|Open letter to Steve Wells (a Christian reaction to the SAB)|
Dear Steve Wells: Hi there. I am a "believer" and stumbled across your online SAB and found it to be very interesting. You appear to be intelligent and bring up a lot of valid points. I honestly understand your skepticism having once been a skeptic myself. I also appreciate the fact that you allow Christians to post rebuttals in a way that appears to be respectful.
However, I just want to share a few thoughts for your consideration. I believe it's fair to examine and question the Bible. I believe God gave us a brain to use for thinking and reasoning. However, I'd like to examine and question your skepticism. I noticed you have a number of problems with the Bible but 2 basic themes underlie your criticisms: 1) The Bible contains too much evil to be considered a "good book" and 2) that God couldn't possibly be a loving God (because of His "violent" side).
1. The Bible contains evil and therefore is evil.
I won't spend too much time on this point because I believe the assertion is essentially baseless. The Bible contains historical records that expose a number of evil deeds (or judgments). But does that really make the Bible an inherently bad book? The Bible records many wonderful things also.
If we follow the same line of reasoning - then I could conclude that since YOU: record, discuss and make judgment calls on things that are evil then you, therefore must be evil and cannot be trusted.
Let me ask you, where in the Bible can you find that God ultimately punishes someone for obedience or rewards evil? (You won't). There are plenty of places where godly people have gone through TESTS or TRIALS, or where disobedient people are REBUKED - but God ultimately rewards his faithful servants with blessing and punishes the wicked. Do you really consider this to be a bad thing? If so, I really have to question your logic and/or morals.
The assertion that the Bible is bad because it contains a record of bad things, or that God somehow approves of bad deeds (by allowing bad records & events to be included in Scripture) makes no sense. That's like saying the evening news anchors are evil because they report on an evil crime. The Bible tells us that those types of things were recorded as an example for our learning and for warning (Rom. 15:4, Jude 1:6-7, Heb. 4:11).
2. God is not loving.
I'm curious - where did you get the idea that an almighty God should be "only loving" and nothing else? Since you claim to have read the Bible, it should be clear that God has shown Himself to be both loving AND fearsome. Let me ask you, do you know anyone on this earth who is just ONE attribute - only love, only evil, etc.? To sincerely believe such a thing is to not be in touch with reality. Just as we have many attributes, God has many attributes - not just one. God is also a God of wrath.
I have to wonder if you have kids. Surely you must have come from some sort of family. It would be like a little child to say - "my daddy could not possibly be a loving father because sometimes he gets mad or spanks me!" Right... So daddy is supposed to always be "only loving" no matter what; he should always overlook everything bad, wrong or evil - and never require justice. Wow. Even if someone abuses his family or possessions, or even if the kids become so disobedient to the point of self-endangerment - daddy is supposed to show only love at all times no matter what. This is basically what you are saying and, I'm sorry, but that is simply absurd. That's not love at all but some sort of warped fantasy.
Like it or not, the God of the Bible is both loving and terrifying. He unconditionally loves everyone. He favors those who obey Him. He is longsuffering toward those who don't and will ultimately execute vengeance on those who deny Him and hate Him. Hey, if this God doesn't really exist then great - we all get a free pass no matter who we are or what we did. BUT… if God really is God - THE CREATOR OF ALL THAT IS -then He is perfectly entitled to require and do as He pleases.
God is God - and we're not.
The God of the Bible says that you and I have freedom of choice but will answer to Him after we die. And He does not have to answer to you or anyone else. This is what makes Him God. He gets to make the rules. Now of course you and the majority of humans want to make your own rules because you don't want to humble yourself and submit to God. And you're entitled - it's your choice.
Furthermore, I think it's crazy that you expect God to practice religious tolerance. God has said that believing in Him requires loyalty. Idolatry is like "marital infidelity" to God. It's like saying to my spouse - I know we're married but it's okay for you to sleep around and be faithful to other people too. You can even call them your "one & only." I'm tolerant. I'm okay with that. LOL! That's insane. The FIRST commandment is "You shall have NO other gods before me." Period.
God is definitely a God of love but He is also a God of hatred. He hates infidelity, He hates idolatry, He hates sin and wickedness and He hates all forms of injustice. Nowhere in the Bible does God claim that He's a soft, passive God overlooking sin and holding no one accountable for anything. If you're looking for a god like that you'll have to create one or follow some fake religion - but that is NOT the God of the Bible and never will be. Now a Psalmist in the Bible may have been depressed one day and penned a complaint that God didn't seem to punish the wicked (right away). However God, speaking for Himself, has SWORN IN BLOOD that He will bless the righteous and punish the wicked - it's just a matter of time.
Now I'm not saying that Christians should go around killing or persecuting people who refuse to convert to Christianity. In fact, in this age of grace (New Covenant) we ought not; within New Testatment Christianity we are commanded to retaliate with truth and love. But when God Almighty decides that it is time to destroy those who oppose Him - do you really think you're in a position to stop Him? Do you think your objections will change your personal fate?
Yes, He exercised the liberty to destroy his enemies before the Cross (Old Testament) and He will one day do it again (the coming judgment). The Bible makes no apology for that. You don't have to like it or even believe it - but you have been warned (which is much more loving than NOT being warned). He gives you the freedom to choose if you're going to side with Him or with His enemies. But He really wants to you to be with Him; He's very patient and willing to forgive and forget. And He promises that one day, He will banish all forms of violence, cruelty and suffering forever.
You don't know my Father.
Lastly, I read that you will continue to do what you do until you convince all the "Christians" not to believe in the God of the Bible. That's pretty lofty; that would be like me trying to convince you that your earthly father (that you may know and love) is evil and not to be trusted - when you know better.
I've never met you or your father. But let's say he was a good man and brought you up well. And for example, let's say that he was a soldier or a police officer who had to sometimes kill people in the line of duty and, for whatever reason, kept a journal of his duties. Now at home you knew him to be a caring and loving person. But what if I took his statements, his story, and his journal and then proceeded to slander him and say terrible things about him?
What if I came along, twisted his words, and accused him of being a cold heartless killer - evil and not trustworthy because he killed people and, on top of that, he kept a record of it. Would you really be moved by the things I say? Do you think I could persuade you to turn against your own father? Especially since you "know" him and I don't? I would hope not. You grew up with him, and you would know both sides of the story. Well the same is true with us who truly follow God.
What you don't understand is that we KNOW God. We have a close and endearing relationship with our Heavenly Father. Many of us (not all) have already asked the hard questions and He has made Himself known and real to us. It's not just "head knowledge" - it is a genuine relationship. We have tasted the sweetness and kindness of the Lord. It is a goodness that you cannot currently comprehend and that cannot be put into words. This is why you probably cannot understand why people would willingly suffer for the gospel of Jesus Christ or willingly die for the God you love to hate.
And although it is very sad, we have accepted the fact that this Holy God will execute righteous judgment on the wicked. We understand that judgment is coming to all of humanity because all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. We are thankful that we will be delivered from the wrath of God by the blood of Jesus. And although we are not perfect, this is one of the reasons we continue to reach out to people like you. We understand that Jesus Christ has made it possible for any of us to receive the salvation of God.
We understand that the FEAR of the Lord is the BEGINNING wisdom and knowledge (Psalm 111:10 & Prov. 1:7) and that those who do not fear God will suffer the consequences. Sooner or later you will understand that God deeply loves you too - so much so that He sent Christ to take the penalty of sins for you. Right now He STILL loves you - even though you work so hard to discredit Him and overthrow the faith. And yes, He will love you even when He has to turn you away in your unworthiness to enter eternal life - because of the choices YOU MADE for yourself. It's too bad.
But if you or your fellow skeptics are reading this, even now you have the chance to repent. I hope that you will before it is too late. Every knee will bow to Christ whether they are saved or not. It's actually hard for me to believe that someone could spend so much time studying the Bible and words of Christ and not understand these things. But, of course, the Bible says the natural mind does not receive the things of the spirit (1 Cor. 2:14) and that the love of God (the cross) is foolishness to those who are perishing (1 Cor. 1:18).
My prayer is that you will be blessed with continued failure in your opposition to the only true God and that one day you will understand the love of God for yourself before it is too late.
In service to Christ,
A former skeptic, sinner and unbeliever.
Open letter to formerskeptic (a non-christian reaction on christianity)
1. The Bible contains evil and therefore is evil.
Now adress this topic from my point of view (I won't speak in the name of Steve of course): The Bible is evil, because it contains evil done and ordered by the god it focuses on, namely Yahwe/Elohim, and suggests to follow this evil god. The Bible is evil because it spreads being evil is the right way to follow.
b) where does the Lord (please don't call him God) punishes someone for obedience? Let me see... How about king David for the census?
c) where does the god of Israel rewards evil? Let me see... Jephte's human sacrifise? In here that falls in the cathegory of evilness. Or Psalms 137: Happy shall he be, that taketh and dasheth thy little ones against the stones. Falls in the same cathegory. What about Joshua's genocidic wars? Doesn't seem that behaviour too good.
Godly people aren't necessary good people.
And your concept of "wicked" seems frightening too. Do skeptics deserve punishment just for being skeptics? Does the people who never even heard about your god eternal suffering? Because with your words you just suggested that.
2. God is not loving.
Well, there was that sentence from John: God is Love. And all the christians says that too. That's why the question got adressed.
Your god doesn't suppose to reside on THIS Earth but in the Heavens, so your claim has no validation.
Just for the matter of conversation, I question that the god of the Bible has ANY love in it.
And from a being that much complex I'd expect something more from that god then human behaviour. You antropomorphise, what means your god doesn't exist, you imagined it.
Anyway, the god of Ezekiel never rewards his followers, only punishes them. It is a failed god.
The god of Abraham doesn't interrested in justice. He only wants blood, he only wants sacrifises. That god is not just, and actually totally random.
About the god os Israel's education-system: it is many times told, he only does one thing: beats the living shit out of you. That kind of god - even if it'd exist - do not worth to be worshipped.
Yes, he so much loves everyone that he sentence most of its creation to Hell, he created. How loving.
Why would a cosmic being, creating billions of stars and such bother with one of an insignificant race, what we call human? Why only human? Why all the commandments? Why the suffering, why the lack of reward? Why is the fact you never heard about him, the understanding of the fact that no evidence supports its existance deserves eternal punishment? Tell me this. Why hating something equalls with not even adressing the topic?
And no. First, you try a version of Pascal's wager. There are multitude of gods. What if THOSE are the Real Ones? Wuldn't the lack of worshipping a possibly non-existent false god bother the real ones more then the lack of faith in any of the gods?
And EVEN if the god of Jacob is the only god out there (if any god actually exists) he is RESPONSIBLE. If you made something you are ultimately responsible for it, and morally obliged to care your creation. You may not do anything that pleases you, just because you made them. Or would it be moral to mutilate your own children, just because You created them? Just think on this.
God is God - and we're not.
It is not free will if the only choice is: do mindlessly as I command or else. Free will with an omnipotent omniscient being even an impossibility.Ruling from the position of strenght is called tyranny, nothing else.
Anyway, you want to KILL US? Because the Lord of Hosts commands that in the Bible. If not, throw your damned Bible away!
I say it is crazy that you expext not practicing religious tolerance. If the god of Juda is the only god out there what created all things, then HIS creatin are the competiting religions too. Resistance is futile.
There are other commandments, like: if you rape a woman, she shall marry you. You shall not work on the Sabbath or you shall be killed. You really want to go out there and kill you politicians, the people in WallMart, the people in the gas-stations? You really want to kill all homosexual, non-follower of your god, disobediant children, and hunt on witches? If your answer is yes, then I suggest to spend your life in mental-hospital, because you're a dangerous person to all around you.
You DO suggest that christians should go around killing people. That's DIRECT ORDER OF YOUR GOD.
And just for the argument: I don't give a shit what chance do I have against him. I'll fight if it turns out it exists in the form what the Bible shows us. I even started that: I put all the texts of the Bible under the magnifying glass of the canonisation, slowly disintegrating the Bible, and with that it's god.
The supposed day of that judgement came already. Nothing happened. Your god doesn't exists.
You don't know my Father.You never met your god too. But you can anytime meet with our fathers. And your father. This reality exists. Your fairy-tale does not hold any truth.
Anyway, do you know why are there judges, police-officiers and law-makers? Without that there is the risk, what your god-image tells us: that the police will go around randomly coming up with their view of justice shooting down innocent bystanders for no clear reason. That's your god: something worse then Hitler.
But let's assume you come around twisting that father's words. We can check the stories by the evidences. And your god fails to pass on that process: he is an outright lie invented to controll people. I now the god of christians. I read the Bible. I'm not even blinded with the lies of priesthood (although I know their standpoint), nor by any other religious view. I just read the book and compare it to its own standards. And it fails.
Could you introduce your imaginery friend to us too? Maybe we can agree on a place an time, and meet with him. The offer stands, I hope you'll take it.
You misunderstand us. We do not hate your god. We dismiss it. It doesn't exist, so there is nothing to hate.
And we understand why would you suffer for your believes: you invested too much in it to withdraw now and confess your failure, to face with the bleak reality.
There is nothing rightous to kill inocent bystanders whose only faul is not commiting anything.
I fear of you, as you try to destroy humanity, you try to end the World, the only proven existance we have for some lazy concept.
We are thankful, that your kind is slowly squeezed out. We hope your kind will never return to work on destorying everything.
We understand that RACIONALITY is the BEGGINING of survival and understanding. We also understand, that your concept of wisdom and knowledge is not what they currently mean for the rest of us - in your system it means knowledge of the Scripture, and the forgeting of all science: ultimatly a way back to an animal level of life. and those who do fear to face the unavoidably coming extinction will go extinct, while the rest of of working on awoiding that. I seriously hope you'll not draw us with you into oblivion.
I have to embitter you: we don't feel that guilt you accuses us. Guilt is anyway causes stress, what shortens life, so we, who do not believe that gods are anything but concepts of the human mind, try to live our life the best we can to avoid the cases what would require regret. WE WON'T FEEL GUILTY JUST FOR EXISTING.
We also understand the goals and mind of your dangerous CULT. That's why we dig deeper into this subject than it deserves normally.
My hope is survival at any cost for humanity. And that seriously means elimination of such dangerous concepts like what are presented in the Bible. I hope that on one day you'll understand how disgusting, terrible, barbaric, outdated and criminal your religion is. I hope enough people will realise that before it is too late.
In service of reaching the stars,
A former would-be christian and someone on the way to be more than human.