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Old May 1st, 2012 (3:30 AM). Edited May 1st, 2012 by Barrels.
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Barrels Barrels is offline
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Originally Posted by Bela View Post
Consider the case of regular people who are convinced by their religion to kill. When a woman kills her children because she believes God told her to do so, is that her using religion as an excuse for her secret craving to murder? Just some regular housewife, who thinks God told her to do it.
Interesting point, eloquently put. I've seen this particular example (Exodus) used many a time (and used to use it myself, in fact). I hope you won't mind if I share my two cents on the matter.

First... women don't tend to kill their children. It's awful and shocking and always makes the news when it happens - and I would contend that the women who do are never 'regular housewives'. For example...

Originally Posted by Bela View Post
I think religion is directly responsible for this woman's behavior--it is like poison to a rational mind.
A rational mind? No. Anyone who can 'rationalize that her children should be killed' because of a book (or anything else, really) is dangerous and psychotic and has deep mental issues. As I type this, I'm remembering all the scandal that erupted over 'faith-healing' a while back - similar sort of thing. Most Christians - the overwhelming majority - have health insurance. They see doctors. They sit by their children's bedside in hospital when they fall ill and pay for expensive treatment. Only a very few outliers trust blindly in God to heal their children, failing to see just how irrational they're being - do they think that He will catch them if they fly off a motorbike? Do they think that He will always ensure that nothing bad ever happens to them? (He didn't stop their child falling ill in the first place, after all.)

Oh, sure, religion might help a lunatic decide what they're going to do next. But so might a funny-shaped cloud in the sky. I can't accept the argument that religion has the power to twist and warp 'regular people' to a murderous extent based purely on the fact that it doesn't. Most people aren't murderers.

Originally Posted by Bela View Post
How could she? Surely the story of Isaac, something this woman would certainly be aware of, has more to do with it than some insatiable appetite to kill?

Can you really say the intent to kill is truly independent of what some religion may convince a person is the right thing to do?
No. No, of course not. You only have to look at the evidence to see that. But, crucially, this is a different point, entirely separate from your arguments about regular people.

The intent to kill has to come from somewhere. And I'd disagree that it is triggered by the Bible (if we're continuing to use that example). A messed-up serial killer may very well use the Bible as his own twisted justification, but I would be far more inclined to think that his murderous impulses are originally rooted somewhere far deeped in his psyche. You can use just about anything as an excuse, if you're determined enough.

Bottom line: I don't think mainstream religions tend to convince people that murdering is the way forward. If only because murderers are few and far between. A deeply damaged individual who's not completely sane - they may interpret religion as justification for their actions. But equally, they might interpret a cracked paving slab as the same.

...I come across as an arrogant little ****, don't I? Sorry. Please feel free to lob this all back with a blistering rebuttal!

Originally Posted by FrostPheonix View Post
There are also those modern Christians who kill people. Some of them truly believe the Bible wanted them to do that, but you have to realize that this isn't true. The same way Islam has been thrown into a bad light because of several terrorists (9/11 being just one of these attacks), a few misinterpreting Christians could paint the whole religion wrongly.
...I've just realised that Frosty basically summed my entire point up far more succinctly and concisely than I managed to. xD


Originally Posted by Bela View Post
(And as an aside, what exactly led us away from this sort of thinking? Was it God suddenly deciding that practice was no longer morally 'correct,' or was it secular morality forcing religion to abandon such dogma? And if it is a God who decides it is moral one day to kill your children if they misbehave and immoral the next, you have yourself but an arbitrary designation of morality that is not consistent nor has any self-correcting mechanism for determining what is moral.)
Originally Posted by FrostPheonix View Post
This is really complicated, but I'll try my best.
The Bible has two big covenants; the old covenant, made by God and Abraham, and the new Covenant, made by Jesus to us. This is really important, as it is like a cornerstone in Christianity. It is the first covenant, the old covenant, made with Abraham, that bound us to the laws of the Pentateuch (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy). It was these laws one had to follow to achieve Salvation. But, mankind couldn't make it through these laws. So, Jesus came and fulfilled the covenant for us. We no longer were bound by the laws of the old covenant, Jesus was in our stead. In the new covenant, Jesus promises salvation if we accept him. I think that's it, simplified. So we don't have to exercise judgement etc anymore. Jesus died for us so that we may get the eternal salvation he promised. So the Old testament law no longer applies to us. Which doesn't mean we should just ignore it; we are also meant to learn from it, and not to make the same mistakes the Isrealites did. There are several books in the old testament that I think still apply to us; Proverbs, Psalms etc.
Forgot about this! Which I shall slap myself later for, because it's really really interesting.

Bela makes a point that can't really be argued with - it's the logical answer. And while Frosty gives an excellent, in-depth explanation of how the Bible works, I don't think - forgive me - you really answered his question.

If mankind couldn't make it through the old laws, what does that mean, exactly? Did all the people who couldn't follow them go to Hell - and then get forgiven and accepted into Heaven later? (Seems only fair, if the whole reason for Jesus' coming was that the old laws were too hard - and they were, right? Stoning children etc.) And if all we have to do to find salvation is accept Jesus - again, forgive me, but that seems a fairly flimsy litmus test for Heavengoers. What's to stop a vile dictator from whole-heartedly accepting Jesus' existence?

And if the answer to that is that you can't just accept His existence but have to follow his rules, then what are those rules? Which bits? We're back to my pick-and-choose question, if some parts of the Old Testament still apply and some don't ('there are several books in the old testament that I think still apply to us; Proverbs, Psalms etc.'). Who decides? The Church?

Originally Posted by FrostPheonix View Post
I think, in the same way, God didn't like the concept of slaves. But, since Israel wouldn't have listened to him anyway, he tried making laws so that slaves and masters could live in harmony instead.
Finally... I'm sorry, but I just cannot accept any kind of justification for slavery. A God who lets slavers into heaven isn't a God I could ever worship. (And your argument sort of seems self-defeating - if Israel are going to listen to the laws, surely they'd listen to one that said they weren't allowed to keep slaves? And since in the Old Testament, God takes an active role in battles etcetera, couldn't he have backed a slave uprising? Still fairly confused.)

Originally Posted by FrostPheonix View Post
I think, in the same way, God didn't like the concept of slaves.
This is what's most interesting of all, however. And what I think may provide you with an answer to Bela's argument that Christian morality is arbitrary. If God has his own moral code that shuns slavery, surely that's the definitive morality? (Of course, it'd be nice if he set that down for us in writing, but perhaps that's the Ten Commandments. I dunno, I ain't no scholar.) Thanks, both of you, for providing such interesting food for thought.

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