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Strawman
12-03-2014, 08:14 PM
I'm posting here to invite dialogue with any skeptics (I'm open to one-vs-me or two-vs-me) regarding the afflictions that Job experienced. I'd like to defend the claim that God's actions contained a benevolent purpose. I'm not too familiar with the rules here. I'm open for 5-7 rounds (the more rounds the better) and no word limit, as I expect to get to the core problem(s) after the round 1 response.

If this is in the incorrect place, I apologize mods. By all means, give this a shove in the right section.

Jedidiah
12-03-2014, 09:34 PM
Working on it.

Kelp(p)
12-03-2014, 10:52 PM
Hi.

Actually, we're discussing that very thing now in the newest posts of this thread http://www.theologyweb.com/campus/showthread.php?4363-The-Problem-of-Natural-Evil

The Pixie
12-04-2014, 12:24 AM
I'm posting here to invite dialogue with any skeptics (I'm open to one-vs-me or two-vs-me) regarding the afflictions that Job experienced. I'd like to defend the claim that God's actions contained a benevolent purpose. I'm not too familiar with the rules here. I'm open for 5-7 rounds (the more rounds the better) and no word limit, as I expect to get to the core problem(s) after the round 1 response.

If this is in the incorrect place, I apologize mods. By all means, give this a shove in the right section.
What exactly are you claiming here? That there was some good behind every calamity that befell Job? I think most would agree; Job was being tested and he passed the test. The end of the book makes clear God rewarded him in this life for passing the test, and presumably in the next life too.

Jedidiah
12-04-2014, 11:50 AM
I'm posting here to invite dialogue with any skeptics (I'm open to one-vs-me or two-vs-me) regarding the afflictions that Job experienced. I'd like to defend the claim that God's actions contained a benevolent purpose. I'm not too familiar with the rules here. I'm open for 5-7 rounds (the more rounds the better) and no word limit, as I expect to get to the core problem(s) after the round 1 response.

If this is in the incorrect place, I apologize mods. By all means, give this a shove in the right section.If you want to have a discussion with one or two people: 1) pick one or two people, 2) spell out that you want no one else in the discussion, 3) go to the Arena at the very bottom of the list of forums and start the discussion. There may be limits to the length of posts but I am not sure. You might have to break down your argument a bit.

Potential debaters, make an arrangement with Strawman and go to the thread in the Arena and discuss.

whag
12-04-2014, 06:42 PM
I'm posting here to invite dialogue with any skeptics (I'm open to one-vs-me or two-vs-me) regarding the afflictions that Job experienced. I'd like to defend the claim that God's actions contained a benevolent purpose. I'm not too familiar with the rules here. I'm open for 5-7 rounds (the more rounds the better) and no word limit, as I expect to get to the core problem(s) after the round 1 response.

If this is in the incorrect place, I apologize mods. By all means, give this a shove in the right section.

This is a silly premise for a debate. Since there's good reason to conclude Job isn't recorded history but myth, what's the point?

whag
12-04-2014, 06:44 PM
What exactly are you claiming here? That there was some good behind every calamity that befell Job? I think most would agree; Job was being tested and he passed the test. The end of the book makes clear God rewarded him in this life for passing the test, and presumably in the next life too.

A skeptic wouldn't be a skeptic if he presumed the events actually happened but was simply critical of the cruelty of said events.

KingsGambit
12-04-2014, 06:52 PM
This is a silly premise for a debate. Since there's good reason to conclude Job isn't recorded history but myth, what's the point?

Even conservative scholars like Craig Blomberg do take the stance that it wasn't intended to be recorded history, but even if one does, one can still defend such a position under the assumption Job contains spiritually true.

Strawman
12-04-2014, 06:58 PM
Jedidiah, thanks for pointing these things out to me and thanks for the link to the on-going discussion, Kelp. However, this dialogue has to take place in a particular way to accomplish a particular goal. I'm a student at a certain apologetic school and the dialogue will fulfill the course requirement. I picked this forum because I hold the non-Christians here in high regard; that is, they are more respectful than other forums.

Whag, nice to meet you. You pointed out,

>>>>This is a silly premise for a debate. Since there's good reason to conclude Job isn't recorded history but myth, what's the point?<<<<

Whether the account of Job is historical or mythical to any degree is irrelevant to questioning whether or not it posits a benevolent or malevolent God. A more precise question would be: Is the God presented in the Job account, whether it be actually historical or mythical, benevolent? I'm studying the type of God that the account (whether it be historical or not) presents.

>>>>A skeptic wouldn't be a skeptic if he presumed the events actually happened but was simply critical of the cruelty of said events.<<<<

The word "skeptic" is broad for a reason and I really don't like semantics. I would prefer someone who is skeptical towards God's benevolence due to the afflictions.

Pixie

Nice to meet you.

>>>>What exactly are you claiming here? That there was some good behind every calamity that befell Job? I think most would agree; Job was being tested and he passed the test. The end of the book makes clear God rewarded him in this life for passing the test, and presumably in the next life too.<<<<

My claim is that there was a purpose, yes. Most of the skeptics I know of parallel God's actions with their interpretation of his actions regarding Abraham and Isaac; however, any skeptics who believe God is benevolent in the account of Job is definitely something I would not contend with. I'm looking for one or two intelligent, respectful skeptics who claim that God's actions qualify him as being malevolent.



Ciao, guys.

whag
12-04-2014, 07:26 PM
Even conservative scholars like Craig Blomberg do take the stance that it wasn't intended to be recorded history, but even if one does, one can still defend such a position under the assumption Job contains spiritually true.

That's as pointless as defending the acts of deities in any pantheon. The point being the believer (in this case Strawman) is thoroughly convinced of the wager's benevolence by virtue of his presupposition that nothing God does is malevolent. The skeptic already has good reason to regard it as myth and has no real stake in trying to convince said believer of the wager's cruelty. The presuppositions are too entrenched for the discussion to yield any fruit. It'll be a yawner.

whag
12-04-2014, 07:32 PM
Whag, nice to meet you. You pointed out,

>>>>This is a silly premise for a debate. Since there's good reason to conclude Job isn't recorded history but myth, what's the point?<<<<

Whether the account of Job is historical or mythical to any degree is irrelevant to questioning whether or not it posits a benevolent or malevolent God. A more precise question would be: Is the God presented in the Job account, whether it be actually historical or mythical, benevolent? I'm studying the type of God that the account (whether it be historical or not) presents.

>>>>A skeptic wouldn't be a skeptic if he presumed the events actually happened but was simply critical of the cruelty of said events.<<<<

The word "skeptic" is broad for a reason and I really don't like semantics. I would prefer someone who is skeptical towards God's benevolence due to the afflictions.

Presented thus, you win. Like Pixie pointed out, no matter how seemingly harsh the wagerly interaction between God and Satan is, the story enforces your belief that it's for Job's benefit. That's why the debate is silly--because there's no way to argue otherwise due to the nature of theology and its cast of characters.

Strawman
12-04-2014, 07:39 PM
whag,

Whether it is parallel to defending the acts of other deities is irrelevant.

Job can be entirely non-historical and still have been written to fulfill any particular purpose. I believe the purpose was to showcase the benevolence of God, while the majority of skeptics I've come across interpret and use this account to ground the conclusion that God is malevolent. That is the particular claim I am challenging.

Enjolras
12-04-2014, 09:27 PM
... I believe the purpose was to showcase the benevolence of God, while the majority of skeptics I've come across interpret and use this account to ground the conclusion that God is malevolent. That is the particular claim I am challenging...

Hi Strawman, welcome to the forum!

If I was going to try to show the malevolence of YHWH I wouldn't think to go to Job first, but since you bring it up I'm curious as to what you have to say. I don't know that the text shows God to be malevolent, as much as an uncaring bully. He brings the topic of Job up to Satan, almost daring him to attack him. Then he allows all this cruelty. Afterwards he scolds Job for daring to question his justice. Apparently, you have to be God in order to question his goodness, which makes no sense to me. One of the weirdest things about the book is at the end where God is said to bless Job's life more than at the first by giving him more children. If God killed my children and then gave different children to replace them, I wouldn't exactly say that made up for it. I'd be pretty upset about the first ones, but apparently the author of Job thought that made it all better.

Those are just a few observations; not exactly an argument. How do you take it?

whag
12-04-2014, 09:34 PM
whag,

Whether it is parallel to defending the acts of other deities is irrelevant.

Job can be entirely non-historical and still have been written to fulfill any particular purpose. I believe the purpose was to showcase the benevolence of God, while the majority of skeptics I've come across interpret and use this account to ground the conclusion that God is malevolent. That is the particular claim I am challenging.

And, like I said, you "win" based on that premise. The skeptics you've come across are amateurs if they say the purpose of ANY biblical book is to proclaim God "evil."
Rather, mature skeptics know that Job is a writing based on an ancient oral tradition to explain why good people suffer. It goes back to Sumer.

Strawman
12-04-2014, 11:30 PM
Hi Strawman, welcome to the forum!

If I was going to try to show the malevolence of YHWH I wouldn't think to go to Job first, but since you bring it up I'm curious as to what you have to say. I don't know that the text shows God to be malevolent, as much as an uncaring bully. He brings the topic of Job up to Satan, almost daring him to attack him. Then he allows all this cruelty. Afterwards he scolds Job for daring to question his justice. Apparently, you have to be God in order to question his goodness, which makes no sense to me. One of the weirdest things about the book is at the end where God is said to bless Job's life more than at the first by giving him more children. If God killed my children and then gave different children to replace them, I wouldn't exactly say that made up for it. I'd be pretty upset about the first ones, but apparently the author of Job thought that made it all better.

Those are just a few observations; not exactly an argument. How do you take it?

Hey to you also, Enjolras! Thanks for the welcome :)

Your summation of the account pretty much agreed with my position around 2007 and I carried the logical conclusion that; therefore, God is evil. I note whag's same criticisms elsewhere yet he does not wish to officially step to the logical conclusion. Despite my name (it's a joke since the fallacy runs rampant), tell me if this is a fair description of your statements:

1. God is an uncaring bully
2. God almost dares Satan to attack Job
3. God allows cruelty for no apparent reason
4. God gave Job back some things, but this is pitiful in comparison to what he took
5. It is foolish that you must be God in order to question His goodness

I did a bit of wordplay, but I tried my best to stay true to your post. Read all of those again. What is the logical conclusion? That seems to me to be an evil God. I mean, obviously a good God would commit none of the above (minus 5 and 3). I do not understand why you (and whag) have a good lot of moral negativity regarding the book of Job, but are unwilling to step towards something conclusive.

And that is what I am in search for. Despite whag's claims, there are many many sources which attribute particular degrees of evil to God due to Job's afflictions. Since I used to debate the same logic, I am interested in seeing how my current position will weigh against those similar to my old position.

Strawman
12-04-2014, 11:35 PM
And, like I said, you "win" based on that premise. The skeptics you've come across are amateurs if they say the purpose of ANY biblical book is to proclaim God "evil."
Rather, mature skeptics know that Job is a writing based on an ancient oral tradition to explain why good people suffer. It goes back to Sumer.

You were saying the same thing in a different thread. Obviously, many academic skeptical atheists believe many Old Testament accounts; particularly Job, showcases a malevolent God. However, this says nothing as far as commenting on the author's purpose. That is totally irrelevant. Most atheists would just suggest that the authors are blindly presenting the truth. Either way, what the author believes is irrelevant, if we're talking about how skeptic's interpret the information within each account.

The Pixie
12-05-2014, 01:38 AM
Job can be entirely non-historical and still have been written to fulfill any particular purpose. I believe the purpose was to showcase the benevolence of God, while the majority of skeptics I've come across interpret and use this account to ground the conclusion that God is malevolent. That is the particular claim I am challenging.
I would say that Job was written as a parable; you certainly do not need it to be historical as a Christian.

I believe the purpose was to explain why bad things happen to good people, an answer to the Problem of Evil. The Jews were God's chosen people. If you had lost a child to disease, you might ask the priests why God let this happen. Modern Christians invoke the Fall. The Jews of that time had this parable.

When it was written, there was "the satan", a role God assigned to one of his angels, rather than Satan, a fallen angel and author of evil. It was the job of the satan to test people's faith and see if they were worthy of heaven. Job shows this in the extreme, with the satan causing terrible things to happen to Job, and yet Job kept his faith in God. We can say these things were very cruel, but that misses the point that this was a parable, and so the calamities were exaggerated for greater effect (so too were rewards).

The problems with Job is firstly that I do not think it makes sense for an all-knowing God to have to test people like this; and secondly that there are several verses that indicate the author believed the world was flat. However, I see no malevolence in it.

Adrift
12-05-2014, 06:18 AM
I think I mentioned this a long time ago on TWeb, and I know its probably not a very popular view, but here's my take on the narrative:

In the book of Job we find two sacrifices. These sacrifices are placed at each end of the book, which I don't think is a coincidence. They are placed at these ends to show how Job has changed through the course of this experience. Here's the first sacrifice:

His sons used to take turns holding feasts in their homes, and they would invite their three sisters to eat and drink with them. 5 When a period of feasting had run its course, Job would send and have them purified. Early in the morning he would sacrifice a burnt offering for each of them, thinking, "Perhaps my children have sinned and cursed God in their hearts." This was Job's regular custom.

Notice this first sacrifice is Job's regular custom, which I think is interesting wording. To me this sounds like the sacrifice took on, or became, a religious or ritual obligation. Also notice why he made this prayer and sacrifice "Perhaps my children have sinned and cursed God in their hearts". While Job's intentions seem noble, I think his motivation is primarily fear based. Fear typically comes when we lack understanding. Job doesn't know his children have actually sinned and cursed God, but he's afraid they may have and he's afraid of the consequences he and his children may reap. Later Job tells us quite plainly that this is his fear:

What I feared has come upon me; what I dreaded has happened to me.

So fear has come into Job's life, and it is through fear that Satan has permission from God to wreak havoc, and the reason for this is because fear walks us outside of the covenant we have with God which is based on trust. I don't think this is plainly stated in the book of Job, but I believe that's because much of the Old Testament was written in a Hebraic style that often places all blame for both good and bad on God. Its not till later in post-exile literature that we see a shift that more directly associates Satan with evil and tragedy (Philip Harland of York University goes into this in detail in his Religions of the Ancient Mediterranean podcast). I think from the Christian perspective we can say that this is progressive revelation. But anyways, what we learn in the NT is that God does not plant in us a spirit of fear, and we learn about the destructive nature of fear.

For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship.

For God did not give us a spirit of timidity (fear), but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.

So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. 36You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised. 37For in just a very little while, "He who is coming will come and will not delay. 38But my righteous one will live by faith. And if he shrinks back (fear), I will not be pleased with him." 39But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who believe and are saved.

And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him. 17In this way, love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment, because in this world we are like him. 18There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect (mature) in love.

And then there's this OT proverb, which, while probably not directly applicable to Job, gives us an indication of the destructive nature of fear, and the salvation of the righteous.

What the wicked dreads will come upon him, but the desire of the righteous will be granted. When the tempest passes, the wicked is no more, but the righteous is established forever.

We see a change in Job's character at the end of the book. Job, who now has nothing... nothing to lose, and nothing to be afraid for, finally comes to know who God is. Job finally understands God's greatness, and ultimately, God's ability to take on any circumstance and overcome it. Job's prayer and sacrifice made in ignorance and out of fear at the beginning of the book was unnecessary. It's Job's faithfulness and his new found trust in God which restores him. Job says as much in his closing speech:

Then Job replied to the LORD 2 "I know that you can do all things; no plan of yours can be thwarted. 3 You asked, 'Who is this that obscures my counsel without knowledge?' Surely I spoke of things I did not understand, things too wonderful for me to know.4 "You said, 'Listen now, and I will speak; I will question you, and you shall answer me.' 5 My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you. 6 Therefore I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes."

And this new found knowledge of God is reflected in the bookend sacrifice. No longer is the sacrifice made under religious duty or fear of the unknown, now it is a sacrifice done in faithfulness, and it is this prayer and sacrifice done in this heart that God accepts:

After the LORD had said these things to Job, he said to Eliphaz the Temanite, "I am angry with you and your two friends, because you have not spoken of me what is right, as my servant Job has. 8 So now take seven bulls and seven rams and go to my servant Job and sacrifice a burnt offering for yourselves. My servant Job will pray for you, and I will accept his prayer and not deal with you according to your folly. You have not spoken of me what is right, as my servant Job has." 9 So Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite and Zophar the Naamathite did what the LORD told them; and the LORD accepted Job's prayer.

Among the many things that we can learn from Job's experience is that God is not moved by unthinking religious devotion nor by sacrifices motivated by fear. If God were moved solely by our works, then none of us could ever be called redeemed through Christ Jesus... we have all fallen short of the glory of God. Rather God's word is his standard. When God says he's going to do something we can believe it and have trust in him. And when we align our lives to that standard, and put our trust in him he can transform our lives and perform miracles.

So, anyways, that's my two cents. I'm not sure if its 100% accurate or not, but it makes a lot of sense out of the passage for me.

Enjolras
12-05-2014, 06:26 AM
Hey to you also, Enjolras! Thanks for the welcome :)

Your summation of the account pretty much agreed with my position around 2007 and I carried the logical conclusion that; therefore, God is evil. I note whag's same criticisms elsewhere yet he does not wish to officially step to the logical conclusion. Despite my name (it's a joke since the fallacy runs rampant), tell me if this is a fair description of your statements:

1. God is an uncaring bully
2. God almost dares Satan to attack Job
3. God allows cruelty for no apparent reason
4. God gave Job back some things, but this is pitiful in comparison to what he took
5. It is foolish that you must be God in order to question His goodness

I did a bit of wordplay, but I tried my best to stay true to your post. Read all of those again. What is the logical conclusion? That seems to me to be an evil God. I mean, obviously a good God would commit none of the above (minus 5 and 3). I do not understand why you (and whag) have a good lot of moral negativity regarding the book of Job, but are unwilling to step towards something conclusive.

And that is what I am in search for. Despite whag's claims, there are many many sources which attribute particular degrees of evil to God due to Job's afflictions. Since I used to debate the same logic, I am interested in seeing how my current position will weigh against those similar to my old position.

Yes, that is an accurate restatement of my view. God does come across as evil. A rough analogy would be the the abusive alcoholic who beats his wife, then the next day buys her an expensive car to try to make up for it.

whag
12-05-2014, 07:00 AM
You were saying the same thing in a different thread. Obviously, many academic skeptical atheists believe many Old Testament accounts; particularly Job, showcases a malevolent God.

It's irrelevant that skeptics think Egyptian deities or, more recently, Islamic Allah, "showcase" brutal acts and personalities. They don't believe they're real, and that's what you're not getting.


However, this says nothing as far as commenting on the author's purpose. That is totally irrelevant. Most atheists would just suggest that the authors are blindly presenting the truth. Either way, what the author believes is irrelevant, if we're talking about how skeptic's interpret the information within each account.

You're waffling. I told you how mature skeptics interpret these religious stories, which shouldn't be a problem to you.

whag
12-05-2014, 07:22 AM
I think I mentioned this a long time ago on TWeb, and I know its probably not a very popular view, but here's my take on the narrative:

In the book of Job we find two sacrifices. These sacrifices are placed at each end of the book, which I don't think is a coincidence. They are placed at these ends to show how Job has changed through the course of this experience. Here's the first sacrifice:

His sons used to take turns holding feasts in their homes, and they would invite their three sisters to eat and drink with them. 5 When a period of feasting had run its course, Job would send and have them purified. Early in the morning he would sacrifice a burnt offering for each of them, thinking, "Perhaps my children have sinned and cursed God in their hearts." This was Job's regular custom.

Notice this first sacrifice is Job's regular custom, which I think is interesting wording. To me this sounds like the sacrifice took on, or became, a religious or ritual obligation. Also notice why he made this prayer and sacrifice "Perhaps my children have sinned and cursed God in their hearts". While Job's intentions seem noble, I think his motivation is primarily fear based. Fear typically comes when we lack understanding. Job doesn't know his children have actually sinned and cursed God, but he's afraid they may have and he's afraid of the consequences he and his children may reap. Later Job tells us quite plainly that this is his fear:

What I feared has come upon me; what I dreaded has happened to me.

So fear has come into Job's life, and it is through fear that Satan has permission from God to wreak havoc, and the reason for this is because fear walks us outside of the covenant we have with God which is based on trust. I don't think this is plainly stated in the book of Job, but I believe that's because much of the Old Testament was written in a Hebraic style that often places all blame for both good and bad on God. Its not till later in post-exile literature that we see a shift that more directly associates Satan with evil and tragedy (Philip Harland of York University goes into this in detail in his Religions of the Ancient Mediterranean podcast). I think from the Christian perspective we can say that this is progressive revelation. But anyways, what we learn in the NT is that God does not plant in us a spirit of fear, and we learn about the destructive nature of fear.

For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship.

For God did not give us a spirit of timidity (fear), but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.

So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. 36You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised. 37For in just a very little while, "He who is coming will come and will not delay. 38But my righteous one will live by faith. And if he shrinks back (fear), I will not be pleased with him." 39But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who believe and are saved.

And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him. 17In this way, love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment, because in this world we are like him. 18There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect (mature) in love.

And then there's this OT proverb, which, while probably not directly applicable to Job, gives us an indication of the destructive nature of fear, and the salvation of the righteous.

What the wicked dreads will come upon him, but the desire of the righteous will be granted. When the tempest passes, the wicked is no more, but the righteous is established forever.

We see a change in Job's character at the end of the book. Job, who now has nothing... nothing to lose, and nothing to be afraid for, finally comes to know who God is. Job finally understands God's greatness, and ultimately, God's ability to take on any circumstance and overcome it. Job's prayer and sacrifice made in ignorance and out of fear at the beginning of the book was unnecessary. It's Job's faithfulness and his new found trust in God which restores him. Job says as much in his closing speech:

Then Job replied to the LORD 2 "I know that you can do all things; no plan of yours can be thwarted. 3 You asked, 'Who is this that obscures my counsel without knowledge?' Surely I spoke of things I did not understand, things too wonderful for me to know.4 "You said, 'Listen now, and I will speak; I will question you, and you shall answer me.' 5 My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you. 6 Therefore I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes."

And this new found knowledge of God is reflected in the bookend sacrifice. No longer is the sacrifice made under religious duty or fear of the unknown, now it is a sacrifice done in faithfulness, and it is this prayer and sacrifice done in this heart that God accepts:

After the LORD had said these things to Job, he said to Eliphaz the Temanite, "I am angry with you and your two friends, because you have not spoken of me what is right, as my servant Job has. 8 So now take seven bulls and seven rams and go to my servant Job and sacrifice a burnt offering for yourselves. My servant Job will pray for you, and I will accept his prayer and not deal with you according to your folly. You have not spoken of me what is right, as my servant Job has." 9 So Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite and Zophar the Naamathite did what the LORD told them; and the LORD accepted Job's prayer.

Among the many things that we can learn from Job's experience is that God is not moved by unthinking religious devotion nor by sacrifices motivated by fear. If God were moved solely by our works, then none of us could ever be called redeemed through Christ Jesus... we have all fallen short of the glory of God. Rather God's word is his standard. When God says he's going to do something we can believe it and have trust in him. And when we align our lives to that standard, and put our trust in him he can transform our lives and perform miracles.

So, anyways, that's my two cents. I'm not sure if its 100% accurate or not, but it makes a lot of sense out of the passage for me.

Nowhere in Job does God indicate that Job's faith is rooted in fear. If Job's faith was shallow, it would confirm that Satan was right about Job having a fear-based/works-based spiritual outlook. In fact, we see just the opposite: God presents Job as perfect and upright.

The obvious question (re: basic spiritual applicability, which is what ultimately matters) is: Why does someone who is tender, upright, and perfect, like Job is described, require change? It'd be a strange reaction to not fear the creator who can inflict you with boils and kill your kids just to make this particularly small point. I don't see this explanation as a good one.

Adrift
12-05-2014, 08:15 AM
Nowhere in Job does God indicate that Job's faith is rooted in fear. If Job's faith was shallow, it would confirm that Satan was right about Job having a fear-based/works-based spiritual outlook. In fact, we see just the opposite: God presents Job as perfect and upright.

That's why, for the Christian, its important to discern the text in the light of the revelation that we get outside of the book. I don't expect an unbeliever to come to the same conclusions on the passage as I do. We come from different starting points.


The obvious question (re: basic spiritual applicability, which is what ultimately matters) is: Why does someone who is tender, upright, and perfect, like Job is described, require change? It'd be a strange reaction to not fear the creator who can inflict you with boils and kill your kids just to make this particularly small point. I don't see this explanation as a good one.

I might have missed it, but why do you feel the ancient author wrote the narrative? What do you think he was trying to express with this story?

whag
12-05-2014, 08:22 AM
That's why, for the Christian, its important to discern the text in the light of the revelation that we get outside of the book. I don't expect an unbeliever to come to the same conclusions on the passage as I do. We come from different starting points.

Fair enough. Are you saying you got a revelation outside of the book?




I might have missed it, but why do you feel the ancient author wrote the narrative? What do you think he was trying to express with this story?

You did miss it, but it's embedded in two threads so no worries. There is no one author. The BOJ has many authors in the sense that it's an evolved oral tradition, which scribes eventually wrote down. The oral tradition was intended to explain why bad things happen to good people--one of many facts of life that naturally troubled ancient human beings.

fm93
12-05-2014, 08:43 AM
Nowhere in Job does God indicate that Job's faith is rooted in fear. If Job's faith was shallow, it would confirm that Satan was right about Job having a fear-based/works-based spiritual outlook. In fact, we see just the opposite: God presents Job as perfect and upright.

The obvious question (re: basic spiritual applicability, which is what ultimately matters) is: Why does someone who is tender, upright, and perfect, like Job is described, require change? It'd be a strange reaction to not fear the creator who can inflict you with boils and kill your kids just to make this particularly small point. I don't see this explanation as a good one.
(this post is to say "good question" and also function as a test. Ignore this.)

Adrift
12-05-2014, 08:45 AM
Fair enough. Are you saying you got a revelation outside of the book?

Yes. I mentioned that in my post. "I don't think this is plainly stated in the book of Job, but I believe that's because much of the Old Testament was written in a Hebraic style that often places all blame for both good and bad on God. Its not till later in post-exile literature that we see a shift that more directly associates Satan with evil and tragedy (Philip Harland of York University goes into this in detail in his Religions of the Ancient Mediterranean podcast). I think from the Christian perspective we can say that this is progressive revelation."




You did miss it, but it's embedded in two threads so no worries. There is no one author. The BOJ has many authors in the sense that it's an evolved oral tradition, which scribes eventually wrote down. The oral tradition was intended to explain why bad things happen to good people--one of many facts of life that naturally troubled ancient human beings.

Yeah, multiple (usually two) authors is the view that a number of Old Testament scholars hold (especially Elihu’s speeches). Thank you.

whag
12-05-2014, 11:40 AM
Yes. I mentioned that in my post. "I don't think this is plainly stated in the book of Job, but I believe that's because much of the Old Testament was written in a Hebraic style that often places all blame for both good and bad on God. Its not till later in post-exile literature that we see a shift that more directly associates Satan with evil and tragedy (Philip Harland of York University goes into this in detail in his Religions of the Ancient Mediterranean podcast). I think from the Christian perspective we can say that this is progressive revelation."

So it's your belief from that progressive revelation that all natural evil (the only type of evil that's described in Job) is solely caused by Satan?



Yeah, multiple (usually two) authors is the view that a number of Old Testament scholars hold (especially Elihu’s speeches). Thank you.

I think you can also credit transmitters going all the way back to Sumer (and before) with composing the story, expanding the authorship to way more than two.

Adrift
12-05-2014, 12:04 PM
So it's your belief from that progressive revelation that all natural evil (the only type of evil that's described in Job) is solely caused by Satan?

I think that because Satan is revealed as the god of this world, natural evil can certainly be caused by him, but I'm not certain how you derived anything like that from my post which was only meant to address the theological nature of the narrative from the Christian perspective.


I think you can also credit transmitters going all the way back to Sumer (and before) with composing the story, expanding the authorship to way more than two.

Which books do you recommend on the connection between Sumerian mythology and the book of Job?

jordanriver
12-05-2014, 12:07 PM
So it's your belief from that progressive revelation that all natural evil (the only type of evil that's described in Job) is solely caused by Satan?




I think you can also credit transmitters going all the way back to Sumer (and before) with composing the story, expanding the authorship to way more than two.

i think thats twice now, you've hinted some sort of connection with the Sumerian sufferer's petition story and the Scriptures' Job.
They are not related, suffering is universal, and unrelated cultures can give accounts of suffering.

...even the Buddhism acknowledges in the 4 Noble Truths , life is suffering, dukkha, all existance is unsatisfactory and full of suffering.

whag
12-05-2014, 12:33 PM
i think thats twice now, you've hinted some sort of connection with the Sumerian sufferer's petition story and the Scriptures' Job.
They are not related, suffering is universal, and unrelated cultures can give accounts of suffering.

...even the Buddhism acknowledges in the 4 Noble Truths , life is suffering, dukkha, all existance is unsatisfactory and full of suffering.

I don't believe the 4 noble truths come as close to the babylonian poem Ludlul bel nimeqi in describing why good people suffer. The pre-Hebraic cultures are much more theistic, more closely reflecting the views contained in that geography. Which, of course, totally makes sense.

Are you saying the story originated in the Jewish culture?

whag
12-05-2014, 12:45 PM
I think that because Satan is revealed as the god of this world, natural evil can certainly be caused by him, but I'm not certain how you derived anything like that from my post which was only meant to address the theological nature of the narrative from the Christian perspective.

You weren't really clear. You didn't say that the progressive revelation showed that natural evil often has no conscious cause. You said that it slowly revealed that Satan, not God, causes it. There sometimes being no actor involved is just as significant than the shift from God/Satan to Satan being the sole culprit.




Which books do you recommend on the connection between Sumerian mythology and the book of Job?

I don't recommend a book. I learned about the Babylonian origins of some OT books in my ancient history courses way back in 95. The links between those cultural views and oral traditions make much more sense to me than the books being a divine revelation, for the reasons I already expressed in my responses to your interpretation.

Adrift
12-05-2014, 01:01 PM
You weren't really clear. You didn't say that the progressive revelation showed that natural evil often has no conscious cause. You said that it slowly revealed that Satan, not God, causes it. There sometimes being no actor involved is just as significant than the shift from God/Satan to Satan being the sole culprit.

I see. I think maybe you missed the focus of my 2 cent explanation, but that's okay.


I don't recommend a book. I learned about the Babylonian origins of some OT books in my ancient history courses way back in 95. The links between those cultural views and oral traditions make much more sense to me than the books being a divine revelation, for the reasons I already expressed in my responses to your interpretation.

Oh okay. Just stuff that you remember from your class then. By the way, I wouldn't expect you to believe in divine revelation since you're not a theist.

whag
12-05-2014, 01:19 PM
I see. I think maybe you missed the focus of my 2 cent explanation, but that's okay.

Fair enough. I'm still interested in how you think Satan can cause some instances of natural evil, though. How do you differentiate?




Oh okay. Just stuff that you remember from your class then.

Yes, a university education, and also articles I've read since then. Do you think the story originated in the Jewish culture with no Babylonian link?


By the way, I wouldn't expect you to believe in divine revelation since you're not a theist.

Even skeptics can be swayed to a degree by sensical explanations. CS Lewis presumably had an intermediate period. Like i said, the explanation you offered doesn't make sense to me for reasons I explained. Skepticism is often informed by thinking.

Adrift
12-05-2014, 01:37 PM
Fair enough. I'm still interested in how you think Satan can cause some instances of natural evil, though. How do you differentiate?

I'm not really interested in discussing the issue with you.


Yes, a university education, and also articles I've read since then. Do you think the story originated in the Jewish culture with no Babylonian link?

Yes, I think it probably originated in the Jewish culture, but I have no problem with an earlier source tradition.


Even skeptics can be swayed to a degree by sensical explanations. CS Lewis presumably had an intermediate period. Like i said, the explanation you offered doesn't make sense to me for reasons I explained. Skepticism is often informed by thinking.

I think it helps if the skeptic is open to being swayed. I'm not convinced you're open minded enough to make it worth the time.

jordanriver
12-05-2014, 01:51 PM
I don't believe the 4 noble truths come as close to the babylonian poem Ludlul bel nimeqi in describing why good people suffer. The pre-Hebraic cultures are much more theistic, more closely reflecting the views contained in that geography. Which, of course, totally makes sense.

Are you saying the story originated in the Jewish culture?

oh no, I believe Job predates the Hebrew-Jew Covenants accounts

But the Sumerian account is probably a thousand years before Job.

I have one of Samuel Kramer's books s and typed out the Sufferer's petition , (what Kramer put in his book)




HISTORY BEGINS AT SUMER Samuel Noah Kramer p115-118 1959 paperback SOURCE (http://www.amazon.com/History-Begins-Sumer-Samuel-Kramer/dp/B000JR90CI/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1417815999&sr=8-1&keywords=history+begins+at+sumer+kramer+1959+paper back)


Samuel Kramer writes:
"...It then became obvious that here was the first written essay on human suffering and submission, the theme made famous in world literature and religious thought by the Biblical Book of Job. The Sumerian poem in no way compares with the latter in breadth of scope, depth of understanding, and beauty of expression. Its major significance lies in the fact that it represents man's first recorded attempt to deal with the age-old yet very modern problem of human suffering. All the tablets and fragments on which our Sumerian essay is inscribed date back to more than a thousand years before the compilation of the Book of Job.

I am a man, a discerning one, yet who respects me prospers not,
My righteous word has been turned into a lie,
The man of deceit has covered me with the Southwind, I am forced to serve him,
Who respects me not has shamed me before you.


"You have doled out to me suffering ever anew,
I entered the house, heavy is the spirit,
I, the man, went out to the streets, oppressed is the heart,
With me, the valiant, my righteous shepherd has become angry, has looked upon me inimically.

"My herdsman as sought out evil forces against me who am not his enemy,
My companion says not a true word to me,
My friend gives the lie to my righteous word,
The man of deceit has conspired against me,

And you, my god, do not thwart him . . .

"I, the wise, why am I bound to the ignorant youths?
I, the discerning, why am I counted among the ignorant?
Food is all about, yet my food is hunger,
On the day shares were allotted to all, my allotted share
was suffering.

"My god, (I would stand) before you,
Would speak to you, . . ., my word is a groan,
I would tell you about it, would bemoan the bitterness of
my path,


(Would bewail) the confusion of . . . .

"Lo, let not my mother who bore me cease my lament before you.
Let not my sister utter the happy song and chant.
Let her utter tearfully my misfortunes before you,
Let my wife voice mournfully my suffering,
Let the expert singer bemoan my bitter fate.


"My god, the day shines bright over the land, for me the day is black.
The bright day, the good day has . . like the . .
Tears, lament, anguish, and depression are lodged within my,
Suffering overwhelms me like the chosen for nothing but tears,

Evil fate holds me in its hand, carries off my breath of life,
Malignant sickness bathes my body . . . .

"My god, you are my father who begot me, lift up my face,
Like an innocent cow, in pity . . . the groan,
How long will you neglect me, leave me unprotected?
Like an ox, . . . .,,
How long will you leave me unguided?


"They say -- valient sages -- a word righteous and straight-forward:
'Never has a sinless child been born to its mother,
. . . . a sinless youth has not existed from of old,'"


So much for man's prayer and supplication. The "happy ending" reads as follows:

"The man -- his god harkened to his bitter tears and weeping,
The young man -- his lamentation and wailing soothed the heart of his god.
The righteous words, the pure words uttered by him, his god accepted.
The words which the man prayerfully confessed,
Pleased the . . . ., the flesh of his god, and his god withdrew his hand from the evil word,
. . . which oppresses the heart, . . . . he embraces,
The encompassing sickness-demon, which has spread wide its wings, he swept away.

The (disease) which has smitten him like a . . . ., he dissipated,
The evil fate which had been decreed for him in accordance
with his sentence, he turned aside,
He turned the man's suffering into joy,
Set by him the kindly genii as a watch and guardian,
Gave him . . angels with gracious mien,"

jordanriver
12-05-2014, 02:36 PM
:teeth:

however, these guys might have been inspired by the Sumerian Sufferer's petition

gloom (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZAAKPJEq1Ew)

whag
12-05-2014, 04:31 PM
I think it helps if the skeptic is open to being swayed.

Not buying the wonky interpretation of Job you presented isn't tantamount to close-mindedness. It's called thought.


I'm not convinced you're open minded enough to make it worth the time.

That's original.

whag
12-05-2014, 05:02 PM
oh no, I believe Job predates the Hebrew-Jew Covenants accounts

But the Sumerian account is probably a thousand years before Job.



That the Sumerian account antedates Job by a 1,000 years and is the first recorded attempt to answer why bad things happen to good people doesn't disprove its influence on the BOJ. The theme of the stories--bad things happening to good people, which perplexed ancient people who had a karmic mindset--and geography of the ANE and lineage of the Jews suggests the link is sensical.

I concede there's no strong proof of it being a direct antecedent, however, I believe that the geography and similar cultural beliefs of the ANE better explain the BOJ than a specific account based in reality (i.e., Satan and God interacting to bring about the events described in the BOJ).

In fairness, Adrift's concession that the BOJ explains the origin of natural evil prematurely and hence inaccurately is enough for me. My only motive is to show the BOJ's mythic origin and evolution, so that Christians stop interpreting it as literal. Faith shouldn't require burdensome belief. The interaction between Satan and God is too weird to feel obligated to believe.

whag
12-05-2014, 05:04 PM
:teeth:

however, these guys might have been inspired by the Sumerian Sufferer's petition

gloom (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZAAKPJEq1Ew)

I'd wager this is from an episode of Hee Haw?

jordanriver
12-05-2014, 06:20 PM
I'd wager this is from an episode of Hee Haw?yup

as I was reading the Sumerian text, that old song just occurred to me

...from a period of life before complications

jordanriver
12-05-2014, 06:24 PM
That the Sumerian account antedates Job by a 1,000 years and is the first recorded attempt to answer why bad things happen to good people doesn't disprove its influence on the BOJ. The theme of the stories--bad things happening to good people, which perplexed ancient people who had a karmic mindset--and geography of the ANE and lineage of the Jews suggests the link is sensical.

I concede there's no strong proof of it being a direct antecedent, however, I believe that geography and similar cultural beliefs better explain the BOJ than a specific account based in reality (i.e., Satan and God interacting to bring about the events described in the BOJ).

In fairness, Adrift's concession that BOJ explains the origin of natural evil prematurely and hence inaccurately is enough for me. My only motive is to show the BOJ's mythic origin and evolution, so that Christians stop interpreting it as literal. Faith shouldn't require burdensome belief. The interaction between Satan and God is too weird to feel obligated to believe.
yeah but
(seems like there's always a "yeah but")

there is so much suffering, probably more accounts than anybody has time to consider them all,
...the Buddhists are right, life is suffering

...WHY,, why would one have to make up an account.

whag
12-05-2014, 06:38 PM
yeah but
(seems like there's always a "yeah but")

there is so much suffering, probably more accounts than anybody has time to consider them all,
...the Buddhists are right, life is suffering

...WHY,, why would one have to make up an account.

I don't think it's as simple as someone "making up an account." I think human beings are fascinating creatures who've learned to collectively cope in extraordinary ways. If imagining supernatural characters operating behind the scenes to explain why good people experience suffering, I'm not surprised nor do I blame them or judge them.

It's just another chapter in the story of life that reflects the psychological strength of humanity, no different, in essence, than the theologies of isolated tribes in Papua New Guinea or the Clovis people.

Adrift
12-05-2014, 09:20 PM
Not buying the wonky interpretation of Job you presented isn't tantamount to close-mindedness. It's called thought.

I didn't ask you to buy the interpretation of Job I espoused. You're the one who replied to me, not the other way around.


That's original.

Must have heard it from someone else then, eh?

Adrift
12-05-2014, 09:22 PM
In fairness, Adrift's concession that the BOJ explains the origin of natural evil prematurely and hence inaccurately is enough for me.

You've filled a narrative in your own head if you image that I've made any such concession.

Strawman
12-05-2014, 09:34 PM
Enjolras, thanks for the honesty here. Check your PM's not long after I send this reply.


Whag: It's irrelevant that skeptics think Egyptian deities or, more recently, Islamic Allah, "showcase" brutal acts and personalities. They don't believe they're real, and that's what you're not getting.

How in the world can I not get that a skeptic doesn't believe these sorts of things are real? I look at that as common sense. You're calling upon mental gymnastics to escape a simple mistake you made. You typed,


The skeptics you've come across are amateurs if they say the purpose of ANY biblical book is to proclaim God "evil."

Obviously, I had in mind a skeptic's disbelief when I responded with "You were saying the same thing in a different thread. Obviously, many academic skeptical atheists believe many Old Testament accounts; particularly Job, showcases a malevolent God". This has nothing to do with any God's existence; rather, it regards an attribute.

(1) You painted a strawman by saying that I suggested your above quote, which I most definitely did not. I've checked repeatedly. I would like to respectfully warn you about presenting a strawman assessment towards a guy named "strawman". I will catch it immediately and call it out.
(2) The fact that they don't accept the Christian God's existence is irrelevant to my challenge towards skeptic's who see God as malevolent due to Job's afflictions. Luke Muehlhauser, Eddie Tabash, Skeptic's Dictionary, pretty much the entire wolfpack at infidels.org engages in reductio ad absurdum regarding Job.


I told you how mature skeptics interpret these religious stories, which shouldn't be a problem to you.

Can you give a grounds for your charge of waffling as I gave a ground for your demonstrable errors here?

Rather than admit your mistake, you just ignore it. It's an irrelevant mistake that hurt me none at all. And what in the world is the criteria for determining a "mature skeptic"?

whag
12-06-2014, 01:52 AM
You've filled a narrative in your own head if you image that I've made any such concession.

You're right. I apologize for inaccurately describing it as a concession.

The BOJ attributed affliction to God and Satan and the subsequent progressive revelation attributed it mostly to Satan and chance.

whag
12-06-2014, 07:40 AM
I didn't ask you to buy the interpretation of Job I espoused. You're the one who replied to me, not the other way around.

I pointed out the problems inherent in that interpretation, which, in fairness, you admitted was just your 2 cents.


Must have heard it from someone else then, eh?

Yes, it's boilerplate stupidity, like using the expression "duck, bob, and weave." You have plenty of time as evidenced by your engagement of the topic.

whag
12-06-2014, 08:46 AM
Strawman, thanks for your PM. I understand better why you want to engage now that you specified it was a class assignment.


Enjolras, thanks for the honesty here. Check your PM's not long after I send this reply.

(2) The fact that they don't accept the Christian God's existence is irrelevant to my challenge towards skeptic's who see God as malevolent due to Job's afflictions. Luke Muehlhauser, Eddie Tabash, Skeptic's Dictionary, pretty much the entire wolfpack at infidels.org engages in reductio ad absurdum regarding Job.

I'm not part of that pack.


Can you give a grounds for your charge of waffling as I gave a ground for your demonstrable errors here?

I believe the assignment itself assumes the BOJ isn't what it actually is: a collection of disparate views coming together over a thousand years, starting in Babylon. Moreover, the assignment seeks to target fish in a barrel--immature skeptics. That won't end well for you and your opponent because it's a boring and lame premise.

I rescind my charge you're waffling. It's your teacher's fault for framing the assignment the way she did.


Rather than admit your mistake, you just ignore it.

What mistake was that? Let's circle back:


You were saying the same thing in a different thread. Obviously, many academic skeptical atheists believe many Old Testament accounts; particularly Job, showcases a malevolent God. However, this says nothing as far as commenting on the author's purpose. That is totally irrelevant. Most atheists would just suggest that the authors are blindly presenting the truth. Either way, what the author believes is irrelevant, if we're talking about how skeptic's interpret the information within each account.

Bold mine. There is no one author of Job--a fact that's lost on you and your professor and is entirely relevant to the fact that I cannot determine the conflicting "attributes" of a character composed over centuries by many oral transmitters and stitched together by multiple scribes. Hence, strawman. Your teacher merely inverted the reductio ad absurdem of the wolfpack.


It's an irrelevant mistake that hurt me none at all.

"How skeptic's interpret the information" in Job is not how I interpret the information. I'm not one of those "skeptic's."

I wasn't trying to hurt you, and I hope you don't want to hurt me.


And what in the world is the criteria for determining a "mature skeptic"?

You can start by not thinking the wolfpack at infidels.org represent all skeptics. This is a common schism at Tweb--the assumption that all new atheists represent all skeptics and the assumption that the 22% of US fundie Christians represent the views of all worldwide Christians. Please don't err in that direction, cuz you'll get flamed every time.

Strawman
12-19-2014, 09:35 PM
Whag,

You're a very argumentative guy who is obviously looking for an argument. If none of this regards you... why are you typing here?


Strawman, thanks for your PM. I understand better why you want to engage now that you specified it was a class assignment.



I'm not part of that pack.

Never said you were.


the assignment seeks to target fish in a barrel--immature skeptics. That won't end well for you and your opponent because it's a boring and lame premise.

Again, you're yet to define "immature skeptics". Also, give me a rational criteria which discerns between "immature skeptics" and "mature skeptics".

Explain how you are more of a "mature skeptic" than the late, great JL Mackie. He engaged in the same logic which is present in the typical "Job argument" against a benevolent God. And how are you more of a "mature skeptic" than Kyle Gerkin, Gariy Sloan, Luke Muehlhauser, Paul Doland, and on and on.


"How skeptic's interpret the information" in Job is not how I interpret the information. I'm not one of those "skeptic's."

Thanks for repeatedly sharing that.


You can start by not thinking the wolfpack at infidels.org represent all skeptics.

Again, I never said that either.

You're only embarassing yourself here. I'm very glad you do not conclude that God is malevolent based on Job's afflictions that he allowed.


It's your teacher's fault for framing the assignment the way she did.

Another charge with no grounds. I'm guessing this is a common practice for you?


There is no one author of Job--a fact that's lost on you and your professor and is entirely relevant to the fact that I cannot determine the conflicting "attributes" of a character composed over centuries by many oral transmitters and stitched together by multiple scribes

My bold that you gave answers this. The author(s) belief remains irrelevant. Skeptics and Christians believe we can determine the attributes of God within the account; hence why the debate continues to this day. If you believe you cannot, then why are you posting here?

jordanriver
12-20-2014, 12:35 AM
Whag,

You're a very argumentative guy who is obviously looking for an argument. If none of this regards you... why are you typing here?
whooa brother
don't go there.

this is where atheists/agnostics and theists are supposed to come together to spar.

Enjolras
12-20-2014, 07:17 AM
Enjolras, thanks for the honesty here. Check your PM's not long after I send this reply.

Why don't you just respond to what I wrote in post #13 right here, in this thread? I'd be happy to engage with you on the topic.

Strawman
01-05-2015, 11:24 PM
whooa brother
don't go there.

this is where atheists/agnostics and theists are supposed to come together to spar.

I'm all for people looking for respectful and intellectual dialogue, but someone looking for an argument is a million miles away.

Strawman
01-05-2015, 11:46 PM
Hi Strawman, welcome to the forum!

If I was going to try to show the malevolence of YHWH I wouldn't think to go to Job first, but since you bring it up I'm curious as to what you have to say. I don't know that the text shows God to be malevolent, as much as an uncaring bully. He brings the topic of Job up to Satan, almost daring him to attack him. Then he allows all this cruelty. Afterwards he scolds Job for daring to question his justice. Apparently, you have to be God in order to question his goodness, which makes no sense to me. One of the weirdest things about the book is at the end where God is said to bless Job's life more than at the first by giving him more children. If God killed my children and then gave different children to replace them, I wouldn't exactly say that made up for it. I'd be pretty upset about the first ones, but apparently the author of Job thought that made it all better.

Those are just a few observations; not exactly an argument. How do you take it?

Your problem seems to arise at 1:12 where God tells Satan, "you may test him [Job]". A question such as Why does God allow this? values an answer.

I'd like to start by looking at Job's character. While Job was good according to man’s standards (Job 1:1; 1:8; 1:4-5), in God’s sight there is no innocent person. If any man says that he is good according to God’s standards, then it is a demonstrably incorrect claim which is insulting to God’s perfect moral standards.

1. In Mark 10:18 Jesus declares that “No one is good except God alone”
2. In 9:2 Job admits “I know that this is true. But how can mere mortals prove their innocence before God”
3. Job admits in 9:20, “Even if I were innocent, my mouth would condemn me; if I were blameless, it would pronounce me guilty”

When placing Job alongside God’s moral standards, his sins are many. As I mentioned above, though Job admits this in some places, he slips back into judging himself according to man’s standards repeatedly.

1. Job claims he is pure [23:10]
2. Job claims he is without sin [13:23]
3. Job claims that he is innocent [13:18]
4. Job claims that he is without guilt [6:29]
5. Job claims that God is malevolent [30:21; 19:22; 16:9]

Pride is among the hardest of sins to cleanse and it encapsulated Job. It hardens the heart and causes one to think unreasonably, which leads to more of an emotional outburst towards God rather than a logical inquiry; hence, Job's emotional outbursts. Further, given a hardened heart, it is impossible to trust in God no matter what. This is verified by way of Job's judgments against God. Until Elihu and God spoke to Job, he never let up with his charges against God. In fact, despite Job’s wisdom of God, his charges worsened in degree.

Is it possible for at least some of Job's afflictions to have come about as a means for God to teach Job the lessons he obviously needed taught? I think so. I personally am reminded of this possibility each time I took one of my younger kids to get their shots updated at around the age of two. I had to physically restrain each one while needles were plunged deep into their skin; all the while having to cope with their tearful, perplexing gaze into my eyes as, like Job, they shouted and writhed about in denial. I felt horrible, but my act was for a good purpose (their health and safety) but they lacked the capacity to understand what I was doing and why. Despite their lack of understanding, the seemingly unnecessary afflictions had to go on.

Further, all I need from a logical point of view is just the possibility of the above paragraph being true. Given this, then it follows that at least some, if not all, of our afflictions that God allows can not be properly understood by us since we lack the capacity to understand an omnibenevolent, omniscient, and omnipotent God. We are but finite beings with very limited cognitive abilities. This immediately qualifies Job’s afflictions. The amazing conclusion from this is that we should be thankful for our afflictions and show God gratitude for His acts of mercy, despite our natural inclination to kick and scream against them.

The Pixie
01-06-2015, 01:14 AM
Your problem seems to arise at 1:12 where God tells Satan, "you may test him [Job]". A question such as Why does God allow this? values an answer.
God was testing Job, and had assigned an angel to be an adversary - or satan - to do that work. In the middle of the OT, the satan was just a role assigned to an angel. A great example is seen here:

Numbers 22:22 And God's anger was kindled because he went: and the angel of the LORD stood in the way for an adversary against him. Now he was riding upon his ass, and his two servants were with him.

The word adversary here is satan in Hebrew (http://biblehub.com/text/numbers/22-22.htm). The translators have chosen to use the English word "adversary" here, but used "Satan" in Job, even though in Hebrew it is the same word. Here we see satan acting for God. It was just a role God assigned to an angel.

Enjolras
01-06-2015, 07:56 AM
Your problem seems to arise at 1:12 where God tells Satan, "you may test him [Job]". A question such as Why does God allow this? values an answer.

I'd like to start by looking at Job's character. While Job was good according to man’s standards (Job 1:1; 1:8; 1:4-5), in God’s sight there is no innocent person. If any man says that he is good according to God’s standards, then it is a demonstrably incorrect claim which is insulting to God’s perfect moral standards.

These passages do not, as you assert, qualify Job's goodness, by saying he was only good according to man's (implicitly inadequate) standards. 1:8 has God himself declaring him to be blameless. God, using whatever standard God uses, declares Job to be upright. This is repeated again in 1:22: "Job did not sin nor did he blame God." It is not the case that a man is declaring himself to be good. The divinely inspired author says Job is good and puts this assessment on the lips of God himself.


1. In Mark 10:18 Jesus declares that “No one is good except God alone”
2. In 9:2 Job admits “I know that this is true. But how can mere mortals prove their innocence before God”
3. Job admits in 9:20, “Even if I were innocent, my mouth would condemn me; if I were blameless, it would pronounce me guilty”



When placing Job alongside God’s moral standards, his sins are many. As I mentioned above, though Job admits this in some places, he slips back into judging himself according to man’s standards repeatedly.

1. Job claims he is pure [23:10]
2. Job claims he is without sin [13:23]
3. Job claims that he is innocent [13:18]
4. Job claims that he is without guilt [6:29]
5. Job claims that God is malevolent [30:21; 19:22; 16:9]

Pride is among the hardest of sins to cleanse and it encapsulated Job. It hardens the heart and causes one to think unreasonably, which leads to more of an emotional outburst towards God rather than a logical inquiry; hence, Job's emotional outbursts. Further, given a hardened heart, it is impossible to trust in God no matter what. This is verified by way of Job's judgments against God. Until Elihu and God spoke to Job, he never let up with his charges against God. In fact, despite Job’s wisdom of God, his charges worsened in degree.

God himself declared Job blameless, but other passages indicate this may not be the case. Obviously the author of Job knew nothing of Jesus' opinions or the book of Mark. I think you will need to reconcile these inconsistencies. Even so, anyone subjected to such torture would justifiably lash out. God unleashes terrible torment upon Job, and Job responds with anger and indignation. Who wouldn't? If someone punches you in the face repeatedly you probably wouldn't appreciate it after awhile, no matter how committed to love and peace you are.


Is it possible for at least some of Job's afflictions to have come about as a means for God to teach Job the lessons he obviously needed taught? I think so. I personally am reminded of this possibility each time I took one of my younger kids to get their shots updated at around the age of two. I had to physically restrain each one while needles were plunged deep into their skin; all the while having to cope with their tearful, perplexing gaze into my eyes as, like Job, they shouted and writhed about in denial. I felt horrible, but my act was for a good purpose (their health and safety) but they lacked the capacity to understand what I was doing and why. Despite their lack of understanding, the seemingly unnecessary afflictions had to go on.

Let's see... comparing vaccinations to destroying everything a man has and killing everyone he loves. That seems a bit of a stretch. Would you take all of your kid's toys and pets and burn them in the front yard to teach them a lesson about humility? Would you lock them out of the house and throw acid on their naked bodies so you could determine if they really loved you with all of their heart? If they started crying and blaming you for hurting them, would you then yell at them and try to humiliate them by demonstrating how powerful and smart you are? If you did those things, what would be the natural conclusion of your neighbors? That you are a good dad teaching your kids a valuable lesson?


Further, all I need from a logical point of view is just the possibility of the above paragraph being true. Given this, then it follows that at least some, if not all, of our afflictions that God allows can not be properly understood by us since we lack the capacity to understand an omnibenevolent, omniscient, and omnipotent God. We are but finite beings with very limited cognitive abilities. This immediately qualifies Job’s afflictions. The amazing conclusion from this is that we should be thankful for our afflictions and show God gratitude for His acts of mercy, despite our natural inclination to kick and scream against them.

Imagine, if you can, that this story was not found in the Bible, but in the Koran, and everywhere the word "God" is used is instead replaced by the word "Allah." Would you come away after reading this story that Allah was a perfectly good and wise being whose actions could not be judged by finite beings with limited cognitive abilities?

Strawman
01-07-2015, 01:09 AM
Hey, Enjolras. Thanks for the respectful response.


1:8 has God himself declaring him to be blameless. God, using whatever standard God uses, declares Job to be upright. This is repeated again in 1:22: "Job did not sin nor did he blame God." The divinely inspired author says Job is good and puts this assessment on the lips of God himself

It's worth noting that I gave 1:8 to ground Job's character. It's my contention that God is describing Job being good according to man's standards. I'll give a couple of reasons to ground that conclusion.

1. Obviously, if God exists, then there is a number of distinctions to be made between man's moral standard and God's. These distinctions necessarily follow, given the existence of God. So, not only does it make perfect sense for God to be describing Job according to man's standards, but it also explains Job's own admissions in 9:2 and 9:20 (read them in context) that he is not innocent according to God's standards.

2. A contextual analysis across the Bible, as I've shown in Mark 10:18, Job 9:2, and Job 9:20 provides us with examples showing that the necessary distinction is noted across the Bible. There are much more examples than those.


It is not the case that a man is declaring himself to be good

Remember, I gave 5 claims from Job proving that he does declare himself to be good. I also gave examples where he contradicts himself by way of his emotional outbursts. This all points towards more than just a minor problem with pride that Job needed cleansed of. Job was encapsulated by pride.


Obviously the author of Job knew nothing of Jesus' opinions or the book of Mark

That's irrelevant to the fact that there are examples all throughout the Bible which discern between God's standards and man's standards. Given that the distinction exists, then it necessarily follows that Job could not have been good according to God's standards. I mean, we're talking about the ontological foundation for goodness. We all are not innocent when compared to that objectively true standard.


Even so, anyone subjected to such torture would justifiably lash out. God unleashes terrible torment upon Job, and Job responds with anger and indignation. Who wouldn't?

Whether they would lash out or not doesn't really matter. What matters is that God may have a reason for those afflictions and those reasons may be temporarily or permanently incomprehensible to us due to cognitive limitations. We are like the 2 year old being taken to get shots. From the 2 year old's point of view, the act is just pure evil and involves seemingly gratuitous suffering by way of needles being plunged into his skin while those who supposedly love him are physically restraining him. But, those afflictions are necessary in order to bring about a good affect.

I won't dare try to act as if I'm omniscient and so can explain all of God's afflictions. All I need is the above possibility to be true in order to rationally ground God's omnibenevolence. Given that God exists, it necessarily follows that a good lot of His decisions and actions will be perplexing to us. When compared to such a God, we are much worse off than the 2 year old in the analogy above.


comparing vaccinations to destroying everything a man has and killing everyone he loves. That seems a bit of a stretch.

You're taking the analogy too far, it seems. I'm only using the analogy to further describe that which is necessarily true given God's existence.


Imagine, if you can, that this story was not found in the Bible, but in the Koran, and everywhere the word "God" is used is instead replaced by the word "Allah." Would you come away after reading this story that Allah was a perfectly good and wise being whose actions could not be judged by finite beings with limited cognitive abilities?

In all honesty, if Allah exists, I'd be unable to view this story as proving that Allah is not benevolent. Due to the fact that Allah is above and beyond us, there does exist the possibility that Allah may have reasons for afflictions which we are unable to immediately comprehend.

I'd like to end my reply with a question. What is the ontological foundation (outside of mere subjectivity) which pushes your moral judgements against God out of the realm of subjective opinion and into the realm of objective truth? That is, what grounds your moral judgement or statement against God's benevolence

Enjolras
01-08-2015, 09:10 AM
Hey, Enjolras. Thanks for the respectful response.



It's worth noting that I gave 1:8 to ground Job's character. It's my contention that God is describing Job being good according to man's standards. I'll give a couple of reasons to ground that conclusion.

1. Obviously, if God exists, then there is a number of distinctions to be made between man's moral standard and God's. These distinctions necessarily follow, given the existence of God. So, not only does it make perfect sense for God to be describing Job according to man's standards, but it also explains Job's own admissions in 9:2 and 9:20 (read them in context) that he is not innocent according to God's standards.

2. A contextual analysis across the Bible, as I've shown in Mark 10:18, Job 9:2, and Job 9:20 provides us with examples showing that the necessary distinction is noted across the Bible. There are much more examples than those.



Remember, I gave 5 claims from Job proving that he does declare himself to be good. I also gave examples where he contradicts himself by way of his emotional outbursts. This all points towards more than just a minor problem with pride that Job needed cleansed of. Job was encapsulated by pride.

The problem with your position, as I see it, is that the text in chapter 1 repeatedly makes the case that Job is blameless, without qualification. There is no indication that Job is blameless only ‘in the eyes of men,’ but not God. If that is what the text meant, why doesn’t it say so? Why doesn’t it say “Job was righteous in the eyes of all men,” or something like that? If the author wanted us to see Job as a prideful, stubborn sinner he could not have been more misleading.

So what to make of other passages in the Bible that indicate another position? I see a few options:


There are differing views within Scripture. I don’t assume every passage must agree with every other passage, whether within the canon, or even in the same book. So the author of Ch. 1 had a different view that the author of Ch. 9 (obviously this would only be the case if there were multiple authors/ redactors).
Job may have had a different opinion of himself than God had of him.
Job may have been blameless in Ch. 1, but as a result of his torment slipped into sin later, as expressed in Ch. 9. This does not seem unlikely to me. Let’s say you start the day off in a great mood and are kind to everyone you see. Then someone cuts you off in traffic on the way to work and causes you to drive into a telephone pole. Now your car in ruined and you are late for an important meeting, which causes you to miss out on an important sale. Your mood is now naturally sour, and the rest of the day you are rude and short to everyone you encounter. Job's circumstances were much worse than that, or course, so you would expect him to be more liable to sin when calamity befell him.



That's irrelevant to the fact that there are examples all throughout the Bible which discern between God's standards and man's standards. Given that the distinction exists, then it necessarily follows that Job could not have been good according to God's standards. I mean, we're talking about the ontological foundation for goodness. We all are not innocent when compared to that objectively true standard.

Except that the actual words in the text disagree with your theological conclusion. It seems to me that your theological framework is preventing you from seeing what the text plainly says.


Whether they would lash out or not doesn't really matter. What matters is that God may have a reason for those afflictions and those reasons may be temporarily or permanently incomprehensible to us due to cognitive limitations. We are like the 2 year old being taken to get shots. From the 2 year old's point of view, the act is just pure evil and involves seemingly gratuitous suffering by way of needles being plunged into his skin while those who supposedly love him are physically restraining him. But, those afflictions are necessary in order to bring about a good affect.

I won't dare try to act as if I'm omniscient and so can explain all of God's afflictions. All I need is the above possibility to be true in order to rationally ground God's omnibenevolence. Given that God exists, it necessarily follows that a good lot of His decisions and actions will be perplexing to us. When compared to such a God, we are much worse off than the 2 year old in the analogy above.

It may indeed be that God has reasons for tormenting that are unknown to us. But you are claiming that the reason here is that Job was a stubborn, prideful sinner. The text itself says otherwise: It makes it clear that God was playing a game with Satan to prove a point.


You're taking the analogy too far, it seems. I'm only using the analogy to further describe that which is necessarily true given God's existence.

I'm taking the analogy further to more closely align to the story we find in Job.


In all honesty, if Allah exists, I'd be unable to view this story as proving that Allah is not benevolent. Due to the fact that Allah is above and beyond us, there does exist the possibility that Allah may have reasons for afflictions which we are unable to immediately comprehend.

As such, it would be impossible for you to make the case that God did not order destruction of the the Twin Towers on 9/11, or even the recent attack on Charlie Hebdo. There may be reasons that you are not aware of.


I'd like to end my reply with a question. What is the ontological foundation (outside of mere subjectivity) which pushes your moral judgments against God out of the realm of subjective opinion and into the realm of objective truth? That is, what grounds your moral judgement or statement against God's benevolence

I just had a long, complicated discussion on this topic with seer recently in the "Is God Immoral?" thread. The standard by which I assess the morality of an action is to ask whether or not it "promotes the well-being" of humans.

Strawman
01-12-2015, 06:20 PM
The problem with your position, as I see it, is that the text in chapter 1 repeatedly makes the case that Job is blameless, without qualification. There is no indication that Job is blameless only ‘in the eyes of men,’ but not God

We've got two choices here: Job is either blameless according to God's standards or he is blameless according to man's standards. I'm suggesting that Job is blameless only in the eyes of men as a matter of necessity. Given that God exists, then it logically follows that no man can possibly be as morally perfect as the ontological foundation for moral values. Suggesting so is just self-defeating. Further, Job, himself, recognizes that he pales in comparison to God by way of Job 9:2 and 9:20.


Why doesn’t it say “Job was righteous in the eyes of all men

As explained above, it's a matter of something be intuitively obviously true, as Job recognized in 9:2 and 9:20. No man is morally perfect for only God is; therefore, Job was not.


Except that the actual words in the text disagree with your theological conclusion. It seems to me that your theological framework is preventing you from seeing what the text plainly says.

Hermeneutically speaking, this isn't a complex interpretation at all. Given your logic, [if] (for the sake of my point) the text said nothing at all about Job being omnipotent should we conclude that therefore Job is omnipotent. Surely, not. Hermeneutically speaking, we can conclude that Job was not omnipotent by way of it being intuitively obvious that Job was not.


It makes it clear that God was playing a game with Satan to prove a point.

Nowhere do you provide any scriptural support for this. All I need is just the possibility that God could have had a beneficial reason for the trial. Given God's omniscience, the possibility of Him having a reason that Job could never comprehend due to cognitive limitations seems to necessarily follow.


It may indeed be that God has reasons for tormenting that are unknown to us. But you are claiming that the reason here is that Job was a stubborn, prideful sinner

I'm defending that above, however I most definitely do not need to state the reason. All I need is to point out our and Job's cognitive limitations when compared to God's omniscience.


As such, it would be impossible for you to make the case that God did not order destruction of the the Twin Towers on 9/11, or even the recent attack on Charlie Hebdo. There may be reasons that you are not aware of.

Is there a point to this? It appears to be a red herring, since I can easily grant your rhetorical point and note that the original subject or point remains completely unscathed. And You're dancing awfully close to a moral judgement, which immediately puts yourself into the realm of moral ontology. Most non-theists stay away from there for a reason. You bravely enter it with:


The standard by which I assess the morality of an action is to ask whether or not it "promotes the well-being" of humans

Well, that's just your subjective opinion as a foundation, which keeps your moral judgement in the subjective realm. Also, you cannot confuse someone's physical well-being with someone's [moral] well-being. Just because someone is being [physically] hurt does not mean that therefore they are being morally hurt. What you need is something other than merely your opinion as a foundation.

While you're throwing Sam Harris' "Moral Landscape" at me, you're going to have to answer to the same criticism many share regarding it. That is, and without arguing in a circle, [why] should we define good as "that which supports someone's well-being"? What if I wanted to define good in another way?

In Craig's response to Harris, he explains that "At the end of the day Harris is not really talking about moral values. He is just talking about what's conducive to the flourishing of sentient life on this planet. Seen in this light, his claim that science can tell us a great deal about what contributes to human flourishing is hardly controversial. Of course, it can — just as it can tell us what is conducive to the flourishing of corn or mosquitoes or bacteria. His so-called "moral landscape" picturing the highs and lows of human flourishing is not really a moral landscape at all." (Navigating Sam Harris' Moral Landscape)

Enjolras
01-12-2015, 08:04 PM
We've got two choices here: Job is either blameless according to God's standards or he is blameless according to man's standards. I'm suggesting that Job is blameless only in the eyes of men as a matter of necessity. Given that God exists, then it logically follows that no man can possibly be as morally perfect as the ontological foundation for moral values. Suggesting so is just self-defeating. Further, Job, himself, recognizes that he pales in comparison to God by way of Job 9:2 and 9:20.

As explained above, it's a matter of something be intuitively obviously true, as Job recognized in 9:2 and 9:20. No man is morally perfect for only God is; therefore, Job was not.

Well, in Job God himself said Job was blameless, and the author of the book further states explicitly that Job did not sin through his trials. These are not words put on the lips of mere, fallible men. Therefore it seems your argument is with God and the author of Job, not me. I'm not committed to finding perfect theological consistency throughout this book, nor throughout the canon.


Hermeneutically speaking, this isn't a complex interpretation at all. Given your logic, [if] (for the sake of my point) the text said nothing at all about Job being omnipotent should we conclude that therefore Job is omnipotent. Surely, not. Hermeneutically speaking, we can conclude that Job was not omnipotent by way of it being intuitively obvious that Job was not.

But the text does state Job was blameless, so your reasoning doesn't really fit here. Since you are committed to an inerrant and consistent text and canon you must find a way for it all to make sense. I think it's best to read what it actually says, rather than what fits my theological preconceptions.

Nevertheless, Job being blameless is not necessary for my case to be made. He doesn't even need to be a moral paragon in comparison to his peers. A decent chap is all that is needed to show God is an unjust bully.


Nowhere do you provide any scriptural support for this. All I need is just the possibility that God could have had a beneficial reason for the trial. Given God's omniscience, the possibility of Him having a reason that Job could never comprehend due to cognitive limitations seems to necessarily follow.

I'm defending that above, however I most definitely do not need to state the reason. All I need is to point out our and Job's cognitive limitations when compared to God's omniscience.


Sure, God could have a reason unknown to us or Job. One could always make that case. If this is the heart and substance of your argument, we really don't have a disagreement here. My point is that based upon the information we do have, God looks unjust. If you want to posit some unknown not found in the text to make your case, that's fine. I could also posit some evil motive not found in the text. Where does that get us?


Is there a point to this? It appears to be a red herring, since I can easily grant your rhetorical point and note that the original subject or point remains completely unscathed.

Yes, the point is that your argument could be used to justify any behavior said to be of a divine origin. That's why I find it so uncompelling.



And You're dancing awfully close to a moral judgement, which immediately puts yourself into the realm of moral ontology. Most non-theists stay away from there for a reason. You bravely enter it with:

Lots of nontheists make moral judgments...not sure why you find this so remarkable.




Well, that's just your subjective opinion as a foundation, which keeps your moral judgement in the subjective realm.

Your opinion that God's will is good and should be obeyed is every bit as subjective as mine.


Also, you cannot confuse someone's physical well-being with someone's [moral] well-being. Just because someone is being [physically] hurt does not mean that therefore they are being morally hurt.

Agreed.


What you need is something other than merely your opinion as a foundation.

My opinion is not the foundation; that would make for a subjective morality. "Well being" is the foundation, which is objective.


While you're throwing Sam Harris' "Moral Landscape" at me, you're going to have to answer to the same criticism many share regarding it. That is, and without arguing in a circle, [why] should we define good as "that which supports someone's well-being"? What if I wanted to define good in another way?

You do define good in another way: for you, God's will is good. (I assume that is your position; please correct me if I've misstated it.) I'll throw the same question back to you: without arguing in a circle, why should we define good as "God's will"?


In Craig's response to Harris, he explains that "At the end of the day Harris is not really talking about moral values. He is just talking about what's conducive to the flourishing of sentient life on this planet. Seen in this light, his claim that science can tell us a great deal about what contributes to human flourishing is hardly controversial. Of course, it can — just as it can tell us what is conducive to the flourishing of corn or mosquitoes or bacteria. His so-called "moral landscape" picturing the highs and lows of human flourishing is not really a moral landscape at all." (Navigating Sam Harris' Moral Landscape)

I can turn the same argument back at you: at the end of the day, all you are talking about is the will of your god. Christian theology can tell us a great deal about what the Christian god's will is and is not. Of course, it can -- just as Muslim theology can tell us about the will of Allah, and Mormon theology can tell you about the will of the Mormon god. I don't find that terribly useful.

I'll refer you to the debate Craig had with Shelly Kagan: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SiJnCQuPiuo . In my view, Kagan makes the point very strongly that ethics under a theist perspective offer no compelling advantage over those of a nontheist. Craig didn't like that conclusion, but all he could really say in the end was that a nontheist perspective didn't seem right to him for various reasons. Kagan countered each of his objections, and Craig just kind of sat there, not knowing where to go from there.

Strawman
01-15-2015, 02:03 AM
Enjolras,

I present the subject in a different way than William Craig. I prefer to let Craig deal with his engagements and I deal with mine.

As far as the rest of your response, you are ignoring information repeatedly and just re-stating your conclusion. This is not at all as simple as analyzing a passage or two. I'll do my best at pointing out what you are ignoring and why your exegesis cannot be contextually validated. I definitely see your point, but when you call in a contextual analysis it falls apart. I'll start with this:


in Job God himself said Job was blameless

You can't just look at a passage or two and interpret them alone. Hermeneutically speaking, you're ignoring a large chunk of the basic criteria for exegesis. I'm going to try and point you to some passages, which are related to the ones you are analyzing:

1. Bildad the Shuhite gives a speech to Job in chapter 8, which is nicely summarized in 8:6 and 8:20. He contends that "(6)if you are pure and upright, even now he will rouse himself on your behalf... (20) Surely God does not reject one who is blameless". In the chapters before, Job felt rejected despite not sinning (7:20), which explains Bildad's mocking him with "if you are pure..." and "Surely God does not reject the blameless". To Bildad, Job's afflictions were to be viewed as proof that Job was not sinless.
1.1. While I'm on chapter 7, take a look at 7:21 where Job says, "Why do you not pardon my offenses and forgive my sins?" As I pointed out earlier, Job is most definitely noticing the distinction. To further verify that, I'll get back on point and look at Job's response to Bildad:

"Indeed, I know that this is true. But how can mere mortals prove their innocence before God?" (9:2)

When you combine these, Job basically says to Bilbab's points "[it is true] that if I were truly innocent according to God's standards then I would not have my current afflictions". Given your exegesis, we are led to believe that Job is basically saying, "Though I am innocent, I know it is true that, if I were truly innocent, I would not have my current afflictions". That distinction matters a lot.

2. Job 9:19-20 reads "... if it is a matter of justice, who can challenge him? If I were innocent, my mouth would condemn me; if I were blameless, it would pronounce me guilty".

Matthew Henry explains that "Job begins to manifest a disposition to condemn God, that he may justify himself, for which he is afterwards reproved. Still Job knew so much of himself, that he durst not stand a trial. [If we say, We have no sin, we not only deceive ourselves, but we affront God; for we sin in saying so]..." (the brackets is in reference to "if I were innocent...")

So, when you say,


But the text does state Job was blameless

you are ignoring a contextual analysis. Given the context, we see a man who is emotionally outraged and so constantly flips from feeling he is "innocent" to 'well, maybe not so much once challenged by God'. Job's contradicting himself shows that he does discern between man's standards and God's standards. In his outrage, he's constantly switching from one to the other.

Further, this gives us the reason for Job's trial. While letting some of his rage out, Job shows that he seriously believes he is sinless [in the same sense that God is], which enables him to judge God, the ontological source for goodness, as malevolent (Job 30:21; Job 19:22; Job 16:9).

Now, when you charge me with "adding to the text", the charge is demonstrably not true. When I see passages like "if it is a matter of justice, who can challenge him?" this obviously is speaking of God being the ontological foundation for moral values, because, indeed, "who can challenge" the moral lawgiver? As a matter of fact, the distinction comes into play as soon as God enters the picture. Logically speaking, you might as well suggest "well, passage A does not say God is omnipotent; therefore, we can't add that to the text". That's ridiculous.


Sure, God could have a reason unknown to us or Job. One could always make that case. If this is the heart and substance of your argument, we really don't have a disagreement here. My point is that based upon the information we do have, God looks unjust.

The information we have, as of right now, is you agreeing that"God could have a reason unknown to us or Job". If God could have a reason unknown to us or Job, then how can you conclude with any probability at all that "God is a bully"?


Job being blameless is not necessary for my case to be made. He doesn't even need to be a moral paragon in comparison to his peers. A decent chap is all that is needed to show God is an unjust bully.

That leads me to our subject regarding objective moral values and how it relates to non-theism and God. You state that "well being" is the ontological foundation for moral values, "which is objective". First, there is a huge difference between something existing objectively and being objectively true. I can write "well being" on a piece of paper and, yes, it's objectively existent, but it does [not] follow that therefore it is objectively true.

So, despite your feelings to the contrary, when you say "well being is the foundation" that means absolutely nothing. Given a non-theist pov, I can counter with "unwell being is the foundation" and it will contain just as much truthful content as your statement. Your opinion is the foundation. As is with Harris, re-defining terms does not cancel out the subjectivity but only further enhances it.

This is exactly why you failed to answer my questions: "[why] should we define good as "that which supports someone's well-being"? What if I wanted to define good in another way?"

You threw a red herring in response by switching the question around on me. You catch red herrings by granting the response to a particularly brought about subject (i.e. my questions) and examining if the brought about subject remains unscathed. Indeed, my questions remain unanswered. With respect, the fact is that you cannot answer it without immediately proving the subjectivity inherent within and you know it.

Theism, since it contains a valid ontological foundation outside of human thought, gives a different kind of answer to the question


why should we define good as "God's will"?

because God matches the necessary requirements in order for moral statements to become really or objectively true; that is, His character is independent from human thought, His character is non-subjective, His character is unchanging, He is transcendent, and He is personal by nature which immediately explains moral obligation, moral guilt, and moral duty.

Now that I have at least tried to answer the question, can you?

I find another red herring here:


ME:Well, that's just your subjective opinion as a foundation, which keeps your moral judgement in the subjective realm.
YOU: Your opinion that God's will is good and should be obeyed is every bit as subjective as mine.

Even if I grant your point, the original point I brought up still remains unscathed by you. Do you have a response to the fact that the standard by which you assess morality, no matter how you define it, will [always] be subjectively based given that you are subjectively defining good according to your own subjective preferences. [You are defining it not independent from human thought], which provides an immediate and quite strong distinction between our beliefs. With respect, throwing a red herring at it is rather pointless.


I can turn the same argument back at you

It's the fact that you're leaving my questions towards you untended that catches my eye.


Lots of nontheists make moral judgments...not sure why you find this so remarkable.

It's not that they make moral judgements at all. A lot of non-theists tend to side with Dawkins and the late Mackie. Dawkins in his "River out of Eden" famously summed up the result of atheism that "In a universe of blind physical forces and genetic replication, some people are going to get hurt, other people are going to get lucky, and you won't find any rhyme or reason in it, nor any justice. The universe we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil and no good, nothing but blind, pitiless indifference". (pages 131-132)

A far greater atheist thinker, the late atheist philosopher JL Mackie remarked:

"There are no objective values... The claim that values are not objective is meant to include rightness and wrongness, duty, obligation, any actions being rotten and contemptible, and so on..." (page 1 and page 49)

I'm not using an argument from authority at all. I am, however, pointing out the irony that quite a lot of atheist thinkers actually agree with me here. Given atheism, there can be no objective moral values since there is no valid ontological foundation for them.

Enjolras
01-15-2015, 08:05 AM
Enjolras,

I present the subject in a different way than William Craig. I prefer to let Craig deal with his engagements and I deal with mine.

As far as the rest of your response, you are ignoring information repeatedly and just re-stating your conclusion. This is not at all as simple as analyzing a passage or two. I'll do my best at pointing out what you are ignoring and why your exegesis cannot be contextually validated. I definitely see your point, but when you call in a contextual analysis it falls apart. I'll start with this:



You can't just look at a passage or two and interpret them alone. Hermeneutically speaking, you're ignoring a large chunk of the basic criteria for exegesis. I'm going to try and point you to some passages, which are related to the ones you are analyzing:

1. Bildad the Shuhite gives a speech to Job in chapter 8, which is nicely summarized in 8:6 and 8:20. He contends that "(6)if you are pure and upright, even now he will rouse himself on your behalf... (20) Surely God does not reject one who is blameless". In the chapters before, Job felt rejected despite not sinning (7:20), which explains Bildad's mocking him with "if you are pure..." and "Surely God does not reject the blameless". To Bildad, Job's afflictions were to be viewed as proof that Job was not sinless.
1.1. While I'm on chapter 7, take a look at 7:21 where Job says, "Why do you not pardon my offenses and forgive my sins?" As I pointed out earlier, Job is most definitely noticing the distinction. To further verify that, I'll get back on point and look at Job's response to Bildad:

"Indeed, I know that this is true. But how can mere mortals prove their innocence before God?" (9:2)

When you combine these, Job basically says to Bilbab's points "[it is true] that if I were truly innocent according to God's standards then I would not have my current afflictions". Given your exegesis, we are led to believe that Job is basically saying, "Though I am innocent, I know it is true that, if I were truly innocent, I would not have my current afflictions". That distinction matters a lot.

2. Job 9:19-20 reads "... if it is a matter of justice, who can challenge him? If I were innocent, my mouth would condemn me; if I were blameless, it would pronounce me guilty".

Matthew Henry explains that "Job begins to manifest a disposition to condemn God, that he may justify himself, for which he is afterwards reproved. Still Job knew so much of himself, that he durst not stand a trial. [If we say, We have no sin, we not only deceive ourselves, but we affront God; for we sin in saying so]..." (the brackets is in reference to "if I were innocent...")

So, when you say,



you are ignoring a contextual analysis. Given the context, we see a man who is emotionally outraged and so constantly flips from feeling he is "innocent" to 'well, maybe not so much once challenged by God'. Job's contradicting himself shows that he does discern between man's standards and God's standards. In his outrage, he's constantly switching from one to the other.

Further, this gives us the reason for Job's trial. While letting some of his rage out, Job shows that he seriously believes he is sinless [in the same sense that God is], which enables him to judge God, the ontological source for goodness, as malevolent (Job 30:21; Job 19:22; Job 16:9).

Now, when you charge me with "adding to the text", the charge is demonstrably not true. When I see passages like "if it is a matter of justice, who can challenge him?" this obviously is speaking of God being the ontological foundation for moral values, because, indeed, "who can challenge" the moral lawgiver? As a matter of fact, the distinction comes into play as soon as God enters the picture. Logically speaking, you might as well suggest "well, passage A does not say God is omnipotent; therefore, we can't add that to the text". That's ridiculous.

I understand your point of view and why you hold it, but I think what I have already written addresses what you are saying here. There is no point in repeating myself again, so we'll just have to agree to disagree here. If this point about Job being blameless was really important to me or to my argument I would pursue it further, but it's a minor side discussion as far as I am concerned.


The information we have, as of right now, is you agreeing that"God could have a reason unknown to us or Job". If God could have a reason unknown to us or Job, then how can you conclude with any probability at all that "God is a bully"?

It's a prima facia assessment. If I happen to witness a large man repeatedly punching a baby in the face, I'm justified in thinking he's doing something wrong. Maybe he has a really good reason for doing it, but would I be out of line for thinking there is something seriously wrong going on here?


That leads me to our subject regarding objective moral values and how it relates to non-theism and God. You state that "well being" is the ontological foundation for moral values, "which is objective". First, there is a huge difference between something existing objectively and being objectively true. I can write "well being" on a piece of paper and, yes, it's objectively existent, but it does [not] follow that therefore it is objectively true.

So, despite your feelings to the contrary, when you say "well being is the foundation" that means absolutely nothing. Given a non-theist pov, I can counter with "unwell being is the foundation" and it will contain just as much truthful content as your statement. Your opinion is the foundation. As is with Harris, re-defining terms does not cancel out the subjectivity but only further enhances it.

This is exactly why you failed to answer my questions: "[why] should we define good as "that which supports someone's well-being"? What if I wanted to define good in another way?"

You threw a red herring in response by switching the question around on me. You catch red herrings by granting the response to a particularly brought about subject (i.e. my questions) and examining if the brought about subject remains unscathed. Indeed, my questions remain unanswered. With respect, the fact is that you cannot answer it without immediately proving the subjectivity inherent within and you know it.

Theism, since it contains a valid ontological foundation outside of human thought, gives a different kind of answer to the question

My point in throwing your questions back at you was not to avoid answering, but to show that you have the exact same difficulty answering such questions that I do. Theism has no intellectual advantage or high ground here whatsoever, as I see it, even if God exists. Your answer isn't a different kind of answer; it is the exact same kind of answer. I say 'well-being' is the foundation, you say its "God's will.' You ask "What if I wanted to define good in another way?" You are free do so. I could try to appeal to common values that we might hold, but in the end you can always disagree. So what? You assert "God's will" is the foundation. Well, what if I want to define good in another way? What can you really say to convince me otherwise? Not much, as far as I can see. If someone doesn't value God's will, where do you go from there to convince them otherwise? The decision to care about and value God's opinion is entirely subjective.


because God matches the necessary requirements in order for moral statements to become really or objectively true; that is, His character is independent from human thought, His character is non-subjective, His character is unchanging, He is transcendent, and He is personal by nature which immediately explains moral obligation, moral guilt, and moral duty.

None of this shows that God is good or a proper foundation for morality. As Kai Nielsen has pointed out, "There is nothing logically improper about saying 'X is omnipotent and omniscient and morally wicked.'"


Now that I have at least tried to answer the question, can you?

I find another red herring here:



Even if I grant your point, the original point I brought up still remains unscathed by you. Do you have a response to the fact that the standard by which you assess morality, no matter how you define it, will [always] be subjectively based given that you are subjectively defining good according to your own subjective preferences. [You are defining it not independent from human thought], which provides an immediate and quite strong distinction between our beliefs. With respect, throwing a red herring at it is rather pointless.



It's the fact that you're leaving my questions towards you untended that catches my eye.

Here's how I see things. Morals can be compared to a ball game. What is the ‘objectively’ correct game to like and value? There is no objectively correct game; that is a subjective decision. But once you make that subjective decision there are objective rules to follow. There is nothing objectively wrong with taking a ball and carrying across the floor without dribbling it, but once you accept the rules of basketball, that is objectively not allowed. The decision to value and play that game is subjective, but once you are playing the rules are objective.

So you can play the 'well-being' game, or the 'God's will' game, so to speak. If you don't accept 'well-being' as the foundation I can try to appeal to you based upon common ground we might hold, but in the end you may not choose to play. It is the same with 'God's will.' You can try to appeal to me by threatening me with judgement and so forth, but I might not want to play the game. I might think God is wicked, and therefore the 'God game' is not of value or worth playing.

What I am talking about here are axiomatic values and assessments; the foundation of beliefs. There is a point at which one can go no further in proving a case. There are fundamental logical principles, such as 'do not contradict oneself.' What if someone doesn't want to be logical? Well, if you don't accept the idea that one should be reasonable, there's nothing more to be said. It is the same with valuing human 'well-being.' If you don't value human well-being, I can't appeal to something else to convince you otherwise. It is the same with 'God's will.' One must choose to value it before it becomes a meaningful or objective position to you.


It's not that they make moral judgements at all. A lot of non-theists tend to side with Dawkins and the late Mackie. Dawkins in his "River out of Eden" famously summed up the result of atheism that "In a universe of blind physical forces and genetic replication, some people are going to get hurt, other people are going to get lucky, and you won't find any rhyme or reason in it, nor any justice. The universe we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil and no good, nothing but blind, pitiless indifference". (pages 131-132)

A far greater atheist thinker, the late atheist philosopher JL Mackie remarked:

"There are no objective values... The claim that values are not objective is meant to include rightness and wrongness, duty, obligation, any actions being rotten and contemptible, and so on..." (page 1 and page 49)

I'm not using an argument from authority at all. I am, however, pointing out the irony that quite a lot of atheist thinkers actually agree with me here. Given atheism, there can be no objective moral values since there is no valid ontological foundation for them.

Mackie and Dawkins are atheists who think there are no objective moral values without God. Richard Swinburne and Richard Holloway are both theists who think there are objective moral values apart from God. Michael Martin, Kai Nielsen and Erik Wielenberg are atheists who think objective morality is possible without God. Nothing is to be gained in this discussion by pointing out where various 'authorities' have landed on the issue.

Truthseeker
01-15-2015, 02:57 PM
An agreement between two or more human beings to live or play according to a designated set of rules does not really make those rules objective. And if it did, that does not matter much. Those rules could be other rules instead. We would have no reason to take a rule as better than another given rule except subjective preference.

Enjolras
01-15-2015, 06:04 PM
An agreement between two or more human beings to live or play according to a designated set of rules does not really make those rules objective.

It depends upon what you mean by the term 'objective.' In moral terms, by objective I mean that something is good or evil independently of whether anybody believes it to be so. I do not mean objective values somehow 'exist' independently of human minds.


And if it did, that does not matter much. Those rules could be other rules instead. We would have no reason to take a rule as better than another given rule except subjective preference.

Unless you take it as a given that human well-being is really what morality is all about. Think about it another way: let's say you want to be physically healthy. It is objectively less healthy to eat potato chips and watch TV on the couch every day vs. eating balanced meals and exercising. Now if you don't care about being healthy, there isn't much anyone can say to convince you to behave in healthy ways, but that doesn't negate the fact that some behaviors are objectively better for health than others. In the same way, if you regard human well-being as a proper goal of morality, then you have a means to objectively determine correct behavior.