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If there is anything I have learned in my 38 years of being on this planet, it is that there is a lot I do not know. There are many pressing issues that face humanity that I am ill equipped to answer or to figure out a solution. One example would be climate change. I have heard arguments on both sides: those that state it is a real, scientifically backed issue, and those who say it is just an agenda being peddled to coax people out of their money. I am more inclined to think this is not a giant hoax to get rich, especially when so many scientific organizations back it, but at the end of the day, I cannot know for sure. I am not a scientist in general, let alone a scientist who specializes in paleoclimatology.

 

I mention all this because it always reminds me of a real hangup I had with the Christian faith, and that was why I could never get God to weigh in on issues that I found to be completely out of my ability to know, understand, or do something about. Going back to climate change, if the Christian God is everything Christians say he is, then he not only knows what the issue is, but he has knowledge of how to fix it. That being said, if people like me are in position to not really understand the issue, or know how to work towards a solution, but really beseech God for an answer, why the silence? I think it is a humble request (especially recognizing your own limitations) and is nothing more than what Solomon asked for. And if God found that request from Solomon to be remarkable, would the same metric not be applied here?

 

This is especially true when I was a practicing Christian. I would constantly be in conflict about what the right answer was for such a wide array of topics, starting with theology. I spent years reading, researching, and asking questions of clergy because I really wanted to know what I was supposed to believe, and what I was supposed to do. I came to a point where I realized I was not equipped to make any real judgements on what a collection of writings from 2000 years ago was supposed to be telling me, especially when 30000 different denominations cannot agree on it. Realizing my inability to draw any real conclusions with a high degree of certainty, I would fall on my knees and beg God to reveal himself to give me an hour of his time to tell me what was orthodoxy and orthopraxy.

 

In the midst of this dilemma, I was faced with many more on a daily basis. What should I do about that homeless person begging for money at the intersection? Does he really need money, a meal, or something more to really make an impact in their life. I am limited in my knowledge of what that person really needs, or any person I may run across. I would ask Jesus for true knowledge of what would have the most beneficial impact in that persons life. Naturally, nothing was provided. Questions kept burning:  What is the best way to tackle world hunger? How can I personally make an impact that effects real change, not just throwing money at it so I feel better about my first world condition? What should I do about various social issues? What should I do day to day to please Jesus and have a meaningful impact?

 

I was attracted to Christianity because I thought it was going to provide answers to my burning problems. I was promised it was going to provide the solution for not going to hell. I could count on God as a loving father to guide and direct my life. I was told God wanted the best for me, and so on and so forth. Initially it was all pretty easy to get down, but when you get into it, I mean really get into it, you start to realize there are way more questions than answers. Nothing you were told at the beginning really holds true anymore, it was a bait and switch to get you to convert.

 

My conclusion was that if God would not honor my simple request for knowledge and understanding of orthodoxy and orthopraxy, if he was not even willing to put in a fraction of the effort I was, then the Bible is definitely not true on multiple occasions regarding God's character; and that God either does not care, or is not there.  If God does not care, then why should I, and if he is not there, then it is a mute point.

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2 hours ago, TinMan said:

My conclusion was that if God would not honor my simple request for knowledge and understanding of orthodoxy and orthopraxy, if he was not even willing to put in a fraction of the effort I was, then the Bible is definitely not true on multiple occasions regarding God's character; and that God either does not care, or is not there.  If God does not care, then why should I, and if he is not there, then it is a mute point.

 

A mute point indeed. 

 

 

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One would think that there would be more deconversions based on the complete lack of response by a god to endless prayers for knowledge, healing, food, and so on. Promise after promise that sound so great when read, but which fell flat when we finally asked, and asked, and asked, and... then other believers make excuses, make up reasons, anything to fill the silence with evidence that they still believe even if this guy is doubting. 

 

It is a cult, entirely unworthy of any respect or nostalgia. Our culture gives it default honor and acceptance. The county jail has a Christian chaplain, piles of books to hand out to try and convert the inmates. They'd be better off with a secular psychologist to help them get a handle on making good choices instead of trusting an invisible fake friend in the sky. 

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8 hours ago, Fuego said:

One would think that there would be more deconversions based on the complete lack of response by a god to endless prayers for knowledge, healing, food, and so on. Promise after promise that sound so great when read, but which fell flat when we finally asked, and asked, and asked, and... then other believers make excuses, make up reasons, anything to fill the silence with evidence that they still believe even if this guy is doubting. 

 

It is a cult, entirely unworthy of any respect or nostalgia. Our culture gives it default honor and acceptance. The county jail has a Christian chaplain, piles of books to hand out to try and convert the inmates. They'd be better off with a secular psychologist to help them get a handle on making good choices instead of trusting an invisible fake friend in the sky. 

 

One thing that I don't like is how we have no criteria for truth claims. That people are allowed to go around demanding that others follow The TRVTH, but have no obligation to substantiate the claim from a legal perspective. I'd like to see the day where there are consequences for public deception. And everyone (sales of any type, secular or religious) are forced to have to sales pitch as speculation because they are unable to substantiate truth claims to the public. And law suits and legal issues would apply for those who break the law. 

 

I say this because driving through south Georgia is absolutely fucking ridiculous with the non stop false advertising on bill boards. All the way down the road are false claims in the name of TRVTH. It's the highest order of blatant public deception. And yet there it is, all the way down the road - over and over and over again. They should only be allowed by law to advertise following a hunch, joining others in speculation, taking a gamble and believing a particular group think, etc., etc. But we still cower down to these lies and deception. And we really shouldn't. Churches and proselytizers ought to be held just as accountable as any other run of the mill liars and deceivers who utilize financial gain as part of the deception. 

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21 minutes ago, Joshpantera said:
 
 
 
14 minutes ago, Joshpantera said:

 

One thing that I don't like is how we have no criteria for truth claims.

It's such a no-win situation. Everything can be 'proven' by the 'so-called' word of god. Genesis itself will tell you that the whole mess started when man 'fell' and became a sinner. I once believed this and you could not convince me at that time that it had nothing to do with the fucked up plan of a creator, who didn't know what the 'he' was doing..... but the sinful man was to blame in the garden.

 

This is their 'evidence' and that's all they need. Because it's god's word.....

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59 minutes ago, Margee said:

This is their 'evidence' and that's all they need. Because it's god's word.....

Our minds evolved enough to give us a great edge on the other creatures, but they don't always work very well for finding the truth. Even when we developed rules of logic over the past few thousand years, most of us never bother to learn the rules or to recognize when logic is violated. We tend to focus on how someone/something makes us feel, and we get suckered rather often by manipulative people.

 

And the flaws in our thinking are almost as well documented as the rules of logic. For example, "magicians" exploit how humans focus on things that seem important to hide things that are actually important, and can even do so in front of a large live audience. I watched a master slight-of-hand guy do some amazing things, but from an angle where I could see what he was actually doing, and how the others couldn't detect his technique. Fascinating. Magician James Randi pointed out how mentalist Yuri Geller was able to whip up an audience to the point where he could bend a spoon manually in front of them even while denying that he was doing so, and they emotionally couldn't see what happened and attributed it to psychic power. We tend to see what we want to see, and ignore red flags to the contrary. 

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5 hours ago, Margee said:

It's such a no-win situation. Everything can be 'proven' by the 'so-called' word of god. Genesis itself will tell you that the whole mess started when man 'fell' and became a sinner. I once believed this and you could not convince me at that time that it had nothing to do with the fucked up plan of a creator, who didn't know what the 'he' was doing..... but the sinful man was to blame in the garden.

 

This is their 'evidence' and that's all they need. Because it's god's word.....

When I point out Ezekiel 20 25-26 to people, you should see the backpedaling that occurs. All of a sudden, the Bible cannot mean what it literally says. They cannot believe their God would command such things. But yet, there it is, plain as day.

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7 hours ago, TinMan said:

When I point out Ezekiel 20 25-26 to people, you should see the backpedaling that occurs. All of a sudden, the Bible cannot mean what it literally says. They cannot believe their God would command such things. But yet, there it is, plain as day.

 

What sort of back peddling have you been seeing? Maybe throw out some examples for curious readers. 

 

Ezekiel 20:25-26 Names of God Bible (NOG)

25 I also allowed them to follow laws that were no good and rules by which they could not live. 26 I let them dishonor themselves when they sacrificed all their firstborn sons as gifts to their false gods. I terrified them so that they would know that I am Yahweh.’

 

 

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2 hours ago, Joshpantera said:

 

What sort of back peddling have you been seeing? Maybe throw out some examples for curious readers. 

 

Ezekiel 20:25-26 Names of God Bible (NOG)

25 I also allowed them to follow laws that were no good and rules by which they could not live. 26 I let them dishonor themselves when they sacrificed all their firstborn sons as gifts to their false gods. I terrified them so that they would know that I am Yahweh.’

 

 

 

Here's one of my favorites from the psalms: 

 

New Living Translation
''Happy is the one who takes your babies and smashes them against the rocks!'' 

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11 hours ago, Joshpantera said:

 

What sort of back peddling have you been seeing? Maybe throw out some examples for curious readers. 

 

Ezekiel 20:25-26 Names of God Bible (NOG)

25 I also allowed them to follow laws that were no good and rules by which they could not live. 26 I let them dishonor themselves when they sacrificed all their firstborn sons as gifts to their false gods. I terrified them so that they would know that I am Yahweh.’

 

 

 

This is the translation of Ezekiel 20:25-26 from the Revised Standard Version:

 

25 Moreover I gave them statutes that were not good and ordinances by which they could not have life; 26 and I defiled them through their very gifts in making them offer by fire all their first-born, that I might horrify them; I did it that they might know that I am the Lord.

 

I am inclined to think this is closer to the actual translation than the one offered by the Names of God Bible. The Message Bible also translates it similar to the Names of God Bible and I think both are making an attempt to domesticate the passage. Ezekiel 20, verse 25 and 26 do not make a lot of sense together by the alternate translation. How would Yahweh "allowing" them to sacrifice their firstborn as gifts be tied to God terrifying them so they know he is Yahweh?

 

The translation offered by the majority of translations, which is similar to the RSV makes more sense from the reading.

 

To answer your question, I need to take a running start at it because the background information provides context for what I am saying.

 

In general, Christians will state God is a loving God. Not only that, but God loves us unconditionally and only wants what is best for us. JW.org states that God's love is a factor in everything he does. Generally speaking, we are dealing with a claim that one of the defining attributes or characteristics of the Jewish/Christian God is love. On top of this, they worship the Bible with this veneration as if it is a book with nothing but the highest ethical standards, the utmost compassion for life, a moral dictate for what is good and decent, and it contains God's laws which are always good and life giving.

 

My response to this is that I find that difficult to believe, based upon passages within the Bible, and Ezekiel 20:25-26 is one of the first ones I go to.

 

I had some JW's show up to my house and of course they wanted to hand me some flyers and go through their normal pitch. Usually they ask if you are a believer of some sort and somewhere in there they are going to make a claim about God's character. This is usually where I ask them how they know that. Of course they are going to say, "it's in the Bible." I then will ask them if they also know that the Bible claims God gave commandments to Israel to sacrifice children to him. After that statement, the look they give me is the same, they absolutely cannot believe it. I tell them to look it up, right now.

 

There was one JW who wanted to argue that the passage could not possibly mean what it says. He went through and started to pull out verses to the contrary, such as:

 

Jeremiah 19:4-5 Revised Standard Version (RSV)

 

4 Because the people have forsaken me, and have profaned this place by burning incense in it to other gods whom neither they nor their fathers nor the kings of Judah have known; and because they have filled this place with the blood of innocents, 5 and have built the high places of Ba′al to burn their sons in the fire as burnt offerings to Ba′al, which I did not command or decree, nor did it come into my mind;

 

I am not disputing what Jeremiah 19:4-5, and other passages like it say. I then raise a point, it seems we have a contradiction. I then say, Exodus 22:29-30 could also be substantiating evidence ancient Hebrews were sacrificing first-born sons to Yahweh, as if they thought they were under commandment to do so:

 

Exodus 22:29-30 Revised Standard Version (RSV)

 

29 “You shall not delay to offer from the fullness of your harvest and from the outflow of your presses.

“The first-born of your sons you shall give to me. 30 You shall do likewise with your oxen and with your sheep: seven days it shall be with its dam; on the eighth day you shall give it to me." --Give it to me does not sound like a redemption ritual (see below).

 

My main point to them is this, I think a convincing argument can be made that the author of Ezekiel believed, or knew, child sacrifice was occurring in ancient Israel and he wrote Ezekiel 20:25-26 trying to provide an explanation why that was happening. I am not saying I think a God ordered child sacrifice. What I am saying is that this is good evidence the Bible is not a book inspired by a God, especially the kind of God they are telling me the Bible can support.

 

I showed this to my father and he was flabbergasted it was in there. Most of the time I show Ezekiel 20:25-26 and Exodus 22:29 to people, I can tell they never put it together. If they have read the Bible (rarely is that the occasion), it is as if they glossed over these troubling passages, or they read it with their denominational goggles on and dismissed the literal meaning of the passage because:  "That cannot possibly mean what it says."

 

Now an argument could be made that Exodus 13 precedes Exodus 22 and actually Exodus 22 means a redemption:

 

Numbers 18:15-17 Revised Standard Version (RSV)

 

15 "Everything that opens the womb of all flesh, whether man or beast, which they offer to the Lord, shall be yours; nevertheless the first-born of man you shall redeem, and the firstling of unclean beasts you shall redeem. 16 And their redemption price (at a month old you shall redeem them) you shall fix at five shekels in silver, according to the shekel of the sanctuary, which is twenty gerahs. 17 But the firstling of a cow, or the firstling of a sheep, or the firstling of a goat, you shall not redeem; they are holy. You shall sprinkle their blood upon the altar, and shall burn their fat as an offering by fire, a pleasing odor to the Lord;" --notice in Exodus 22, child, oxen, and sheep are lumped together. Here, cows and sheep are lumped together again. Only thing missing in Exodus 13 is the child

 

It makes me wonder what the author of Ezekiel was contemplating whenever he wrote Ezekiel 20:25-26. Just because Exodus 13 comes before Exodus 22, does not necessarily mean it was originally that way. There were reformations in ancient Judaism just as we see reformations taking place in religion now. Child sacrifice may have been an early practice of Hebrews and eventually a reformation did away with the practice and the practice of redemption, or Pidyon Haben, was instituted to do away with the ritual.

 

I am more inclined to think this was the case, but I am not expert, and this is not my original idea. I got this from Dr. Robert Price and I thought he made a fairly good argument. Especially when he discussed that in ancient times, sacrificing your firstlings was a sign to that you were not holding back, and by doing so, God would open the womb so to speak (I am fairly certain this was common practice in the region). This ritual was supposed to guarantee more offspring in the future. Those who were stingy with their sacrifice could not expect God to show them such favor.

 

 

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We've had discussion of child sacrifice and human sacrifice in ancient Israel around here before. And from what I understand they were both happening. Years later it's been glossed over, but, as you found, there are apparently traces of it left behind just as there are traces of the old polytheism left behind. And the two are related here in Exodus. I only posted the NOG translation to clarify that the "Lord" is Yahweh. And Yahweh is one of many gods in the old polytheistic pantheon. Ba'al is another god of the pantheon. So Yahweh mad about sacrifices to Ba'al is nothing more than the national god of Israel being mad (Yahwist priests being mad) that the people were sacrificing to a god other than himself. That's the entire saga between Yahweh and the other national gods right on through the OT. And all of that comes from Robert Price among others. The saga plays through into the Psalms, at least. 

 

In dealing with JW's I've just cut in with the total overview before, which is that ancient judaism was polytheistic and monotheism is a later evolution. Then hit them with the evidences. Another favorite is to start off by questioning their name as Jehovah's Witness, a corrupted translation of Yahweh and then ask why they are coming to me as witnesses of a corrupted translation of the ancient tetragrammaton and then start off from there. In order to outline their corrupt late 19th century origins by Charles Taze Russel, who, was a type of break away from Seventh Day Adventist contact. I've hit them with how pagan influenced the bible itself is (written scripture), in edition to the non-biblical traditions they reject as pagan. And then consider that the entire bible be tossed aside if tossing aside paganism is the objective. 

 

And that's just it, really. All of the child sacrifice and human sacrifice is tied into pagan mythological origins, no different than the pagan mythological origins of any number of ancient people who also had sacrifice, human or otherwise. These ancient Israelites were pagan people living in Canaan who eventually began to get the idea that they were not pagan, after slow periods of social change that began to isolate them from their surrounding neighbors. These were political and religious changes that called for narrowing down the pantheon of gods to only one of the gods, for instance. And resulted in verses like we're currently reading through. 

 

 

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