Thoughts on it all - skeptical view on the Bible
Copyright © 2000 David Loren Buehner. All rights reserved.The author grants anyone liberty to use and copy material from this text (providing acknowledgment is given to the author), including the entire text, as it appears, and distribute it without making financial profit from doing so. All other rights are reserved. The text is the intellectual property of its author.
Note: This is a very skeptical, questioning paper towards certain passages/concepts in the Bible. It has little to do with any of my other writings. It is provided for a balanced, skeptical view of information for the serious researcher. It is recommended that people also read my other writings and understand that this paper ends as very open ended and with no details present on just how far in skepticism the author prefers to interpret it (or his other writings) for his own uses or not.
Though the Bible does have a record of detailing certain things that have been established as fact (or detailing things in such a way that things are highly interpretive and one is best skeptical), there are some definite problems in other areas that fact or not, can be easily tested for goodness or not against logic and/or the very ethics that are taught in the Bible itself.
Many people have pointed out supposed conflicting and/or contradictory passages for thousands of years. Some early Christian works even addressed this subject, and over the course of time there have been a number of Christian works dedicated to addressing so-called "apparent" discrepancies in the Bible.
For the skilled reader, such things are easy to re-interpret in all sorts of ways. Because of the "rightly dividing the Word of truth" aspect of the Bible, almost anything can be said in one place of the text that can be later explained (rightly or wrongly) in some other place in the text.
Though sometimes this can be a valid concept when practiced reasonably in consideration for a texts context and "big picture" as the saying goes, nevertheless the problem that exists in doing this indiscriminately is twofold. First, unless one has real proof that a text should be interpreted a certain way the person is merely creating what has been called a "How-It-Could-Have-Been" scenario.
Such a scenario may work great theoretically, and perhaps in some cases the odds may be highly in the scenarios favor as the real solution to supposed "apparent" contradictions. The fact is however, that they are only "How-It-Could-Have-Been" theories, and do not provide a real solution one way or another to any "apparent" contradictions, which very well may (or may not) actually be real contradictions.
This leads to the second problem, being that real textual variants or things which may be actual contradictions can easily end up getting excused and passed over in the process of this far spanning "rightly dividing the word of truth" to preserve every single text as supposedly Inerrant. Face value honesty and surrounding CONTEXTS easily can become undermined when objectivity is further removed and incorrectly overridden by other unrelated texts and contexts.
Anyway, the following are thrown here in light of some of the things in this paper and the implications. Not that these things may not have seemingly reasonable ways of being interpreted (like so many other things), but some of these are more interesting up front and on the surface.
Yet, just because something CAN be reasonably interpreted does not make it a correct interpretation. We have plenty of proof of textual variations and even whole additions (woman taken in adultery) and such that are in the Bible (King James Version Bible only fanatics notwithstanding). Though there is still enough consistent things in the Biblical text to understand its basic points, the fact is, is that there are plenty of things that may make one reasonably and rationally skeptical about some of the big picture as well.
As for myself, I'm a fairly skeptical, deterministic theist. If anyone wants to know more about me they can read my other writings in comparison with this paper and contemplate along with me. However, just as 50% vs. 50% equal cause for decision (an effect) is a stalemate and not supposed "free will", as always the God of nature casts the weights that make destiny. Foundations in life should be carefully scrutinized.
Interesting enough the Bible depicts Christ as saying "Any kingdom divided against itself is laid waste; and a house divided against itself falls." Regardless of the right or wrong interpretative gymnastics that may be done with some "apparent" Biblical contradictions, Christendom has a foundation that contains division at least on the obvious, face value, practical level.
A Few Detailed Examples
The Old Testament#1. Highly suspect is that aside from perhaps a select line of families, according to how the Old Testament lays things out practically everyone was supposedly going to hell up to the time of the Biblical stories of Moses, Israel's deliverance and belief in Yahweh. In light of the history of the earth (and depending on how a person dates the time period of Moses in the book of Genesis), this does not only appear to be a few hundred years, but more like thousands if not millions of years of humanity that pass by. PLUS, up until the N.T., everything is so revealed in what's considered to be types and shadows of N.T. Christianity. The entire Bible often depicts Israel as being filled with scarlet sin and as GODLESS.
The New Testament makes it clear that Israel was very wrong, should have listened to Abraham, and had the faith of Abraham instead of trying to count on salvation by the law. Hence, it seems as if most of O.T. Israel would have also went to hell. In light of the fact of the percentages of Christians throughout history in light of everyone else, it appears that most of humanity will supposedly be in hell.
Matthew 7:13-14 has been long considered to say as much which depicts Christ as saying "Enter by the narrow gate; for the gate is wide, and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and many are those who enter by it. For the gate is small, and the way is narrow that leads to life, and few are those who find it." Sure, according to the Biblical stories and the ethical implications (however high or low people might consider them) all this may not be real hard to consider, but how probable is this?
#2. Exodus 32:27 "Thus sayeth the Lord God of Israel, Put every man his sword by his side, . . . and slay every man his brother, . . . companion, . . . neighbor." Deuteronomy 20:16-18 "Only in the cities of these peoples that the Lord your God is giving you as an inheritance, you shall not leave alive anything that breathes... in order that they may not teach you to do according to all their detestable things which they have done for their gods..." I Samuel 6:19 " . . . and the people lamented because the Lord had smitten many of the people with a great slaughter." I Samuel 15:2,3,7,8 "Thus saith the Lord . . .
Now go and smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and spare them not; but slay both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass. . . . And Saul smote the Amalekites . . . and utterly destroyed all the people with the edge of the sword." Hosea 13:16 "they shall fall by the sword: their infants shall be dashed in pieces, and their women with children shall be ripped up."
Comment: The supposed mass killing of not only men and women, but also even children and infants in the Old Testament as Israel spread out to claim the Promised Land or whatnot (consider also the slaying of hundreds of first born Egyptian children SO AS to supposedly make Israel free). Yes, God is the author of life and death, but God is the author in a logical and consistently holy way. Killing masses of infants for nothing they have done of their own selves but merely for being considered a future threat, and for being related to people whom supposedly were worthy of actual execution.
Some have said that since God kills not only men and women, but even children and infants by acts of nature, disease, famine, etc., that therefore the charge of wrongdoing would have to be applied to God and the very order of things in the natural world as well. Such is an interesting argument, but death by natural disaster and other catastrophes and direct acts of God is different than at the hands of humans supposedly under command by God.
Who could be trusted that they were serving God by killing like this? Isn't that one reason we have laws (even in the O.T.) that define what murder is? Does not this reduce the ethical laws against murder to a relative status? Does not "murder" then become relative? What logical/holy law(s) could make anything like the Amalekite massacre realistic, or righteous? How much logic, human rights, and theology goes out the window when people can supposedly kill people, even infants, for no crime of their own but just because a supposed deity tells people to do so?
What kind of people would actually go and do such things? And in light of how God is supposedly depicted in the O.T., think of what would have almost certainly happened to those who refused to commit these acts. Though the Bible depicts plenty of explanations and reasons behind issues of far less importance, very little, if any, theological instruction was given to O.T. Israel about the nature of killing even infants. What does this perhaps say?
#3. Gen 19 "And the two angels came into Sodom at evening... Lot saw, and he rose up to meet them... And he said Behold, now, my lords, please turn into your servant's house and lodge... the men of Sodom surrounded the house; from the young to the aged all the people from the limits. And they called to Lot and said to him, Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us that we may know them... And Lot went out to them, to the door, and he closed the door behind him.
And he said, My brothers, please do not act evilly, Behold, now, I have two daughters who have not known a man; please let me bring them out to you and do to them as you see fit. Only do not do a thing to these men, because of this account they came under my roof." ["know" used in these contexts in the Bible meant have sexual intercourse]
Comment: Lot, the man who is eventually rescued from the city for not being wicked like the rest. A man who offers up (even with a "please") his two (seemingly virgin) daughters to be raped and who knows what else ("do to them as you see fit"). Notice other degrading things in the Bible towards women such as permissible forced marriage allowed regarding women taken captive, polygamy, etc.
#4. Gen 22:1-2 "And after these things, testing Abraham, God said to him, Abraham! And he said, Behold me. And He said, Now take your son, Isaac, your only one, whom you love, and go into the land of Moriah. And there offer him for a burnt offering on one of the mountains which I will say to you." Gen 22:11-12 "And the Angel of Jehovah called to him from the heavens and said Abraham! And he said, Behold me. And He said, Do not lay your hand on the boy nor do anything to him. For now I know that you are a fearer of God, and you have not withheld your son, your only one, from me."
Comment: The command in the original may be somewhat ambiguous. Some have rendered it "make him ascend for a burnt-offering." Their view is, that Abraham interpreted an ambiguous statement literally that was meant to test his faith and that it was his mistake that served as the testing grounds. This very well may be the original meaning of the text, yet problems still abound.
Regardless of whether it was in fact an ambiguous statement or not, the outcome is that the text and the rest of the Bible has Abraham looked upon as great seemingly because he would have actually went through with killing him (if a certain killing is intrinsically wrong, it does not become non-murder if supposedly approved by God). With this line of thought, what other kinds of things could have seemingly been looked upon as great for almost doing? Also, under Old Testament sacrificial qualifications NO ONE (except God) could ever be considered a pure sacrifice due to human sin.
Hence, would not the concept of anyone going through with human sacrifice, even the suggestion of it towards God, go against (at least the general interpretation of) the whole point of the sacrificial laws in the Old Testament, the Old Covenant itself, God, etc? Notice: Deuteronomy 12:31 "Thou shalt not do so unto the Lord thy God: for every abomination to the Lord, which he hateth, have they done unto their gods; for even their sons and their daughters they have burnt in the fire to their gods."
#5. Are we directly punished for another's sins (and not just inconvenienced/affected)? Exodus 20:5 "For I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation." (Repeated in Deuteronomy 5:9). Exodus 34:6-7 " . . . The Lord God, merciful and gracious, . . . that will by no means clear the guilty; visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, and upon the children's children, unto the third and to the fourth generation." YET: Ezekiel 18:20 "The son shall not bear the iniquity of the father." Deuteronomy 24:16 "The fathers shall not be put to death for the children, neither shall the children be put to death for the fathers: every man shall be put to death for his own sin."
#6. Solomon is depicted in the Bible as supposedly one of (if not THEE) smartest men ever. 1 Kings 3:12 "Behold, I (God) have given you a wise and discerning heart, so that there has been no one like you before you, nor shall one like you arise after you." 1 Kings 4:29-30 "And God gave Solomon wisdom and very great discernment and largeness of heart, like the sand that is on the seashore. And Solomon's wisdom surpassed the wisdom of all the sons of the east and all the wisdom of Egypt."
Comment: What about King Solomon and all his "wives"? Though people often say things about how God was supposedly more lenient (though still disapproved) of polygamy under the Old Testament, the fact is that the Bible itself states very clearly that people who sleep around are fools. Even the Old Testament in places makes it clear that the plan for marriage is 1 man and 1 woman. The New Testament clearly states that anything else is great sin.
How can the supposed wisdom of Solomon (and of course the Biblical view of him) be accurate in light of his reported 700 wives and 300 concubines!? 1 Kings 11:1-4 "Now King Solomon loved many foreign women along with the daughter of Pharaoh: Moabite, Ammonite, Edomite, Sidonian, and Hittite women, from the nations concerning which the Lord had said to the sons of Israel, 'You shall not associate with them, neither shall they associate with you, for they will surely turn your heart away after their gods.'
Solomon held fast to these in love. And he had seven hundred wives, princesses, and three hundred concubines, and his wives turned his heart away. For it came about when Solomon was old, his wives turned his heart away after other gods; and his heart was not wholly devoted to the Lord his God, as the heart of David his father had been."
Such involves more than even excess; it involves a long time expression of greed, egotism, inconsiderateness, injustice, and plenty other despicable human flaws. Solomon's wisdom is often associated with his legendary ability to dispense justice, yet what kind of justice can be found in all this in his life? These are wives whom he could not have fulfilled loving marital relations with (not to mention O.T. covenantal marital duties) even if he had done nothing all day, every day, except try to.
Add to these the 300 concubines that for some reason he also indulged in, and you have a case of 1,000 women trapped in misery. Women are human beings. Solomon put these thousand women into a situation of debauchery where it was virtually impossible for them to generally experience normal lifestyles, including marital, emotional, or social. No doubt, many of them were young women with normal physical and mental needs, and they all had common human rights.
There is also the problem of Solomon's reported denunciation of allegiance to God and turning to idolatry, especially in light of the fact the Bible describes Solomon as even being personally visited by Yahweh at least on two occasions (1 Kings 3:5-14; 9:2-9).
Even without the visits, the wisest man on earth wouldn't know to not practice idolatry? Even on a pure greed level, it strange that a man who was promised and received great wealth would turn from the very source of that wealth. And if the supposed wisest man born couldn't please God better than he did, what chance do we ordinary intelligent people have to please God?
#7. King David clearly committed adultery AND murder. The Old Testament penalty for both was DEATH. Yet, such a penalty does not happen to the "King". Instead, crap supposedly happens to his family. This is often remarked about by saying things such as "what a terrible price he paid, look at what happened to his family" etc. But, the main point about justice (even Old Testament style) is often ignored. As for the thing about needing two or three witnesses etc., what's the matter? God sends David's friend to tell David that he is guilty. Is not that guy, AND GOD, enough? But the Bible views David as great regardless.
#8. In 2 Kings 2:23-24, there is a story about the prophet Elisha: "Then he went up from there to Bethel; and as he was going up by the way, young lads came out from the city and mocked him and said to him, 'Go up, you baldhead; go up, you baldhead!' When he looked behind him and saw them, he cursed them in the name of the Lord. Then two female bears came out of the woods and tore up forty-two lads of their number."
Comment: In accordance with the way the O.T. depicts God as enacting up the pronouncements of certain people in those days, this time it's sure a more problematic thing to see as actually happening, just because they were stupid youthful mockers. Also problematic is the idea that somehow 42 of them are attacked by only 2 bears. What did they do, stand in line and wait to get attacked? Were they all on drugs?
Sure it's a realistic possibility that perhaps they were stupid enough to make a game out of taunting the bears, mocking them and such and continued playing like this even when others (perhaps considered weak losers) fell under attack. However, after the first few kids dropped (ok, who knows considering the times) one might think they would have quit. Yet, the text is silent on the matter and all these are just more How-It-Could-Have-Been scenarios. Regardless, what might this curse perhaps say about Elisha and the Bible in light of its view of him?
The New Testament#1. How is this trustworthy? In John 8:14 Christ is depicted as saying, "Though I bear record of myself, yet my record is true." YET: John 5:31 "If I bear witness of myself, my witness is not true." "Record" and "witness" in the above verses are the same Greek word (martyria).
#2. John 9:41 Jesus said to them, "If you were blind, you would have no sin, but since you say 'we see,' your sin remains."
Comment: Does not the Bible, and even Christ make it clear that such does not excuse a person from sin? Luke 12:47-48 depicts Christ as saying in reference to Second Coming theology "And that slave who knew his master's will and did not get ready or act in accord with his will, shall receive many lashes, but the one who did not know it, and committed deeds worthy of flogging, will receive but few. And from everyone who has been given much shall much be required; and to whom they entrust much, of him they will ask all the more."
#3. In Matthew 12:31-32 the Bible depicts Christ as saying "Because of this, I say to you, every sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven to men, but the blasphemy concerning the Spirit shall not be forgiven to men. And whoever speaks a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him. But whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit, is shall not be forgiven him, not in this age, nor the coming one."
Comment: These verses appear to make it sound like ANY blasphemy against the Holy Spirit would not be forgiven (and not that they just implicate dying in un-repentance against the Holy Spirit). Such interpretations are discounted due to their salvation by works implications. Yet, the problem does not seem to go away since these verses seem to implicate that though perhaps salvation is by grace, some works can prevent it, even if one is repentant, i.e. not really salvation by grace. It appears one would have to work to not sin/blasphemy the Holy Spirit for fear of not being able to be saved, or even of loosing salvation. Of course, all such would go against the Bibles strong teachings that salvation is only by grace.
#4. Matthew 13 "And the disciples came and said to Him, "Why do you speak to them in parables?" And He answered and said to them, "To you it has been granted to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been granted. _ And in their case the prophecy of Isaiah is being fulfilled, which says, 'YOU WILL KEEP ON HEARING; BUT WILL NOT UNDERSTAND; AND YOU WILL KEEP ON SEEING BUT WILL NOT PERCEIVE; FOR THE HEART OF THIS PEOPLE HAS BECOME DULL, AND WITH THEIR EARS THEY SCARCELY HEAR, AND THEY HAVE CLOSED THEIR EYES LEST THEY SHOULD SEE WITH THEIR EYES, AND HEAR WITH THEIR EARS, AND UNDERSTAND WITH THEIR HEART AND RETURN, AND I SHOULD HEAL THEM.'
Mark 4:11-12 "And He was saying to them, 'To you it has been given the mystery of the kingdom of God; but those who are outside get everything in parables, in order that WHILE SEEING, THEY MAY SEE AND NOT PERCEIVE; AND WHILE HEARING, THEY MAY HEAR AND NOT UNDERSTAND LEST THEY RETURN AND BE FORGIVEN."
Comment: Sounds like free will and Arminianism. Sure you can interpret it to be understood to be only a practical surface description that is based on underlying predestination, but like so many other things in the Bible, there is a constant apparent (though not necessarily real) contradiction of speaking about free will and Arminianism (among other illogical falsehoods), while on the other hand affirming determinism/predestination, Calvinism, and the Reformed points.
#5. Matthew 19:3-9 "And some Pharisees came to Him, testing Him, and saying, 'Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any cause at all?' And He answered and said, 'Have you not read, that He who created them from the beginning MADE THEM MALE AND FEMALE, and said, 'FOR THIS CAUSE A MAN SHALL LEAVE HIS FATHER AND MOTHER, AND SHALL CLEAVE TO HIS WIFE; AND THE TWO SHALL BECOME ONE FLESH'? Consequently they are no longer two, but one flesh.
What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate.' They said to Him 'Why then did Moses command to GIVE HER A CERTIFICATE AND DIVORCE HER?' He said to them 'Because of your hardness of heart, Moses permitted you to divorce your wives; but from the beginning it has not been this way. And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for immorality, and marries another woman commits adultery."
Comment: Then if we hold to Biblical ethics and logic it would appear that MOSES SINNED by doing what he did, and all the Old Testament laws given by him/"God" on the matters of divorce are just man made. If such divorce has always been ("from the beginning") ethically SINFUL then how can acting otherwise be justified? Either something is sin or it is not. Aside from supposed ceremonial laws, ethical absolutes are not righteous one day and then sin the next.
6. In Mark 11:25 the Bible depicts Christ as saying "And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone; so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your transgressions."
Comment: "Forgive, if you have ANYTHING against ANYONE". One may "How-It-Could-Have-Been" this into forgiving anyone who of course reasonably qualifies, yet at face value this is obviously not what is being said. Keeping this in line with the crucifixion, the fact is that the Bible is clear that the unrepentant have no forgiveness, and that there is no forgiveness given by even God outside of the crucifixion, the crucifixion being the only way to forgiveness to begin with.
According to the Bible, anything less opposes God, the very shed blood of Christ, and pretty much the whole point of Christian theology. Yet the plain sense meaning of verse 25 appears to do just that.
#7. In Matthew 16:27-28 Christ is depicted as saying "For the Son of Man is going to come in the glory of His Father with His angels; and will then recompense every man according to his deeds. Truly I say to you, there are some of those who are standing here who shall not taste death until they see the Son of Man coming in His kingdom." Mark 13:1-30 obviously appears as if Christ directs his words at the audience before him and depicts them in the end times events he mentions.
In Mark 13:29-30 Christ is depicted as saying, "Even so, you too, when you see these things happening... Truly I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place." Though some have argued that the word "generation" actually means "race" the argument appears unnecessary in light of Matthew 16:27-28. Plus it seems like salvation by works on Mark 13:13 as Christ is depicted as saying, "...the one who endures to the end, he shall be saved."
#8. Regarding his followers not trying to thwart his crucifixion, in Matthew 26:53-54 the Bible depicts Christ as saying "Or do you think that I cannot appeal to My Father, and He will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels? How then shall the Scriptures be fulfilled, that it must happen this way?"
Comment: Say what? Then if it is God's will for the Scriptures to be fulfilled then how can it be said that God would send twelve legions of angels to stop it if Christ asked?"
#9. Mark 14:36 "And He said, Abba, Father, all thing are possible to You; take this cup from Me. Yet not what I will, but what You will."
Comment: Elsewhere, Christ made it clear that for that cause He came into the world. According to the Bible, the crucifixion did happen, hence, how is it possible that God can do anything else than that which he had ordained for Himself and He allowed to happen?
#10. That Christ is depicted as crying out on the cross "Father why have you forsaken me?"
Comment: Yes, the How-It-Could-Have-Been theology about the father turning away from the son, part of the punishment for sins, etc.
#11. The apparent contradiction discrepancies/differences in the resurrection accounts, which is considered the cornerstone, though such contradictions may not exist in the text in light of the fact at how one can perhaps legitimately interpret them (i.e., the different views of the same event, like unto people reporting a traffic accident form each persons true but limited perspective). Regardless, this is more unproven "How-It-Could-Have-Been" thinking.
#12. The whole thing about the Holy Spirit being "given", in the New Testament. Sure, one can do the interpretation thing and say that it is given in a NEW WAY, in a NEW COVENANT WAY, etc., but that does not appear to be what the plain sense of the texts seems to imply. And if they do imply that the Holy Spirit was NEVER given till Christ and the New Testament, then such would have to ridiculously imply that NO ONE was ever saved until the New Testament since Biblical salvation implies the Holy Spirit.
#13. The book of Revelation makes it clear that whoever has the mark of the beast will go to hell and burn in the lake of fire. Yet, the Bible teaches that salvation is by grace alone (aside from certain passages that may very well contradict salvation by grace). Of course you could always just say that the fact that they get the mark (whatever the hell that supposedly is, some suggest that it is a merely a sight of allegiance, like a salute with the hand/and or to the forehead) is not what sends them to hell, but just that they are anti-God and unrepentant to begin with OF WHICH the mark just happens to be a clear indication of the fact that they are so and are going to hell. Yet, on the surface that is not what the text seems to be saying.
#14. Ephesians 2:8 "For by grace you are being saved, through faith, and this is not of yourselves; it is the gift of God; not of works, that not anyone should boast."
Comment: The problem that appears here is the fact that even good works are only by God's grace and from God, so no one has anything to boast about anyway. Hence, though the point may get across in some sort of way on this one, the argument seems to be based on an illogical argument/fallacy.
Other things abound that can be seen as problematic. To adhere to the law, Christ is depicted as getting baptized, but baptism is symbolic of washing away sin, and it seems like it might be a blasphemous thing to do to God. Even John the Baptist is depicted as having similar concern over baptizing Christ. The Bible does not depict Christ as giving any theological explanation about this though.
The fact is that Christ, nor the entire Bible, really does not address any of these and other serious problems. No place in the Bible is anything like these even considered as problems. Nevertheless, a person can go on and on with this sort of thing. Note that these are contradictions/apparent contradictions, and do not appear to be the kind of falsely accused contradictions that some people dredge up due to a lack of understanding other obvious texts or original languages that clear up some matters.
Possible ImplicationsIt appears to become a domino affect. Text, leaders, and then the message of the text. Under some circumstances, the message part would not be included, but because of the nature of the problems and the contents of the text, it does make one question some things about the leaders, and then the message. Here are some reasons.
Though I'm fairly skeptical about a lot of this (and many other things as well), for the sake of discussion lets call the Biblical ethical discrepancies (apparent or otherwise) as crimes against humanity or "problems". If truth, love and logic indicate that these discrepancies really are crimes against humanity that are actually being held up as righteous in the Biblical text, then people are left with the following realistic options:
A. A vast majority of the Biblical text is pure fantasy, including the crimes against humanity, and the incidents, beliefs, and statements surrounding them. Yet, the leaders behind the text in no way supported or believed in such things.
B. A vast majority of the Biblical text is pure fantasy, including the crimes against humanity, and the incidents, beliefs, and statements surrounding them. Yet, the leaders behind the text did support and believed in such things.
C. A vast majority of the Biblical text is pure fact, including the crimes against humanity, and the incidents, beliefs, and statements surrounding them. These crimes and the viewpoints about them are what the leaders really did and advocated.
Granting for the sake of argument that many of the leaders mentioned in the text really existed, the problems are so numerous and of such quality that the leaders and how they considered the crimes (such as if they "in no way supported or believed in such things") must be considered. Either there are no real problems with ANY of those grave discrepancies/crimes against humanity and they all have righteous interpretations and holy understandings that justify them (and the odds are highly against it), or the fact is that there are real ethical failures in the Biblical text along with those behind it and the message as well.
If the crimes against humanity are just fantasy, then the leaders did not correct such grave internal problems and continued to build beliefs on a corrupt foundation (and that seems to warrant enactment of skepticism on not just them, but much of their message as well). Yet, to say that all the problematic things are just fantasy that is mixed in within a story based on reality seems improbable due to the amount of problems there truly are, the quality of some of them, and how humanity has accepted such crimes/problems in the past.
The reason the leaders probably did not correct or deal with even the appearance of these things in the Bible is that they (like the rest of society) were probably not aware of any problems and committed many of them. As history shows, due to the cultural outlooks at the time of the Biblical writings many of the above problems were not (and still are not) even noticed in society.
In light of the fact that at the least skepticism seems warranted in a domino affect, there is another ethical problem. If skepticism can be RIGHTLY warranted long term (even permanently) on major parts of the Biblical message (and not just preliminary limited skepticism as a person examines such like any other new thing), then how can the message be accurate since the quality of the message indicates that no one has an ethical right to always be skeptical about the message? Does not the logical warrant for this kind of quality of skepticism challenge the message itself considering the quality/requirements of the message?
[Worth noting is that complete skepticism and complete agnosticism is self-defeating logically, basically stating that a person knows enough to know that truth/reality/etc., cannot ever be know with certainty (play with the argument consistently and hopefully you will see the problem). Just because a person is skeptical on several things does not mean that they reject logic, or must be atheistic.
Many Deists and other advocates of Theism have historically argued that nature rationally and philosophically can be seen to detail a natural truth and truths of an ultimate Creator, an Eternal Cause, independent of "revealed" religion. Many, including Deist Benjamin Franklin, even have believed and do believe in an afterlife/immortality based on what's seen in nature and the universe. (See some of my other writings for such arguments)]
Summary of Some Issues and DirectionsA. That nature is so intensely violent from the beginning. Destruction and pain from the start, not total peace. Cellular destruction and animal suffering from the beginning, even before humankind.
B. That so many Biblical 'heroes' are considered so great and righteous (ok, perhaps righteous in God / their good side), yet did things so evil that plenty of other Biblical passages define people who do such things as foolish, evil people, marked with scars for life (though supposedly forgiven, etc.).
In light of all the adultery, multiple wives, prostitution, murder, and stuff in the Old Testament, under Old and New Testament Biblical descriptions (and the quality of natural logic/law), people who had partaken in such things seemingly would be disqualified from their supposed high offices/positions/descriptions, etc.
C. That so many Biblical passages are so seemingly opposed to each other that, even if they are not, either way it obviously takes immense interpretive gymnastics to make some of them work. This leads to the observation of whether or not people are making excuses for these things by performing such gymnastics, or that such passages are in fact supreme logical constructions designed to express multi layers of truth through concealment, seeming contradiction, pain, agony, etc.
A reasonable examination of some of these things, with a dedication to truth, God, and logic at the center, often finds any decision to be canceled out through insufficient cause to make a safe decision either way resulting in being non-committed / skeptical.
D. Biblical textual variants and especially the "canon" of the Bible show that things appear pieced together in such a slipshod manner that there at least needs to be a real distinction between real truths (i.e. that which may be called Scripture) and everything else in the Bible.
E. The history of the earth is once of continual chaos.
Conclusion #1: The more conservative answer has A. through E. not being very problematic with life sometimes coming down to supposed deserved "supreme logical constructions designed to express multi layers of truth through concealment, seeming contradiction, pain, agony, etc." i.e., things really are so deservedly, mercilessly dark (some might consider this the best answer in light of God, logic, and corrupt humanity anyway).
The more liberal answers has A. through E. more at face value, including the implications of such a direction. Either way, since so much of A. through E. is the way it is anyway, it often comes down to stalemate. God's hate, love, mercy and mercilessness are infinite. On the positive side, one could perhaps say it all balances out. On the negative side, one could perhaps say that it all stalemates in a practical sense (though not necessarily in the long run). A safe answer for those who live overwhelmed by pain: life down here sucks, be skeptical. With this conclusion in mind:
#1. Since the history of the earth, and the actions and beliefs across time continue to show that E. is true, it is clear that life is filled with evil, pain and agony, with moments of goodness and peace. Life is war. The mercilessness of God appears as more manifested on earth (in a practical sense) than mercy, though not necessarily in an overall spiritual sense since God could rightly allow/cause more pain due to human evil.
#2. Though obviously it matters on a logical/loving/eternal level how one plays the game of life down here, the problems is, is that what exists down here now is overwhelming evil and pain. Hence, though one can follow the rules in light of the circumstances, the problem is, is that it is only in light of the circumstances. There is no fair fight. Some things cannot really be used to reach the correct end because the corruption that exists to begin with makes using some things impossible. Christendom (and religion in general) is somewhat like the Vietnam War. God is like a well-meaning president. Underneath God are screw up so-called lawmakers, politicians, and such.
We are given goals and instructions on fighting a war, building our morale, etc., but many of those things can't be had currently and become far removed concepts due to internal corruption and the mutual cooperation that some things require. Things are screwed and the war cannot currently be won because of the people supposedly in charge and what has happened to those who follow them. In many ways (though perhaps not all ways), God is not healing the mess but letting the evil self-destruct.
#3. The whole game is fixed. God allows it to be the way it is. Obviously, God can do no wrong yet what God is doing means that no matter how good and right a person is, there is still #2. To train a soldier and keep him docked yet forced to stay primed for battles that often never happen, and when they do happen they do so in a fixed way in light of #2 (and under corrupt circumstances without proper backup, AND they are battles that don't win the war anyway), is all maddening. The problem is, is that life currently amounts to overwhelming pain for many people. There comes a point when pain enhances more focus on the present (often too much so) and people become less interested in the more distant future, eternity, etc. Results of torture.
#4. Practically speaking, God has NEVER rescued followers (or humanity for that matter), in a permanent way from the general repetitive crap throughout history, including evil Christendom.
#5. Though in some sense the burden one bears (truth does set free) following God / truth is not heavy, in the practical sense in light of how things suck on earth, the burden is exactly the opposite and it's crushingly heavy. On top of that, the fact is that to progress the truth and fight to win the war and not just to win battles, a person very often has to burn the candle at both ends and almost certainly burn out.
#6. Spiritual aspects aside, we live on this earth and God is the missing parent. Anyone else doing this would probably be a "deadbeat parent". Granted such is due to human evil, but it all just comes down to another dysfunctional family. The natural expression of relationships (and other things) is often just not made possible by God.
We see God and know him through logic, truth, nature, etc., but as for trying to maintain a fully personal relationship, in some ways that is impossible. Evil, pain, distance, fixed life race, and more make it fully impossible. We can be filled with God and truth in some ways, but not in many other practical ways that are a part of a loving relationship. Religion is often (though not always) impractical.
Conclusion #2: Live a holy life, repent and ask God for mercy, understand and (within reason) apply Sun Tzu's The Art of War to living, and just have a hell of a lot of fun in life in general and try not to care too much. Think! And be reasonably skeptical.
Maybe some day people will get their act together, life will be seriously accomplished, dedication to God and truth will be taken more seriously, and people will start fighting correctly and training more rational, loving people. But God has to make the first step. And if that is what is destined to be, then it will be done. Yet even so, the past (most of history up to that point) is forever lost.
Religion and History
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