God Is Hardcore

In a comment to a previous posting, pepperbeast said:

If I were a bible-believing sort of a person, I’d probably mention that God makes the sun rise on the good and the evil, and the rain fall on the just and the unjust.

[I was going to reply to this in the comments thread, but it turned lengthy and is interesting, so I’ll make it into a new post.]

Actually, if you were a bible-believing person, you’d be aware of the myriad examples of God punishing the wicked/rewarding the righteous that appear in both the old and new testaments.

So you’d pretty much have to mention that God appears to mostly make the sun rise on the good and the evil, and pretty much make the rain fall on the just and the unjust, but he also at various points in the good book: Kills everyone on the planet except for one family, destroys an entire city for being wicked, kills Onan for sleeping with his brothers wife (or for sleeping with his brothers wife and trying not to get her pregnant – I’m not sure of His motives on that one), sends plagues and devastation upon Egypt, sends a plague against the Israelites who ate flesh, turns Miiriam into a leper for a week, causes the Earth to open up and swallow various men (and their wives and children) because the men were rebellious, kills 250 men by fire, kills another 14,700 men by plague, kills many Israelites by Flying Serpents (!), kills another 24,000 by plague, afflicts the Philistines with tumors in their “secret parts” for stealing the Ark of the Covenant, kills 70 men for looking inside the Ark, kills another 70,000 men dead in Israel via Pestilence, kills 50 men by “Fire from Heaven”, blinds various Syrians, and kills 185,000 men via “An Angel of the Lord”.

And that’s just the stuff that the Bible attributes directly to God – I’m leaving out the stuff where God tells Joshua and Judah and various Israelites and other miscellanious people to go smite people in His name.

I don’t think one can realistically claim to believe in the words of the bible and take a “God does not interfere” stance.

12 thoughts on “God Is Hardcore

  1. I guess there’s a difference between believing the ‘words of the bible’ and taking them literally… When it was written, it was convenient to ascribe sudden plagues, earthquakes etc to ‘god’, because what other explanation could there possibly be..

    The bible is a great story.

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  2. Most christians I’ve talked to about this stuff (and I’ll admit I mightn’t have talked to the most scholarly of them) tend to say “but that was all in the old testement and that doesn’t count anymore” (you know except when it’s convenient like for being mean to poofters). I don’t quite get how you can get an internally consistent belief system out of the two books as God seems to be portrayed as quite a different guy in the New Testament.

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    1. I think you can either assume that people stayed the same and God changed (or they weren’t talking about the same god), or that God stayed the same and people changed.

      To my reading, the Old Testament approach (or one of them – it has many different ideas about God) essentially involves people doing stuff, and God rewarding or punishing them in a behaviourist sort of way. There’s not much consideration of a coherent plan, and attempts to codify it amount to a list of things to do and not to do in order to keep God happy.

      The New Testament presents a more cognitive model, in which believers try to internalise the best way to think of each other, so that the right behaviour will emerge naturally. There’s a more robust engagement with the meaning of God’s law, not just the letter. It’s not that what was in the Old Testament doesn’t count, but rather that it was a simpler model for people who were still getting their heads around the basic concepts.

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      1. I’d suppose it’d make sense if each testament was valid for about 1600 years. 🙂

        Someone needs to hurry up and transcribe the third one, it’s a bit late. We’re killing each other with love here.

        – MugginsM

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      2. For we Baha’is, yes and yes. Each testament is valid until the next one arises, somewhere on the order of a thousand years later. The Old Testament covers a couple of dispensations: the Abrahamic and the Mosaic, with some apparent references to earlier periods whose details are more or less lost in Babylonian mythology. Other dispensations were brought by Krishna, Zoroaster and Buddha in the same period, and we believe any one of them could have been a worldwide religion if we’d accepted it fairly. Since Jesus, there have been Muhammad, the Bab and Baha’u’llah. People tend to get hung up on what they already know, especially when their familiar religion provides a power structure from which they benefit.

        As far as love goes, I think that humans are better at it than we’ve ever been, but the stakes are higher. Where once a state of permanent abiding hatred between neighbouring tribes could result in only a few deaths during the war season, now a much less strongly-felt and abstract hatred can result in the deaths of millions at any time.

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    2. Yeah, I love the way they can sift through Leviticus, and say, this one bit about homosexuality being an abomination, that counts. And this bit, about disabled people being an abomination and being banned from churches, THAT’s obviously rubbish. And the bit about bunnies being an abomination. And pigskin and salad greens and working on the Sabbath… And that’s all in the same book

      Meanwhile, in the NT, Jesus said pagans could go to Heaven. Now to me, that appears to invalidate both infant baptism, and centuries of missionary work. But apparently I just don’t grok doing what I’m told. Remember, “lean not unto your own understanding”.

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      1. Yeah I love Leviticus for that. Isn’t it convenient how some of them are ‘obviously’ written in a different time and aren’t pertinent now, while that one will send you straight to hell? Why just that one, huh?

        I am so thankful my parents raised me in a non-religious environment.

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      2. Christians begin reviewing the Mosaic Law wrt conversion of Gentiles around 50AD at the Council of Jerusalem. Unfortunately many Christian sects seem to stop reading the New Testament before they get to Acts, and thus think Leviticus is the final word on such stuff.

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  3. The interpretation that comes to mind, basically, boils down to the misapprehension that people (on the larger scale of things) matter.

    The geek in me contemplates the fact that I have no compunction killing processes; occasionally you have to wipe entire systems to do upgrades – and if it has a virus, it’s toast. It’s all a matter of perspective.

    [Your examples can readily be compressed into ‘people who disobey quite often die’; in addition, the sample is skewed by the absence of positive cases.]

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    1. Jesus: Hey guys, the father and I are upgrading the OS. Previously we just killed rogue civilisation processes and hoped for the best. Now we can do real time upgrades, with some special security protocols.

      Disciples: Say what?

      Jesus: Damn, ok, umm, there was this guy right, and he left home, and umm, this is actually quite hard to explain to non-technical people. Lets see, imagine there is this camel see, and its tryingto get through the eye of a needle …

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      1. Now, see, Jesus specifically said that the whole ‘him’ thing meant God had made a new covenant with humans. Covenant 2.0, if you will. And this would supercede everything in Covenant 1.0. This appears to have been announced a little prematurely, because the install is a bit buggy and the update is still causing fatal conflicts with the original software. It’s no wonder the end users get confused sometimes, what with the manual being huge, indexless, poorly translated, and internally contradictory.

        OTOH, Smite/Ignore/Retry?

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  4. You’re missing the lovely bits about the seven plagues of Egypt that don’t get much mention — several times the Pharaoh decided to let the Jews go because the plagues really were a bit much to take, and Jehovah actively changed the Pharaoh’s mind for him so he could carry on with the show.

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