God's Morality -- RET and Barmaley


#1

**Is the God as described in the Bible moral according to any reasonable standards of morality?

**This is the original question. Barmaley initiates the discussion followed by an initial post by RET. Four responses will follow. A conclusion will be simultaneously posted after the fourth response. There will be no one “officially” selecting a winner. Any interested reader may decide that on his or her own.

Discussion thread for general public is here. I suggest that participants do not look at the thread during the discussion.

http://www.republicanoperative.com/forums/faith-beliefs/27936-gods-morality-general-discussion-regarding-ret-barma-debate.html#post392208

Posts should require approval before they appear. I will be out of town till late tonight forum time. I will get it when I return.


#2

Establishing that someone is immoral is no easy task, not even if the subject is the all-powerful all-present ruler of the universe itself, but there are a few steps one may take to make the connection. Immorality is not just a neutral stance, not amorality, thus the obvious first step is to establish that the subject did or does some acts that are immoral in and of themselves. This is my task in this debate

Under some moral stances, this would be enough, however the task here is not to show that God is immoral under some stances, no, it is necessary to show that he is immoral under any reasonable moral stance, and since some moral stances allow redemption through other deeds, it should be shown that God’s good actions do not come close to outweighing his evils. Since I hold the negative position that God does not have the said good deeds, it is simply my duty to show that any examples my opponent brings up do not come close to making up for the great evils the Biblical God has done.

Though there are numerous cases of God doing horrors, and downright wrongs, I do not possibly have time to cover all of them so I have selected 3 examples of how God is evil, doing things that no moral being could possibly do. I will begin by naming two of them, namely the story of Elisha and the She-Bears in 2 Kings 2, and the slaughter and torture of innocents in Numbers 31. The third is one my opponent will inevitably bring up himself later in this debate, so we will address that example when we come to it.

I am charged with a difficult task, showing that an action is wrong by any reasonable moral system, given that moral systems are as numerous as there are Christian denominations, so I will have to go to the very roots of what makes something immoral. I can think of two universal factors that are considered immoral by virtually all systems, so basic I find it difficult that anyone could possibly disagree- These are:

  1. To cause harm or pain to an innocent unnecessarily.

  2. To unjustly cause harm or pain to a child.

These two are certainly not necessarily mutually exclusive, but I feel enough distinction exists to list them separately. Both of my examples apply to both these principles, so if you could show that harming someone, especially a child, without any good reason is not immoral, you will successfully destroy my argument, so I welcome you to try.

For an act to properly fit under the 2 forms of immoral actions performed, 3 aspects of the act must be shown. Firstly the act must cause actual harm or suffering to the victim- This should go without saying. Secondly, it must be shown that the actor knew that he was going to inflict suffering or harm, and knew that such was not just. Finally, it must be shown that the actor could have acted differently, took an action that would not have caused the suffering or harm, without someone else suffering or being harmed in the process. It must be shown that the act could reasonably been avoided.

So, let us now dive into the two examples I provided.

First up we have the story of Elisha and the She-Bears. This story is written out in 2 Kings 2:23-25 and I would suggest you read it as this point. The story is brief in and of itself, that the summary is nothing but a translation is modern English: Elisha was on his way to a random destination when a large group of youths came out and started to mock Elisha for being bald. Elisha got angry so called upon the help of God, and God responded by sending forth 2 female bears who preceded to maul 42 of the youths to death. That is the entire story, and no other justification or explanation is given.

So, lets see if this falls under the guidelines I set up for an immoral action. First- did God’s act cause harm or suffering? The answer is pretty obviously yes- Being mauled to death by bears not only causes death, it is a very painful and unpleasant method by which to die. The children in the group who were not mauled to death got to see their friends being mauled to death by bears which would leave some very powerful and lasting psychological effects.

Secondly- Did God know that the act of sending Bears to maul the children would cause harm to the children? Obviously yes. The second part asks if the act was justified. This could be a potentially more challenging questions, but for now I am simply going to state that by common sense, mauling children for calling someone bald is not justified. If you would like to contest this claim, then I will be happy to address it.

And finally, could God have done something else. I can give plenty of examples- He could have given the children an equal punishment, such as dye their skin blue for a day so others will make fun of them. He could have given a slap on the wrist to Elisha for wanting to maul children to death in the first place. He could have been the ‘Bigger Man’ as the saying goes and simply walked away from the ordeal. It does not require much to think of better alternatives for God to have taken.

Given that all 3 of the aspects qualify for this case, God clearly acted immorally here.

The second example is a darker one, not only in the number of victims (reasonably estimated to be well over 50,000 children) but also in the true horror of what the victims had to go through. The story is in Numbers 31, and to truly appreciate the genocide that happened in this story, you must read the entire chapter for context.

The story goes as follows: Moses and his men are commanded by God to eradicate a group of people called the Midianites off the face of this earth, because they practice in evil forms of religion and could potentially corrupt the Israelites in their journey to salvation. The men under Moses first engage the armed men of the Midianites in fair combat and defeat them. They then gather all the women and children as prisoners of war. Wondering what to do with these POW’s the answer comes very clearly 'Kill all the women and children boys and children girls, EXCEPT for the young virgin girls whom you may keep for yourself" The reason for killing the women is listed:

I will at this point state that my issue is specifically with the second two parts: The killing of the young boys/ non-virgin girls, and the enslavement of the virgin girls. While I personally believe that killing thousands of women held in captivity is also a great atrocity, and that it paints God as a beast in my eyes, a justification for the women is given- That they hold the corrupt views of their culture, and could be, however weakly, justified away. What is indefensible is the slaughter of the children and the implied sexual enslavement of young girls.

The children are innocent, they did nothing to deserve a slaughter. Even moreso must I speak for the virgin girls- To see their helpless mothers, sisters, and baby brothers killed in front of their eyes. Their families ripped apart, their lives shattered, and finally, worst of all, to learn that they are the slaves, most likely sexual slaves, of the very men who just moments prior stuck a blade though their friends, and relatives. I cannot imagine the horrors of having to be that 13 year old girl, forced to live with such men who claim that they acted on God’s behalf. I could never imagine worshiping the God of love, who sits back while under his command men stick cold steal between the eyes of a 2 month old child.

As hard as an example this may be, as obvious an evil act it is, we still need to formally show it to be one, so lets go through the three criteria.

The first and easiest one- Was their harm from this act.

The second- Did god know that slaughtering children would cause pain and suffering?

Both of those get an overwhelming yes.

The third is slightly more challenging to answer, but the result is the same. Could God have taken an action to not cause the suffering of the children without a greater wrong coming out of it. The issue was that the Medianites were getting in the way, so the first answer comes to mind- Why not just move the Medianites? We are dealing with the omnipotent creator of the universe, who in only 6 days created the earth, the sun, and all the stars in the sky. Who sent a flood to wipe out all inhabitants of the world just because he felt like it. He could, with the snap of his all mighty fingers, simply create a new island on the pacific ocean where the Medianites are instantly moved to live out their lives in peace and without a painful bloodshed.

One may argue that the Men and Women of the medianites were guilty and needed to be punished, or that the Israelites needed to see them suffer so they may learn a lesson of some form. Even by these standards, God could have simply teleported the children away to safety. He could have sent them away as gifts to many infertile loving couples so they could live out a great life. Still, one could argue that they would still suffer from losing their parents and that death is a better choice than life knowing your relatives were killed.

Even if this is the case, there is one option God could have chosen that would have minimized the suffering of the children that has no possible counter- He could have killed them all instantly and painlessly right on the spot. That way, they would not have to live through seeing their fathers beaten in battle. They would not have to be dragged in shackles before their captors, they would not have too see their brothers and sisters bleeding to death, and most importantly, they would die an easy death and not have to suffer from blood loss, or the pain of cold steel entering their bodies. God gave the order to kill the Medianites, and he could have given the children a quick and easy death, yet he chose to have their death be a painful and traumatic one. And no God that makes over 50,000 children suffer when he could have easily and without any drawback prevented it could possibly be moral.


#3

Morality: The quality of being in accord with standards of right or good conduct.
Conformity to the rules of right conduct.

In order to determine the “Morality” of any person or act there must be a standard by which the person or act can be compared.

Traditionally religion has provided this “standard” however many cultures have opted to abandon such rigid standards and adopt a “sliding scale” that many (including me) refer to as “relative morality” or “situational ethics”.

If this debate is to be judged by the “sliding scale” of morality then either point can be made depending on what time period the sample of “reasonable morality” is taken from and what part of the world is used as the sample.

In other words, this debate is pointless if we embrace “relative morality”.

Nonetheless, I will show that whether the static definition of morality (Biblical Morality) or the sliding version my opponent offered (relative morality) is used the God of the Bible is the perfect example of “Morality” and no evidence exists to conclude otherwise.

The examples that my opponent has chosen to highlight in order to make his case involve mass destruction of human life and no distinction between citizens in general and the military personnel. In one case the example involves “youths” specifically although the text does not further define what age.

First the easy one, the Bible standard of Morality:

From a purely logical perspective the God of the Bible must be “Moral”.

God is declared to be the originator, author, creator and owner of all that exists. God is also declared to be “One God”; therefore no other opinion exists on his level.
The Bible declares that God has maintained supreme authority over all that he has created and that he is endowed with absolute and complete knowledge of everything in that creation and all that will transpire in regards to everything in his creation.

God is therefore the “Standard” and by definition “Moral”.

It does not matter what any portion of his creation thinks about anything God says or does, logically speaking if God does or says “something” that “something” is “Moral”. These events and any others that are chosen by my opponent depend on the integrity of the Biblical record to establish that they occurred; logically speaking the same Bible declarations about God must also be embraced.

Therefore, in Gods judgment (possessing full, complete and accurate knowledge of all involved) it was determined that many groups of humans were beyond redemption and must be eradicated for the benefit of his agenda and those who God decides are part of that agenda.

Those who reject this God will bemoan this authority but I ask that only logic be applied to the concept. If “Moral” refers to a “Standard”, then the owner, creator and supreme authority determines that standard. God is the standard in the Bible so by definition he is “Moral”.
All that he does is therefore “Moral” as well.

I say this prior to interjecting any mitigating information to make these events seem less “harsh” because even if there was no potential mitigating perspective it would not matter. Any act by God is by definition “Moral”. If one rejects the authority that the Bible assigns to God then all these events must also be viewed in the same light, as if they never happened.
We cannot assign the standard of “accurate and true” selectively to the Bible or we are claiming that we have full and complete knowledge.
We would be declaring that “we are God” in that scenario.

That leaves us with the “relative morality” perspective to these events.

In this perspective we decide to “Judge God” from whatever definition that we decide is “moral”, a ludicrous suggestion but since I agreed to this debate I will expose the folly.

My opponent has decided to offer what he considers a “reasonable standard” that we should use as our criteria to “Judge” God. He might object to my calling them “relative morality” but simply observing many other cultures in the world today will reveal that these ideas are not universally accepted.
Let’s look at the “standard” my opponent offered.

It is “Immoral”

  1. To cause harm or pain to an innocent unnecessarily.
  2. To unjustly cause harm or pain to a child.

The first “standard” my opponent offered has not been met in any of the examples from scripture that he cited. The only record we have of these events is the Bible and nowhere does the Bible record that these people were “innocent” or that these actions were taken “unnecessarily”.
“Harm & Pain” were definitely caused but I am aware of no widely embraced moral standard that would universally condemn the causing of all “Harm & Pain” under any circumstances.
I also reject the idea that we can accurately state that these actions were not necessary.
We do not have the necessary details make that determination and if we did the conclusion would still be a matter of opinion.

My opponent is ascribing “innocence” to the recipients of these actions with absolutely nothing to base that judgment on. In fact, the ONLY record of these events (the Bible) clearly states the opposite about many of these people and the cultures that they embraced.

The second “standard” my opponent offered is equally dubious.
In order to claim an action was “Unjust” a person would have to be aware of every detail of each person involved and establish a moral standard to judge them by. We are not made aware of all the details of everyone mentioned in scripture so calling these youths fate “Unjust” is pure supposition.

An absence of damning details does not equal the non existence of damning details.

We know from our own recent experience just how “guilty” young children can be when raised in an evil environment that indoctrinates them.
In Vietnam very small children were used to get close to U.S. Soldiers to blow them up, poison their food or gain intelligence about how to kill them.
Right now in the Middle East Wars this is happening every day as well.
In our own inner cities the atrocities that are committed by “children” are getting worse every year and the perpetrators get younger every year.
As terrible as it sounds to Americans to consider children part of the enemy it is well known elsewhere in the world that children are indoctrinated from birth to embrace acts of destruction against the enemies their parents and religious leaders identify.

Unless my opponent has some evidence that these “youths” were not products of the culture that we know utilized their children in this way and unless we are privy to all the details about them we cannot say that they were treated “Unjustly”.

My opponent wants me to assume that all the people that were the recipients of these actions were:
A) Innocent when they were made to suffer
B) The “youths” were not guilty of any offense that would justify their punishment.

This is a common error in scripture critique, the claim that any detail not mentioned can be made up by the critic and assigned the same authority as what is recorded. The Bible is not intended as an exhaustive history book for all these cultures. The events recorded are there by Gods decision to communicate what he wants about himself and his agenda.

The Bible is only a history book for the Israelites and even then only the events that have eternal significance. Some details are offered about some of these peoples but only those that have a relevance to the story that God is leaving for posterity. If all the peoples mentioned were covered in the same detail the Bible would be hundreds of volumes and there would be no point to most of them.

God never declared his intent to preserve any element of these cultures, in fact he condemned them as guilty of child sacrifice, sexual deviance, murder, rape, child abuse and rejection of the God that created them. The Bible also records that God gave these cultures many decades (centuries in some cases) to repent of these evils before he laid his judgment on them.

The Bible is a specific compilation of specific information relevant to Gods agenda of redeeming fallen man and building a family that will dwell with him for eternity. Any history of former cultures that is recorded is not done in the interest of “justifying God”; The Bible presumes the absolute supremacy of God so it should not surprise anyone that the Bible makes no effort to “Justify” Gods actions or words.

An automotive repair manual does not include a justification for the environmental impact of the existence of cars. That is not its purpose.

A critic of the Biblical God deciding to assume “innocence” in regards to these people is no more authoritative than a wild guess.

The only assumption that would have logical credibility would be that these people were NOT innocent and that these actions WERE necessary and justified. I base that statement on this fact, the only record of these events that exists (the Bible) does declare that many of these cultures were an “abomination”.
My position that the all knowing God was indeed acting with perfect justice and morality has a contextual foundation to point to in the only existing record.
My opponent’s claim of innocence has nothing for a foundation other than his unsubstantiated assumptions.

Logic would demand that if we are going to Judge God by the events recorded in the Bible we must also accept the declarations of guilt that God lays against most of the recipients who are punished.

The absence of some details in some events can not be logically assumed to violate the standard that is followed in events where details are given.

Knowing that children of many cultures are indoctrinated from birth to hate and kill other groups today in the part of the world where these events occurred should make it obvious to anyone that it was also happening in Bible times. It is also well known that these cultures make sure that their preferred version of events is preserved for thousands of years through their offspring. One need only read today’s newspapers to see this principle hard at work.

As harsh as these strategies may seem to Americans today who are not even well versed in our own history of just the last 200 years it should be clear to anyone that not eradicating an enemy when you have the chance will only cause much more death, war and pain in these cultures where NOTHING is ever forgotten. The greater good is served when a declared enemy for life is defeated quickly and completely in such cases.

Who would argue that centuries of bloodshed, hate, rape, torture, terror and murder between cultures is preferable to a clear victor in a single conflict? History shows us that these are the two options in this part of the world.

Even America has examples of similar actions and attitudes:
Prior to Pearl Harbor the idea of entering the war in Europe was very unpopular.
After Pearl Harbor, Americans could not destroy the Germans or the Japanese fast enough.
At the time America dropped “the bomb” it was cheered as a fitting and Just conclusion for a violent and evil nation to endure.
65 years later most lament the dropping of the bomb as “excessive” and “unnecessary”

Similar examples existed after 9/11 when the most hawkish voices rattling sabers were from the political party that now claims the War on Terror is not needed and doing more harm than good.

My point is this; when your survival and the survival of your family is in jeopardy the reasoning behind incredibly destructive actions in war make perfect sense to almost everyone. After periods of relative security those same actions often seem excessive and unnecessary.

The fact that when the threat is real and present we all pretty much agree is as good a case as can be made that even using the “relative morality sliding scale” these events do not condemn God or his servants who carried them out.

My opponent has inserted his assumptions as to the details that are not recorded in the story to make his case that God violated his “reasonable standard of morality”. These “details” are the opposite of what is recorded in scripture where details about the judged cultures are given and inconsistent with what we know of these cultures from other history and current realities.

This is not logical, regardless of what one thinks about the Bible or the faiths that claim it as the inspired Word of God.

I contend that “The God of the Bible is indeed Moral” based on the irrelevant standard of morality that my opponent offered for this debate and the timeless standard of Morality that is God himself.

Much more information would be required to draw any other conclusion without violating the concept of logical interpretation.


#4

My opponent’s argument consists of two parts: theoretical ans circumstantial. My goal here is to show that each part does not achieve closure.

In theoretical part there was attempt to prove quote: From a purely logical perspective the God of the Bible must be “Moral”
The following syllogism was offered:

God is the sole creator and supreme authority over everything that exists. In addition he has a complete knowledge in that creation. Therefore God is the “Standard” and by definition “Moral”.

Unfortunately, this logic is flawed. The premises do not require for such God to be moral; it is easy to imagine an all-knowing, all-powerful creator and ruler, who may be a complete monster, worse than the God in the Bible. What can prevent if God wants to rape and torture young virgin girls for fun? Will it become a standard then?

While I highly applaud the notion of using logic in establishing the idea of God’s mandatory morality, it is necessary to bring another logical argument which I welcome my opponent to do.

In the second circumstantial part of his response my opponent made an attempt to give justification to the atrocities God commits against innocent children in the first case on disproportional response in the second case.

In my two examples, my opponent accuses me of (and I quote) “insert[ing] his assumptions as to the details that are not recorded in the story to make his case that God violated his ‘reasonable standard of morality’.” I’d like to point out, that our debate is to evaluate the morality of the Biblical God . . . This means we need to analyze his character as described in the Bible. In my first example, I only took what was written in the Bible literally, while it was my opponent who made fictional assumptions like the youths had other faults or God killed them for reasons other than those listed.

I am sure one with strong imagination can think of a plethora of mitigating circumstances that could potentially make the youths in my first example guilty; likewise I would be able to do the same: to paint God a worse monster than He already is. I, however, chose not too imagine some silly circumstances but rather to stick with the premise: The Bible. And the Bible very clearly lists the reason bears were sent upon the youths: They mocked Elisha. If my opponent has any Biblical reasons for doubting the validity of the claims in this passage, I invite him to bring them forward with appropriate references. However, if his refutation is based solely on what he feels are the traits of the True God ™, then such has no place in our formal debate.

And for the second example, I would have to point out that many of the victims were newborns and toddlers. Children of such an age cannot possibly be guilty of anything that justifies a slow, painful, and psychologically damaging death, such as the one inflicted upon them by God. To refute this point, my opponent would first have to explain to me what actions the 3 years olds took or what mindset they had to make them guilty.

I await the demonstration of why we should choose to ignore what the Bible literally says, and what causes a 3 year old to deserve to die in one of the worst ways imaginable.


#5

At the risk of being redundant I will address some of my opponent’s folly again from his rebuttal.

My opponent’s argument consists of two parts: theoretical ans circumstantial. My goal here is to show that each part does not achieve closure.

In theoretical part there was attempt to prove quote: From a purely logical perspective the God of the Bible must be “Moral”

So far so good, I did indeed make this argument.

The standard that is “Moral” either;

  1. Does not exist in the absolute (if there is no supreme authority above man this is the case).

Or

  1. Morals do exist in the absolute (if there is a supreme authority above man, then that authority defines what is “Moral”).

All laws passed by men are statements on the subject of right and wrong, acceptable or unacceptable. These “laws” only have authority amongst the men who author them and in the context of the authority that various men design and accept.

These “laws” have no authority in other jurisdictions and can be altered either by a change of opinion amongst the people who structured them or if the people are conquered by other men who nullify their concepts of “Morality” and replace them with their own.

Without a single authority that is superior to man there are no “absolutes”, therefore there are no “Morals”.
Just ever changing opinions on what is right or wrong based on different opinions, culture, geographical location and circumstance.

I have no doubt that my opponent tried carefully to choose his 2 stated “standards” with the intention of establishing a “Moral” standard for our debate that would be accepted by most who read them. This does not make them “Morals”. If they are not based a supreme authority then they are nothing more than the opinion of men at this given time, place and situation, just the opinion of men.

In society men are required to obey the law whether they agree with the law or not or even if they know of its existence. That is because law emanates from authority.

If God is real and as described in the Bible then he is not subject to the opinion of any part of his creation. God is the permanent authority in this scenario and therefore the definer of the standards and the definition of “Moral”.

If the God of the Bible (or any god) is not real and does not exist than there are no “Morals”, just opinions of the day that are subject to change via multiple means.

Unfortunately, this logic is flawed. The premises do not require for such God to be moral; it is easy to imagine an all-knowing, all-powerful creator and ruler, who may be a complete monster, worse than the God in the Bible. What can prevent if God wants to rape and torture young virgin girls for fun? Will it become a standard then?

Yes, in this hypothetical the standard would be terrible in mans opinion but “Moral” nonetheless.

Consider nature;
Is it immoral when a mother abandons the runt of her litter to die?
Is it immoral when the strongest animal eats his fill first without regard to the others?
Is it immoral when one animal kills another to establish supremacy or to eat?
Is it immoral when a male animal has sex with any female he chooses without concern for her opinion?

No, because these animals are acting on instinct based on their creators design (whether you believe that creator is God or random chance is not relevant for this point)

Anyone’s “opinion” about whether these animals are acting like “Monsters” is meaningless because we have no authority over their design and actions.

My opponent may criticize the God of the Bible, reject the God of the Bible or refuse to believe in the God of the Bible if he wishes but authority is the basis for establishing a “standard”.
A “standard” is necessary to define which actions are “Moral” and which actions are not.
That definition (once established) is not subject to individual opinion or knowledge; it supersedes the opinions of those who are subject to its authority.

If God is real and defined as the Bible defines him, he is the very definition of “Moral”.

If no God is real, there is no such thing as “Morals”.

In the second circumstantial part of his response my opponent made an attempt to give justification to the atrocities God commits against innocent children in the first case on disproportional response in the second case.

False, I simply pointed out that my opponent’s claim of “innocence” was not supported in the only known text that records these events.

My point was “A lack of damning details listed does not equal the non existence of damning details”.

My opponent is assuming that there are no damning details.

For my Opponent’s position to have merit the text would have to record that these “youths” had never committed any justifying offense prior to mocking Elisha.

Since God presumably endorsed and designed the punishment the text would also have to state that these “youths” would NEVER have committed any atrocities in their future that would justify this punishment because the God of the Bible knows all that has occurred and all that will occur.

The text records no such statement.

The “mocking” event was the catalyst for Elisha cursing them. That does not indicate that no additional facts exist and does not indicate that the God who responded was only considering Elisha’s immediate concern. Those details are not given.

The point of the story is to show that after Elijah was “taken up”, Elisha was now the “Prophet of God” in Israel who God approved of and recognized. The point was to publicly establish Elisha, not for God to justify himself before my opponent or anyone else.

My opponent is making a case against Elisha, his arguments might be fitting if our topic was “does mocking justify a verbal curse in return” but He is not establishing a case against the Just nature of the God of the Bible.

In my two examples, my opponent accuses me of (and I quote) “insert[ing] his assumptions as to the details that are not recorded in the story to make his case that God violated his ‘reasonable standard of morality’.”

I did and I stand by that accusation.

I’d like to point out, that our debate is to evaluate the morality of the Biblical God . . . This means we need to analyze his character as described in the Bible.

Yes, to do this we need to consider ALL that is described of God in the Bible, not just a few selected acts and evaluate them without considering all of the Biblical Gods declared attributes.

In my first example, I only took what was written in the Bible literally, while it was my opponent who made fictional assumptions like the youths had other faults or God killed them for reasons other than those listed.

False.
My opponent ignored the limits of the information and claimed that these “youths” were “innocent”.

As I said “The absence of damning details listed does not equal the non existence of damning details”

My opponent is attempting to condemn God as not “Moral” based on an assumption that the text does not support. These “youths” are NEVER said to be innocent.

I am sure one with strong imagination can think of a plethora of mitigating circumstances that could potentially make the youths in my first example guilty;

That is why I did not go there with specifics, the text does not offer enough information to condemn or condone this act, only that the act occurred.

The purpose of this story is to record the public endorsement of Elisha by God, the only absolute conclusion that can be drawn from the details recorded make that case very well.

We would need a warehouse of volumes to record every detail of every one who died or was punished in scripture in order to lend credibility to my opponent’s claim of “innocence”. That is not the purpose of scripture.

In scripture, only one man is responsible for the guilt of the entire race, Adam.
This is the doctrine of the “corporate fall of man”, if we are going to evaluate the Morality of the God of the Bible then all of the other relevant statements in the Bible must be included.

the Bible very clearly lists the reason bears were sent upon the youths: They mocked Elisha.

False.
The Bible says the mocking caused Elisha to “curse them in the name of the Lord”.

The bears were Gods decision, the text does not include any information as to why this decision was made over any other and the text does not ascribe lifelong “innocence” to this gang of “youths”.

If my opponent has any Biblical reasons for doubting the validity of the claims in this passage, I invite him to bring them forward with appropriate references. However, if his refutation is based solely on what he feels are the traits of the True God ™, then such has no place in our formal debate.

I do not doubt this passage or any other.
I also do not insert conclusions that the text does not support.
I also did not state any attribute of God based on my “feelings”, every attribute I ascribed to God is Biblical.

My opponent is the one using an illogical standard to “debate”
My opponent is ascribing “innocence” and “guilt” with no information to establish either.

And for the second example, I would have to point out that many of the victims were newborns and toddlers. Children of such an age cannot possibly be guilty of anything that justifies a slow, painful, and psychologically damaging death, such as the one inflicted upon them by God. To refute this point, my opponent would first have to explain to me what actions the 3 years olds took or what mindset they had to make them guilty.

This is the same false logic as before.

War is Hell, it always has been.
These societies were condemned as extremely evil and their judgment was well justified to preserve the rest of the inhabitants of the land.

The “virgins” were the only ones who were not “defiled”and considered salvageable, that is why they were spared. In this culture they were probably less than 12 years old if they were still virgins. They were divided up among the families so they would not die alone in the desert.

What other option would seem better?

The boys, men and women were all destroyed because they would carry on the traditions of the culture and the war if they were allowed to live. Every time Israel failed to eradicate its enemies and took “compassion” on them they sentenced themselves to centuries of bloodshed, rape, torture and murder.

If my opponent wants to make the case that generational warfare is more “moral” than a single isolated war he is free to try and do so.
If my opponent wants to argue that “all war is immoral” he is free to try and do so.
That is the task before him if he is going to call this example of a wars conclusion “immoral”.

Those who have Palestinian rockets landing on their head every day probably have no trouble seeing the superior “Morality” in rendering your opponent impotent once and for all when you have the chance.

And the “what could a 3 year old have done” is another attempt to selectively choose scripture. Age is not relevant in judging “The God of the Bible” because “The God of the Bible” knows ALL the future.

This debate is “is the God of the Bible Moral by any reasonable standard”
I intentionally did not choose the topic or the rules, I left all that to my opponent including what side of the debate he wanted to advocate.

The “God of the Bible” knows all from start to finish, to claim any act of God is immoral would require my opponent to posses the same knowledge and be an equal or greater authority to the God of the Bible.

My opponent does not posses this knowledge, power or position.

I await the demonstration of why we should choose to ignore what the Bible literally says

The Bible “Literally” records the event happened.
The Bible “Literally” records only Elisha’s motive, not Gods.
The Bible does not “Literally” ascribe innocence to anyone except The Christ Jesus.

My opponent’s choice to misuse the word “literally” notwithstanding, I have merely pointed out the only two factors that are relevant to refute his chosen premise in this debate.

  1. That this text does not provide enough information to establish or condemn the “Morality” of anyone based on any reasonable standard, much less the God of the Bible.

  2. That if the “Moral correctness” of the “God of the Bible” is to be determined by any standard it is necessary to have all the information about every recipient of justice both of their past and future since the “God of the Bible” is declared to have this knowledge.

My opponent has rendered an opinion with insufficient information and chosen an entity to identify and condemn that he cannot possibly substantiate within the limits of his human abilities or the only existing historical record.

If my opponent wanted to debate “does the God of the Bible exist” or “does the God of the Bible really posses all the attributes the Bible ascribes to him” he could have chosen those topics and I would be offering different arguments in response.

I am only debating this topic.

My opponents premise is illogical and indefensible based on the criteria and topic that he chose to debate.


#6

Ret begins by making the argument that ‘Without God there are no morals because morals must stem from an ultimate authority’. This argument is easily shut down by pointing out that all cultures that have ever existed had a set of morals, regardless of which God they believed in or even if they did not believe in God at all.

The issue is that my opponent does not understand what morals are. Morals are simply defined as the principles of choosing right from wrong. Even without a god, any group of social individuals living together would practice some ‘principle of right and wrong’ in their society, thus they would create their own morals. I would say that even my opponent would do so: If he found out, right now, that God does not exist, I doubt he would go on a raping and pillaging spree. He would still have some idea of how to act, he will still praise acts of kindness, he would still respect his parents (assuming he does so right now). In short, Ret would retain a set of morals.

Now, the question of this debate is not ‘Is God immoral’, for all morals are in fact subjective and any system of separating right from wrong would technically be a moral system so anything that anyone does can be considered moral by some system. The question is instead ‘Is God moral by any reasonable moral system’ Here, we have restraints on what type of moral system is allowed to be judged by.

To begin, we can easily show that the system where ‘Anything god says or does is moral’ is not reasonable by simply asking a person from any culture the following question: ‘If God told you to rape your daughter, and tells you that the only reason he wants you to do this is because he enjoys torturing people, would you raping your daughter be good?’. I think common sense tells us that just about every single person will say ‘no’. As such, we can see that the system in question does not agree with the definition needed to be a reasonable moral system.

Rather than getting in full details about what a reasonable moral system is, I simply pointed out two traits that are shared by virtually every single moral system actually used by any substantial group of people, and pointed out that a reasonable moral system cannot contradict virtually every moral system out there and thus would have to share those two traits. I then proceeded to show how God miserably fails at even the bare minimum of what makes a person moral. The following parts of this post will simply show how Ret failed to demonstrate that God managed to adhere to the very basics of morality in my two examples.

The next issue my opponent addresses is of the innocence of the youths in the Elisha story.

False.
The Bible says the mocking caused Elisha to “curse them in the name of the Lord”.

The bears were Gods decision, the text does not include any information as to why this decision was made over any other and the text does not ascribe lifelong “innocence” to this gang of “youths”.

The text shows that Elisha curses the youths, then bears come and maul the youths. Given that Elisha does have the power to call upon God as he does many times more, it is not great leap to conclude that the bears came because God called them to honor the request of Elisha. The reason the bears were called is because the youths mocked Elisha.

If you put all those facts together, you end up with ‘Because the youths mocked Elisha, God chose to kill them by means of bears.’ As such, we can and have found the reason for why this decision was made- This is our default position. I am saying that if my opponent has any reason to suspect that God killed the youths for actions other than mocking Elisha for being bald, he must provide biblical support, or admit that God acted immoral from a literary examination of the bible.

When making an examination of literature, you must use only what the text provides. If we have a passage in some book that says ‘Mark approached the homeless man, who promptly spat upon Mark. This angered Mark and Mark shot the homeless man to death’ We cannot say ‘Well, we don’t know why Mark killed the homeless man. Perhaps this homeless man was a terrorist that Mark remembered from tv so he decided to get even’ unless we have another passage that makes such a claim. Likewise, in our story, all we are told is that God killed the youths for mocking a bald prophet, and the burden of proof is upon Ret to show that we have any reasonable indication that the deaths stemmed from another reason.

Finally, my opponent yet again ignores the general issue of the third passage, so let me just summarize it in one small sentence: Assuming for whatever reason that all the medianite males must be killed, why did god choose to kill the young boys in a painful and emotionally traumatic method (being killed by sword, seeing your friends and family die around you in a painful manner) rather than taking the human option and instantly and painlessly killing them prior to the battle?


#7

No, I said Morals all stem from Authority and Absolute Morals can only stem from an Ultimate Authority.

I addressed this in great detail in prior posts; I will not do so again. Suffice to say that all cultures establish “Morals” via authority.

The issue is not the definition of “Morals”. My opponent is ignoring the logical conclusion as to the origin of Morals; Authority.
If the one judged is Eternal the standard must be Absolute. Only an Absolute Authority can declare Absolute Morality.

In this scenario Morals would still be established via authority.
All this is irrelevant to this debate, we are only discussing whether “The God of the Bible is Moral by any reasonable standard”. If my opponent wanted to debate whether man should reject Biblical Morality and define his own then he should have suggested that topic.

My opponent is playing word games. We have not debated whether “morals are all subjective” and my opponent would lose that debate as well if we had it.
My opponent is now using the word “system” in place of Authority; the authority is the relevant aspect to establishing and judging Morality. That is why my opponent lost this debate before it started.

I already exposed the fallacy of my opponent’s lack of logic in inventing a moral code to judge an entity that is Eternal and Superior, no need to revisit that now.

For something to be “reasonable” it must also be logical. If “reason” is applied then the options of what is “reasonable” are then limited to only logical options.
A thief may think that because I have 3 cars and he has none that it is perfectly “reasonable and moral” to steal one of mine. This does not make the thief’s conclusion “reasonable” no matter how many other thieves he can get to agree with him.
The Authority will determine the “Morality” of his actions.

My opponent is attempting to condemn the “God of the Bible” based on “what ifs”.
His hypothetical examples are not relevant or logical to the points I made about the foundation of Morals being authority
If my opponent wants to challenge my assertion that all Morals emanate from authority please do so.
If my opponent wants to challenge my assertion that “absolute Morality” can only logically emanate from an “Absolute Authority” please do so.
If my opponent cannot address these factors then all the “what ifs” are meaningless to this debate. Morals are not subject to the opinions of those who are required to observe them by the Authorities that establish them.

It does not matter.
The text my opponent chose does not establish that God violated these two “traits” that he came up with anyway.
I have already established that in prior posts; I will not do so again.

My opponent did no such thing.
All my opponent did was insert his preferred assumptions and appeal to emotionalism where no details are given in order to further his argument.
I have already addressed this and will allow the readers to decide which case is more logical and reasonable.

I already addressed this in great detail; I will not do so again.

This is illogical supposition on my opponent’s part, I already covered this in great detail, and I will not do so again.
Suffice to say the text contains absolutely no indication that this gang of youths was innocent in any capacity and the Bible offers no information as to why God chose this particular punishment in place of any other.
Calling these recipients “innocent” and the action “unjust” cannot be established by the details that the text provides and is therefore an irrelevant assumption on the part of my opponent.

Exactly, my opponent does not get to invent details that are missing to establish predetermined conclusions.

And if the Bible recorded the story in question in this way my opponent would have a point. But it does not.

We are told no such thing.
We are told that Elisha cursed the youths in the name of the Lord. Elisha does not ask for the specific judgment and the specific judgment is never said to be limited to this event.
In my opponents example “Mark” was the offended person and also the one who decided on the penalty and executed the penalty.
In the Biblical example only Elisha’s motives and reasoning are discussed and Elisha only offered a “curse”, the rest is simply the recording of the event as it unfolded.
I have no idea who my opponent learned his rules for evaluating archaic text from.
I previously stated that a common error in Bible analysis is readers assuming details that do not exist and assigning equal authority to their assumptions as they do to the recorded details.
My opponent is guilty of this offense.
Our readers can determine which method is scientific and logical and which method is designed to bring about a prejudiced conclusion.

I already addressed this in great detail; I will not do so again.
Suffice to say that imagining a “different way” to achieve the exact same agenda does not change the morality of the decision or the agenda. There is no limit to the questions of “why did God do this in this way”. It is nothing but an emotional appeal to mask the lack of a logical argument.
I have respected my opponent’s arguments enough to respond line upon line to his arguments and leave no point unaddressed. He has not afforded me the same respect.
Based on the amount of redundancy my opponent included in his last response and his unwillingness to even attempt to address most of the points I have made up to this point I ask the moderator to consider whether our closing arguments should be submitted.
I am certainly willing to continue if our Moderator determines that something new has been submitted or any relevant points have not be addressed adequately. I will await the judgment of our moderator on this.


#8

I don’t see any new substance proceeding from further exchanges. We’re only at the end of the second exchanged, but I think moving to conclusion would be appropriate. Conclusion will be approved simultaneously.

Do you agree barma? If so, let us know, and then you both should write conclusions. If not, PM me or list here what further substance can be added to the debate, and I’ll decide.


#9

Closing Argument

It seems that my opponent is misunderstanding the rules of the debate and what is required to establish a logical conclusion.

I challenged my opponent to choose any topic that he wished and any side of that topic to defend by any rules he chose to debate by.

He chose “Is the God of the Bible Moral by any reasonable standard”

The rules are that we would stick only to the subject of the debate to avoid misdirection and avoid ad hominem attacks or agendas. All posts would be moderated by RWNJ and the readers would decide for themselves who made the better case after about 5 posts including a closing argument.

There are only 2 factors to define in this debate.

  1. Who is The God of the Bible (already done for us in scripture)
  2. What is Morality (already done for us in the dictionary)

Since the topic is “The God of the Bible” and that God is declared to be “Eternal” the premise demands the “Moral standard” be “Absolute” or timeless as well.

The only logical answer to this is “Yes, the God of the Bible is Moral by any reasonable standard of Morality”.

If the topic was “Is the God of Islam Moral by any reasonable standard of Morality” the answer would also be “yes” (please read on before you condemn me, I have a point here)

If the topic was “Is the Great Spirit worshiped by Native Americans Moral by any reasonable standard of Morality” the answer would be “yes”

If the topic was “is the God of Baal Moral by any reasonable standard of Morality” the answer would be “yes”.

The “Yes” answer is not based on my endorsement of any concept of God; it is based on the inherent flaw in the topic and wording that my opponent chose.

The moment you say “The God of _______” you are limiting and defining your debate to what is declared to be the characteristics of a specific God concept **and **the “absolute” nature of “Morality” if that God is **declared to be eternal.
**
If that god concept includes Supremacy of authority and knowledge over all then that God must be “Moral” based on the definition of Moral, “an absolute standard by which actions and ideas are judged.”

We are not debating “which God concept is superior”
We are not debating “Are Morals absolute”
We are not debating “which religions “Holy” book is most reliable, if any”
We are not debating “Should man look to any God for a Moral code”
We are not debating “Does a God even exist”
We are not debating “Is the Christian God Superior to man”
We are not debating “Does the Christian God really possess all the attributes the Bible ascribes to him”

My points in this debate have only been addressing the ACTUAL question from a logical perspective. I did not choose the topic, my opponent did. He chose an indefensible side of a question that contained a logical answer in its own context.

The “God of the Bible” is our topic.
That particular God concept is declared to be the absolute authority and owner of all that exists and to possess absolute and complete knowledge of all that has ever occurred and all that will ever occur in the universe.

That means the “God of the Bible” possesses the authority to define the absolute standard for everything that he has created and that he is by definition “Moral” due to having no peers.

That is why I thought this was a stupid topic to begin with!

I suspect my opponent wanted to debate some of those other ideas that I just listed but saw similar inherent flaws in them as well, so he settled on this topic.

My readers know that I am a Christian but for this debate to be settled does not require any particular faith.
The “God of the Bible” certainly does not need me to defend him!

The wording of the question contains a logical conclusion and that conclusion is not the side that my opponent chose to champion.

That is not my fault; my opponent chose all the details. My purpose in relegating all decisions to him was so that I would not be accused of “loading” the topic or wording to my advantage.

I simply agreed to debate him.

All “Morality” originates from and is enforced by Authority.
The highest Authority is the most definitive morality.

The God of the Bible is declared to be superior to all of his creation and is therefore the ONLY “reasonable standard of morality”, no other entity is qualified to judge or challenge him.