after all, claim to have been responsible for everything that is my life (see Isaiah 45:7).

Oh and while you're at it, take a glance around your room and house. If you hold -any- worldy possesions that could be sold as money and donated to the starving poor, than you are no Christian.
There seems to be enormous Biblical support of your argument - just look at Acts! All the new converts to Christianity are selling their possession and sharing it amongst each other (Acts 4:32-35). And let's not forget the fate of Ananias and Sapphira in the following chapter who sell all their possessions and are promptly KILLED for "ke[eping] back part of the money for [themselves]" (Acts 5:2). But in this instance, the source of their punishment comes from lying to God, and withholding their offering (Acts 5:4).

Nevertheless there is still precedent for almsgiving and charity throughout the Old and New Testament (Proverbs 14:31; Mark 12:43). However, the language of both passages suggest that it is morally praiseworthy, but not morally obligatory. (What Kant would call an imperfect duty, not a perfect one.)

    He who opresses the poor shows contempt for their Maker, but whoever is kind to the needy honors God." (Proverbs 14:31)

    I tell you the truth, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything - all she had to live on. (Mark 12:43)
You can either walk the path of Christ, or lie to yourself and pretend. Its black or white. When is the last time you rubbed medicine into a dying man's wounds? Or worked your hands to bleeding sores to aid a homeless man?
This is not a false dilemma - not exactly anyway. I think we have different understandings of what it means to "walk the past of Christ." No human is born with the moral capacity to live a life without sin (except, yes, Jesus). So to do what he did would be to make his sacrifice unremarkable, and is, oh, by the way, impossible. Which is not to say that it shouldn't be strived for. My personal theory is that I will be the best Christian I can be when I understand that I can never be perfect, yet focus all my passion and efforts into being perfect, without feeling disappointment in my inevitable shortcoming (when I say I "understand" I mean experientially over academically). In Book Nine of The Analects, Confucius says this:
    The Master said, "[The task of self-cultivation] might be compared to the task of building up a mountain: if I stop even one basketful of earth short of completion, then I have stopped completely. It might also be compared to the task of leveling ground: even if I have only dumped a single basketful of earth, at least I am moving forward. (The Analects, 9.19)
Never? Huh.. Are you sure you're a Christian? I'm not sure the man who suffered and died in agony for you would agree.
Jesus (aka the man who suffered and died in agony - excellent appeal to pathos!), would never have underwent a human life culminating in an unjust execution if mankind was capable of living in a way that pleased God. As soon as man takes the stage in the Bible he starts exercising free will with all the constraint of a five year-old in a McDonald's ball pit. Which is to say, he goes crazy.

Thus, the ENTIRE impetus behind Christ's sacrifice was rooted in his LOVE despite the UNDERSTANDING that we will continue to disappoint. John 14:6 and John 3:16-17 - two of the most undercelebrated passages in the Bible describe God's grace demonstrated through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. And when I call these passages "undercelebrated" it is not to say they are unknown, but rather that they are the cornerstone of man's most undeserving reception of salvation, and can never be celebrated enough.
    Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." (John 14:6)
    For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. (John 3:16-17)
But.. What do you expect from New-Age, faithless sheep? Pretty words and no heart. Its a good day to be an anti-theist.
This is difficult to respond to. This is an ad hominem argument that focuses on the shortcomings of Christians and not the shortcomings of Christianity. Plus, it calls them "faithless sheep" which is absolutely paradoxical. Sheep, whether you're reading the Bible or listening to punk, are those who follow blindly. Sheep are faithful. They trust their shepherd. To call them faithless sheep makes any point you are trying to make lost on me. Furthermore, your conclusion that "It's a good day to be an anti-theist" is also strange to me. Literally, you're saying it is a good day to be a staunch opponent of someone else's belief. This is the kind of hate-mongering you condemn on your own site:
    "It's like being in Alaska again..

    Close minded, right-wing Christian community, filled with all the racism, intolerance, hatred and small world views that living in a segregated community provides. What I wouldn't give for a random run in with a friendly stranger from a completely unique culture who'd sit and chat about the differences of our lives. Something that doesn't begin and end with:

    'Dear white-god, thank you for my beer, please kill all the Arabs because you love America.. fuck yeah' *beltch*"
My Two Cents
In the introduction to his translation of Bhagavad-Gita, Juan Mascaro provided me with a revelation. He wrote that: "The Truth of the Spirit is not found by the arguing of philosophical or metaphysical questions." I'm trying to figure out a lot of things in my life right now, and I was really getting hung up by philosophical questions beyond my realm of understanding. If you believe there is a Truth, at all (which you may not), pursue it. It may not be God, it may be the achievement of moksha through the practice of yoga. I do believe that if you keep looking with a contrite heart that God will find you. Don't forever damn Christianity for it's Christians. That would be like condemning a prison for the miscreants it may contain; the entire institution of Christianity was designed out of recognition that these people needed help.
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