Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Define moral

So you are saying that if I take the character of god in the bible, I have to assume that he is good simply because the bible says so? And all that stuff about rape and slavery and genocide was just means to an end? An ultimate good? I do agree that the bible is on extremely brittle ground when its inerrancy is called into question. Once a single fissure appears, there is no possible way to hold it together.

If I misstated, I apologize, but I never intended to hang my entire argument on god's morality. I was simply pointing out the elements that make him distasteful and unlovable to me. If god were capable of error, then mistakes can be forgiven and looked past (as I hope my friends and family can look past my many errors), but since he is supposed to be perfect, I cannot accept his behavior as just, moral or even 'acceptable under the circumstances.' If god were a less perfect deity, acting as a king or general who has to make tough choices to protect his people from the dangers that lurk, then I might have a more generous attitude toward his actions. But that is not the case. God is the danger. He is the world. Yes, he freed the Israelites from the clutches of the Egyptians (the archaeological and historical evidence for which is nonexistent, by the way), but he also created the Egyptians, gave the Israelites over into slavery, hardened Pharaoh's heart and plotted each and every decision along the way. To deny this is to insult god's supposed intelligence and ability. So god is not the concerned leader. He is the author of the entire drama. And all of that leads into some weird circular thinking about free will which would be a completely fruitless discussion, given our distinct points of view.

If you can live with that god as your master, then good for you. I cannot.

I will concede, however, your assertion that if the bible says that god is good, then I have no right to contradict. So here we are, split across two sides of the logical choices: I find myself on the 'bible is a complete hoax' side, and you are on the 'god is loving' side. Of course, on your side, if the bible is true (and it must be by your standards) then also included in morality is rape and slavery and genocide. Which explains why the bible was used to justify slavery in the American South and why the Vatican never said a word about the Nazi campaign against the Jews and never even excommunicated Hitler.

I will repeat myself: if god is good, then everything listed in my last post about god's destructive behavior is also good. You can't have it both ways. Either slavery is wrong and the bible is wrong, or slavery is good because the bible tells you how.

So there, in a nutshell, is my objection to the bible as a moral code. I do not deny its inspiration based on its tastelessness - I do that on other grounds. But some people submit that even if the bible is not completely true, then it is still a valid moral framework. I try to hold myself up to a higher moral standard. Sure, I fail every day, but at least I don't have to believe that women have no rights and homosexuals are an abomination.

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