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Murdering your Political Opponents was Morally OK According to King David of the Bible

I Kings chapter 2:

When David’s time to die drew near, he charged his son Solomon, saying: “I am about to go the way of all the earth. Be strong, be courageous, and keep the charge of the Lord your God, walking in his ways and keeping his statutes, his commandments, his ordinances, and his testimonies, as it is written in the law of Moses, so that you may prosper in all that you do and wherever you turn.

There is also with you Shimei son of Gera, the Benjaminite from Bahurim, who cursed me with a terrible curse on the day when I went to Mahanaim; but when he came down to meet me at the Jordan, I swore to him by the Lord, ‘I will not put you to death with the sword.’ Therefore do not hold him guiltless, for you are a wise man; you will know what you ought to do to him, and you must bring his gray head down with blood to Sheol.”

Nice.  Someone curses you, and many years later, when they are old and gray, you order your son to kill them.  Sounds like the Mafia.  How can Jews and Trinitarian Christians believe in the morality of their god?

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The Origin of the Universe: No Scientific Consensus…yet

Conservative Christian, physicist, blogger:

Once again, we see that the conclusions most consistent with the known facts from scientific observations and theoretical calculation are that the universe seems to have a transcendent beginning and seems to be designed with humans in mind, two ideas consistent with the teachings about the God of the Bible. This attempt by Hawking and Mlodinow in The Grand Design to circumvent such straightforward conclusions is entirely inadequate, illogical, and invalid. If you are looking for reasons to make God “unnecessary” you will have to look elsewhere.

Gary:

I am not a scientist so I cannot debate you on the technicalities of your post, but I can counter your statements with the statements of other scientists. And this is what one must do if one is not an expert in a particular field. We cannot all be experts in all fields of human study. There are not enough years in the average human life span to be an Expert of Everything. So when we want to know the facts about a certain issue of which we personally are not experts, we consult the experts of that field, and if the experts of that field have reached a consensus (a large percentage of the experts in that field have reached a conclusion on an issue), we accept that consensus as fact. If the experts are divided relatively evenly on the issue, most educated people would take a “wait and see” position on that particular issue: “The experts have not reached a consensus. I will hold off taking a position on this issue until they do.”

So what is the current position of cosmologists and other scientists on the origin of the universe?

Below is a link to an article that seems to completely contradict your statements about the laws of physics. Here is an excerpt:

“…At this point, making a universe looks almost easy. Quantum mechanics tells us that “nothing” is inherently unstable, so the initial leap from nothing to something may have been inevitable. Then the resulting tiny bubble of space-time could have burgeoned into a massive, busy universe, thanks to inflation. As [Lawrence] Krauss puts it, “The laws of physics as we understand them make it eminently plausible that our universe arose from nothing – no space, no time, no particles, nothing that we now know of.”

http://www.bbc.com/earth/story/20141106-why-does-anything-exist-at-all

So who is right, Lawrence Krauss of ASU or Michael Strauss of OU? Both are very intelligent physicists. Answer: We need to see if a consensus exists among the experts on this topic (the origin of the universe).

From the National Academy of Sciences:

“The study of the origin of life is a very active research area in which important progress is being made, although the consensus among scientists is that none of the current hypotheses has thus far been confirmed.”

https://www.nap.edu/resource/creationism/origin.html

And there you have it: There is currently no consensus on this issue. Therefore I suggest that educated people do what they do for all other issues for which the experts have not reached a conclusion: WAIT AND SEE. I suggest we avoid repeating the age old human reflex-reaction: when we humans do not understand something about nature, we immediately conclude:  “A GOD did it!”

Maybe a god did do it. But history has taught us time after time, that many events in nature for which humans were certain a god was behind it (droughts, floods, lightening, etc.) turn out to have very natural explanations. A god…did NOT do it. So, I suggest we look at the origin of the universe with wonder and awe and continue to research this fascinating area of study. But let’s wait to draw conclusions until the experts have reached a consensus.

Contradictions in the Books of Samuel

This post is a continuation of my reading and review of Bible scholar Bart Ehrman’s university Biblical Studies textbook, “The Bible, a Historical and Literary Approach”.

  1.  Who killed Goliath?

David, son of Jesse:

 When the Philistine drew nearer to meet David, David ran quickly toward the battle line to meet the Philistine. 49 David put his hand in his bag, took out a stone, slung it, and struck the Philistine on his forehead; the stone sank into his forehead, and he fell face down on the ground.  So David prevailed over the Philistine with a sling and a stone, striking down the Philistine and killing him; there was no sword in David’s hand. 51 Then David ran and stood over the Philistine; he grasped his sword, drew it out of its sheath, and killed him; then he cut off his head with it.  —I Samuel 17

Elhanan, son of Jaare-oregim:

Then there was another battle with the Philistines at Gob; and Elhanan son of Jaare-oregim, the Bethlehemite, killed Goliath the Gittite, the shaft of whose spear was like a weaver’s beam. 20 There was again war at Gath, where there was a man of great size, who had six fingers on each hand, and six toes on each foot, twenty-four in number; he too was descended from the giants. 21 When he taunted Israel, Jonathan son of David’s brother Shimei, killed him. 22 These four were descended from the giants in Gath; they fell by the hands of David and his servants.

2.  Were the Philistines a threat during the rule of Samuel?

No.

So the Philistines were subdued and did not again enter the territory of Israel; the hand of the Lord was against the Philistines all the days of Samuel.   —I Samuel 7:13

Yes.

 Now the day before Saul came, the Lord had revealed to Samuel: Tomorrow about this time I will send to you a man from the land of Benjamin, and you shall anoint him to be ruler over my people Israel. He shall save my people from the hand of the Philistines; for I have seen the suffering of[a] my people, because their outcry has come to me.”   —I Samuel 9:15-16

3.  When did Saul first come to know of and meet David?

When looking for a musician to soothe his evil spirit:

So Saul said to his servants, “Provide for me someone who can play well, and bring him to me.” 18 One of the young men answered, “I have seen a son of Jesse the Bethlehemite who is skillful in playing, a man of valor, a warrior, prudent in speech, and a man of good presence; and the Lord is with him.” 19 So Saul sent messengers to Jesse, and said, “Send me your son David who is with the sheep.”   —I Samuel 16:17-19

During the confrontation with the Philistines and Goliath:

And the Philistine said, “Today I defy the ranks of Israel! Give me a man, that we may fight together.” 11 When Saul and all Israel heard these words of the Philistine, they were dismayed and greatly afraid. 12 Now David was the son of an Ephrathite of Bethlehem in Judah, named Jesse, who had eight sons. In the days of Saul the man was already old and advanced in years.[b] 13 The three eldest sons of Jesse had followed Saul to the battle; the names of his three sons who went to the battle were Eliab the firstborn, and next to him Abinadab, and the third Shammah. 14 David was the youngest; the three eldest followed Saul, 15 but David went back and forth from Saul to feed his father’s sheep at Bethlehem… 

 When the words that David spoke were heard, they repeated them before Saul; and he sent for him. 32 David said to Saul, “Let no one’s heart fail because of him; your servant will go and fight with this Philistine.”  —I Samuel 17

3.  Did the author of Samuel believe that kingship was good for the children of Israel or bad?

Good:

I Samuel 9:15-17, II Samuel 7:14-16

Bad:

I Samuel 8:5-18, 10:19, 12:12, 17

Summary:

“There were almost certainly local kings, real historical figures, Saul and David.  The “house of David” for example is found on an inscription in Aramaic that dates from the ninth century BCE.  The tradition we have about them, however, derive from the Deuteronomistic  History written some 400 years after they would have lived, based on both oral traditions and written sources that no longer survive.  There may be some historical information in the accounts, but many of these stories should be seen–and highly appreciated–for what they are:  stories.” —Bible scholar, Bart Ehrman, page 104

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Historical Contradictions in the Book of Joshua

This post is a continuation of my reading and review of Bible scholar Bart Ehrman’s university Biblical Studies textbook, “The Bible, a Historical and Literary Approach”.

Contradictions in the Book of Joshua:

  1.  In the book of Joshua we are told that the Israelites had 40,000 men armed for war.

The priests who bore the ark remained standing in the middle of the Jordan, until everything was finished that the Lord commanded Joshua to tell the people, according to all that Moses had commanded Joshua. The people crossed over in haste. 11 As soon as all the people had finished crossing over, the ark of the Lord, and the priests, crossed over in front of the people. 12 The Reubenites, the Gadites, and the half-tribe of Manasseh crossed over armed before the Israelites, as Moses had ordered them. 13 About forty thousand armed for war crossed over before the Lord to the plains of Jericho for battle.”

—The Book of Joshua, chapter 4

Forty thousand???  Is that all?  What happened to the great numbers of armed Israelite men that were present for Moses census of the people as told in the Book of Numbers?

“These are those who were enrolled, whom Moses and Aaron enrolled with the help of the leaders of Israel, twelve men, each representing his ancestral house. 45 So the whole number of the Israelites, by their ancestral houses, from twenty years old and upward, everyone able to go to war in Israel— 46 their whole number was six hundred three thousand five hundred fifty.”

—The Book of Numbers, chapter 1

We are to believe that 603,350 fighting age Israelite men left Egypt but only 40,000 fighting men crossed the Jordan into the Promised Land?  What happened to the other 563,350???

2.  Archeological Evidence for the Destruction of the Walled City of Jericho

It doesn’t exist, folks.  Starting with archeologist Kathleen Kenyon in the 1950’s, modern archeologists find no evidence of the remains of a great walled city or its destruction in the area of Jericho.

3.  Joshua did NOT drive out the pagan inhabitants of Canaan as the author of Joshua so often assures us, in the strongest of language, that he did.

“Joshua defeated the whole land.”  Joshua 10:40

“Joshua took all that land.”  Joshua 11:16

“Joshua took the whole land.”  Joshua 11:23

Yet, at the end of the Book of Joshau, the author of this book says this:

“Joshua was old…the LORD said to him, ‘very much of the land remains to be possessed.'”  Jerusalem had not yet been taken (15:63).  Parts of Ephraim had not been taken (16:10).  Parts of Manasseh had not been taken (17:12-13).

In fact at the end of the Book of Joshua, Joshua has to persuade the Israelites to drive out the natives living in the land (23:4-5).

I have allotted to you as an inheritance for your tribes those nations that remain, along with all the nations that I have already cut off, from the Jordan to the Great Sea in the west. The Lord your God will push them back before you, and drive them out of your sight; and you shall possess their land, as the Lord your God promised you.

So much for “taking the whole land”, Joshua!

4.  City of Hazor

In Joshua chapter 11 we read this:

 Joshua turned back at that time, and took Hazor, and struck its king down with the sword. Before that time Hazor was the head of all those kingdoms. 11 And they put to the sword all who were in it, utterly destroying them; there was no one left who breathed, and he burned Hazor with fire. 12 And all the towns of those kings, and all their kings, Joshua took, and struck them with the edge of the sword, utterly destroying them, as Moses the servant of the Lord had commanded. 13 But Israel burned none of the towns that stood on mounds except Hazor, which Joshua did burn. 14 All the spoil of these towns, and the livestock, the Israelites took for their booty; but all the people they struck down with the edge of the sword, until they had destroyed them, and they did not leave any who breathed. 15 As the Lord had commanded his servant Moses, so Moses commanded Joshua, and so Joshua did; he left nothing undone of all that the Lord had commanded Moses.

But if one reads the next book in the Old Testament, Judges, chapter 4, Hazor and its Canaanite inhabitants are alive and well???

And we are asked to believe that a perfect, all-knowing deity “inspired” all these mistakes?  Good grief.

5.  And now the most implausible event found in the Book of Joshua:  The Day the Earth Stopped Turning on its Axis (or literally, The Day the Sun Stood Still).  Read it for yourself:

 On the day when the Lord gave the Amorites over to the Israelites, Joshua spoke to the Lord; and he said in the sight of Israel,

“Sun, stand still at Gibeon,
    and Moon, in the valley of Aijalon.”
13 And the sun stood still, and the moon stopped,
    until the nation took vengeance on their enemies.

Is this not written in the Book of Jashar? The sun stopped in midheaven, and did not hurry to set for about a whole day. 14 There has been no day like it before or since, when the Lord heeded a human voice; for the Lord fought for Israel.

Just think of the chaos and weather related catastrophies that would occur if the earth stopped rotating on its axis for several hours.  Yet, there is no geological evidence of this event.  There is no archeological evidence of this event.  No culture in the entire world wrote about this incredible event.  Yet conservative Christians want us to believe it really happened.  Good grief.

5.  Not only is there no archeological evidence in Palestine for the stories of Conquest told in the Book of Joshua, there is no evidence anywhere in the region of any of the surrounding peoples recording this great and successful invasion and re-population of Canaan.  None.

Once again, the evidence is overwhelming:  these are tall tales, folks.  Legends.

 

 

More Math Problems in the Story of the Exodus

Discussion continued from:  The Exodus Story has a Big Math Problem

“We have seen the first census [of the children of Israel who left Egypt in the Exodus] indicated that there were over 600,000 men over the age of 20 in the Israelite camp [Exodus 12:37, Numbers 1:46-47] .  But in a separate counting, we are told that all the firstborn males among the Israelites (from one month old upwards) numbered 22,273 (Numbers 3:43).  You can do the math yourself.  This would have to mean that every single family among the Israelites had twenty-seven males who were not the firstborn.”

—Bible scholar, Bart Ehrman in his university Biblical Studies textbook, “The Bible, a Historical and Literary Approach”

Gary:  Just for shits and giggles, let’s do the math:

If there were 22, 273 first born Israelite males, that means that there were 22,273 Israelite families.  If you subtract 22,273 from 600,000, that gives you:  577,727.

So there were 577,727 fighting age men who were not first born.

If there were 577,727 fighting age men who were not firstborn, and 22,273 families, this would mean that on average, each family had 26 non-firstborn fighting age sons.  So if each family had on average 26 non-firstborn sons and one firstborn son, that would mean that each Israelite family had 27 fighting age sons!   But this figure does not include the number of daughters each family had, nor the number of sons each family had who were not yet 20 years old! Since on average, there are usually just as many baby girls as baby boys in any population, that would mean that each family had, on average, 54 children!  And we haven’t yet counted all the boys under the age of 20 to add to that total!!!

Are we really to believe that ancient Hebrew women were birthing, on average, 50-60 children???

Come on!

This is a legend, folks.

 

How Can any Moral Trinitarian Christian Condone This Passage in the Bible?

When a man sells his daughter as a slave, she shall not go out as the male slaves do.   If she does not please her master, who designated her for himself, then he shall let her be redeemed; he shall have no right to sell her to a foreign people, since he has dealt unfairly with her.   —Exodus 21:7-8

Translation:  If a man sells his daughter as a sex slave, and she does not please her owner, the man who bought her (and raped her), he must give her father the opportunity to buy her back.

Sick.

But think about thisYahweh gave the Law of Moses.  Yahweh gave this law.  If you are a Trinitarian Christian, you believe that Jesus and Yahweh are one and the same.  Therefore, JESUS gave this law.  Jesus gave permission to fathers to sell their daughters as sex slaves.

I do not see how anyone who claims to have an ounce of morality can claim to be a Trinitarian Christian after reading this passage.

Was the Law of Moses Unique in the Ancient World?

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Stele containing the Code of Hammurapi, allegedly given to King Hammurapi of Babylon by the sun god, Shamash

 

I am continuing in my series of reading and reviewing New Testament scholar Bart Ehrman’s university textbook, “The Bible, a Historical and Literary Introduction”.  If you grew up in conservative Christianity like I did, you probably grew up thinking that the stories in the first several books of the Old Testament were unique.  The truth is, they are not.  There are many parallels between the stories in the first five books of the Bible with stories in the cultures of surrounding peoples in the Fertile Crescent.  In previous posts, I have mentioned how both the biblical Creation story and the biblical Flood story are copies of older Babylonian stories.  As an example, in the Babylonian Flood story, a man named Gilgamesh loads animals into a boat to save them from a worldwide flood.

So what about the Law of Moses?  Was a story about a god giving “his people” a code of laws unique in the ancient world?

No.

Bart Ehrman:  “The various corpora of legal material in the Hebrew Bible—the Covenant Code, the Priestly Code, the Holiness Code—were not unique in the ancient world.  For from it.  Many peoples had their won legal sysems, and in some ways those of other peoples were remarkably similar to those of the ancient Israelites.  None is more famous than the Code of Hammurapi, which long predated the corpora found in the Hebrew Bible.  Hammurapi was a king of Babylonia in he early part of the eighteenth century BCE.  His law code was inscribed on an eight foot high stele made of basalt, discovered in 1901.  It contains 282 laws, some of which will sound familiar to those who have read their Hebrew Bibles (with striking differences as well).  Here are some samples:

#196:  If a freeperson should blind the eye of another freeperson, they shall blind his eye.

#199:  If he should bling the eye of a freeman’s slave or break the bone of a freeman’s slave, he shall weigh and deliver one-half of his value (in silver).

#209:  If a freeman strikes a woman of the freeman’s class and thereby causes her to miscarry her fetus, he shall weigh and deliver 10 shekels of silver for her fetus.

#210:  If that woman should die, they shall kill his daughter.