The Inscrutable Jehovah

October 28, 2009 at 3:21 pm 17 comments

Theism begins with a commitment to absurdity. It revels in mysteries, embraces paradoxes, and wallows in warm credulity while reason is buried in a mudslide of illogical affirmations. It sees no need to apologize for belief where the evidence is not only absent, but also contrary to claims.

inscrutableTheism trains the credulous in the art of illogicality by unabashedly positing incoherent notions of god that require the complete surrender of rational faculties. Some such common theistic notions among Christians are listed below.

  • The notion that we were created with an actual choice not to sin in the face of the biblical assertions that we have all sinned.
  • The notion that the wrath a “loving” god over a single sin results in condemnation to eternal torment.
  • The notion that a “loving” god must see blood to forgive, and cannot simply forgive as he has asked humans to.
  • The notion that the 3 days of temporary death by Jesus is the exchange rate for the deserved eternal damnation of billions.
  • The notion that only the acceptance of the blood of Jesus will save humans from eternal torture, a rule in effect even for those who have not access to the story of Jesus.
  • The notion that there is a moment of “accountability” where the eternal destiny of a child suddenly flips from Heaven to Hell.
  • The notion that there will be no tears in Heaven, even though you understand that members of your family are being tormented in the Hell that your “loving” god condemned them to.
  • The notion that Jehovah does not clearly reveal himself to us to keep faith a function of free will in spite of knocking St. Paul off his ass in a direct revelation, and in spite of the fact that Lucifer and the angels were able to rebel after having full knowledge of Jehovah’s existence.

If you accept any of these commonly-held notions, you are well-primed to reject any rational attempts to convince you that your faith is ill-founded.

And the bible is just the book for you. It contains all kinds of contradictions and absurdities that will delight the irrational mind. Here are some examples.

Has anyone seen god?

  • NO
    “No man hath seen God at any time.” (John 1:18a, 1 John 4:12)
    “And he said, Thou canst not see my face: for there shall no man see me, and live.” (Exodus 33:20)
    “Not that any man hath seen the Father, save he which is of God, he hath seen the Father.” (John 6:46)
  • YES
    “And Jacob called the name of the place Peniel: for I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved.” (Genesis 32:30)
    “And the LORD spake unto Moses face to face, as a man speaketh unto his friend.” (Exodus 33:11a)

Has anyone ascended into Heaven other than Jesus?

  • NO
    And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven. (John 3:13)
  • YES
    “And Enoch walked with God: and he was not; for God took him.” (Genesis 5:24)
    “By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death; and was not found, because God had translated him: for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God.” (Hebrews 11:5)
    “And it came to pass, as they still went on, and talked, that, behold, there appeared a chariot of fire, and horses of fire, and parted them both asunder; and Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven.” (2 Kings 2:11)

Are there bible contradictions here? No. The bible is inerrant. If it appears to be contradictory, it is simply further evidence of our inability to grasp the mysteries of god. Right? You will hear all kinds of convoluted attempts to reconcile these verses. But it would not matter even if there were an honest way to do so. Christians are more than willing to accept the absurdity. They have committed themselves through “faith” to a complete resignation of critical thought on concepts such as god’s existence and the veracity of the bible.

One common claim is that the truths in the bible are only clear to those with a heart hungering for spiritual truth. If you are skeptical, and require evidence, you’ll never partake of the wondrous mysteries of god. Biblical truth is reserved for those who have traded their responsibility of assessing claims skeptically for an open heart hungry for holy mysteries.

And where the bible is not clearly incoherent, it is vague. Take 10 Christians and try finding agreement on the issues of speaking in tongues, the end times, masturbation, prosperity gospel, liberation theology, divorce, salvation by faith alone, infant baptism, female leadership, homosexuality, faith healing, allegorical Genesis, and chain of authority. You’ll not find agreement though you will find strong opinions prefaced with “the bible clearly teaches that…

So Christians argue from conclusion, and shoehorn the evidence into that conclusion. And if the evidence is too contradictory to do so, the conclusion is still accepted on faith. This faith is then presented as virtuous rather than childish credulity unbecoming of a rational adult.

And this conditioning in credulity allows for other more pragmatic absurdities to be accepted wholesale. Christians are taught that the prayer of a righteous Christian “availeth much”, yet nothing but anecdotes is presented to substantiate this. Statistical studies that would demonstrate prayer’s success are avoided or ignored. Christians testify to the power of god in their lives, but are careful not to include a comparison of similar “blessings” in the lives of the ungodly. Any study that shows that Christians score worse in areas such as divorce rates are completely ignored.

This is the mind of the theist.

Any residual rationality is contorted and stretched and softened until the mind is sufficiently distorted to accommodate an ovine faith immune to doubt.

Jehovah is not subject to criticism. He is inscrutable. His ways are not our ways. The mysteries of the Lord only make him more worthy of our obedience. If only you open your mind wide enough, you too can believe.


This post is largely a reminder to myself of the absurd beliefs I once held. And in spite of the rather sarcastic tone at the end, it is not intended to imply that deconverts are any less susceptible to errors in thinking than are believers. It takes every mind much focus and effort to acquire the critical thinking skills that will assist us in most closely approximating truth. A post written by orDover in 2008 is a very good commentary on our cognitive weaknesses and how these might be remedied.

Entry filed under: Phil Stilwell. Tags: , , , , , .

Reasons for my de-conversion (4 of 4) Whacked Bible Contradictions: 1

17 Comments Add your own

  • 1. AwesomeJesus  |  October 30, 2009 at 12:07 am

    Curious – while a Christian have you ever asked God about any of these Questions /Issues – Have you expected him to answer?

  • 2. Phil Stilwell  |  October 30, 2009 at 12:55 am

    When I was a Christian, I spent much of my time on my knees asking God for answers with all confidence that God would give me answers. Some of the questions seemed a bit complicated, so I studied Koine Greek and read the Greek NT through 11 times with all confidence that God would give me answers. While reading the NT in the Greek resolved several issues in my mind, there remained many issues such as those mentioned in my post. I took these issues around to various church leaders in my community to see if I could find satisfactory answers. I could not.

    So after 25 years in Christianity without a single doubt about the Bible as the source of truth, I began to very reluctantly back away from several assumption I had never really questioned such as the inerrancy of the Bible and the existence of the personal god whom I had spent years sincerely asking for answers.

    It took me 2+ years and much time on my knees asking for god to somehow reveal himself to finally emerge from my sincere faith to reach the point where I could sincerely say the god of the Bible was an incoherent concept.

    I did not take my Christianity lightly. I went door-to-door witnessing outside any church program. I learned to read Greek well. I studied apologetics. I was a youth pastor in several churches. I was ordained. I had planned to be a missionary.

    In the same way, I do not take my rejection of Christianity lightly. I spent much time going over many incoherent Biblical concepts hoping to find some way to redeem them in my mind.

    If my post seems a bit acerbic, it is in part due to my anger of having wasted a good part of my life perusing truth in a book of falsehoods. And that anger has been augmented by the true things I have learned about myself through a new-found critical thinking that starkly contrasts with my uncritical faith-based Christian mindset.

    I greatly enjoy my godless life now, not because I can live a vile life, but because I can life a life based on truth and free from dogma. It is a life of contentment apart from a god that I was told did not exist by “godly” Christians. I know there are many others out there who currently have the faith I had 15 years ago. This saddens me and makes me determined to prevent others from following the same delusional path I walked.

    A godless life is a good life in more respects than you can imagine.

  • 3. The de-Convert  |  October 30, 2009 at 9:35 pm

    Phil,

    Do you find yourself looking back into your time as a Christian and wondering if you really bought into it all and somehow saying there’s just no way I did? I do. I’m such a rational, logical, analytical individual (what eventually led to my de-conversion) but it was after so many many years. Too many really (knowing what I know now).

    Paul

  • 4. Phil Stilwell  |  October 30, 2009 at 11:33 pm

    Paul.

    In retrospect, I don’t feel I was very rational during my christian years. I had many emotional vested interests that kept me in the faith so long. It was a divorce that removed many of those vested interests, and placed me in a state of clarity where I could unbiasedly reassess my core assumptions. I may have found some way to rationalize around all the cognitive dissonance I experienced in my faith had I not been divorced. It is humbling to realize that I was so driven by my emotional needs.

    I still have a healthy emotional side, but I have now learned to step back away from my emotional investments from time to time and reassess my core beliefs.

    Phil

  • 5. Shadowfx  |  October 31, 2009 at 12:51 pm

    Here’s one for you. Does the Bible say itself that God is all powerful and all knowing or is that something that later Christian theologans came up with. I can’t think of any verses that clearly state that God is omnipotent and omnicient. The book of Genesis says that god formed the world. Ok, we can create babies but we are not all knowing or all powerful. I amost tend to think that YHWH is a powerful spirit, but maybe not omnipotent or omniciient. I also believe in the text in Revelation that mentions the 7 spirits of God. Seven Spirits you say? Yes that it what it says. So my thinking is there are seven revleations of God to the different peoples. I think one Spirit of God spoke to the Native Americans. Maybe another spirit speaks to the people of India and another to China. I also think that one spirit may be the Spirit of Truth. I would say that is the spirit honored by many of the Atheists on this site.

  • 6. Quester  |  October 31, 2009 at 3:07 pm

    Shadowfx,

    You might appreciate this comic that I Stumbled across the other day.

    But yeah, you can get almost anything you want out of the Bible. I used to wonder if the ancient pantheons were actually the biblical nephilim.

  • 7. The de-Convert  |  October 31, 2009 at 5:24 pm

    Shadowfx, well the “seven spirits of God” is nothing compared to the many different actual gods who are described as “God” in the Bible.

    In Genesis 1:1, it says god’s name is Elohim. That’s a plural word. Does it mean God is a plurality? He is referred to as Elohim over 2,500 times in the Old Testament. Well, he’s also referred to as El (about 250 times), El-Shaddai, El-Elyon, and others. However, I guess it’s safe to assume we’re talking about the same God

    What is Elohim like? He seems quite personable. He walked with Adam and Eve in the cool of the day. He chatted with Cain and Abel and came looking for Abel after he was killed by Cain. Enoch walked with him for 300 years. He gave Noah detailed instructions on building an Ark that would house millions of species :) . He came into Abraham’s tent for a visit and had a meal with him. He negotiated with Abraham before wiping out Sodom and Gomorrah with fire and brimstone. He wrestled with Abraham’s grandson all night. (Isn’t it impressive for a mere man to wrestle God for an entire night?) Overall, Elohim sounds like a very personal God.

    However, god then goes through a radical transformation. He changes from this personal God to burning bushes, thunder and lightning from Mt. Sinai, you can’t see his face and live, and you can’t even touch the mountain where he is and live. Are we talking about the same God who was just hanging out with Abraham and company? Why did he all of a sudden become this impersonal, untouchable God?

    Oh, and now he’s changed his name to Yahweh? Or Jehovah? Or a bunch of Jehovah-somethings? Are we still talking about Elohim? It sure doesn’t sound like it.

    Also, a good summary of Yahweh’s character can be found in Richard Dawkins’ description of him:

    “Jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully.”

    Now, let’s look at the New Testament. God is now a loving father in heaven who so loves the world. He values me more than sparrows. He has numbered every hair on my head. He is compassionate, merciful and kind. He’s even taken on the form of a human.

    I have to admit, I like this New Testament God. I can skip over the fact he killed a couple for lying and a few other minor atrocities but overall he seems quite cool.

    But one has to wonder which God of the Bible is the real God. The personal Elohim or the untouchable Yahweh or the loving, compassionate Father God as described by Jesus or even Christ, the God-man himself? Oh, and we didn’t even mention the mysterious “holy ghost” or even the Bible itself, “The Word of God” that became flesh to make the God-man Jesus which was in fact, God.

    …. but, of course, this is all part of the mysterious God ….

  • 8. Shadowfx  |  October 31, 2009 at 7:40 pm

    Quester,

    Thanks for the comic. It made me smile. How come no one is in the line to the left?

    Anyway,

    Thanks

  • 9. Shadowfx  |  October 31, 2009 at 8:00 pm

    The de-Convert,

    Thanks for your lengthy response. It gave me something to think about. I agree there are all of these different faces of God in the Bible as you have said. I have read the entire Bible and I used to read the new testament quite frequently. So I can relate to what you are saying and that, combined with a number of other threads that I am reading on this site it giving me a new perspective on things.

    One point I can make however, is something I learned from an ancient philosophy instructor. The passage were it says Jesus is the word made flesh, is a funny translation of the orginial Greek. The original Greek word that was translated as word, is Logos. That is the thinking reasoning good, or just the good. Socrates was really into the Logos. So, I don’t think the bible is saying that Jesus was the bible made flesh, whatever that may mean, but the Logos made flesh. The Gospel of John is somewhat unique in that it consistently makes the case that Jesus was the son of God. The other three gospels tend to hedge the point. I just nociced this recently however. Again, thanks for your post and thanks for creating this site.

    Shaodwfx

  • 10. Quester  |  October 31, 2009 at 9:46 pm

    Shadow,

    I’m going to assume that your question to me was rhetorical.

    As for #9, if the Bible is, in any sense, the Word of God, in what sense is it not also the Logos?

    By the way, you might enjoy Dorothy L. Sayer’s portrayal of the Trinity in “Mind of the Maker”. She has an interesting take on Jesus as Logos.

  • 11. Shadowfx  |  October 31, 2009 at 9:59 pm

    Quester,

    To me the logos is the ideal of good, or in a more common sense simply “the good.” I don’t see how that has anything to do with the bible, which, while made up of words and seen by some as “the word of God” is completely different from the classical sense and use of Logos.

    If I get a chance I’ll take a look at that book. Thanks for the reference.

  • 12. Quester  |  November 1, 2009 at 5:21 am

    Ah, I see. I’ve never actually heard of Logos defined as “the ideal of good”. Logos is the root word of “logic”. From ‘logos’ derives concepts of language and logical expression. I’m really not sure that logos is, in it’s classical sense and use, what you think it is. I admit, though, that it’s been a few years since I read Socrates.

  • 13. Shadowfx  |  November 1, 2009 at 5:00 pm

    Quester,

    I’m just going from what I remember from my philosphy course. Socates was big into ideals and the ideal of good was what he refered to as Logos. It is almost another word for God. In the socratic sense I guess you could say it was God. But then Soctates was condemed by the Greek authorities for teaching the young not to believe in their gods. However his conception of Logos is closer, I think to what we in the west now consider to be God. I agree it is releated to the word logic, but given the use of it by philosophers at the time I think it can be seen in other lights. To be honest I don’t know that the Gospel of John was first written in Greek or not. But I suspect whoever wrote Logos was meaning something close to God. Heraclitus also wrote a lot about the Logos and in terms that connoted God or the first source of the Universe. I have a Greek friend and I asked him if logos meant the good in a common sense and he said that it did.

    I suppose you are right and there are other meanings for it, even in classical use. The sophists used it to mean discourse. But then I don’t really like the sophists myself. However if I see logos as the Socratic ideal of good, then I can see christ as the logos made flesh and it makes sense to me. To say that he was the bible made flesh makes very little sense to me at all.

  • 14. Shadowfx  |  November 1, 2009 at 5:12 pm

    Quester, maybe I remember my teachings on Socratese wrong, but at the very least the Stoics thought that the logos was the divine manifesting itself in the universe. For some reason I can’t find references to Socates using the word and so I will concede that perhaps I am remembering what I learned about him incorrectly.

  • 15. Quester  |  November 5, 2009 at 2:46 am

    Thank-you for admitting you might be wrong. I find that helpful in a discussion. I looked up logos online in a Greek-English dictionary which just defined the word as “oration, reason, speech, word”, but when I looked logos up in Wikipedia (remembering that sometimes you get what you pay for on free reference sites), I saw a lot more than I’d expected. “The good” still seems broader than is warranted, but “the creative impulse” or “the principle” are apparently legitimate definitions or synonyms for the word.

    As for the Bible, Ihave you never run across the idea that Jesus Christ, the Bible, and the created realm are all three revelations and incarnations of the second person of the Trinity?

  • 16. The Inscrutable Jehovah « de-conversion « Watching Ibises  |  November 13, 2009 at 12:43 am

    […] The Inscrutable Jehovah « de-conversion The Inscrutable Jehovah « de-conversion. […]

  • 17. UNRR  |  November 22, 2009 at 10:12 am

    This post has been linked for the HOT5 Daily 11/22/2009, at The Unreligious Right

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Attention Christian Readers

Just in case you were wondering who we are and why we de-converted.

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Whether or not you believe in God, you should live your life with love, kindness, compassion, mercy and tolerance while trying to make the world a better place. If there is no God, you have lost nothing and will have made a positive impact on those around you. If there is a benevolent God reviewing your life, you will be judged on your actions and not just on your ability to blindly believe in creeds- when there is a significant lack of evidence on how to define God or if he/she even exists.

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