Judges 11: Debunking The Myth That Jephthah Burns His Daughter As A Human Sacrifice to God


Judges 11 is often brought up in polemic attacks on the Bible. (And this post as a response seems to have gotten some attention online.)

After a shallow reading of certain verses, often without taking the context of the rest of the chapter into account and almost never considering other relevant portions of the Bible, the critic will spew the following accusations:

1) Jephthah burns his daughter up as a sacrifice
2) God approves of this or even commands it
3) The Bible therefore condones evil
4) Christians are also evil and are just waiting for a chance to kill us all!!!

More often than not the critic never actually read or studied the passage in question, and is merely parroting of a website or message board posting by someone else – who also may not have ever actually looked inside a Bible before either.

Here is one such example of the above-mentioned unhinged hysterics: Evil Bible – Ritual Human Sacrifice.

So here I present to you a systematic debunking of this puerile, amateurish claim that the Christian God demands human sacrifice.

You will see how logic and reason will easily dismiss such shallow polemic attacks by noobs, and how making such Scripturally uneducated accusations is only possible through a total ignorance of the detailed system of Mosaic laws.

First, relevant excerpts from the passage in question with emphasis added (which many anti-Christian myth-spreaders will be reading for the first time ever, if they even bother to read it below at all):

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Judges 11

 1 Jephthah the Gileadite was a mighty warrior.

 4 Some time later, when the Ammonites made war on Israel, 5 the elders of Gilead went to get Jephthah from the land of Tob. 6 “Come,” they said, “be our commander, so we can fight the Ammonites.”

 12 Then Jephthah sent messengers to the Ammonite king with the question: “What do you have against us that you have attacked our country?”

 13 The king of the Ammonites answered Jephthah’s messengers, “When Israel came up out of Egypt, they took away my land from the Arnon to the Jabbok, all the way to the Jordan. Now give it back peaceably.”

 14 Jephthah sent back messengers to the Ammonite king, 15 saying:
       “This is what Jephthah says: Israel did not take the land of Moab or the land of the Ammonites.”

 19 “Israel sent messengers to Sihon king of the Amorites, who ruled in Heshbon, and said to him, ‘Let us pass through your country to our own place.’ 20 Sihon, however, did not trust Israel to pass through his territory. He mustered all his men and encamped at Jahaz and fought with Israel.

 21 “Then the LORD, the God of Israel, gave Sihon and all his men into Israel’s hands, and they defeated them. Israel took over all the land of the Amorites who lived in that country, 22 capturing all of it from the Arnon to the Jabbok and from the desert to the Jordan.

 23 “Now since the LORD, the God of Israel, has driven the Amorites out before his people Israel, what right have you to take it over? 26 For three hundred years Israel occupied Heshbon, Aroer, the surrounding settlements and all the towns along the Arnon. Why didn’t you retake them during that time? 27 I have not wronged you, but you are doing me wrong by waging war against me. Let the LORD, the Judge, decide the dispute this day between the Israelites and the Ammonites.”

 28 The king of Ammon, however, paid no attention to the message Jephthah sent him.

 29 Then the Spirit of the LORD came upon Jephthah. He crossed Gilead and Manasseh, passed through Mizpah of Gilead, and from there he advanced against the Ammonites.

 30 And Jephthah made a vow to the LORD : “If you give the Ammonites into my hands, 31 whatever comes out of the door of my house to meet me when I return in triumph from the Ammonites will be the LORD’s, and I will sacrifice it as a burnt offering.”

 32 Then Jephthah went over to fight the Ammonites, and the LORD gave them into his hands. 33 He devastated twenty towns from Aroer to the vicinity of Minnith, as far as Abel Keramim. Thus Israel subdued Ammon.

 34 When Jephthah returned to his home in Mizpah, who should come out to meet him but his daughter, dancing to the sound of tambourines! She was an only child. Except for her he had neither son nor daughter. 35 When he saw her, he tore his clothes and cried, “Oh! My daughter! You have made me miserable and wretched, because I have made a vow to the LORD that I cannot break.”

 36 “My father,” she replied, “you have given your word to the LORD. Do to me just as you promised, now that the LORD has avenged you of your enemies, the Ammonites. 37 But grant me this one request,” she said. “Give me two months to roam the hills and weep with my friends, because I will never marry.”

 38 “You may go,” he said. And he let her go for two months. She and the girls went into the hills and wept because she would never marry. 39 After the two months, she returned to her father and he did to her as he had vowed. And she was a virgin.
      From this comes the Israelite custom 40 that each year the young women of Israel go out for four days to commemorate the daughter of Jephthah the Gileadite.

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And now for the complete and total refutation, presented in five simple points:

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1) Jephthah’s daughter was ‘sacrificed’ by becoming a nun, not by being burnt alive

Category: Jephthah did not murder-sacrifice his daughter

The clues that lead to this logical conclusion are found in verses 37-39:

37 But grant me this one request,” she said. “Give me two months to roam the hills and weep with my friends, because I will never marry.”

 38 “You may go,” he said. And he let her go for two months. She and the girls went into the hills and wept because she would never marry. 39 After the two months, she returned to her father and he did to her as he had vowed. And she was a virgin.
    
Why such a focus on the fact that Jephthah’s daughter ‘will never marry’?

Wouldn’t we expect Jephthah’s daughter to weep in the hills for two months over the fact that she was going to die, instead of mourning that she would never experience the joys of sex? Kind of fretting over the least pressing concern, if she were really condemned to die, isn’t it?

And why does it end with the words, ‘And she was a virgin.’?

Shouldn’t it rather end with something like, ‘And she was set on fire and died in screaming agony, a pleasing sound to Jephthah’s ears.’ if he really did kill her?

All these facts makes much more sense if Jephthah’s daughter was actually ‘sacrificed’ to God by becoming a nun for the rest of her life. After all, the heart of Jephthah’s vow was to please God – and as points 3 and 5 further down this post show, burning his daughter would have achieved the exact opposite.

Serving God for her lifetime also makes much more ‘economic sense’ than a pointless, one-shot combustion as well, if one were to be mercenary about it.

Rephrase ‘And she was a virgin’ (NIV), or ‘And she knew no man’ – ‘And she remained unmarried’. Does this not make sense in the context of the ‘bewail my virginity’ (KJV)?

And though it was Jephthah’s vow that leads to his daughter’s personal sacrifice, note that Verse 36 clearly shows her personal willingness to make such a sacrifice for God. It is a choice made of her own free will.

If you object that verse 31 clearly mentions a ‘burnt offering’, then see the next point.

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2) Jephthah originally stated his intention to give a burnt offering, but that doesn’t mean he had to burn whatever he eventually offered

Category: Jephthah did not murder-sacrifice his daughter

Jephthah’s mention of an offering by fire is found in verse 30:

30 And Jephthah made a vow to the LORD : “If you give the Ammonites into my hands, 31 whatever comes out of the door of my house to meet me when I return in triumph from the Ammonites will be the LORD’s, and I will sacrifice it as a burnt offering.”

Clearly, Jephthah expected that a living creature would come out and meet him as he reached home – in his mind a farm animal, and likely divinely orchestrated by God as the animal God wanted as a sacrifice.

Unfortunately, the living being that met him first was his only daughter, and due to the way he phrased his vow, he would have to offer her up to God. But does this mean that Jephthah necessarily had to offer her to God by fire?

Let’s envision a different scenario: As Jephthah returns home from war, the first thing that comes out of his house to meet him is… A stone pestle, thrown by his wife who is mad that he was off gallavanting around for so long. (Just for good measure, it bounces off his head with a resounding BONK.)

Yes, now Jephthah must offer that rock implement to God in sacrifice, because the way he phrased his vow does not exclude nonliving objects coming out to meet him!

But does this mean he has to offer the stone pestle by fire? What, you expect him to literally try and ‘cut its throat’ and let it bleed to death before cutting it into parts, some of which will be given to the priests for dinner?

And imagine the poor priests who would have to ‘burn up’ that rock as a pleasing aroma to God. They would be keeping the altar fire going day and night attempting to do so, and would still have been trying to ‘burn’ it when Jerusalem fell a few hundred years later.

Nonsense? You bet it is.

That’s because Old Testament Mosaic Law (i.e. the Laws given to Israel by God through Moses) presribes completely different methods for offering different things as a sacrifice to God. Even a burnt offering is not so simple as ‘Tie to a stake, set on fire, pray’ as point 3 below will show.

Jephthah would probably have broken the stone pestle to pieces in order to offer it up to God – if in fact such an item had been the first thing to meet him as he returned from victory.

And likewise, he would have dedicated his daughter to God by allowing her to serve as a nun the rest of her life.

(In fact, though I’m not 100% sure, there may exist a contingency in Leviticus 27 whereby a person or other object meant to be dedicated to God can be redeemed for an amount of money:

 1 The LORD said to Moses, 2 “Speak to the Israelites and say to them: ‘If anyone makes a special vow to dedicate persons to the LORD by giving equivalent values, 3 set the value of a male between the ages of twenty and sixty at fifty shekels of silver, according to the sanctuary shekel; 4 and if it is a female, set her value at thirty shekels. 

So not only did Jephthah not intend to dedicate his daughter to God by burning her, he could even have ‘bought’ her back from nunhood according to Mosaic law. But as I said in Point 1, Jephthah’s daughter willingly agreed to serve God herself.)

So as I have demonstrated, Jephthah’s intention to offer a burnt offering does not automatically dictate the method by which he ultimately offers up his sacrifice to God.

And note that burnt offerings are not simply anything that is combusted in fire to God. Following strict and specific Mosaic laws of sacrifice, only a few specific animals are acceptable as a burnt offering to God. See the next point which focuses on that aspect.

Additional: According to Christian Courier.com:

Idiomatic language

The “and” (Heb., vau) of verse 30 may be an idiom in the sense of “or” (cf. Exodus 21:15 in the LXX [v. 17 Eng. text] — “he who curses his father or his mother shall be put to death”). Thus, this Old Testament character may have been merely suggesting that whatever met him as he returned home would be dedicated to Jehovah, or, offered as a burnt offering — depending upon which was appropriate. See Dr. Hales’ comments (Clarke, p. 153).

I will update with more once I research this further.

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3) The Mosaic Laws for sacrifice and for daily life forbid human sacrifice of any sort

Category: Jephthah did not murder-sacrifice his daughter

One of the things about the Mosaic Laws of sacrifice is that they are very specific and exclusive.

Perhaps the first and most important regulation is that only the ordained priests of God who are direct descendants from Aaron were allowed to offer sacrifices to God on behalf of anyone – not even a king could perform this task.

These priests spent their entire lives memorizing and carefully carrying out the aspects of the Law given through Moses, particularly regarding their role in offering sacrifices. Therefore they would know for certain what was or was not considered an acceptable sacrifice to God.

In fact, the Hebrew word translated as ‘burnt offering’ in Judges 11:31 is the exact same word as that in the section of the Law pertaining to burnt sacrifices, Leviticus 1:3‘olah, Strong’s number H5930.

So here I list down the various laws regarding sacrifices that immediately exclude the possibility that Jephthah’s daughter was an acceptable burnt offering:

Only young bulls, sheep, goats or doves/pigeons are acceptable as burnt offerings – nothing else.

Plus, if it is a bull, sheep or goat, it has to be a male. Recall that Jephthah’s daughter is female (duh). Pigeons are probably exempted from the ‘male’ criteria as it is difficult to tell their gender.

Grain, incense, oil and salt is also burnt up, but is counted as a ‘grain offering’ or other types of offering, and not the specifically named ‘burnt offering’. All these types of offering only involves plant-derived produce, by the way – the ‘grain offering’ is specifically one without blood.

Of the various sacrifices of animals, grain, oil, salt, incense, drink or others, humans are nowhere mentioned as an acceptable sacrifice.

The priests are supposed to eat a portion of the burnt offering that is set aside for them – but human flesh is not even ‘kosher’ to be consumed. EDIT: Sorry, my mistake – the priests do not get to eat any of the burnt offering, only other types of offerings.

And not to mention the Mosaic Laws that preclude taking the life of a person as a crime punishable by death, first and foremost of all Number 6 of the Ten Commandments: You shall not murder.

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4) No matter what Jephthah did or did not do, God is not to blame for it

Category: God did not command or approve of human sacrifice

Okay, so let’s say that despite all the evidence and reason I have just put forward, you still stubbornly refuse to let Jephthah off the hook.

In defiance of all logic and law, you insist that he MUST have burnt his daughter to death because… Well, because it neatly proves your point that Christians, the Bible and God are evil, and you already KNOW that they are evil, so you must be right about Judges 11 too.

But even if we assume that the virginity references were included because the burnt ashes of a virgin are somehow different from the burnt ashes of a prostitute, that Jephthah was mindlessly literal about his oaths and heartless to boot, and that the holy priests were happy to cut up and burn and eat a young girl…

That does not mean God Himself approved of it.

In fact, God is not mentioned as appearing or speaking at all in the entire of Judges 11. The closest the chapter comes is verse 29, where the Spirit of the LORD comes upon Jephthah.

(And lest you be confused, this does not refer to mind control by God. Humans always retain their own free will to choose their own actions, one of the most important considerations that God made as far back as the Garden of Eden.)

As that other passage in Judges says: In those days Israel had no king; everyone did as they saw fit. – Judges 21:25.

So God definitely was not the one who decided on a ‘human burnt offering’.

Just because something is mentioned in the Bible, doesn’t mean that the Bible approves of it. There are plenty of records of people, kings and even prophets sinning – lying, murder, adultery, betrayal, mocking Jesus – but such behaviour is denounced, not approved of, DUH.

To equate an imperfect man’s actions in the name of God to God Himself ordering or sanctioning such behaviour is a fallacy. It’s like condemning all science as a dementedly evil endeavor just because a psychotic phrenologist one day kills someone ‘in the name of science’.

And as the final point will demonstrate, the God of the Bible actually strongly hates and repeatedly condemns human sacrifice – a fact which shows up claims that God wanted Jephthah to sacrifice his daughter to be patently absurd.

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5) God declares His hatred of human sacrifice many times (versus one alleged sanctioning of human sacrifice)

Category: God did not command or approve of human sacrifice

A thought exercise first: Let’s say that a certain politician is well known to be a staunch opponent of abortion. Countless TV and radio recordings show him vehemently denouncing abortion as evil, ungodly and a sin.

Then out of the blue, a lone blogger claims that a secret recording of this politician’s unreleased 30-minute Presidential Candidacy speech contains 2 seconds of sound bites where he fully supports abortion as a God-given, inalieable, moral and ethical human right.

Would you immediately believe this isolated claim of said politician’s pro-abortion stance, over the thousands of minutes of public anti-abortion speeches he has given before?

Isn’t it more likely that that one incident of a supposed declaration of pro-abortion is a misunderstanding on the blogger’s part?

Now with this perspective, you realize just how narrow and selective the Anti-Christian polemic’s field of vision is when they questionably claim that Judges 11 and a few other out-of-context verses debatably support human saccrifice to God, while amaeteurishly/intentionally ignoring the many passages that clearly condemn human sacrifice.

I mean, just look at the number of individual, separate times the Bible clearly and directly denounces human sacrifice (especially of children and babies) as evil:

Do not give any of your children to be sacrificed to Molech, for you must not profane the name of your God. I am the LORD.
 – Leviticus 18:21

The LORD said to Moses, “Say to the Israelites: ‘Any Israelite or any alien living in Israel who gives any of his children to Molech must be put to death. The people of the community are to stone him. I will set my face against that man and I will cut him off from his people; for by giving his children to Molech, he has defiled my sanctuary and profaned my holy name. If the people of the community close their eyes when that man gives one of his children to Molech and they fail to put him to death, I will set my face against that man and his family and will cut off from their people both him and all who follow him in prostituting themselves to Molech. – Leviticus 20:1-5;

You must not worship the LORD your God in their way, because in worshiping their gods, they do all kinds of detestable things the LORD hates. They even burn their sons and daughters in the fire as sacrifices to their gods. - Deuteronomy 12:31

When you enter the land the LORD your God is giving you, do not learn to imitate the detestable ways of the nations there. Let no one be found among you who sacrifices his son or daughter in the fire, who practices divination or sorcery, interprets omens, engages in witchcraft, or casts spells, or who is a medium or spiritist or who consults the dead. Anyone who does these things is detestable to the LORD, and because of these detestable practices the LORD your God will drive out those nations before you. - Deuteronomy 18:9-12

He walked in the ways of the kings of Israel and even sacrificed his son in the fire, following the detestable ways of the nations the LORD had driven out before the Israelites. - 2nd Kings 16:3 (referring to the ungodly kings of Israel after David and Solomon)

He sacrificed his own son in the fire, practiced sorcery and divination, and consulted mediums and spiritists. He did much evil in the eyes of the LORD, provoking him to anger. – 2nd Kings 21:6

He desecrated Topheth, which was in the Valley of Ben Hinnom, so no one could use it to sacrifice his son or daughter in the fire to Molech.2nd Kings 23:10

For they have forsaken me and made this a place of foreign gods; they have burned sacrifices in it to gods that neither they nor their fathers nor the kings of Judah ever knew, and they have filled this place with the blood of the innocent. They have built the high places of Baal to burn their sons in the fire as offerings to Baal—something I did not command or mention, nor did it enter my mind. – Jeremiah 19:4-5 

They built high places for Baal in the Valley of Ben Hinnom to sacrifice their sons and daughters to Molech, though I never commanded, nor did it enter my mind, that they should do such a detestable thing and so make Judah sin. -  Jeremiah 32:35

They shed innocent blood, the blood of their sons and daughters, whom they sacrificed to the idols of Canaan, and the land was desecrated by their blood.Psalm 106:38

When you offer your gifts — the sacrifice of your sons in the fire — you continue to defile yourselves with all your idols to this day. Am I to let you inquire of me, O house of Israel? As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign LORD, I will not let you inquire of me. - Ezekiel 20:31

And these are not counting God’s direct commands against general murder as covered in Point 4.

So I will repeat it again: Only total and utter noobs or intentionally dishonest cunning-snakes could pit one single misinterpreted Bible passage against at least eleven counter-citations, and still giddily claim proud victory over the ‘evil’ Christianity.

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CONCLUSION:

Well, that’s one passage of the Bible fully, exhaustingly and conclusively explained in defense of God’s holy and perfect character. And as it turns out, Jephthah himself wasn’t such as evil dude as claimed, after all.

So to summarize:

Jepthah did not sacrifice his daughter in fire. She became a nun of her own free will.

God does not condone human sacrifice, He says how hates it plenty of times in the Bible.

Christians are not generally evil, but anti-Christian polemics are often noobish amateurs.
 
Abortionists sacrifice far more human lives – millions of innocent babies every single day – and are the real child-killing monsters. (See below)

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PS. And now, back to modern times: Real religious fanatics really burn helpless real victim alive while chanting praise to their god! Video here.

PPS. While Christians are accused of looking up to Biblical characters as examples of how to murder children, and are accused of hoping to murder children again some day, liberals are murdering 1.2 million babies every single month (and don’t you dare tell me that these babies aren’t human until you look at the pics via this link.)

                             LiberalTanarri

             The real liberal monsters with their real child sacrifices.

       LiberalChildSacrifice

Now do you understand why fundamentalist Christian Conservatives are so adamantly opposed to the unspeakably evil sin of abortion? God declares that He utterly despises such an abomination!

Someone go call Jephthah and tell him he’s being outdone several magnitudes over by Planned Parenthood.

No wonder liberal Moonbats are always so fanatically smearing Chrisians as potential children-sacrificers… It’s to assuage their own guilt over being worse murderers than even all the Communists put together.

PPPS. And in anticipation of those who might contend that since God hates human sacrifice and Jesus’ crucifixion was a human sacrifice, therefore Christianity is a bunch of hypocritical hate-speech, see Jesus Plus Nothing and Christian Think Tank.

See, Christians have thought these things out long in advance of puny and noobish polemic attacks in our era.


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94 Responses to “Judges 11: Debunking The Myth That Jephthah Burns His Daughter As A Human Sacrifice to God”

  1. hutchrun Says:

    Top psychiatrist concludes liberals clinically nuts
    Makes case ideology is mental disorder
    [ ]
    The roots of liberalism — and its associated madness — can be clearly identified by understanding how children develop from infancy to adulthood and how distorted development produces the irrational beliefs of the liberal mind. When the modern liberal mind whines about imaginary victims, rages against imaginary villains and seeks above all else to run the lives of persons competent to run their own lives, the neurosis of the liberal mind becomes painfully obvious.

    http://www.worldnetdaily.com/index.php?fa=PAGE.view&pageId=56494

  2. wits0 Says:

    More on Liberal madness:

    http://drsanity.blogspot.com/search?q=leftism+insanity

    Thursday, December 21, 2006

    POSTMODERNISM’S CARTE BLANCHE: Don’t Do Jihad Without It

    “..Postmodern philosophy and rhetoric that embraces “political correctness” and all the multicultural bull that flows from it, was the “prerequisite condition” that facilitated the rise of the Karposi-like malignancy of radical Islam, and gave it carte blanche to spread and kill…”

  3. wits0 Says:

    I agree with Scott, what happened to Jephthah’s daughter is not clear ; the OT did not explicitly say what is being presumed.

    Just like what the OT sez about Lot’s wife being turned into “a pillar of salt ” for(just) looking back at Sodom and Gomorrah is not necessarily literal. She might have lagged far behind Lot’s escaping party because S and G was her the place where she was born and bred and the only one she ever knew. Human sentimentality. Some people can always also impute a cruel ‘God’ no?

  4. chrisian Says:

    You are wrong.
    Jephthah’s daughter was sacrificed – a vow have to be kept.
    Jephthah was a strong willed man – man of his word.
    If he did keep his vow – he would lose respect from his followers.
    Better not to vow than to make vow and not keep it – see Proverbs.
    In OT anyone who vows and not keep it brings a curse upon him/herself.

  5. hutchrun Says:

    On translations:

    In the moments before deciding to take the fruit, Eve contemplates the choice before her. According to the text, here is what happened: And the woman saw that the tree was good to eat, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was desirable as a means to wisdom… (Genesis, 3:6).

    That, at least, is how most translations render the verses — and indeed, it is how some commentators interpret them. But the Hebrew is a little more complicated. A more literal translation of the last phrase, venechmad ha’etz lehaskil, yields not that the tree was “desirable as a means to wisdom” but that:

    … the tree was desirable to contemplate… (Genesis, 3:6).

    “Desirable to contemplate”. It’s a strange phrase — and maybe that’s why many translations shun it. What does it mean; what kinds of things are desirable to contemplate? For that matter, how does this last phrase fit with the first two? Are the three phrases — “good to eat” / “delight to the eyes” / “desirable to contemplate” — all related somehow?

    http://www.jewishworldreview.com/1104/fohrman7.php3

  6. Scott Thong Says:

    the tree was desirable to contemplate

    Could this be referring to the fact that God forbade Adam and Eve from eating the fruit of that particular tree, and it was thus desirable to Eve because it was off limits?

    i.e. As Eve looked at the tree and its fruit, she contemplated disobeying God and taking the fruit.

    This might also be related to Jesus’ exacting words that even looking or thinking about someone with lustful intentions is sinful.

  7. Scott Thong Says:

    You are wrong.
    Jephthah’s daughter was sacrificed – a vow have to be kept.
    Jephthah was a strong willed man – man of his word.
    If he did keep his vow – he would lose respect from his followers.
    Better not to vow than to make vow and not keep it – see Proverbs.
    In OT anyone who vows and not keep it brings a curse upon him/herself. – chrisian

    You ignored everything I explained about Levitical guidelines for burnt offerings, didn’t you?

    Jephthah was a man of his word. He made a vow and he kept it – he offered his daughter to God.

    But it is unlawful and impossible to offer a human as a Levitical burnt offering – only bulls, sheep, goats and pigeons can be offered in this manner. That would be breaking God’s law and committing murder, which is worse than breaking a vow.

    Therefore, he offered her to God in service instead.

  8. Alex Says:

    hey scott,
    thanks for clearing my doubts and questions. I had them lingering in my head a few weeks ago when i read that chapter…

  9. Doc Savage Says:

    That’s the most bizzare set of rationales I’ve ever read and would be completely rejected as non-sense were it not being offered as an explanation around a bit of inconvenient scripture for modern Christian sensibilities. The original Hebrew, as you likely know, clearly states the Jephthah’s daughter is cooked alive as a burnt offering. The kind of circular conjecture of which you engage makes virtually any bit of scripture meaningless because any half-rate theologian could make a case for it meaning anything they wanted it to mean.

    Heck, one could take the liberties you take with “interpretation” and prove the existence of the Easter Bunny using the scriptural references to Christ’s crucifixion! lol!

    Yes, you’re correct that under normal circumstances the Mosaic Law outlined what was and was not allowed as a burnt offering, but, that means nothing in the face of this direct bargaining between Jephthah and Yahweh. Certainly, the meaning of Judges 11 to thousands the Jewish people themselves was that Jephthah sacrificed his little girl to prove his faithfulness to Yahweh. He’s listed, of course, in the New Testament as one of God’s most faithful servants and it is NOT because the writers of the New Testament believed Jephthah had given his daughter to over to do the Lord’s work, for goodness sakes. Such an act would barely get you an honorable mention with the violent, vengeful and vindictive Yahweh!

  10. Scott Thong Says:

    Would you care to offer some proof of your following conjectures:

    1) That the original Hebrew ‘clearly states’ Jephthah’s daughter was actually burned? Not conjecture, but an actual statement.

    2) That the mainstream interpretation among Jewish believers is that Jephthah burned his daughter?

    3) That the interpretation of Jephthah burning his daughter is the correct one, regardless of what certain groups may believe? (For comparison, many people believe Jesus drank alcohol at the Last Supper… But all yeast products are banned during the Passover. Popular opinion does not truth make.)

    4) That YHWH approved of, commanded or intended Jephthah’s sacrifice of his daughter?

    5) That YHWH approved of human sacrifice at any time? (Consider the ample verses about Him despising human sacrifice I cited against this single instance of purported acceptance of it.)

    6) That YHWH actually had a bargain with Jephthah? (Consider well that YHWH is nowhere mentioned as accepting Jephthah’s offer, only that YHWH intended the enemy to be defeated.)

    7) That YHWH meant his laws as handed down through Moses to be broken any time someone feels that they ‘should’ or ‘can’ break them ‘for the greater good’?

    8.) That YHWH is at any time shown to be ‘violent, vengeful and vindictive’ in the Bible without just cause?

    9) That one can actually seriously argue for the existence of the Easter Bunny using Scripture? Bet you can’t.

    If you can prove none of the above, then I contend that my study, interpretation and logicking trump your shallow snarkiness and sarcasm any day… And that you are arguing out of your Balaam’s animal.

  11. Doc Savage Says:

    No, you’ve set me straight! Good thing I’ve still got my “shallow snarkiness” to help me sleep at night :-)

    Since you’re so good at nicely numbered challenges, here’s a few questions I’d be interested to know how you stand on them:

    1) How old is the Earth?

    2) Was there a literal Adam & Eve?

    3) Is there any credible evidence of a Great Flood?

    4) Did Noah put 2 of every creature on his big boat?

    5) Who wrote the New Testament books of Matthew, Mark and Luke?

    6) Who specifically goes to Heaven and how do they get there?

    Also, I’m ridiculously impressed by your use of “YHWH” for Yahweh. I’m guesing, however, you don’t use “Yeshua” or “Joshua” for “Jesus”. If not, please explain why.

    Or don’t :-)

    YHWH Bless You!

    ~Doc “Snarky Snark” Savage

  12. Doc Savage Says:

    Also, “noobish” is a cool word. I’ve heard a few use it before, but, you really make it your own. I’m sure Christ is proud of you! lol!

    ~Doc

  13. Doc Savage Says:

    Here’s one of your own suggesting both that the mainstream historical interpretation by both Jewish and Christian scholars has been in favor of an actual burnt offering of Jephthah’s daughter:

    http://www.thercg.org/questions/p044.a.html

    ~Doc

  14. Doc Savage Says:

    Also, it is too bad there are no pictures from Joshua’s genocidal rampage during the Battle of Jericho! (Joshua 6:21) I thought “situational ethics” were the domain of the insane liberals?

    ~Doc

  15. Scott Thong Says:

    Thank you for your concession.

    Here’s my answers according to my own personal understanding, tailored to pre-empt some follow-up contentions that I predict may follow (no guarantee given that any other believer will agree with my particular interpretations):

    1) I believe the Earth is most likely several hundred million years old, as judging from the universal distances involved after the Big Bang and the rate of cooling of the molten Earth. I do not subscribe to Young Earth theory, as I don’t interpret the Six Days of Creation as literal 24-hour days – therefore, any amount of time could have passed before the geneaology of humankind begins in the Bible.

    2) I believe that there were a literal Adam and Eve, as the Bible seems quite clear in mentioning them as real people.

    3) Yes, there is credible evidence of a wordlwide deluge – in the laying down of rock strata, the occurence of jellyfish fossils which seemed to have been suddenly buried under tons of sediment, and the oral mythologies of almost every human culture carrying a story of a great flood. However, all this evidence is circumstantial and subject to differing interpretation.

    4) According to the Bible, Noah placed two of every ‘kind’ of creature on the ark. The Biblical understanding of ‘kinds’ is not synonymous with the modern scientific notion of ‘species’ – so Noah could have placed just two representatives of, say, big cats on board, which would later have descended into the various lions, tigers and etc.

    5) According to tradition and modern literary research, the follower or secretary of Peter known as Mark wrote the Gospel of Mark. Based on the Gospel of Mark and perhaps a common source known in academic circles as ‘Q’, Matthew wrote Matthew and Luke wrote Luke with additional content. Luke also likely wrote the book of Acts, and is perhaps the same ‘dear friend Luke the doctor’ mentioned by Paul in Colossians 4:14. All three (and John too) most likely collected their accounts from surviving witnesses of Jesus’ ministry, including the Apostles themselves and Jesus Himself in the 40 days before His ascension to Heaven.

    6) IMHO, anyone who believes Jesus paid for their sins, asks for forgiveness and repents (i.e. obeys God from then on) will go to heaven – If they die before Jesus’ return, their souls will ascend to heaven via an undescribed method. If they are alive at the time of the Rapture, they will likely be taken into heaven in their physical bodies.

    (DISCLAIMER: What it means to ‘believe in Jesus’ in subject to debate. For example, is someone who believes in Jesus as an ordinary human teacher saved? How about one who believes in a divine Jesus who is still a lesser god than YHWH? Or one who believes Jesus = God = Shiva = Buddha? This is a difficult question, and I can only say that in the end, standing before that great throne in heaven, no one can accuse YHWH of being unfair and unjust in His verdict.)

    On the final note, I use YHWH, Yahweh and LORD interchangeably (see NIV preface for explanation). Likewise for Jesus, Yeshua, Yeshu or Yesus. It’s just a matter of preference… Although techically the Tetragrammaton is the true and proper term for YHWH.

    ———————————-

    Also, “noobish” is a cool word. I’ve heard a few use it before, but, you really make it your own. I’m sure Christ is proud of you! lol!

    Well, I doubt He’d have particular reason to be proud or ashamed of my using that word. In any case, I believe its meaning applies well to those whose only exposure to the Bible is one website before they go off on a polemic assault.

    ———————————-

    Here’s one of your own suggesting both that the mainstream historical interpretation by both Jewish and Christian scholars has been in favor of an actual burnt offering of Jephthah’s daughter:

    Given that various groups and individuals subscribe to a ‘Jephthah burns daughter’ interpretation, but as the link explains, it still does not in any way show that God approves of such an act – which is the main point I intended to address with this post.

    ———————————-

    Also, it is too bad there are no pictures from Joshua’s genocidal rampage during the Battle of Jericho! (Joshua 6:21) I thought “situational ethics” were the domain of the insane liberals?

    I gave Joshua 6 the treatment in another comment. Basically, we actually ALL deserve to die and burn in hell for our endless sinning. So what, are you going to criticize God for being too merciful to all the non-Jerichoites?

    At the end of that particular exhange, I called the commentor who brought this up a – yup, you guessed it – NOOB. Cos the various apologetic sites explaining the conquest and ‘brutal slaughterfest’ of Canaan are really not that hard to find and read through…

    http://scottthong.wordpress.com/2007/06/26/communism-atheism-relative-morality/#comment-22931

    1) God is the creator, giver and owner of life. Therefore it is wholly in His right to take back the life he gave to people – the life they never paid Him for, and didn’t even appreciate Him for. God did something like this before, with Sodom and Gomorrah, and even the Great Flood. Only with Canaan, He used soldiers instead of fire and water – but the authority is the same.

    2) A hundred-thousand strong army sloooooowly headed towards an enemy town would have been ample warning to evacuate the women and children, leaving only the fighting men and stubborn citizens. Thus, when a city such as Jericho fell, only the warriors were slaughtered.

    3) While the Israelites were traversing the desert and Canaan, various tribes attacked them without provocation. They often would launch ambush raids on the rear of the camp, killing the stragglers – i.e. Israelites who were weak, old or otherwise slower to travel. Thus they first declared war on the Israelites. The Amalekites for one attacked Israelites for 400 years before the Israelite’s responded!

    4) God commanded the Israelites to first offer peace. If that was rejected (i.e. The Canaanites say, SCREW PEACE WE GONNA KILL YOU ALL) then they were to force the enemy to retreat out of the land. If battle continued to the end, they were to kill the men but spare the women and children. Whether the Israelites obeyed that command or whether they murdered the children is their fault, not God’s.

    5) The Canaanites were not exactly innocent people – they practised incest, bestiality and child sacrifice (*cough* ABORTION *cough*). Taking into account the thousands of murders they would have committed over the centuries before the Israelites arrived, their very culture had to be wiped clean so that future generations wouldn’t follow in those abominable practices. (However, the disobedient Israelites did NOT kill all the Canaanites – and soon took up those same evil habits, thus dooming Israel from the start to the same fate.)

    See also:

    http://www.christian-thinktank.com/qamorite.html

    http://www.christian-thinktank.com/rbutcher1.html

    ———————————-

    YHWH bless you too. You have food, freedom and access to the Internet, that’s a huge bunch of blessings already.

  16. Michael Says:

    Hi Scott,

    I am confident of your understanding. One thing I would like you to modify, however, has to do with the suggestion that the priests would have also partaken of the sacrifice, and in this case that would constitute “cannibalism.”

    Regarding the “olah” (literally “ascending,” though translated “burnt offering”), it was to be COMPLETELY CONSUMED and the priest was not to have more than merely the hide of the sacrificed animal. In the case of Jephthah’s daughter, the parallel is obvious. She was not to be partially in service to the LORD while also marrying and bearing children. Instead, she was wholly given unto the LORD and therefore mourned as you explained.

    It is interesting to watch those issues non-believers stake out as their “smoking gun” excuse not to receive the truth of God and salvation through Jesus the Christ. While I can rattle off a substantial list of objections that have been offered, no amount of constradictory evidence has ever caused a rush to faith. Instead, once the Bible has been confirmed they simply move on to some other objection.

    For now I need to run. I’m going to get “The True Story Of Noah’s Ark” from the Discovery Channel. You see, the Bible directed by God Himself gives a false story while television producers 4000 years later have it right. I know this because they tell me so. My question to them, “Wait a second. If the Biblical record is false, isn’t it likely you have produced a show regarding an ark that never even existed?” never even got a response. Still, I’m absolutely certain my theology best comes from non-believers. Who would know better?

    Oops! I was wrong, I still have another hour! I know, where is my recording of “The True Story Rameses”? Maybe I’ll brush up on that one again! ;)))

  17. Doc Savage Says:

    Just as a For the Record follow-up, Doc Savage was raised in a Fundamentalist Southern Baptist Church, rarely missed a day of Sunday School or Wednesday Night Bible Study for most all my life and attended a Christian college where I studied religion before becoming first a Southern Baptist Minister and then a Methodist Minister. Obviously, I eventually rejected mysticism and embraced atheism in regard to the Christianity of my upbringing as well as all other religious doctrines as I understand them.

    In other words, I’ve heard all your apologetic arguments and incessant jumping through intellectual hoops only to eventually fall back on the standard argument that God can’t be proven. God, you’ll suggest, of course, can only be found by asking God to forgive your sins and then entering into a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, at which time the Holy Spirit will cofirm the Truth to my heart.

    I don’t reject your arguments for your God because I haven’t studied them and understood them correctly. I reject your faith because I don’t believe there is any reason anyone should feel compelled to resolve the central issue of your doctrine — that mankind’s sin has cut us off from communion with God and that without accepting the blood sacrifice of Christ, we all go to Hell where we belong.

    I have no idea what happens to a human being at death. I don’t believe you do either.

  18. Scott Thong Says:

    In other words, I’ve heard all your apologetic arguments and incessant jumping through intellectual hoops only to eventually fall back on the standard argument that God can’t be proven. God, you’ll suggest, of course, can only be found by asking God to forgive your sins and then entering into a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, at which time the Holy Spirit will cofirm the Truth to my heart.

    I don’t believe I myself have argued that at all in this post… Or any other of my posts or comments either. (Maybe you mean you’ve heard it from other Christians before.)

    That’s because I strive not to fall back to the ‘God of the gaps’ or ‘God exists no matter what’ argument. To me, that is basically the same as conceding logical defeat.

    Instead, I prefer this line of thinking, if you would deem worthy of your logical-rational thinking time to check out:

    http://scottthong.wordpress.com/2008/03/12/easy-3-steps-to-why-we-can-believe-the-bible-about-spirituality-and-metaphysics/

    Paraphrased to 4 steps, they are:

    1) The Bible says stuff about God and history.
    2) We can’t prove if what it says about God is true.
    3) But we can prove if what it says about history is true.
    4) So if we prove what it says about history is true, therefore what it says about God is more likely to be true.

    I am not a moron, sir. I am naturally skeptical, cynical and formally trained as a scientist. Personally, I don’t recall any special ‘confirmation in my heart’ from the Holy Spirit that felt any different to me.

    Although I concur that faith by definition cannot be about something that is absolutely proven, I also believe that the Christian faith has plenty of ‘corroborating evidence’.

    Yes, I admit that no one knows for sure what happens at death. Christians can only trust that what the Bible says is true. And I have plenty reason to believe that the Bible is trustworthy on all matters – historical and spiritual.

    Plenty other intelligent, rational individuals have weighed the evidence and gone from atheism to belief – quite the opposite of your experience.

    http://scottthong.wordpress.com/2007/12/28/christianity-the-faith-of-famously-intellectual-logical-reasonable-thinkers/

    http://scottthong.wordpress.com/2007/12/04/physicists-believe-in-god-or-at-least-a-creator-or-designer-a-collection-of-quotes/

    Plenty of others I personally know have gone from atheism, agnosticism, Buddhism, Taoism, Hindu priesthood, Roman Catholicism, nominal Christianity and backsliding to relationship-based Christianity. (But others have also gone the opposite way.)

    And one more piece of evidence that I cannot ignore: My own personal experience with prayer that is answered specifically – specific time, specific place of work, specific job requirements, specific request – coincidences so coincidental that it cannot be pure chance.

    ———————————–

    I don’t reject your arguments for your God because I haven’t studied them and understood them correctly.

    So far, all you’ve done is make accusations, then avoided countering the explanations I provide, and then moved on to a new and successively more difficult polemics.

    I’m surprised you reached the ‘You can’t prove God’ point already – impatience much?

    If you’re so experienced in Christianity and its arguments, why did you even come here and bring up all these polemics about Jephthah and Joshua?

    Surely as an educated, intelligent and logical individual (being an atheist, I assume you must be), you would know that there exist valid explanations and refutations for these polemics.

    Were you just trying to test me? Or spoiling for a fight? Or, well, just bored?

    ————————————

    I reject your faith because I don’t believe there is any reason anyone should feel compelled to resolve the central issue of your doctrine — that mankind’s sin has cut us off from communion with God and that without accepting the blood sacrifice of Christ, we all go to Hell where we belong.

    Hey, it’s a free country buddy (at least until that World Sharia comes along, courtesy of CAIR and the ACLU). So go ahead and reject my faith, it’s not like I can force you to believe.

    New post on that point currently under preparation, (co)incidentally.

  19. Scott Thong Says:

    Michael: /sarcasm man! lol!

    Hey, don’t forget that Jesus married Mary Magdalene and had kids, was actually gay so wouldn’t be interested in Mary Magdalene, was buried in the Talbiot tomb, traveled to India and was buried there, went to Japan and was buried there, didn’t die at all so wasn’t buried (Islam), was an agent of the aliens who are good (Raelian) or evil (Scientology), was reincarnated as Jim Jones and Jose Luis de Jesus Miranda and Charles Manson and Marshall Applewhite and Ahnsahnghong (some of them at the same time as each other), and also didn’t actually exist.

    Because you just know everyone except the Church is right… Right?

    /sarcasm

  20. TraveloVacations Says:

    wow..
    a good story..

    Thank you :)

  21. Doc Savage Says:

    I always find it so interesting how self-congratulatory much of the discourse is within dogmatic religious circles. You and I are likely of similar minds in regard to a few basics of politics, economics and even the ACLU. I have no difficulty differentiating a Fundamentalist Christian who supports the rule of law, the freedom of religion and support for a constitution that protects the rights of minorities with a vengeance from a Theocratic Muslim seeking to establish Global Sharia rule.

    I would think you’ve shown yourself fair and intelligent enough to recognize the difference between a thoughtful challenge to your doctrine and a competitor in the realm of religious memes.

    Having said that, there’s no more compelling reason to believe Jesus was born of a Virgin and then rose from the dead after his crucifixion than there is to believe the claims ofthe Raelians or the Scientologist. In fact, it is the 2000 year attack on reason by religionists such as yourself that forms the lauching pad from which the claims of all manner of nonsensical religious claims springforth.

    So, no, not “everyone except the Church is right”… Christianity simply belongs on the same list with Islam, Scientology or the Raelians when it comes to the spread of myth as dogmatic fact in the world.

    You are smart, though, and I can respect a keen intellect at work even as I mourn it being wasted on Christian apologetics!

    ~Doc

  22. Scott Thong Says:

    You and I are likely of similar minds in regard to a few basics of politics, economics and even the ACLU.

    I would agree – I am fairly libertarian when it comes to social rights and freedoms. I don’t blanket ban your right to be an unholy atheist, and you don’t blanket ban my right to be a brainwashed Christian. Fair enough, no?

    We can always get back to ripping into each other intellectually once the jihadists are stopped from ripping into all of us suicide-attackly.

    —————————————–

    Having said that, there’s no more compelling reason to believe Jesus was born of a Virgin and then rose from the dead after his crucifixion than there is to believe the claims ofthe Raelians or the Scientologist.

    Are you really familiar with the historical, archaeological and textual basis of Chrisianity’s claims? I’m not sure if you learn that mandatorily in Bible college.

    For example, compare the well documented correlation between the Biblical accounts and modern archaeology:

    The Cyrus Cylinder and Ezra

    The Jeremiah Tablet

    Isaiah’s prophecies about Jesus’ life in the Dead Sea Scrolls secularly dated to 300 years before Jesus

    Certainly the Bible is much better grounded historically than the Raelians, Scientologists, or any other religion.

    —————————————–

    We can’t prove that Jesus was really born of a virgin or rose from the dead 2000 years after the fact.

    But we can surmise from anecdotal evidence that at the very least, the early Christians believed this to be true, and the nonChristians knew they believed such.

    – Rumours among non-followers of Jesus during His lifetime were that He was an illegitimate child, used to mock claims of a ‘virgin birth’.

    – This occurence was recorded by Greek writer Celsus in a polemic against Christianity, in which he quotes a Roman soldier, Pantheras, as Yeshu’s actual father.

    – The Talmud also carries a record by Baraiha, who claims that Jesus is the child of an adulteress according to a geneaological roll.

    – Lucian and other Greco-Roman historians alluded to the Christian superstition that Jesus did not stay dead.

    – The Apostles were apparently convinced that Jesus really did overcome death and appeared to them, to the point that each of them (minus John, plus Paul) was martyred for their beliefs – which reduces the probability that they invented the resurrection hoax as a scam. Peter for one changed overnight from a fearful man who denied even knowing Jesus, to a bold preacher daring to speak ‘blasphemy’ in public.

    – The body of Jesus was not to be found, even though the ragtag Apostles wouldn’t have been able to steal His dead body from the guarded tomb, and the Romans/Sanhendrin had no benefit from being unable to produce the dead body to quell resurrection rumours.

    If you accept anecdotes from the Bible:

    – John 8:41 has the Jews mocking Jesus about the rumours: “We are not illegitimate children,” they protested. “The only Father we have is God himself.”

    – Luke 24 states that everyone knew about the body of Jesus not being in the tomb (which ties back to Who Could and Would Have Stolen The Body?): Are you only a visitor to Jerusalem and do not know the things that have happened there in these days? They went to the tomb early this morning but didn’t find his body. Then some of our companions went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but him they did not see.

    – Acts 2 has Peter challenging the audience to debunk the claim that Jesus’ body can’t be found in the tomb: God has raised this Jesus to life, and we are all witnesses of the fact.

    – 1st Corinthians 15:6 has Paul challenging any living contemporary witnesses to debunk his claim that Jesus was resurrected: After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep.

    ——————————————-

    You are smart, though, and I can respect a keen intellect at work even as I mourn it being wasted on Christian apologetics!

    But, ah… What better battlefield to train one’s debating skills in than one where I am under constant rhetorical assault by atheists, Muslims, liberals, pro-homosexuals and general trolls?

    In any case, thank you for your compliment.

  23. Doc Savage Says:

    Dang it! I’m liking you more all time ;-) Carry on protecting the world fro the likes of me and I’ll check back over the weekend when personal economic pursuits aren’t so distracting…

    In The Name of the Flying Spaghetti Monster,
    ~Doc

  24. wits0 Says:

    Scott, was Jephthah dealing with YHWH or Elohim?

  25. Scott Thong Says:

    Take your time, Doc… We’ll sharpen both our skills.

    In the name of the Tunneling Meatball Mole,
    Scott

  26. Scott Thong Says:

    wits0, Jephthah was attempting to deal with YHWH. The term LORD is continually used in Judges 11, which is the English translation for the Hebrew YHWH.

    This is as opposed to the other titles for the God of the Bible: Elohim (God, also used for deities outside Judaism) or Adonai (Lord, also used for human lords). The preface of any NIV Bible should contain an explanation.

    The different titles each imply something different about God’s personality – YHWH for the personal God (especially in relation to Israel as the chosen people), Elohim for the God who rules over all the world, Adonai as a term of respect in order to avoid ‘misusing the name of YHWH’ from Exodus 20.

    Each title, however, refers to the same entity. This is comparable to calling Mr. Smith ‘dad’, ‘honey’, ‘boss’ or ‘son’ – terms describing different aspects of the same person.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Names_of_God_in_Judaism

    —————————–

    The JEPD documentary hypothesis instead holds the claim that each of the various compilers of the slapped-together Bible used a different name for God. Therefore, every instance of YHWH means that so-and-so made up that part of the ‘fictional’ history of Israel.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Documentary_hypothesis

    However, this would result in quite a bit of absurdity when YHWH and Adonai and Elohim keep alternately appearing in a single passage!

    Interesting trivia: A reverend sucessfully hoaxed all the experts in documentary hypothesis in order to debunk their claimed ability to distinguish which compiler invented what part of the Bible.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Amber_Witch

  27. wits0 Says:

    “In still other cases, the meaning is not clear from the text, but may refer to powerful beings (e.g. Genesis 6:2, “… the sons of Elohim saw the daughters of men that they were fair; and they took them for wives… ,” ”

    If Elohim has sons and Elohim was/is YHWH, than Jesus Christ cannot be that God’s only begotten son, no? In any case, who begat the “sons of Elohim”.

    I think, maybe, they flew in by Vimanas(UFOs) which isn’t something so merely mythical. ;)

    No, no, I don’t simply allow my imagination to run too wild either, not at all to the too unfettered degree of Eric Von Daniken. :D. There being no clear statement that the Garden of Eden was literal and sited on Earth too.

  28. Scott Thong Says:

    “In still other cases, the meaning is not clear from the text, but may refer to powerful beings (e.g. Genesis 6:2, “… the sons of Elohim saw the daughters of men that they were fair; and they took them for wives… ,”

    One modest interpretation of the Nephilim is that they simply meant that they were god-fearing, holy men who took ungodly, pagan women as wives.

    Or they could really be half-mutated, stump-winged freaks as the X-Files portrayed

  29. ApoloDoc Says:

    Having read through both your original post as well as the responses, I do not buy the argument that Jeph did not sacrifice his daughter. This is quite troubling as he is listed in Hebrews 11. However, Samson is also listed, and he engaged in behavior that was not pleasing to God as well.

    Historically, the vast majority of early Jewish scholars as well as Christian scholars support the view that he did sacrifice his daughter. I think that the tendency to soften the interpretation has been a later development. It DOES offend our sensibilities, but look at who Jeph was: son of a prostitute, dispossessed, running with ‘wild men’, and raised in a pagan culture. I doubt he had the book of Leviticus committed to memory.

    As you have noted, none of this suggests that God approved of the sacrifice. This passage best fits the closing line of Judges: Everyone did what was right in his own eyes. [Judges 21:25] Sounds like today, eh?

  30. Scott Thong Says:

    Having read through both your original post as well as the responses, I do not buy the argument that Jeph did not sacrifice his daughter. This is quite troubling as he is listed in Hebrews 11. However, Samson is also listed, and he engaged in behavior that was not pleasing to God as well.

    I suppose that the ‘heroes of faith’ were listed based on the good things they did by faith, rather than by their behaviour as a whole. Jeph rose against the oppressors of the Israelites when everyone else was cowardly, Samson smited the Philistines and called upon God in humility in his last moments.

    On the other hand, we could use the ‘heroes of faith’ passage to argue that Jeph did not sacrifice his daugthter. As a former Pharisee, Paul would know his Scriptures well. If Paul’s view was that Jeph sacrificed his daughter as a forbidden human offering, would he have been so quick to include Jeph as a hero of faith?

    As you have noted, none of this suggests that God approved of the sacrifice. This passage best fits the closing line of Judges: Everyone did what was right in his own eyes. [Judges 21:25] Sounds like today, eh?

    Right on the spot… I had come across that verse and thought I should include it, but it slipped my mind. I’ll slot it in some time when I’m free, thanks for the reminder!

  31. Job Says:

    I disagree. Here is an excellent document why.

    http://docs.google.com/View?docid=dhgr3tfq_169dsf4pvhh

  32. Scott Thong Says:

    An excellent reference, Job, and with a conclusion that I mentioned before – that the ‘heroes of faith’ were included despite their many shortcomings.

  33. Jennifer Says:

    What a fantastic website! I am speechless…

  34. Jennifer Says:

    Also – this explanation helped me so much because the oft-accepted theory that Jephthah sacrificed his own daughter (on an altar) did not make sense according to the strict laws of sacrifice God Himself set up, as you outlined clearly. Furthermore, sacrifices were not burned alive in any case (as many above mistakenly mentioned). They were slaughtered first by cutting the throat and then by burning the carcass.

  35. Scott Thong Says:

    I’m glad you found it useful… It rounded up some defenses I’ve heard and some original ones I added myself. But do look at the earlier comments for the debate I had with commentors who are dead-set that Jephthah did sacrifice his daughter.

  36. Carolyn Says:

    Thank you for sharing your insight on this text. My son’s best friend at school is an atheist and my son is a christian. His friend brought this one up and neither one of us knew quite what to say or think right away. This had my son actually questioning his beliefs in a loving God. God has used you. Thank you. It makes sense.

  37. Scott Thong Says:

    I’m glad I could help in some small way. Always remember that Christians throughout 2000 years have faced the same kinds of questioning and criticisms – but they have not given up their faith!

    When we are confronted by a seemingly unresolvable problem, we can either surrender to it and give up the good fight… Or we can surrender to God and trust that, in the right timing, we will discover the answer.

    God bless!

  38. Tom Howe Says:

    Thanks for this. Not completely convinced by the “nun” thing (are there any OT references to Nunneries?) but the reinstatement of the rest of the OT law helped me.

  39. Scott Thong Says:

    Glad I could contribute. The ‘nun’ thing is my own paraphrasing of something I read (from Lee Strobel’s A Case For Faith I think), which just stated it as a vow to remain a virgin.

    Note that Jephthah could still have broken all the OT laws and burnt his daughter – the judges were not exactly infallible role models (see Gideon’s idol, Samson’s philandering). But it would still not be God who commanded it.

  40. Matt Nicholson Says:

    Thank you so much Scott this helps so much!

  41. Anon Says:

    Just a couple points of interest – In your first point, according to my translation of the Bible it states: “40 That the daughters of Israel went yearly to lament the daughter of Jephthah the Gileadite four days in a year.” Is the sacrifice of a life of chastity worthy enough for generations of Isreali women to lament four days out of the year, each year? It clearly does not make much sense, using your interpretation. In your second argument, it would be just as nonsensical for your proposed stone pestle to be expected to take an oath of virginity, yet feasible to consider that were a stone pestle the first thing out of his house to meet Jephthah it could be destroyed in sacrifice to God. Similarly, if it was a young goat that had been the first to meet Jephthah, would it be expected to live a life of chastity or be sacrificed as a burnt offering? So it is a bit of a ridiculous argument to make. And in your fifth argument, according to the translation in my copy of the Bible, it states “32 So Jephthah passed over unto the children of Ammon to fight against them; and the LORD delivered them into his hands.” That to pretty much anyone’s interpretation would mean that Yahweh was keeping his end of the bargain. Therefore, if it is to be believed that 1) ‘prayer’ (or bargaining with God) works and is rewarded; and 2) the Bible is, if not the word of God, at least sanctioned by God, then it makes it pretty clear that Yahweh wanted the sacrifice to happen. Sorry.

  42. Scott Thong Says:

    Well Anon, I can agree with your first point – it would be more understandable for the other women to mourn the death of Jephthah’s daughter… But that is only if they lament her.

    Using parallel Bible translations (http://bible.cc/judges/11-40.htm), we find a variety of English translations ranging from lament to sorrowing to commemorate to celebrate to sing praises.

    So the only thing we can be really sure of with our limited understanding of Hebrew is that women remembered what Jephthah’s daughter did, which kind of waters down your first point.

    As for your second point, you kinda lost me there – doesn’t your line of argument actually agree with mine, that there is a different method of ‘sacrifice’ for each kind of object?

    As for your conclusion, you omit the fact that YHWH still intended for the Ammonites to be defeated. Would He allow the defeat and wholesale slaughter of the Israelites just to avoid the foolish, unilateral oath of Jephthah?

    Besides, your remark that the Bible the Bible is, if not the word of God, at least sanctioned by God sounds very much like a standard Muslim allegation – that the Bible contains profanities and evil, and therefore cannot be God’s word.

    Can God not tell us a historical fact, that we may learn from the past? The Bible tells of humanity’s disobedience, of Israel’s apostasy, or the devil’s opposition, of how Jesus was unjustly executed. Do you really think that God condones these things, just because they are recorded in the Bible? That would be supremely naive.

    Your comment also glosses over the other points I made in favour of YHWH not clearly sanctioning killing Jephthah’s daughter, as is made clear in direct proclamations against human sacrifice elsewhere in the Bible and the parameters for ritual sacrifice according to Mosaic laws.

    Does one single verse carry more weight than the entirety of these other verses?

  43. Anon Says:

    Sorry for the lack of clarity in my second point. I was intending to mean that of all possible objects or being that could come out of Jehthah’s house, sacrifice by some means of destruction is the most likely and practical interpretation, regardless of whether it was condoned by God or not.

    As for the unilaterality of the oath and the potential destruction of the Israelites, I interpret the chapter in a different light. The conflict was not a simple decision for the Israelites between destroy the children of Ammon or be destroyed. They could have sued for peace by returning the land they annexed from the children of Ammon (Judges 11:13), which was promised to the Israelites by Yehwah. Therefore an omniscient God either gave the Israelites the land, knowing that war would be made and that Jehthah would lead his people in battle after making such an oath as he did, and thus God was party to the oath made; or it has to be concluded that Yehwah is not omniscient. Furthermore, no oath would need to be made if peace were sought. Peace would have also avoided the necessity to murder other men in battle, which is a detestable act.

    And for your final rebuttal, I think that highlights a larger issue. There are many instances in the Bible where Yahweh decrees something that he has previously forbad and Vice versa. In addition to the passages that you have highlighted there are several others in the Bible that clearly states Yahweh’s request for men to be killed and sacrificed, particularly if they are adherents to another God, Numbers 31:1-41 comes to mind but there are others. I am not stating this as a case for Yahweh constantly demanding human sacrifice and therefore Judeo-Christian religions are evil. It is merely to point out that using the Bible as an absolute moral code is not feasible, so why can’t we all just drop the pretenses and operate under the assumption that most people have a perfectly sensible system of deriving their morality and that is through democratic, social consensus and a secular legal code. Not to mention that when people are interpreting the Bible they are doing just that, interpreting the words using there own preconceived ideas of morality.

    Thank you for your time and discussion.

  44. Scott Thong Says:

    Hmm, you seem to be well versed in these chapters of the Bible as well as strong deductive skills. I shall present my opinion on the following.

    ——————————-

    I was intending to mean that of all possible objects or being that could come out of Jehthah’s house, sacrifice by some means of destruction is the most likely and practical interpretation, regardless of whether it was condoned by God or not.

    Agreed, and that is most likely what Jephthah had in mind too – that a goat or sheep would wander out into his arms for a burnt offering to please God with. When it turned out to be his daughter who came out to meet him, would it still be pleasing to God if Jephthah broke multiple laws in order to keep his oath in the most literal sense?

    And he could easily have avoided this issue by paying thirty shekels of silver in place of the person dedicated to the Lord, but as I mentioned, his daughter willingly went ahead with the dedication.

    ——————————–

    They could have sued for peace by returning the land they annexed from the children of Ammon (Judges 11:13)

    As Judges 11:19-23 states, the land being contested previously belonged to the AmoRites, not the AmmoNites.

    Besides, the Ammonites had already shown their predisposition towards unprovoked aggression against the Israelites in the past, as Judges 11:14-27 makes clear. Giving in to their baseless demands would only encourage further and more exorbitant demands.

    And may I just say that even with the modern day state of Israel, all they ever get for returning ‘annexed land’ and refraining from advancing those few dozen more kilometres to capture the enemy’s capitals is more aggression and increased attacks. Quid pro quo and reciprocation are not the words of the day, it seems.

    —————————————-

    Therefore an omniscient God either gave the Israelites the land, knowing that war would be made and that Jehthah would lead his people in battle after making such an oath as he did, and thus God was party to the oath made; or it has to be concluded that Yehwah is not omniscient.

    By your reasoning and definition of ‘omniscient’, you don’t actually have to read so far into the Bible to reach that conclusion. You can simply say that God is not omniscient because He created Adam and Eve who went on to sin. Hecl, you could go even further back and say that God creating Lucifer displayed a lack of omniscience.

    Omniscience does not equal pure predestination, where humans have no free will as everything has already been decided upon by God.

    I look at God’s omniscience this way: You know those gamebooks that were popular back in the 90s? The reader starts at page 1, but at the end of each page you are given a choice of which path to follow through the story and turn to the corresponding page. Depending on your choices, a huge number of possible combinations of paths can be taken to reach the end of the book (or die trying, curse you Fighting Fantasy!!!).

    But what about the gamebook author? Even though there are numerous possible combinations, the author already knows what each choice will lead to – since he wrote the entire book. A keen enough author might even be able to remember each and every single possible path through the book, page by page and plot point by plot point. But this does not mean that the reader has no choice in the matter of how the story goes. The pages are there, but which pages the reader turns to is not set.

    The gamebook is thus a metaphor for all creation and all history – an infinite number of possible combinations. The readers are us – all humans throughout all of history – deciding the path we (and history) take. And the gamebook author is, of course, God – already knowing every single one of the infinite combinations, but allowing us to choose how the story goes.

    In this way, God can be omniscient (knowing everything that is to come) and at the same time not constrain the free will of humans and the path that history takes.

    And just as all gamebooks have certain plot points that are inevitable, including the ending, history has certain junctions that will be reached – such as the birth of Jesus Christ and His future return. In this way, God can give prophecies through his prophets and have them come true without forcibly shoving history towards that direction.

    Btw, thanks for inspiring me to put this all down in words at last – now I can finally post it! ;>

    ———————————————–

    Peace would have also avoided the necessity to murder other men in battle, which is a detestable act.

    The key difference in our philosophies here is what is defined as ‘murder’. Solely within the context of the Biblical narrative and the Exodus through Judges era (in order to avoid veering the discussion off to modern psycho serial killers), murder can be understood as the unjustified taking of a person’s life. This can be contrasted with the justified taking of a person’s life.

    God as the creator and giver of life has the sole right and authority to take it back. Man as a mere created being does not. Hence, God cannot commit ‘murder’ as He is merely retrieving something He had given out on loan – and without any payment from the loaner, I might add. Similarly, when God commands that a certain person or a certain tribe be annihilated, it is entirely within His rights to do so – humans would not even exist but for the free gift of life God granted them.

    Perhaps this comparison would be helpful: If God rained fire down and incinerated all the Canaanites into ash, would it raise the same moral objections as God using the Israelite army to accomplish the same ends? Why should this be so, when the authorizing in both cases is the same, i.e. God? Only the tool used differs.

    ————————————————-

    In addition to the passages that you have highlighted there are several others in the Bible that clearly states Yahweh’s request for men to be killed and sacrificed, particularly if they are adherents to another God, Numbers 31:1-41 comes to mind but there are others.

    There is a key difference between the eradication of the pagan tribes and the Mosaic ritual sacrifices, and that is the purpose of the act.

    With the Mosaic sacrifices such as the guilt offering, the burnt offering and the fellowship offering, the purpose is relationship. By sacrificing the life of an animal, the supplicant temporarily absolves himself of the guilt of sin and repairs his relationship with God. By sacrificing the first of the grain or wine, the supplicant renews his friendship with God. (And when Jesus Christ, sinless and infinite died in the cross, His sacrifice performed these functions for all mankind throughout all eternity.)

    On the other hand, the eradication of the various Canaanite tribes had a strategic and sociopolitical purpose. As God warned many times, the Israelites were to totally wipe out the peoples they encountered because of the evil that had corrupted the Canaanite societies. Leaving any trace of their people culture or carried the very real risk of passing on that evil down to future generations and infecting God’s people as well. God does not lay out elaborate step-by-step rules as seen in the sanctioned Mosaic animal sacrifices, but merely commands that they be utterly destroyed in war.

    And as the following history narrated in the Bible shows, the Israelites disobeyed God’s command, instead sparing the Canaanite tribes – which led to the corruption of the Israelites, just as God had warned.

    Calling God’s command to purge the land of evil a ‘sacrifice’ is therefore misleading, as it does not fit the Biblical notion of sacrifice.

    A clear contrast can be seen by comparing the so-called ‘sacrifice’ of pagans to YHWH with the human sacrifice rituals of the Aztecs. In the former, YHWH commands the military defeat and eradication of the Canaanites to accomplish a strategic goal. Whereas in the latter, the sole purpose of the heart-ripped-out human sacrifices was to appease the Aztec gods.

    ———————————————–

    It is merely to point out that using the Bible as an absolute moral code is not feasible, so why can’t we all just drop the pretenses and operate under the assumption that most people have a perfectly sensible system of deriving their morality and that is through democratic, social consensus and a secular legal code.

    This leads to the issue of absolute versus relative morality, which I flesh out in A Simple Example of Relative Morality.

    You may also wish to examine my argument that atheists should consider consensual, non-propagative INCEST as morally correct.

    To wit, in a ‘democratic, social consensus and a secular legal code’, what happens when the majority of people decide that killing certain sections of the populace is moral? Does that make genocide moral just because 51% of the populace supports it?

    The Holocaust is what happens (Hitler’s religious influences aside, the Nazi Party convinced the majority of Germany that it was moral to exterminate the ‘inferior races’). The Communist purges of 100 million over just 50 years is what happens (who needs that ‘Thou shalt not kill’ opiate of the masses superstition anyway?).

    Extend this concept to entire nations where the vast majority hold the opinion that women are chattel or sex with animals is wholesome good fun, and therein lies the dilemma of having a moral code that is not based on an unchanging document with a timeless source, but instead based on the temporary whims of short lived human cultures.

    To quote some of the closing words of A Simple Example of Relative Morality:

    In the future, what if they find that dogs or chimpanzees or dolphins are sentient enough to consent to sex with humans in a way that is not controlled solely by instinct? A concious decision? Then wouldn’t it be wrong to deny them the free choice to have sex with willing humans? Whereas, even a thousand years from now, religious believers like me will still say: “It is wrong to have sex with animals, because God says so!”

  45. Anon Says:

    I appreciate your time taken to discuss these points, but I still find a number of problems all culminating with the same conclusion. However, I will address things in order before making my conclusions.

    I made no claim on what Jephthah expected to come out of his house merely that all possibilities pointed more directly to a sacrifice by destruction and to highlight that it would not be unheard of in biblical times for such a thing to be done, again regardless of whether it is condoned by God or not. There are precedents for God declaring situations were daughters could and should be burned (Leviticus 21:9) and the importance of vows (Deuteronomy 23:21-23). And again, something that I will get back to at the end, this is not about whether or not the sacrifice was condoned merely that it happened and that the nature of the Bible requires interpretation and represents a ‘subjective morality’ rather than the ‘absolute morality’ you profess it to be nor the ‘relative morality’ you seem to fear.

    As for the land in dispute, it is apparent from Judges 11 that the land was taken by the Israelites directly from Amorites after the Exodus. However, Biblical historians believe what Judges 11 hints at, namely that the lands in question belonged to the Ammonites (and possibly at some point the Moabites) prior to the Amorites. While this does weaken the Ammonites claims to the lands, it does not preclude diplomacy. Yet Jephthah merely rebuts with a claim very similar to “My God is better than your God” (Judges 11:24-25). I admit I should have been more clear in my wording, but what I intended was very clear that I did not feel kill or be killed were Jephthah’s only two options, as you have contested. Why after previous orders by Yehwah to not encroach on Ammonite land (Deuteronomy 2:26-37) could divinely-inspired diplomacy not be sought?

    As for your arguments of free-will and omniscience, that is another matter entirely, yet it comes back to subjectively interpreting what God does and doesn’t do or know, and in so doing severely limit his power. Additionally, as you argued previously, God was simply not going to let the Israelites be destroyed.

    “As for your conclusion, you omit the fact that YHWH still intended for the Ammonites to be defeated. Would He allow the defeat and wholesale slaughter of the Israelites just to avoid the foolish, unilateral oath of Jephthah?”

    Why not? It could result as an error of their free will, could it not? Yahweh’s also punished his followers and others for far less than making a foolish vow (such as making a mistake 2 Samuel 6:6-8). So, what your claiming is that Yahweh can not under any circumstances intervene in human affairs (including deal-making and prayer), … unless it will make him look bad or in rare instances of some of his chosen people being under threat? I’m sorry God either knows and commands all or he doesn’t, you can’t honestly and realistically claim both in defence of the same position. And furthermore, making claims and deductions pertaining to God’s influence and power again requires your subjective interpretation.

    With respect to your discussion of murder (and by the way I should have used ‘kill’ instead of ‘murder’ as a truer reflection, since murder can be interpreted in its own right – as has been done in some Protestant translated versions of the bible after the mid-1900’s which have changed the 6th commandment from kill to murder), this contains a number of logical fallacies. Primarily it assumes that there is a God, and that Yahweh – the tribal god of the Israelites among the whole Hebrew Pantheon – is supreme and an absolute moral authority. Further it assumes that men can and do communicate directly with him – if not how could the armies of Israel know who to eradicate and when to do it? And it raises a number of other issues, specifically in Judges 11 how did Jephthah get things so wrong in his communication with Yahweh that he would make such a foolish vow. Surely since he was killing for God, he would have had to be exchanging messages with such a being. And on top of that, similarly to the previous argument, what happens to the free will of the Israelite army when they are ordered to commit genocide (why the need for slaughtering the innocent women and children: e.g. 1 Samuel 15; Numbers 31) – I’m sure that someone must have objected to the slaughter (for guidance on what might happen refer to 1 Kings 20:35-36)? Finally, how can God order the killing of people when it would cause men to act in direct contravene of Mosaic Law and which is repeated in several place, including the commandments (e.g. Genesis 9:6; Exodus 21:12). Just for the record, this argument is being made using your own precedent for one-sided citation of the Bible – for times when Yahweh makes the contradictory statement that man can and should kill another man see for starters Exodus 21:12,15,17; 22:18; Leviticus 20:9; 21:9; Deuteronomy 21:18-21; Matthew 15:4; etc…. And again this is not made from the perspective that the God of the Bible kills, Judeo-Christian religions are evil, but that using the Bible is subjective. As for the comparison you made with it being OK for the armies of Israel to kill people for Yahweh, but not for the Aztecs to do likewise, that sounds remarkable similar to Jephthah’s subjective rebuttal that “My God is better that your God” and “Might is right” And by the way, weren’t the Aztecs trying to accomplish strategic goals in there sacrifices, since most sacrifices were performed on conquered people to appease and follow the orders of their Gods?

    So to quickly summarise the above points before moving on the ridiculousness of your final rebuttals: In making an interpretation that is logically and most literally against what is described in the Bible (again irrespective of whether God sanctioned or condoned the act), in establishing a choice made by Jephthah in the context of a false dichotomy, in defining a contradictory and limiting potential of God’s power, and finally interpreting where and when killing is good in God’s eyes – you are using your subjectivity to rationalise a moral message from the Bible.

    Now I wanted to address the most absurd stance of your rebuttal, which – like the rest of your arguments – appears to completely miss the main point of my previous proposition, regarding moral authority. When I mentioned a democratic, social consensus and a secular legal code, it seems that on several levels you did not understand the clear functional meaning of this. Personally, I find this very disconcerting. It either indicates a woeful ignorance or an intention to present only misinformation or unbalanced perspectives of history. Either way, it is disingenuous to rely on either ignorance or misinformation in presenting an argument, when you yourself accuse your opponents of such a tactic:

    “After a shallow reading of certain verses, often without taking the context of the rest of the chapter into account and almost never considering other relevant portions of the Bible…. More often than not the critic never actually read or studied the passage in question, and is merely parroting of a website or message board posting by someone else – who also may not have ever actually looked inside a Bible before either.”

    First off, a secular legal code is not derived simple from a simple majority rules, in the derivation of a just secular legal code, under a democratic institution the aim is to protect and provide for the freedoms of all individuals, so … “To bring about the rule of righteousness in the land, so that the strong should not harm the weak.” – Preamble to Hammurabi’s Code 1760 BCE. And how does your argument of “what happens when the majority of people decide that killing certain sections of the populace is moral? Does that make genocide moral just because 51% of the populace supports it?” differ from you position that ‘might makes right’ in the Bible (see above)? These points demonstrate merely your potential ignorance. As for the claims of the results of democratic, social consensus and a secular legal code, this can be attributed to either ignorance or a conscious effort to deceive. How could you honestly and informatively offer two examples of totalitarian dictatorships as a rebuttal for the efficacy of a democratic, secularly legislated society? So, giving you the benefit of the doubt, which I consider generous since you had the forethought to include “Hitler’s religious influences aside…”, I will give you a history lesson. While the Nazi Party had elected officials in the government prior to 1933 they did not at any point hold an elected majority in the Reichstag. With a slim majority, made by a coalition of parties and subversive tactics (referred to as Gleichschaltung) Hitler was able to eliminate opposition and seize absolute power, enacting laws severely limiting individuality and dissention from Nazi policies. Therefore there was no need for a majority decision on the elimination of other races and none was sought, and thus does not in anyway represent a secular legal tradition. Further as you referenced, Hitler (who was Catholic – but that is irrelevant) along with many of the German command and perhaps its citizenry were operating from a largely Lutherian interpretation of the Bible (Luther interpreted make sections of the Bible to blame the Jews for the death of Jesus – John 8:42-59; Mark 3:6) and believed (much like the Israelites before this) that they were doing God’s work as a chosen people. So rather than secular morality (which was suppressed under Hitler) leading to this, there is a much stronger case supporting subjective morality, based on interpretation, being involved. As for Communist Russia, under Stalin, again this was a totalitarian dictatorship, brought about by a bloody revolution, were all forms of freedom were suppressed, not a free democratic, secular society interested in the protection of its citizens. Why didn’t you make mention of the number of fundamentalist religious societies that practice arcane legal punishments based on something equally as valid as the Bible in modern society, or even better other historical cases where Biblical law was used to justify a large number of horrendous killings? And further still why you didn’t mention the large number of modern secular democracies that stand up for and codify basic human rights without a Biblical moral basis. I would have been much more impressed if you could have at least used examples were secular laws got it wrong, such as the allowance of slavery in early American history (see this is called forming a complete and cohesive argument), rather than using outlandish, sensationalist claims with no validity. And by the way, even slavery, which I hope you agree is morally objectionable, can both be argued for and against using the Bible, and has been largely corrected in America by secular legal refinement. Again this demonstrates the subjective morality that is required when citing the Bible (which changes with time), rather than it being an absolute moral authority.

    As for your last throw-away statement “Extend this concept to entire nations where the vast majority hold the opinion that women are chattel” I’d like to make two statements: That this does happen in current society, but it is not in nations with a secular code – rather in nations operating under a divine-based legal system. And secondly, the Bible presents quite a few strong cases for why women, under Yahweh’s eyes, can freely be treated as chattel (e.g. Exodus 21:7) and at the least are inferior to men (there’s too many to actually attempt to reference, start with Leviticus and work from there). But again there are passages that can be interpreted to the opposing view point. Why on earth do you think that there are over 20,000 Protestant Christian sects (World Christian Encyclopedia) that are often in vehement opposition on key issues?

    So in closing, if you want to continue to insist on use the Bible to continue to justify your own distaste for homosexuality and other such things then I hope you never have children, since there are a few unambiguous rules on what should be done to unruly children (Exodus 21:17; Leviticus 20:9; Deuteronomy 21:18-21; Matthew 15:4). Also, were I to give you the names and addresses of people who actually believe themselves to be witches, you would be duty-bound to hunt them down and kill them (Exodus 22:18). I also don’t think you’d be likely to get away with killing many unbelievers or people working on the Sabbath (Numbers 15:32-36) these days, thankfully. So you can’t really believe that you actual follow all the precepts of the Bible faithfully to the letter, but rather use your interpretation. I hate to keep banging on about this, but you seem to have missed it in my previous attempts. If you think homosexuality is wrong, then it is because of your feelings, which you were able to find supporting evidence for in the Bible, not because it is a universe wrong. In other words, you can’t pick and choose and then say “The ones I choose are the real divine rules of God.” And just so you know, while I prescribe to the laws against incest, if I wanted I could find divine justification for it in the Bible, with reference to Abraham – God’s main man (Genesis 20:11-12). … so much for the absolute moral code that is “… based on an unchanging document with a timeless source”.

    Unfortunately, this will be my last post on the matter, since I do not have the time or the inclination to have to debate against nonsensical positions. I do find it very disingenuous to use one-sided propaganda and misleading information, and very disheartening engaging with someone unable or unwilling to recognize and debate the actual points. I was hopeful until your last post and until I read more of your perspectives. I would be willing to discuss things with you further under the condition that either 1) you provide a way of defining the Bible as a absolute moral authority that does not require interpretation of the bronze age legal code of a tribal god or 2) you admit that interpretation is essential in using the Bible as a guide and remove the content on your Blog that professes, without support, otherwise.

    Just as an aside I’d just like to ask why an all-powerful, all-loving, all-knowing God would use the human sacrifice of Jesus, something that obviously requires a great deal of rationalizing to accept, as his master plan for our salvation, couldn’t he have just forgiven us? Sorry that was an unfair throw-away comment, which I hope you do not take offense from.

  46. Scott Thong Says:

    I appreciate and welcome your comments, Anon. Quite frankly, they are far better thought out and much less crude than most of what I attract around these parts. (Sadly, see below for a correction to this preliminary notion.)

    I shall attempt to give my own point of view to yours:

    ——————————–

    There are precedents for God declaring situations were daughters could and should be burned (Leviticus 21:9) and the importance of vows (Deuteronomy 23:21-23).

    Agreed, but taken in the context, Leviticus 21:9 speaks of daughters who were combusted as a punishment for the specific sin of prostitution – and only if she is the daughter of a priest.

    So again, the Mosaic laws are very exacting in their detail. It would take a very liberal stretch to link these verses together – as well as ignore the passages I quoted on sacrifices – as a justification for Jephthah to sacrificehis daughter.

    On Deuteronomy 23:21-23, I cannot argue that vows to the Lord should not be kept – but I may cite Leviticus 27:1-4 which provides an alternative to fulfilling a vow that a newly wealthy conquerer like Jephthah could easily have paid out. (If anyone makes a special vow to dedicate persons to the LORD by giving equivalent values… if it is a female, set her value at thirty shekels.)

    I could also argue that God would not be pleased by the breaking of His laws in order to fulfill a vow.

    ——————————

    However, Biblical historians believe what Judges 11 hints at, namely that the lands in question belonged to the Ammonites (and possibly at some point the Moabites) prior to the Amorites.

    Why after previous orders by Yehwah to not encroach on Ammonite land (Deuteronomy 2:26-37) could divinely-inspired diplomacy not be sought?

    Perhaps you answer your own question – it could very well be that God’s directions as given in Deuteronomy 2:26-37 counted the land as being the possession of whoever owned it at the time.

    To use a modern example, say the United Nations issues a declaration that effectively annexes all of Iraq’s territory to Iran. Would this include the state of Israel as well, since historically the Levant was once under Babylonian rule? Or would not rather the borders at the time of the declaration be used?

    Take note also of the precursor to the events of Judges 11, that is, Judges 10. In it, the Ammonites cross over the border to invade Israel.

    Following the rules of war even in modern times, any land subsequently captured by Israel would legally be theirs – even if it formerly belonged most recently to the Ammonites.

    It is also worth noting that in modern times, the state of Israel is one of the few nations that has repeatedly surrendered territory captured in war for basically no reciprocation. See how well that sort of diplomacy goes?

    ————————————-

    As for your arguments of free-will and omniscience, that is another matter entirely, yet it comes back to subjectively interpreting what God does and doesn’t do or know, and in so doing severely limit his power.

    What alternative do you suggest that is NOT subjective, then?

    I’ll give a related example of the issue of ‘interpreting’ what characteristics God has.

    It is a common misconception that God can do anything. So can God make a rock so heavy that He can’t lift it? It seems to be a logical conundrum, doesn’t it?

    Yet the Bible is very clear that there are many things that God CANNOT do. God cannot lie, cannot sin, cannot be evil and so on – these things go against the very nature of God.

    Likewise, God cannot be illogical or self-contradictory – hence He CANNOT make a rock so heavy that He can’t lift it. He can, however, do anything else that makes sense (and fits His other attributes).

    ————————————–

    Why not? It could result as an error of their free will, could it not? Yahweh’s also punished his followers and others for far less than making a foolish vow (such as making a mistake 2 Samuel 6:6-8). So, what your claiming is that Yahweh can not under any circumstances intervene in human affairs (including deal-making and prayer), … unless it will make him look bad or in rare instances of some of his chosen people being under threat?

    I make no such claim, and it is merely your far ranging interpolation that I do so. What I do claim is that God has farther reaching purposes than humans can see – or was it a mistake for God to be incarnated in the form of a man to be vilified, mocked and unjustly executed?

    If he really did sacrifice his daughter (ignoring her own freely agreeing to it), who is to say that Jephthah was not punished afterwards? The Bible is not the detailed, annotated biography of Jephthah.

    In fact, that the Bible does not mention any punishment or condemnation for Jephthah actually lends support to my interpretation – that no unlawful, anti-Mosaic sacrifice took place, since the narrator did not see fit to include any references.

    Or perhaps God already knew Jephthah would make such a headstrong oath, and would use it to test him in his reaction and knowledge of the law?

    Again, if you want to argue that God cannot possibly know and control everything because people can commit sin, you might as well start with Genesis 3.

    I’m sorry God either knows and commands all or he doesn’t, you can’t honestly and realistically claim both in defence of the same position.

    I contend that God does know all, but He does not command all – the human will is specifically excluded from the things God chooses to control.

    ————————————–

    With respect to your discussion of murder (and by the way I should have used ‘kill’ instead of ‘murder’ as a truer reflection, since murder can be interpreted in its own right – as has been done in some Protestant translated versions of the bible after the mid-1900’s which have changed the 6th commandment from kill to murder), this contains a number of logical fallacies. Primarily it assumes that there is a God, and that Yahweh – the tribal god of the Israelites among the whole Hebrew Pantheon – is supreme and an absolute moral authority. Further it assumes that men can and do communicate directly with him – if not how could the armies of Israel know who to eradicate and when to do it?

    This is exactly why, as I stated in an earlier comment, I restricted my exegesis purely to the Biblical context of that particular time and age – to avoid extending the discussion into the question of whether God exists or not, whether the Bible is accurate or not, etc., which would seriously dilute the content of my replies.

    And it looks as though even though I stated the parameters for my explanation, they have been summarily ignored or forgotten.

    ————————————–

    And on top of that, similarly to the previous argument, what happens to the free will of the Israelite army when they are ordered to commit genocide (why the need for slaughtering the innocent women and children: e.g. 1 Samuel 15; Numbers 31) – I’m sure that someone must have objected to the slaughter (for guidance on what might happen refer to 1 Kings 20:35-36)?

    I have to say that you do know a lot of Bible references… But also that you have a lot of them out of context. In this case, you are generalizing from a specific example – the Fallacy of Hasty Generalization, as someone so well acquainted with fallacies as yourself should know, yes?

    Let me extend your questioning the concept of free will… The government says you must pay obey the law, or go to jail. Does this mean you have no free will not to obey the government?

    Of course not! Lots of people end up in jail for breaking the law. It was their choice to disobey the government.

    Contrast this to pure mind control in the style of The Borg or the Puppet Masters. You are not even given the choice between ‘obey or be punished’.

    So taking this concept to the issue of obedience to God’s commands, yes, it seems pretty harsh. But then, isn’t the ‘lack of free will in deciding whether to eat, breathe and run from a raging fire’ also pretty harsh?

    And the harshness may be lessened thusly:

    1) No one is ‘innocent’ in God’s eyes. Quote frankly, we all deserve death and eternal damnation. (And if you disagree, do tell me what we have done to earn or buy the life we are living today.)

    2) Leaving any remnant of the enemy would only result in two things, as I have already mentioned – a passing down of the evil to the next generations, and a corruption of Israel by those same survivors.

    3) Again, none of this is hypothetical, as the end result is demonstrated in Biblical history: the Israelites disobeyed the command to ‘genocide’ several times, and eventually ended up corrupted and conquered as a result of their ‘merciful attitude’.

    Finally, how can God order the killing of people when it would cause men to act in direct contravene of Mosaic Law and which is repeated in several place, including the commandments (e.g. Genesis 9:6; Exodus 21:12).

    Just for the record, this argument is being made using your own precedent for one-sided citation of the Bible – for times when Yahweh makes the contradictory statement that man can and should kill another man see for starters Exodus 21:12,15,17; 22:18; Leviticus 20:9; 21:9; Deuteronomy 21:18-21; Matthew 15:4; etc….

    This simply comes back to your definition of murder – does executing a serial killer or sending soldiers to kill enemy troops make the national government a murderer?

    IN THE BIBLICAL CONTEXT (in bold caps so that you can notice it this time), God is the sole owner of any life – He thus has the right to waive His usual laws for certain circumstances. Again, would you have the same objections if God simply used a meteor to crush the Canaanites into dust?

    As Genesis 9:5 says, God will demand an accounting of bloodshed – and in the case of God-ordained war, the accounts will show that God was the initiator, thus removing responsibility from the heads of those He commanded.

    ————————————-

    As for the comparison you made with it being OK for the armies of Israel to kill people for Yahweh, but not for the Aztecs to do likewise, that sounds remarkable similar to Jephthah’s subjective rebuttal that “My God is better that your God” and “Might is right” And by the way, weren’t the Aztecs trying to accomplish strategic goals in there sacrifices, since most sacrifices were performed on conquered people to appease and follow the orders of their Gods?

    If you phrase it that way, of course it seems the same. But what aspects did I compare?

    The sole purpose of Aztec ritual sacrifice was to appease their gods – and indeed, the Israelites had their sacrifices too, but with animals instead of humans.

    Whereas the main purpose for destroying the Canaanites was in order to ensure the continued survival and freedom from corruption of the Israelites. It would not have served the purpose of temporary absolution from sin that the ordained Mosaic sacrifices did either.

    Did the Aztecs have to cut out hearts to defeat their enemies on the battlefield? Did the Israelites do that too, as a tactical maneuver against the Moabites?

    So please, nowhere does it say that the Israelite campaigns were a ‘sacrifice’, so it would help one’s understanding if you stopped assuming they were so.

    And I was not justifying the Israelite offensive vs. the Aztec sacrifices with that remark (which is not to say I don’t have other remarks that could be used for that purpose). I was merely pointing out the difference in the aims of such killing of enemies.

    ————————————-

    you are using your subjectivity to rationalise a moral message from the Bible.

    Now I wanted to address the most absurd stance of your rebuttal, which – like the rest of your arguments – appears to completely miss the main point of my previous proposition, regarding moral authority.

    It seems that simultaneously, you have been misunderstanding the point I am trying to put forward.

    I admit that among Christians, there exist many different interpretations of the same verses.

    Yet on the issue of relative/absolute morality, what I argue is that at least religionists have a basis for their morality – the absolute auhtority of a divine being.

    How each person interprets that morality may differ, but this comparison should point out the contrast with non-religionists immediately:

    Religionist A: Sex with animals is bad. My god says so and he is right!

    Religionist B: Sex with animals is good. My god says so and he is right!

    Non-Religionist: Sex with animals is (insert own choice here). This is not based on any decree of a purported almighty entity, but on (choose one – democratic vote, cultural influence, personal decision).

    Whatever the interpretation, the basis of one’s morality is clear: The religionist bases it on what he thinks his deity says, with his own preferences not carrying any weight. The non-religionist bases it on something that he believes can change over time – cultural perception or whatnot.

    (Use me as an example: I don’t see anything wrong with homosexuality between consenting adults in general, but I believe the Bible does not condone it. So as a believer in absolute morality, the Bible trumps my own preferences.)

    This is the misconception that has been running throughout your long comment. I am not arguing that each religionist has a totally objective take on the laws laid out by his deity, or that we all share the same understanding.

    I am arguing that each religionist believes that those laws – whatever the interpretation – are given by an immutable being and whose authority cannot be debated.

    ————————————-

    And how does your argument of “what happens when the majority of people decide that killing certain sections of the populace is moral? Does that make genocide moral just because 51% of the populace supports it?” differ from you position that ‘might makes right’ in the Bible (see above)?

    Um…. Exactly my point? That the religionist believes that their deity’s might (authority) makes right, and isn’t about to apologize for it?

    How could you honestly and informatively offer two examples of totalitarian dictatorships as a rebuttal for the efficacy of a democratic, secularly legislated society?

    I chose those examples for their shock value, of course. Yes, neither was a free and democratic society – but then what were the ordinary Germans and Poles doing cursing the Jews as they were marched to the ghettos? What were the ordinary Russians doing selling out the ‘enemies of Communism’?

    Fine then, how about an example of a wonderfully liberal, forward-looking society?

    Netherlands – 31 percent of pediatricians have killed infants. A fifth of these killings were done without the “consent” of parents. In the Netherlands, Groningen University Hospital has decided its doctors will euthanize children under the age of 12, if doctors believe their suffering is intolerable or if they have an incurable illness.

    Animal rape – Legal in the democratic bastions of Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Germany…

    Oh yes, explain to me how hot doggie sex is a moral right.

    Why didn’t you make mention of the number of fundamentalist religious societies that practice arcane legal punishments based on something equally as valid as the Bible in modern society, or even better other historical cases where Biblical law was used to justify a large number of horrendous killings?

    Since you phrased it as a question… DUH, because those are examples of law based on absolute morality. As opposed to the oh-so-failsafe laws based on relative morality.

    ————————————

    And further still why you didn’t mention the large number of modern secular democracies that stand up for and codify basic human rights without a Biblical moral basis.

    Ah! An excellent opening, thank you.

    Please define for me what a ‘basic human right’ is, and just who decides it.

    And that, whoever is reading this discussion, is the fundamental issue I bring up with non-religiously based morality: Everyone has different notions of what it is, and there is no almighty to absolutely decide it!

    ————————————-

    I would have been much more impressed if you could have at least used examples were secular laws got it wrong, such as the allowance of slavery in early American history (see this is called forming a complete and cohesive argument), rather than using outlandish, sensationalist claims with no validity.

    The basic point I have is this: If 99% of the populace thinks slavery of the 1% is moral, on what basis do you object to this definition?

    ————————————-

    As for your last throw-away statement “Extend this concept to entire nations where the vast majority hold the opinion that women are chattel” I’d like to make two statements: That this does happen in current society, but it is not in nations with a secular code – rather in nations operating under a divine-based legal system.

    I included this obvious statement because, quite frankly, AGAIN, on what basis can you argue against such laws?

    That it is inhumane? Who defines what is humane?

    That it is not supported by the majority? Which majority? If the nation’s, then what objection is there? If the world’s, then why didn’t the West surrender to the Communists of the world?

    Again, who decides what is or is not moral?

    The religionist would say simply ‘God’ and be done with it, deluded or not. What is your logical argument?

    —————————————

    So in closing, if you want to continue to insist on use the Bible to continue to justify your own distaste for homosexuality and other such things then I hope you never have children, since there are a few unambiguous rules on what should be done to unruly children (Exodus 21:17; Leviticus 20:9; Deuteronomy 21:18-21; Matthew 15:4).

    What began as a fairly intellectual discussion with plenty of insights into Bible verses has degraded into the usual mudslinging and lack of context I see from most commentors who oppose my views. So I’ll take back whatever praise I had for you before.

    Am I a Jew? Do I follow the Mosaic laws for Israelites? Am I bound to the laws which Jesus Christ fulfilled?

    Even if I were a Jew, what would you know about Jewish law? Please convene the required court of 23 ordained rabbis before you bring this issue to trial.

    —————————————

    And just so you know, while I prescribe to the laws against incest, if I wanted I could find divine justification for it in the Bible, with reference to Abraham – God’s main man (Genesis 20:11-12). … so much for the absolute moral code that is “… based on an unchanging document with a timeless source”.

    I have covered the issue of incest in the Bible in another comment.

    And I really, REALLY have to ask – On what non-religious, totally humanistic basis do you oppose incest… Say, between two consenting adult homosexual twin brothers, who were brought up in different families?

    I object based on what I believe to be God’s word in the Bible. How’s about you?

    (So why is it still illegal?)

    ————————————–

    Unfortunately, this will be my last post on the matter, since I do not have the time or the inclination to have to debate against nonsensical positions. I do find it very disingenuous to use one-sided propaganda and misleading information, and very disheartening engaging with someone unable or unwilling to recognize and debate the actual points.

    LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, THIS IS WHAT WE IN THE BUSINESS REFER TO AS A ‘COP-OUT’. CLAIM VICTORY OVER THE ‘DUMB & CAN’T DEBATE OPPONENT’ AND STATE YOUR INTENTION TO NEVER RETURN BECAUSE YOU WILL OBVIOUSLY WIN AGAIN AND AGAIN ANYWAY.

    Not like I haven’t met such self-proclaimed winnahs before!

    I was hopeful until your last post and until I read more of your perspectives.

    Took the words right out of my mouth, lol!

    ————————————–

    I would be willing to discuss things with you further under the condition that either 1) you provide a way of defining the Bible as a absolute moral authority that does not require interpretation of the bronze age legal code of a tribal god or 2) you admit that interpretation is essential in using the Bible as a guide and remove the content on your Blog that professes, without support, otherwise.

    1) I cannot provide such, but neither do I claim that such is needed. As I have said earlier, what I do claim is that whatever an individual religionist believes, at least he believes it is from an immutable source.

    2) I admit that interpretation is essential. But even if I had blog posts that professed the opposite, I would not remove them – they are part of the history of my blog. At the very most, I would include a statement declaring the updating of my views – as I have previously done regarding evolution. (Honestly, any blogger knows that deleting earlier posts is an invite to accusations of covering up embarassing material.)

    Come back and talk trash at me some more? Yeah, right. Way to contradict the previous blockquote, not like that isn’t what previous trolls have done repeatedly.

    Seriously, you really think I need your approval oh-so-much as to go so far as removing blog content?

    ————————————–

    Just as an aside I’d just like to ask why an all-powerful, all-loving, all-knowing God would use the human sacrifice of Jesus, something that obviously requires a great deal of rationalizing to accept, as his master plan for our salvation, couldn’t he have just forgiven us?

    I cannot say why the universe and its laws have to be that way – why does light travel in a straight line, or gravity bend space-time?

    One issue that has to be addressed is this: If God is justice personified, how could He just brush off wrongdoings as if nothing had happened? Yet if God is love personified, how could He let all humans be eternally damned – as they inevitably would be, being sinful as they were?

    The answer is if God Himself made the sacrifice as payment for our sins – a way to fulfill both criteria of justice and love simultaneously.

    And another is this (though you did not state it, I feel I should explain anyway): If God automatically forgave us our sins, without any need for repentance, what would that make heaven? A place full of selfish, egoistic b*stards? It might as well be hell.

    It does help if one believes, as mainstream Christians do, that Jesus was God Himself and not just a pawn (willingly, unwillingly, knowingly or unknowingly) in some grand overarching plot of the Almighty.

    Isn’t an eternal, immortal, infinite God who willingly undergoes the same sufferings and trials as mere mortals something to be looked up to?

    But then, I forget who I am talking to here. Why did I even bother to post such a long reply? From past experience, it’s not like you’ll read through the whole thing properly and reply without veering off topic and including several bulk discount insults for good measure.

    (A: For the reading of any interested persons in order to defend my point of view.)

  47. Anon Says:

    I can’t believe I’m actually replying, since we are obviously working as two ships passing in the night. I did quote a lot of references from the Bible, but I think I was very fair in pointing out that I was using them for my argument and referenced (or at the very least highlighted) that the Bible also condemns some of the more sensational claims I was making. The quotes were not used as an example of the Bible being evil (which is not something I subscribe to and I thought made very clear), but as I mentioned that it can be used or rather usurped for a number of purposes, which I think almost every human would find ‘morally’ objectionable. And that to avoid complications presented by some of the unpleasant things in the Bible (e.g. Judges 11 and Jephthah’s vow) a greater amount of rationalization and interpretation is required, rather than appreciating that a lot of stuff, good and evil, is done in the Bible by God directly and indirectly and further appreciating that an individuals’ moral code is determined by that individual without the possibility of access to a universal authority except through interpretation.

    Obviously going through things point by point was a mistake, because it develops an ever-increasing spiral of non-essential arguments diluting the main point. In a few of my periphery arguments and in my closing statements I was intentionally being inflammatory, which was an error in judge, but I became increasingly disillusioned by the content of some of your blogs and your previous rebuttal that seemed to present a very one-sided and equally inflammatory perspective (however, I would like to see the url for your changed perspective on evolution) and I did not see how further meaningful discussion could be made. I had originally posted a response on this blog – without reading your other material – because I thought it would be a place for interesting dialogue, which in some of the important details of your last response, you have made room for. I also did not claim victory, as you proposed, merely made it explicit that I was not going to entertain any more discussion on this detail or that detail of Biblical language but wanted to know exactly how you can claim the Bible as an absolute moral authority given the need for interpretation on ALL the matters that had been previously discussed and any other moral dilemma that could be proposed in the future and if you could not to correct some of your more inflammatory and one-sided material.

    In your most recent reply, while I still disagree with a lot of what you say and ignoring – what I assume – are your intentional inflammatory comments, I can start to glimpse some of your perspective. Am I to gather from what you say that you yourself do not truly accept and adhere to all things in the bible (which I can commend and agree upon), but that you are able to find your justification from its passages, which again I can find justifiable (there are many good messages in the Bible). I also gather that you may take objection to peoples lifestyles and choices, but do not wish to see them prosecuted based on your wishes alone and you can give credit to the secular legal codes of yours and others’ lands – again something that I agree with. All that I can agree with, yet the thing that concerns me and that I can not understand is the same issue as before – which you have appeared to expound upon in greater detail but without much clarity in your last response – that you believe that any theist can be equally as right about morals as any other theist, yet non-theists (inclusive of, I guess, non-deistic religions) have no right in making a determination of what is and isn’t moral just because they don’t have a supreme book or a real or imagined supreme being on which to base it.

    What I am claiming (and having to repeat Ad nauseum) is that all people, theist and non-theist alike, determine there own morality (something you seem to admit as well) based on human empathy and largely from a feeling that peoples freedoms should be protected. And that one individual’s freedom ends were another individual’s begin (i.e. slavery of even 0.0001% is wrong). And having said that, just because something is legal it doesn’t mean that you have to do it – everyone has the choice on how to implement their own moral code in their own life without attempting to force everyone else into using their moral code, so long as they don’t infringe on the rights of others. And conversely, not all things that are illegal have to have an immediate, logical morally objectionable nature to the act, but that using the law as a general guideline can avoid potential complications under certain situations or in the future (e.g. your example of insect – in an isolated incident between consenting individuals gay or straight, there is no immediate, logical moral objection (however, I’m looking for a scientific paper that reports the risks of serious conditions of siblings rather than cousins). But the law exists as a guideline (same as in the Bible) since if allowed to occur for generations then there IS a huge risk of substantive genetic abnormalities that could have been avoided (e.g. the Royal line of the monarchs of Spain, or consult the vast scientific literature on inbreeding depression in animals) – but also think about speeding – it’s not morally objectionable and nine times out of ten in violates no-ones rights, yet chances are that eventually someone will be killed or injured by the act; hence the law).

    Anyway back to the central issue all people reach a conclusion on a moral issue using some internal or external guidance and then some people compare their conclusion with some other established authority – in the case of many theists their God and in the case of some non-theists and theist a set of secular codes. Both theist and non-theist get it wrong all the time, neither is perfect. There are a lot of rotten people in the world on both side of the fence, justifying their moral position however they see fit. However, having a belief in an ultimate authority on which to hang your morals, without requiring an individual to question themselves or their moral conclusions, while being very reassuring can be dangerous – particularly if it is based on an ancient series of writings compiled over a period of hundreds of years, with multiple authors and perspectives. The writings and teachings can make a good starting point or reference; but it can’t be seen as an absolute authority – even secular codes have a basis in ancient writings predating the bible, but we don’t follow them to the letter.

    In the case where a strict literary theist’s own moral conclusion conflicts with what he/she is told to believe or interprets to believe, they are bound by the interpretation, no matter how morally repulsive they may find it, without being able to deviate or question – and that is not something I am claiming of you but that is what your argument means and what I can not understand or abide. So to repeat, I think all people theist and non-theist individually derives there own morality, either through simple imprinting behaviour at one end of the scale or through intense study of philosophy and human value at the other. I also think that we should all learn to value human life more and let our own actions determine our guilt or innocence.

    So to reiterate the conclusion from my previous post, without an ultimatum: Do you or do you not take the point that all people theists and non-theist develop or are taught their moral code and then attribute or seek justification or support for their conclusions? And if not how can interpretations of morals be preformed without preconceived ideas, precedent or at least a bias on which to base them? How can something, which on every level requires human interpretation, be used as an ultimate, absolute authority? And finally, how can something that requires the same level of interpretation as a secular code carry more weight – this is made irrespective of whether Yahweh is or is not a true God – using just the book itself as a moral authority (just saying God says isn’t enough, because I maintain, and have provided ample evidence, that at best one has to interpret what God supposed)?

    I also take your point about removing content, but it would be in the interest of honesty and fairness, due to the nature of the internet, that some of the claims on moral authority are prefaced in some way based, if you agree, on the requirement of interpretation of the Bible.

    Can you send me your references for the statutes on Belgian, Danish, Finnish and Germany law to allow animal rape – since all non-consensual sex is commonly considered rape? I am very interested to see how they are worded. Similarly, can I get your references for the information on Groningen University Hospital?

  48. Anon Says:

    Sorry, after more consideration, I feel the need to have to comment directly on one of your comments relating to bible verses, specifically your accusation of the Fallacy of Hasty Generalization. In the case mentioned it would have been a fallacy, were I to say: “God kills all people who refuse his orders (1 Kings 20:35-36)!” What I actually said was: “for GUIDANCE on what MIGHT happen refer to 1 Kings 20:35-36”. I accurately prefaced the statement to indicate it was not the only conclusion to be drawn from a single example, or even the most likely resolution of the situation I was discussing, since I phrased it as a question.

  49. Scott Thong Says:

    Glad to see cooler winds prevailing once more.

    ————————————

    The quotes were not used as an example of the Bible being evil (which is not something I subscribe to and I thought made very clear), but as I mentioned that it can be used or rather usurped for a number of purposes, which I think almost every human would find ‘morally’ objectionable.

    Only when a human’s morals are based on what they personally feel, rather than on the Creator of morals feels. Admittedly, personally I feel some of the consequences were a bit overblown or even seem to be unfair – but what should I trust, my own narrow perspective or the perspective of an infinite God? (And if my own perspective, why bother trusting in anything else the Bible says – including salvation by faith in Jesus?)

    ——————————-

    and if you could not to correct some of your more inflammatory and one-sided material.

    I’ll issue corrections when the Huffington Post and Daily Kos stop publishing outright lies on the front page, how’s about that?

    ———————————–

    Am I to gather from what you say that you yourself do not truly accept and adhere to all things in the bible (which I can commend and agree upon), but that you are able to find your justification from its passages, which again I can find justifiable (there are many good messages in the Bible). I also gather that you may take objection to peoples lifestyles and choices, but do not wish to see them prosecuted based on your wishes alone and you can give credit to the secular legal codes of yours and others’ lands – again something that I agree with.

    Actually, I do accept and adhere to all things in the Bible regardless – even if there are some things which I do not naturally agree with, but have to make the decision to submit to. For example, I think it’d be great if everyone could have the chance to be saved from hell, even after death – but that doesn’t seem to be what the Bible says, so all I can do is trust that God knows best and can somehow turn it out so that it is totally fair.

    I may seem like a real firebrand in rhetoric, but in practical terms I am actually quite moderate – it is a conundrum to me whether I would legally implement Christian-based morality if I were the President, for the reasons you stated.

    At the same time, doesn’t every leader – religionist or secular – enforce his views based on the notion that they are what’s best for the nation? So should I not do the same?

    ———————————–

    All that I can agree with, yet the thing that concerns me and that I can not understand is the same issue as before – which you have appeared to expound upon in greater detail but without much clarity in your last response – that you believe that any theist can be equally as right about morals as any other theist, yet non-theists (inclusive of, I guess, non-deistic religions) have no right in making a determination of what is and isn’t moral just because they don’t have a supreme book or a real or imagined supreme being on which to base it.

    What I am claiming (and having to repeat Ad nauseum) is that all people, theist and non-theist alike, determine there own morality (something you seem to admit as well) based on human empathy and largely from a feeling that peoples freedoms should be protected. And that one individual’s freedom ends were another individual’s begin (i.e. slavery of even 0.0001% is wrong).

    I believe you’ve nailed it. I understand your position. And what I am saying is:

    You are a human. I am a human. Let’s say we hold directly opposed views on animal sex. So is zoophilia moral?

    You say no. I say yes. Who is right? Both being humans and equals, neither of us has the advantage over the other.

    Now add in another hundred million humans, who each have their own opinion. What is morality then based on, opinion?

    If you say that slavery is immoral – on what authority do you make that claim?

    What if two others oppose you on that topic – does that make that action moral? If not, what makes your definition of moral and immoral correct over the definition of those two people?

    That is what I’m getting at here – religionists, whether right or wrong, can claim to base their moral code on an unchanging, nonhuman source who will not ever change his mind. Non-religionists, being all fair and objective like, have to base it on the opinions of people, whose culture may change relative to the situation and era.

    I can also see perhaps why you were focusing on the issue on interpretation of the Bible – correct me if my following illustration is inaccurate.

    Religionists place their deity as the source and basis of morality. They know what he says based on his revealed will, and reach the final moral outcome based on their interpretation of what that will is.

    Meanwhile, non-religionists place human wellbeing as the source an basis of morality, and reach the final moral outcome based on their interpretation of what human wellbeing constitutes. (Human wellbeing replaces deity.)

    If this illustration is correct, then I now understand where we have been in disagreement. And I can admit that from that point of view, religious-based morality seems just as ‘relative’ to the situation as secular-based morality.

    ———————————–

    However, having a belief in an ultimate authority on which to hang your morals, without requiring an individual to question themselves or their moral conclusions, while being very reassuring can be dangerous – particularly if it is based on an ancient series of writings compiled over a period of hundreds of years, with multiple authors and perspectives.

    I agree – even using the most benign of all religious founder, sufficiently misguided adherents can somehow find justification to commit wholesale slaughter – even if it is in direct opposition to most of what said founder commanded.

    But I would also add that not having a belief in a higher authority than humankind can be reassuring yet dangerous – it can reach the point of a philosophy where humanity is the ultimate authority, thus they can decide on anything they wish. This was illustrated by the Communists, who disdained the idea of a god as a moral authority for a reason.

    ———————————

    In the case where a strict literary theist’s own moral conclusion conflicts with what he/she is told to believe or interprets to believe, they are bound by the interpretation, no matter how morally repulsive they may find it, without being able to deviate or question – and that is not something I am claiming of you but that is what your argument means and what I can not understand or abide.

    I can totally see why you would feel that way. It is the difficult lot of the Christian (I shall speak only from my own experience) that much of what they believe is at odds with society’s preferences – salvation by Christ alone, eternal damnation for the rest, a moral code that seems medieval. But that is exactly what Christ warned that His followers would have to face if they were to remain true to His teachings.

    For me personally, there is nothing that the Bible commands that reaches the point where I totally cannot accept what it says any longer. Sure there are some parts which make me scratch my head, but when that happens I always have this choice: Conclude that there must be something I am missing, the Bible is correct and God knows best, or conclude that Ii understand everything fully, the Bible is wrong I know better than God.

    If the latter, why even believe anything else the Bible teaches?

    ———————————

    To to reiterate the conclusion from my previous post, without an ultimatum: Do you or do you not take the point that all people theists and non-theist develop or are taught their moral code and then attribute or seek justification or support for their conclusions?

    I agree. It’s just that I always thought that it was something the theist takes for granted of himself (“Because God says so!”), but the non-theist denies of himself.

    How can something, which on every level requires human interpretation, be used as an ultimate, absolute authority? And finally, how can something that requires the same level of interpretation as a secular code carry more weight – this is made irrespective of whether Yahweh is or is not a true God – using just the book itself as a moral authority

    The issue thus would be the basis of the code – where does one’s moral code originally come from, before all the interpretation and suffixing?

    ———————————

    I also take your point about removing content, but it would be in the interest of honesty and fairness, due to the nature of the internet, that some of the claims on moral authority are prefaced in some way based, if you agree, on the requirement of interpretation of the Bible.

    Nah. If I posted like a drunken moron, I will be laughed at like a drunken moron and receive my share of flames in the comments. It’s only fair.

    ———————————

    Sorry, after more consideration, I feel the need to have to comment directly on one of your comments relating to bible verses, specifically your accusation of the Fallacy of Hasty Generalization. In the case mentioned it would have been a fallacy, were I to say: “God kills all people who refuse his orders (1 Kings 20:35-36)!” What I actually said was: “for GUIDANCE on what MIGHT happen refer to 1 Kings 20:35-36”. I accurately prefaced the statement to indicate it was not the only conclusion to be drawn from a single example, or even the most likely resolution of the situation I was discussing, since I phrased it as a question.

    Scott said previously: Solely within the context of the Biblical narrative and the Exodus through Judges era (in order to avoid veering the discussion off to modern psycho serial killers)

  50. Michael Says:

    Ummm…were there Jewish “nuns” in the time of Jephthah? Inst nunnery from the catholic/orthodox tradition?

  51. HG Says:

    Wow Doc Savage, Scott seems to be trying really hard to have an intelligent debate with you, but you seem like you can’t hold a thought for more than 2 seconds, just because you’re bitter at your parents or something. Grow up?

  52. Kayla Says:

    This helped me understand the passage so much! I was so confused when I read it, because I knew there was no way that such a man of God would willingly sacrifice his daughter to a God who hated human sacrifice. Many other places I looked on the internet seemed to believe just that. Thank you for the help!

  53. Scott Thong Says:

    Glad to be of service, Kayla. Remember that some parts of the Bible aren’t 100% clear cut, and thus it comes down to how you choose to interpret the passage. But when interpreting, always compare other parts of the Bible too!

  54. Zack T Says:

    [Adding to what Scott said to Kayla]
    Either that, or ask God directly for an answer and peace of mind. Helps every time, guaranteed.
    Disclaimer: Assumes you are in a relationship with the one true God through Jesus.
    [/......]

    Great ‘debate’, Scott. You held your ground well, in spite of the many deviations committed by your oppositions.. (especially Doc Savage and even including Anon).

    I pray Anon finds the narrow path that leads to the Truth, aka Jesus… instead of rejecting parts of the bible he dislikes and only picks and chooses what he does like from the bible.

  55. Cole Says:

    Just trying to cover up and explain away the terrors that are located all throughout the bible is ignorant in itself.

    Nowhere does it say that his daughter was going to become a nun. Not to mention the fact that she submitted to it just proves how brainwashed these people are.

  56. Zack T Says:

    Just trying to BRUSH ASIDE and explain away the GIVEN UNDERSTANDING OF the bible is ignorant in itself.

  57. Simon Thong Says:

    Cole, to come along so late in this debate and say what you did is pathetic, to say the least. U sound just like all the other atheists who go around, spewing lots of judgements that are no more than straws
    blowing in the wind. I suspect that u didn’t bother to read the entire debate, let alone grapple with the issues brought up. Do u go around depositing such rubbish on blogs everywhere? A troll, are u? An ARROGANT ONE, TOO.

  58. Ron Says:

    OFFER

    30 And Jephthah made a vow to the LORD : “If you give the Ammonites into my hands, 31 whatever comes out of the door of my house to meet me when I return in triumph from the Ammonites will be the LORD’s, and I will sacrifice it as a burnt offering.”

    ACCEPTANCE

    32 Then Jephthah went over to fight the Ammonites, and the LORD gave them into his hands. 33 He devastated twenty towns from Aroer to the vicinity of Minnith, as far as Abel Keramim. Thus Israel subdued Ammon.

    REMORSE

    35 When he saw her, he tore his clothes and cried, “Oh! My daughter! You have made me miserable and wretched, because I have made a vow to the LORD that I cannot break.”

    LAMENTATION

    36 “My father,” she replied, “you have given your word to the LORD. Do to me just as you promised, now that the LORD has avenged you of your enemies, the Ammonites.”

    FULFILLMENT OF OATH

    39 After the two months, she returned to her father and he did to her as he had vowed. And she was a virgin.

    Clear as mud, despite the logistical gymnastics used by Christian apologists to make the text say what it doesn’t.

  59. Simon Thong Says:

    Yes, your comment is, in your own words, clear as mud.

    Adam Clarke’s Commentary[11] has an exposition of the issues at stake in this passage and contends that the vow Jephthah made was not as rash as it sounds.

    “Verse 31. Shall surely be the Lord’s, and I will offer it up for a burnt-offering.] The text is (Hebrew letters follow) hlw[ whytyl[hw hwhyl hyhw vehayah layhovah, vehaalithihu olah; the translation of which, according to the most accurate Hebrew scholars, is this: I will consecrate it to the Lord, or I will offer it for a burnt-offering; that is, “If it be a thing fit for a burnt-offering, it shall be made one; if fit for the service of God, it shall be consecrated to him.” That conditions of this kind must have been implied in the vow, is evident enough; to have been made without them, it must have been the vow of a heathen, or a madman. If a dog had met him, this could not have been made a burnt-offering; and if his neighbour or friend’s wife, son, or daughter, &c., had been returning from a visit to his family, his vow gave him no right over them. Besides, human sacrifices were ever an abomination to the Lord; and this was one of the grand reasons why God drove out the Canaanites, &c., because they offered their sons and daughters to Molech in the fire, i.e., made burnt-offerings of them, as is generally supposed.”

    “From ver. 39 it appears evident that Jephthah’s daughter was not SACRIFICED to God, but consecrated to him in a state of perpetual virginity; for the text says, She knew no man, for this was a statute in Israel. laryb qj yhtw vattehi chok beyishrael; viz., that persons thus dedicated or consecrated to God, should live in a state of unchangeable celibacy. Thus this celebrated place is, without violence to any part of the text, or to any proper rule of construction, cleared of all difficulty, and caused to speak a language consistent with itself, and with the nature of God.” Those who assert that Jephthah did sacrifice his daughter, attempt to justify the opinion from the barbarous usages of those times: but in answer to this it may be justly observed, that Jephthah was now under the influence of the Spirit of God, ver. 29; and that Spirit could not permit him to imbrue his hands in the blood of his own child; and especially under the pretense of offering a pleasing sacrifice to that God who is the Father of mankind, and the Fountain of love, mercy, and compassion. The versions give us but little assistance in clearing the difficulties of the text.

  60. Ron Says:

    Balderdash!

    Read verse 35 again…

    ‘When he saw her, he tore his clothes and cried, “Oh! My daughter! You have made me miserable and wretched, because I have made a vow to the LORD that I cannot break.”’

    Why would he tear his clothes over a vow to dedicate his daughter into a perpetual state of celibacy?

    Like I wrote before, it’s all mental gymnastics to placate modern sensitivities against the cruel and harsh barbarism of an ancient text.

  61. Zack T Says:

    “Why would he tear his clothes over a vow to dedicate his daughter into a perpetual state of celibacy?”

    Why? That’s because she’s his only daughter. Not sure if it’s the only child. Will have to look up Jephthah’s background some more.

  62. paganbirdkeeper666 Says:

    In those days, women were thought of as property, not much more than animals. Girls were taught that their only value was in being a man’s wife and producing children. To have lived and died a virgin with no husband and no children was very shameful and that is why she mourned that she would never marry rather than her death. She was mourning the fact that she was going to be a virgin sacrifice and die a shameful death as an unproductive woman, a woman who never fulfilled her destiny.
    There is no reason her farther would have rent his clothes and been so distraught over her being a nun and there were no nuns back then.
    Virgin also means a young woman who is independent not only someone who had never had sex. That she could roam the hill with her friends at a time when most women were kept close to home and married off at puberty denotes that she had some independence.
    Her father could not break his vow, that would have meant lying to god and we all know how petty god is over that sort of thing. God would have rained dwn fire or caused an earthquake to swallow them all up.
    Please do not insult your reader’s intelligence with this kind of twisting and turning of a simple story in an attempt to cover up the fact that the Hebrews did perform human sacrifices
    Don’t forget that Abraham was going to sacrifice his son because god asked him too. He didn’t have any concerns over any laws he might be breaking such as murder or child abuse. Why ? Because it was a common and acceptable practice for his tribe. He didn’t even tell his wife !
    Your religion is no better than any other religion and is every bit as insane.

  63. Scott Thong Says:

    There is no reason her farther would have rent his clothes and been so distraught over her being a nun and there were no nuns back then.

    Not in the sense of the Roman Catholics, but there were ways of consecrating oneself to God.

    Please do not insult your reader’s intelligence with this kind of twisting and turning of a simple story in an attempt to cover up the fact that the Hebrews did perform human sacrifices

    Well of course the Israelites carried out ritual human sacrifice, I don’t dispute that:

    They built high places for Baal in the Valley of Ben Hinnom to sacrifice their sons and daughters to Molech, though I never commanded, nor did it enter my mind, that they should do such a detestable thing and so make Judah sin. – Jeremiah 32:35

    And other citations under Point 5 in the main post.

    But what I do contend is that Jephthah likely did not sacrifice his daughter’s life, and even if he did it was not in accordance with Mosaic law, and even if somehow he managed to wrangle up some rogue priests to burn and eat his daughter’s flesh, it was not in the pattern of God’s revealed will.

    It is up to the reader what conclusions to draw from my post. They have their God-given brains to use.

    Don’t forget that Abraham was going to sacrifice his son because god asked him too. He didn’t have any concerns over any laws he might be breaking such as murder or child abuse. Why ? Because it was a common and acceptable practice for his tribe. He didn’t even tell his wife !

    If we want to be petty about it, the Mosaic Code was not written yet during Abraham’s time.

    Your religion is no better than any other religion and is every bit as insane.

    If that were really true, then do tell, why have you not already been slaughtered by the insane, murderous, life-hating majority of Christians who surround you?

    Are you really saying you’d be as comfortable around a pack of AK47-armed jihadists crying for the blood of infidels, as you would be sitting next to a church-going aunty who does floral arrangements on Sundays?

    Besides, as I recall it isn’t Bible-thumping Christians who are constantly pushing for more and more abortions. Ref image in post above. Who’s Joker-level crazy here, huh?

  64. HG Says:

    okay. God hates human sacrifices. this is abundantly clear from all of old testament. if even that much is not clear to you, you’re obviously not reading the bible like a reasonable person but in order to attack it in any way. But to interpret this passage in such a way to insist that Jephthah’s daughter went to a nunnery? that’s just irresponsible interpretation, i’m sorry.

    what people like paganbirdkeeper doesn’t seem to understand is how to read things in context. just because an event is recorded in the bible doesn’t mean it was commanded by God. and just because God commanded a person to do something in one place and time in history does not mean it applies to everyone everywhere. If that was the case, i should be laying out my fleece out in my yard to see if it’s dry or wet the next morning.

    and what of abraham’s sacrifice of his son isaac? well you know how that turned out. with isaac not actually being sacrificed, but by God himself stepping down into the fabric of history and sacrificing himself to die for our sins.

  65. Ron Says:

    and what of abraham’s sacrifice of his son isaac? well you know how that turned out. with isaac not actually being sacrificed, but by God himself stepping down into the fabric of history and sacrificing himself to die for our sins.

    So how come God didn’t make any last minute interventions in Jepthah’s case?

  66. Ron Says:

    But what I do contend is that Jephthah likely did not sacrifice his daughter’s life, and even if he did it was not in accordance with Mosaic law, and even if somehow he managed to wrangle up some rogue priests to burn and eat his daughter’s flesh, it was not in the pattern of God’s revealed will.

    There’s a lot of ‘ifs’ in that statement. Bottom line is that the supposedly all-powerful God seems to have accepted the sacrifice made on Jephthah’s behalf.

    If we want to be petty about it, the Mosaic Code was not written yet during Abraham’s time.

    Yeah, but God’s moral code is supposed to be timeless, unchanging, and absolute.

    Are you really saying you’d be as comfortable around a pack of AK47-armed jihadists crying for the blood of infidels, as you would be sitting next to a church-going aunty who does floral arrangements on Sundays?

    Can’t come up with a more polarized choice than that? How about: as an Iraqi citizen, would you rather die in Saddam’s firing squad or become collateral damage during a US bombing mission intended to bring you democracy?

  67. Scott Thong Says:

    So how come God didn’t make any last minute interventions in Jepthah’s case? – Ron

    Because a sheep mourning in the hills where lonely, lonely cowboys roam wouldn’t remain virgin for long? ba da bump ching

  68. A good Old Testament Debunking « New Marian Republic Says:

    [...] Judges 11: Debunking the Myth that Jephthah Burns His Daugther as a Human Sacrifice to God | Scott Thong | Leading Malaysian Neocon [...]

  69. rishta Says:

    What an insane drivel…

  70. Darren Says:

    Please forgive me if this has been covered already in the replies. I haven’t read them all but I just have a few brief points to make as I’m rather pressed for time. This attempt at reconciling the bible with common morality is really quite cute. You obviously put a lot of effort into it. The first point is especially cute. I particularly like the way you use her lamenting death before sex as proof she became a nun. LOL. I don’t wish to sound condescending but you obviously have a fear of sex. To mourn the fact that you shall die a virgin is a terrible thing.

    Also, if the lack of sadistic detailing of the fire and screaming agony is enough to convince you (although I suspect you didn’t need convincing) that she wasn’t burnt, following that logic, it should end with “and she lived happily for the next hundred years or so as a pious nun.”

    And by the way, I’m not a noob. I’ve read Judges many times and discussed it with a number of apologists. I’m also not quite as silly, as you’ve stupidly suggested, to think that Christians are just waiting to kill us all. No offense, but you’re an idiot. Your ridiculous claims are barely worth comment but hey, I’m bored. This is by far the most puerile amateurish defense I’ve ever heard for one of the most ungodly passages I’ve ever read. I can tell you’ve tried really hard and I commend you for that, but this sucks.

  71. Scott Thong Says:

    Wooookay.

    You are of course entitled to your opinion. I’ll admit that a fair number of other apologists do not share my view that Jepthah did not burn his daughter in the end.

    However, one thing we all agree on is that if Jephthah did it, that doesn’t mean God condoned it. The theme of Judges is, after all, that In those days Israel had no king; everyone did as they saw fit. As I often have to point out, just because the Bible mentions it, does not mean that the Bible condones it.

    That said, I haven’t seen any other apologists raise my point about ‘burnt offering’ being a very precisely spelled out ritual. I believe this lends credence to the view that if Jephthah did offer a burnt offering, it was not in accordance with Mosaic Law – and any priests who helped him carry it out were defiling their office.

    Anyway, since you find the opinion that Jepthah didn’t burn his daughter to be ‘most puerile amateurish’, then I’d like to know your thoughts on why the daughter wept because she wouldn’t marry, and why the remark of her being a virgin was included.

  72. Ron Says:

  73. mikee Says:

    I think it’s pretty clear from the context that he did in fact sacrifice his daughter which is why the maidens commemorated it – can you imagine them commemorating joining a convent?

    The whole point of the book of Judges is summed up in its last verse – “in those days Israel had no king and every one did what was right in his own eyes.” He didn’t do what was right in God’s eyes in making the vow or in keeping the vow. It’s all part of the story line of Israel’s deep plunge into apostasy that God rescues them from in David initially and ultimately in Jesus.

  74. Scott Thong Says:

    Agreed with your final point. But what about her lamenting that she will never be married, and the closing line about her being a virgin?

  75. unpas Says:

    unpas…

    [...]Judges 11: Debunking The Myth That Jephthah Burns His Daughter As A Human Sacrifice to God « LEADING MALAYSIAN NEOCON[...]…

  76. newenglandsun Says:

    Wow. I had always assumed he had killed his daughter. Then one day I was asked the question – “did Jephthah really kill his daughter?” So I looked this up today.

  77. Scott Thong Says:

    Hope my musings helped!

  78. Michael Figueiredo Says:

    Laughable. Claiming the sacrifice was her becoming a nun and refusing to have sex.

    Doesn’t line up with “30 And Jephthah made a vow to the LORD : “If you give the Ammonites into my hands, 31 whatever comes out of the door of my house to meet me when I return in triumph from the Ammonites will be the LORD’s, and I will sacrifice it AS A BURNT OFFERING.”

    This “refutation” is just deflection and rhetoric. The sacrifice wasn’t her never marrying. The deal was she was to be sacrificed as a BURNT OFFERING. She asks for a request, that has nothing to do with her being offered as a BURNT OFFERING. So when she returned home should would be offered as a BURNT OFFERING.

    “I cannot go back!” He won’t go back on his promise to make her a BURNT OFFERING=she ends up one. That simple.
    The best you can say is:
    1. Okay yes he said he would make her a BURNT offering.
    2. Okay yes he said he COULDN’T go back.
    3. Okay yes she asks for a 2 month delay of execution.
    4. BUT there isn’t a final verse where she is.
    1-3 show that she would be. You don’t have a verse of her hanging about afterwards. She vanishes.=She was offered as a BURNT offering.

    Jephthah was ignorant about Torah law, which in many verses condemns child sacrifice. But god happily kept silent and accepted the daughter as a burnt offering. God didn’t tell Jephthah not to do it or that he didn’t want it. He didn’t alter the deal or prevent the sacrifice. You Christian apologists are a joke. This was a pitiful effort in deflection.

    I LOVE however that you fools run to abortion.
    Priceless. You want to review what the o.t god does to fetuses?
    Silly Christians, keep far away from the o.t if you want to defend your evil war deity and your evil doctrine.

    God teaches Moses a ritual and recipe to abort a fetus who was conceived through infidelity. (Numbers 5:11-21)

    God promises to destroy the infants of Samaria and rip open the stomachs of pregnant women.(Hosea 13:16)

    God allows the pregnant women of Tappuah to be ripped open.
    (2 Kings 15:16)

    God commands the killing of infants and nursing babies.
    (1 Samuel 15:3)

    God orders Moses to kill every Midianite woman who was no longer a virgin. (many of these women would obviously have been pregnant) (Numbers 31:15-18)

    Now, tell me again, so I can laugh, that your god cares about the lives of all children and fetuses. When he is said to kill them both by his own powers and have his armies do more of the same.

  79. Michael Figueiredo Says:

    “Why such a focus on the fact that Jephthah’s daughter ‘will never marry’?”

    Deflection and distraction. Tisk tisk. This doesn’t match up with:

    “If you give the Ammonites into my hands, 31 whatever comes out of the door of my house to meet me when I return in triumph from the Ammonites will be the LORD’s, and I will sacrifice it AS A BURNT OFFERING.”

    ‘Jephthah’s daughter was ‘sacrificed’ by becoming a nun, not by being burnt alive’

    REPEAT:
    “and I will sacrifice it AS A BURNT OFFERING.”

    Your deflection doesn’t match up with his specific form of sacrifice.
    Then you continue with deflection rhetoric.
    Why would he ask this? Why is this important?

    It’s not. It’s just a temporary stay of execution.
    It has no relevance on his promise to make her a burnt offering and saying it was a promise he cannot make.
    This is all one big, dishonest, dodge on your part.
    To lure the reader away from the verses themselves that show:
    “AS A BURNT OFFERING…I cannot break!”

    Lets review this honestly now to correct your lies.
    1. Jephthah makes this promise.
    2. The promise of sacrifice is NOT AS A NUN.
    ~No verse to support that god asked this.
    ~No verse to support that Jepthah talked to god and asked for a sacrifice chance.
    ~No verse to show Jepthah altered the deal in any way or attempted to.
    3. The girl asks for a stay of execution. The scenario she asks for does nothing to refute points 1 and 2.
    4. After the two months, she returned to her father and he did to her as he had vowed.Judges 11:29-40.
    5. Oh and for all this it went against god, god didn’t oppose this in anyway. He said nothing to counter it. He did nothing to clarify it or alter it.
    6. The daughter is not mentioned again

    =Jepthah cooked his daughter alive, in the sacrifice form of a BURNT OFFERING, that he could not “go back” on.
    Your god who supposedly opposed this form of sacrifice, remained silent in the story. Logically this can only be for one of two reasons.
    A~God was INCAPABLE of telling Jepthah not to do it or changing the form of sacrifice.
    B~God didn’t because he accepted the human sacrifice.
    The logical conclusion is B.

    Christian apologetics. What a joke.
    Nice try though. Loved that you used deflection rhetoric.

    God teaches Moses a ritual and recipe to abort a fetus who was conceived through infidelity. (Numbers 5:11-21)

    God promises to destroy the infants of Samaria and rip open the stomachs of pregnant women.(Hosea 13:16)

    God allows the pregnant women of Tappuah to be ripped open.
    (2 Kings 15:16)

    God commands the killing of infants and nursing babies.
    (1 Samuel 15:3)

    God orders Moses to kill every Midianite woman who was no longer a virgin. (many of these women would obviously have been pregnant) (Numbers 31:15-18)

    Now, tell me again, so I can laugh, that your god cares about the lives of all children and fetuses. When he is said to kill them both by his own powers and have his armies do more of the same.

  80. Scott Thong Says:

    The problem of evil and suffering and why God allows it to continue in the world is an old one. Is God incapable of stopping it – in which case, He is not all powerful? Or does He allow it to go on when He could stop it – in which case, He is evil? Or is there, as Christian apologists over 2000 years (and Jewish and other apologists for longer than that) have argued, a third way?

    This is such a widely discussed topic that I feel no need to delve into it myself here in these comments. A well informed and intelligent person such as yourself – what with all your delving into theological matters – would already have come across plenty of debate on this topic during your browsing for polemic materials.

    Regarding whether Jephthah did sacrifice his daughter in fire… I have given my arguments in the post itself. It is up to you whether to accept, reject or something-in-between them. I have nothing to say further that would significantly add to my arguments. Personally, I honestly feel that the reasons I give above – while not absolutely conclusive – are sufficient to warrant a different take on the Jephthah story.

    Regarding the death of babies… Yes, God did command that some ‘innocent’ babies be slaughtered (innocent not counting their inborn, genetic propensity towards sin and environmental influences chock full of evil – both of which are corroborated by modern scientific studies into factors affecting criminality).
    But fundamentally, how is this different from babies that die from disease or disaster or starvation – factors ostensibly under the control of an all powerful, micromanaging deity? Whether God commanded certain soldiers to take no prisoners or sent a rain of boiling sulfur, is the end result not the same?

    It is just an appeal to emotions, whereby people view ‘death by human hands’ as worse than ‘death by impersonal event’. If you don’t believe it, note that God directly caused the death of many people in the destruction of Sodom, the plagues on Egypt, the Great Flood – yet none of these are complained about to the same degree as the invasion of Canaan by Israel’s armies. And in our contemporary context, far more people died in that Texas fertilizer explosion than in the Boston bombings – but the latter takes up all the airtime.

    So why stop at blaming God for ordering slaughter? Why not condemn God for allowing any death at all? After all, He is merely the author and creator of all life – how DARE He choose when, where and how to reclaim what He freely gave! The nerve! And after we didn’t bother to thank Him for giving existence to us in the first place.

    Following your line of reasoning, the current biggest proof that God doesn’t really love babies STILL ends up because He doesn’t smite abortionists (such as Saint Gosnell, Patron of the Depraved and Infanticidal) for their killing 125,000 babies every day worldwide. I guess maybe God is respectful of a woman’s right to choose, or an individuals decision to adopt liberal policies, or something.

    It’s a simple matter of statistics. Whatever God ‘killed’ – man, woman and child – in the whole of Old Testament times is far exceeded by what the modern godless kill every few years.

    And the best part? If the atheists are right and God doesn’t exist, the Bible is a collection of myths and Christian morality is sham… Then the nonexistant God never killed babies in nonexistant events. While millions of human babies die at the hands of self-righteous humans today.

  81. Michael Figueiredo Says:

    @Scott Thong:

    1) You didn’t even try to address the counter argument I presented, which exposed your deflection rhetoric. I await you to grow a pair and address it.

    2) This is some psychotic evil stuff bud.
    “Regarding the death of babies… Yes, God did command that some ‘innocent’ babies be slaughtered (innocent not counting their inborn, genetic propensity towards sin and environmental influences chock full of evil – both of which are corroborated by modern scientific studies into factors affecting criminality).”

    No bud. Stop cherry picking. You can’t with honesty, close out this article claiming abortion is evil, and then say it’s OKAY for god to force miscarriages via his own power (Numbers, Kings, Hosea) and say “oh but they were not truly innocent because of sin”.
    This is your Christian evil get out of jail free card.

    Even if we adopt the b.s concept of original sin, remember sin doesn’t mean evil, it means disobedience to god,
    those fetuses aborted by god’s own power and then ordering his soldiers to kill them by ripping open the stomachs of women,
    are STILL THE UNBORN. Which YOU claim must be protected.
    So stop being a hypocrite. If you want to condemn abortion, fine.
    If you want to condemn the termination of the unborn fine.

    Then stop dodging when YOUR GOD DOES IT, by his own power and by his orders to his military.

    “innocent” yes innocent. Even if you apply original sin, they were the unborn. At this point the best you can say is SOMETIMES its okay to kill a fetus. Or its okay if GOD does it but not man.
    Hypocritical of you.

    “genetic”
    No. This is rubbish. There is nothing genetic about “sin”.
    Sin isn’t a thing, it doesn’t exist. It’s a subjective concept of religion. It means DISOBEDIENCE to god. Sin is an ACT.
    Sin doesn’t mean evil. It means to disobey god.
    So those children only had one sin while in the womb, original sin.

    Are you honestly trying to defend god terminating them, based on their environment. Then you just said that it is justified to kill people for crimes they DIDN’T yet commit.

    All you have is original sin. They haven’t done a thing else yes?
    If you want to claim they would have been born in a sinful (not evil)
    culture and sinned (disobeyed), then you are saying god is just to kill people for crimes they haven’t committed yet.
    Imagine if we gave people the death penalty for merely contemplating theft or murder, but not actually do it. Would that be just? No. So why do you BELIEVE it is JUST for a god to do exactly that?

    “both of which are corroborated by modern scientific studies into factors affecting criminality”

    I’d love to see ONE. They will come from a religious think tank no doubt. I have a BSc in Biotechnology and my minor was Psychology. This is pure nonsense you are ranting. These “studies” are false claims that are thought up by the same
    fundamentalist Christian ilk who spewed “homosexuals are 63% more likely to molest children”. Nonsense, shame on them and shame on you.

    If you want to claim WE MUST PROTECT THE UNBORN,
    then stop being a hypocrite. Protect ALL the unborn.
    Hold us, yourself and god accountable when we terminate them.
    Don’t cherry pick. Don’t flip flop.

    You have a book where the god you claim LOVES all children,
    terminates the unborn by his own power and his armies.
    You have a book where the god you claim LOVES all children,
    slaughters the born children for petty and illogical reasons.

    Killing the egyptian children for example.
    Were they cracking the whip? No.
    Their fathers were. So why didn’t god kill (eye for an eye is bad but still) the fathers?

    Answer: Yahweh is a war deity, his job is to be bipartisan to his tribe. He doesn’t value human life and he will stomp out any man, woman, child or unborn life that gets in his way. He will liberate his tribe from slavery and then have them take slaves. He will defend them and help them attack others. Yahweh is a god of war.

    Later in Exodus there is a verse where Yahweh puts an enemy tribe to sleep. Making them much easier for the isrealites to kill.
    So much for free will. But let’s rewind the clock and apply logic and reason.

    So Yahweh can put people to sleep. Of course he is a god after all. Hold up though. Why not:
    ~Put the egyptians to sleep.
    ~Tell Moses and the isrealites to pack up and leave.
    ~Part the Red Sea.
    ~Then close it up again and blow away all their tracks in the sand.
    ~Then wake the Egyptians up.

    See that? I just used logic and reason, coupled with powers Yahweh displays to free the slaves without a drop of blood spilled. No animals had to suffer and die, via a plague.
    No children who were innocent of THE CRIME of their fathers, had to die.

    But see, I value human life, efficiency, logic and reason.
    Your war deity Yhwh Sabaoth “god of the armies”, does not.

    He doesn’t care about justice, he punishes people for crimes committed by others. He claims all are guilty of transgressions they didn’t even commit and are thus somehow born guilty.
    No. If I murder, my child is not guilty of murder.
    If I take slaves, my child is not guilty of slavery.
    To punish them for the acts of me is as unjust as it gets.

    Take the hint Christian, when it comes to defending your faith, stay far away from the old testament. It’s not a book you understand or study well enough. Also you cherry pick it.
    I would love to see you address the verses I listed where Yhwh kills the unborn as a military strategy and because some are born of adultery.

    Your intellectual dishonest is on full display in spades.
    You cherry pick the o.t to claim you have a god that is against abortion, when clearly he is not, he uses himself and orders his army to carry it out as well.

    So if you want to be pro-life, keep FAR away from the god of the bible. He only values a few lives, of his own tribe, and if they disobey, he doesn’t value them any further.
    3000 killed at Mount Sinai.

  82. Michael Figueiredo Says:

    @Scott Thong

    Sorry I missed this point.

    “But fundamentally, how is this different from babies that die from disease or disaster or starvation – factors ostensibly under the control of an all powerful, micromanaging deity?”

    How is it different? In the bible god acts and kills kids, terminates the unborn of enemy tribes and any that are conceived via adultery.
    This is an act. Those kids died because god acted to kill them.
    If a child dies of starvation they died not of an act but of a lack of resources.

    The first case with god is called MURDER or infanticide.
    The second case is not murder but a lack of available food.
    Murder vs lacking resources. This is an obvious difference.
    ???

    “Whether God commanded certain soldiers to take no prisoners or sent a rain of boiling sulfur, is the end result not the same?”
    Yes but the way the result achieved was different.

    Lets not use God because your faith bias is overriding your logic.
    Lets use me instead.

    If I kill a child-this is an act. The result? Dead child.
    If the child is born somewhere and starves-this is a circumstance, not an act. The result? Dead child.

    Yes the result is the same but the act is different.
    One is murder, the other is lack of resources.
    Honestly I can’t believe you attempted this defense.

    Is it no killing when god does it?
    That seems to be your stance.
    Isn’t it killing if man does it?
    If you are I KILL a child, do you not see the difference, between our ACT of killing them, to them dying of starvation?

    The result is the same, but one is a CRIME called MURDER.
    So when you or I kill its MURDER. When god does the EXACT SAME ACT, isn’t it MURDER? Yes, yes it is.

    You can cherry pick, you can dodge and you can play a dishonest get out of jail free card like “original sin”, but that is to claim that a fetus, who’s 1 sin is the crime committed by another,
    is not justified to be killed by god, god’s armies, or man.

    Yet you can sit there and say you are against abortion.

    The god of the o.t is a war deity. You make excuses for evil acts done by god then claim it is evil for us to do the same acts.

    Hypocrisy thy name is Christianity.
    Hence why I left the faith.
    Pardon the expression but “thank God” I did.

    I had a hard time worshiping a genocidal monster.
    Who Christians believe, did a 180, and was born a pacifist son of a carpenter in the middle east, who walked around making many opposing statements towards the law that he…as Yhwh…originally set down…and enforced bloodily…
    That is as illogical as it gets.

    If you want to be against abortion, fine.
    But you can’t with any honest, point to the god of the bible to defend your stance. You would have to cherry pick the bible and dodge dozens of verses to claim god isn’t against abortion, when he uses it as a weapon and purification process, himself.

    If you call man evil for doing abortions, then you must also call god evil for doing them in Numbers, Kings, Hosea.
    There are no 2 ways around this.

    Unless you want to dip into the intellectually dishonest,
    “Divine Command Theory”, which is nothing more than the wolf of totalitarianism, wrapped in sheep clothing.

    Ah yes, the one of highest authority, the one who rules us all, mightiest determines what is right. We’ve seen this in history with our greatest tyrants, Hitler, Stalin, Mao etc etc.

    I don’t think you want go down that road to continue to so dishonestly defend your god.

    You want to be pro-life? Fine.
    Keep away from the god of the bible. He isn’t.

  83. Michael Figueiredo Says:

    @Scott Thong

    “the Great Flood”
    You mean where god killed millions of animals, men, women (many who would have been pregnant), children (including those evil 1 day old babies) and the fetuses inside those pregnant women?

    All because the world didn’t do what he wanted?
    “Sin”=disobey. It =/=evil.

    Yes, that’s a rational and life valuing god. Kill everybody and everything, except one man and his family. Nice.

    “So why stop at blaming God for ordering slaughter? Why not condemn God for allowing any death at all?”
    You seem confused. According to the bible god didn’t “allow” death.
    God brought “death” into the world.

    The fruit from the tree of knowledge wasn’t like Pandora’s box.
    Eating from it didn’t set death FREE to enter the world.
    In Genesis GOD CURSES man with death, suffering, pregnancy pains etc etc.

    God brought death into the world, as punishment, for eating from a tree, that he created in the first place, along with a serpent, who he left alone with man, turned his back and walked away.
    So apparently this god doesn’t understand the concept of personal responsibility. Now let’s use ME as an example again. Since you won’t have any inclination by your faith to defend ME as you would make excuses for God.

    If I was to:
    ~Build a house to my liking.
    ~Bring in 2 kids.
    ~Build the worlds first explosive device. (Tree)
    ~Put it next to the 2 kids.
    ~Bring in a serial arsonist. (Serpent)
    ~Leave the bomb, the arsonist and the 2 kids together.
    ~Turn my back and walk away.

    I am at the very least, partially TO BLAME, guilty, responsible,
    for that bomb going off. Without my illogical and unnecessary actions, there is no way, those kids can set of a bomb.
    Now if I DID THIS, you would call me irresponsible and a terrible parent., would you not?

    But when God does this, its just those 2 kids fault. None of the blame goes to him. He is not responsible for his own actions.
    God isn’t responsible for the things he does.
    It was all a “test”.

    This line of thinking is both psychotic and sadistic.
    It’s psychotic because it abandons any sense of responsibility and its sadistic because it blames the victims entirely, not their attacker who set up their harm in the first place.

    “After all, He is merely the author and creator of all life – how DARE He choose when, where and how to reclaim what He freely gave!”

    Ah this response is interesting. Disturbing, but interesting.
    This truly is the slave master ideology. The concept of OWNING somebody, thus harming them or killing them is justified. A principle of Sadomasochism. Do you honestly think murder is justified on any level? Apparently so. So far you have justified it:

    ~If god does it.
    ~If god orders it.
    ~The slave master ideology.

    Sorry. None of this is applicable.
    If you were to apply this across the board, you could justify killing your own children. If you hadn’t had sex, they wouldn’t be here.
    You helped create them. Thus you can kill them.
    You merely authored their life, how dare we claim you shouldn’t freely claim the life you gave to those kids! THE NERVE!

    See what happens, when you apply the same line of reasoning in your defense of god, to defend man?
    See how terrible and disturbed it comes off?

    No. Making something doesn’t give you the right to destroy it.
    Creating a life, means you have created a life.
    A life that feels, that hurts, that wants to continue living, and is SCARED TO DIE.

    Yet you think its terrible for a man to terrify and harm a child, killing it. But it’s justified for a god to terrify and harm a child,
    killing it. Inconsistency abounds.

    This is also totalitarianism. The highest authority, the mightiest, is absolved of responsibility. Whatever he does is just, whatever he orders is just.

    Like when Stalin orders his Communists to slaughter people.
    Like when Hitler orders his Nazi’s to slaughter people.
    You know what they used to say about Hitler?

    “The one who rules us all, determines morality. Do you challenge the supreme authority of the Furher?”

    Let’s apply this to god.

    Our supreme creator, who rules us all, determines morality. Do you challenge the supreme authority of all mighty god? God most high?

    See the similarity? It’s identical thinking.
    Mightiest makes right. Mightiest is absolved of all moral responsibility. Really your defense is more of god is Amoral, not moral or immoral.

    “n the whole of Old Testament times is far exceeded by what the modern godless kill every few years.”

    Oh this is cute. So apparently you don’t value each and every human life as something special. You justify gods murders, because according to the totals, he has far less the body count.
    I see. So god killed what? How many hundreds of thousands in the flood? 12,000 by plague in one shot in the book of numbers. It’s a safe estimate to put his body count in the millions.

    But yes, by your estimate, abortionists would FAR exceed that.
    So lets SWEEP the MILLIONS god killed under the rug and forget about them.

    Really? Did you JUST attempt to defend INFANTICIDE on the grounds of quantity?

    You have a lot of thinking to do friend.
    Your position is riddled with inconsistencies, cop outs, cherry picking, dishonest attempts to condone infanticide;
    all while attempting to condemn those for abortions.

    The spirit is strong with you, but logic and reason are not.

  84. Scott Thong Says:

    1) You didn’t even try to address the counter argument I presented, which exposed your deflection rhetoric. I await you to grow a pair and address it.

    You consider it deflection, I consider it valid circumstantial evidence pointing to the possibility of an alternate interpretation.

    Apart from that, as I said I have not much to add other than reiterating my points above. Your Argumentum ad Manlihoodum is duly noted.

    ———————————

    Even if we adopt the b.s concept of original sin, remember sin doesn’t mean evil, it means disobedience to god,

    Well the full argument actually goes, since God is holy and good, any disobedience against Him is by definition unholy and evil.

    ———————————

    “innocent” yes innocent. Even if you apply original sin, they were the unborn. At this point the best you can say is SOMETIMES its okay to kill a fetus. Or its okay if GOD does it but not man.
    Hypocritical of you.

    Here you start getting close to the crux of the issue. Why is it okay for God to kill, but not for men?

    Look at Exodus 20:13 – “You shall not murder.” Then look right after that, in Exodus 21:14 – “But if anyone schemes and kills someone deliberately, that person is to be taken from my altar and put to death.”

    So what, one murder leads to a neverending chain of putting to death, which is to be punished by putting to death? Of course not. There is a distinction between unsanctioned death (decided upon and done by human hands, i.e. murder) and sanctioned death (by God’s command and authority).

    How about I put it this way: I buy various precious gems, and construct an elaborate piece of art with it. Why is it legal for me to subsequently smash it to bits with a sledgehammer, but illegal for a stranger to do it secretly in the night?

    Of course, it’s because I am the rightful owner and creator of said artwork. The vandal is not.

    Similarly, God is the author, creator and yes, owner of life. We did not make our own life, we did not even earn it or pay for it. If you doubt it, ask anyone whether they can die and come back to life. If doctors put every organic piece back into position so that an accident victim’s lifeles corpse is indistinguishable physically from when he was alive, they cannot restart the spark of life.

    As I said, why condemn God for ‘direct’ kills such as by plague, flood or sword… But not ‘natural’ kills such as old age? Ought you not to be railing against such a cruel and vindictive God who doesn’t give us clinical immortality?

    ———————————

    “both of which are corroborated by modern scientific studies into factors affecting criminality”

    I’d love to see ONE. They will come from a religious think tank no doubt. I have a BSc in Biotechnology and my minor was Psychology. This is pure nonsense you are ranting. These “studies” are false claims that are thought up by the same
    fundamentalist Christian ilk who spewed “homosexuals are 63% more likely to molest children”. Nonsense, shame on them and shame on you.

    Here’s what I have offhand on social factors:

    http://scottthong.wordpress.com/2009/04/16/ann-coulters-statistics-on-single-motherhood-and-the-suffering-it-causes/

    Controlling for socioeconomic status, race, and place of residence, the strongest predictor of whether a person will end up in prison is that he was raised by a single parent… children from single-parent families account for 63 percent of all youth suicides, 70 percent of all teenage pregnancies, 71 percent of all adolescent chemical/substance abuse, 80 percent of all prison inmates, and 90 percent of all homeless and runaway children… A study cited in the Village Voice produced similar numbers. It found that children brought up in single-mother homes ‘are five times more likely to commit suicide, nine times more likely to drop out of high school, 10 times more likely to abuse chemical substances, 14 times more likely to commit rape (for the boys), 20 times more likely to end up in prison, and 32 times more likely to run away from home.’

    And a slapdash Google search on genetic factors:

    http://www.slate.com/articles/health_and_science/explainer/2013/03/osama_bin_laden_son_in_law_does_criminality_run_in_families.html

    Criminality clearly runs in families, even if it’s difficult to separate genetic and environmental factors. Study after study has shown that children born to criminal parents are significantly more likely to become criminals. A 2011 study examining 12.5 million Swedes over more than three decades found that those with a first-degree relative who was a criminal were 4.3 times more likely to commit violent crime than those born to a crime-free nuclear family. The effect was even more pronounced for specific crimes, with arson running particularly strongly in families. Other studies have shown that only 8 percent of families account for 43 percent of arrestees.

    But wait… Isn’t it the position of proponents and supporters of homosexuality that their behaviour is wholly genetic, and thus not subject to self-control of change???

    ———————————

    Killing the egyptian children for example.
    Were they cracking the whip? No.
    Their fathers were. So why didn’t god kill (eye for an eye is bad but still) the fathers?

    The plague of death of the firstborn was retribution for the Egyptian killing of the Hebrew infant males (Exodus 1:22).

    ———————————

    Why not:
    ~Put the egyptians to sleep.
    ~Tell Moses and the isrealites to pack up and leave.
    ~Part the Red Sea.
    ~Then close it up again and blow away all their tracks in the sand.
    ~Then wake the Egyptians up.

    See that? I just used logic and reason, coupled with powers Yahweh displays to free the slaves without a drop of blood spilled. No animals had to suffer and die, via a plague.
    No children who were innocent of THE CRIME of their fathers, had to die.

    This is a counterfactual argument, i.e. Argumentum ad Coulda, Shoulda, Woulda.

    Let me put it to you in a different example: What if I went back in time and killed Hitler, thus preventing World War 2 and the Holocaust etc etc etc? Good idea right? A net benefit?

    But by doing so, what if – as the Red Alert series conjectures – Stalin then faced no Nazi war machine and easily steamrolled across Europe, thus ushering in a golden era of Communist brutality and horro (and de facto atheist, what a totally unrelated coincidence yes?) Now it’s bad, right?

    ———————————

    No. If I murder, my child is not guilty of murder.
    If I take slaves, my child is not guilty of slavery.
    To punish them for the acts of me is as unjust as it gets.

    Again you come so close to Christian doctrine, but fall back into the Old Testament.

    Jeremiah 31:29-30 – “In those days people will no longer say, ‘The parents have eaten sour grapes, and the children’s teeth are set on edge.’ Instead, everyone will die for their own sin; whoever eats sour grapes—their own teeth will be set on edge.

    John 19:29-30 – A jar of wine vinegar was there, so they soaked a sponge in it, put the sponge on a stalk of the hyssop plant, and lifted it to Jesus’ lips. 30 When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.

    Jesus has taken up everyone’s rightful punishment – if they so choose.

    Honestly, polemics so often talk like we’re Bronze Age, Judaism adhering, Mosaic Code applying Israelites wandering the desert.

    ———————————

    Take the hint Christian, when it comes to defending your faith, stay far away from the old testament. It’s not a book you understand or study well enough. Also you cherry pick it.

    Tu quoque.

    ———————————

    How is it different? In the bible god acts and kills kids, terminates the unborn of enemy tribes and any that are conceived via adultery.
    This is an act. Those kids died because god acted to kill them.
    If a child dies of starvation they died not of an act but of a lack of resources.

    The first case with god is called MURDER or infanticide.
    The second case is not murder but a lack of available food.
    Murder vs lacking resources. This is an obvious difference.
    ???

    That assumes a distinction between the two that exists on a human level, but not on an omnipotent-deity level. God can just as easily give heart attacks to everyone (direct kill) or cause all food in the vicinity to disappear (indirect, but still results in a kill).

    ———————————

    “Whether God commanded certain soldiers to take no prisoners or sent a rain of boiling sulfur, is the end result not the same?”
    Yes but the way the result achieved was different.

    But God is still the root cause. Aren’t we debating whether God is for or against killing? What happened to your non-faith overridden logic?

    ———————————

    If I kill a child-this is an act. The result? Dead child.
    If the child is born somewhere and starves-this is a circumstance, not an act. The result? Dead child.

    Yes the result is the same but the act is different.
    One is murder, the other is lack of resources.
    Honestly I can’t believe you attempted this defense.

    It is not a defense – honestly, you could actually use it to paint God is worse light, if you consider every death since the dawn of time to have been under God’s direct control. Rather, it is an attempt to point out your own prevailing bias and unequal standards, which are caused by emotional appeal.

    ———————————

    Is it no killing when god does it?
    That seems to be your stance.
    Isn’t it killing if man does it?</blockquote?

    Replace 'killing' with 'unauthorized and unjustified murder' and BINGO!

    ———————————

    The result is the same, but one is a CRIME called MURDER.
    So when you or I kill its MURDER. When god does the EXACT SAME ACT, isn’t it MURDER? Yes, yes it is.

    No, it is not.

    ———————————

    Hypocrisy thy name is Christianity.
    Hence why I left the faith.
    Pardon the expression but “thank God” I did.

    So what, you’re an atheist now? Like that has a better track record. /sarc /snark

    ———————————

    I had a hard time worshiping a genocidal monster.
    Who Christians believe, did a 180, and was born a pacifist son of a carpenter in the middle east, who walked around making many opposing statements towards the law that he…as Yhwh…originally set down…and enforced bloodily…
    That is as illogical as it gets.

    Jesus did not oppose or abolish the former laws. Instead, He satisfied and fulfilled them.

    This is the difference illustrated: I destroy some working-class guy’s car. The law demands I pay recompense. To oppose or abolish the law would be to unfairly let me off the hook while the guy weeps in frustration. To fulfill the law would be for some generous benefactor to raise the funds and pay recompense, on my behalf.

    ———————————

    If you call man evil for doing abortions, then you must also call god evil for doing them in Numbers, Kings, Hosea.
    There are no 2 ways around this.

    Only one way around an obstacle is required actually, and that way has been shown above.

    ———————————

    Unless you want to dip into the intellectually dishonest,
    “Divine Command Theory”, which is nothing more than the wolf of totalitarianism, wrapped in sheep clothing.

    But that is actually another crux of the whole big picture – man’s desire for self-rule and authority. To ‘be like God’ as the serpent tempted originally. To reject God simply because “Oh He’s totalitarian” – with no regard for whether He is actually right.

    ———————————

    Ah yes, the one of highest authority, the one who rules us all, mightiest determines what is right. We’ve seen this in history with our greatest tyrants, Hitler, Stalin, Mao etc etc.

    All of whom were fallible, imperfect men… The latter who being atheists who considered there no higher moral authority than man, and being the Supreme Man, they themselves being the ultimate moral authority. Which led directly to 100 million deaths by communism, which was completely not related at all to atheist thought and is second only to modern abortion as the no.1 death machine of all time.

    ———————————

    All because the world didn’t do what he wanted?
    “Sin”=disobey. It =/=evil.

    Genesis 6:5 – The Lord saw how great the wickedness of the human race had become on the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time.

    But sure, you argue that sin is not = evil. But if this guy is representative of the people at the time:

    Genesis 4:23-24 – Lamech said to his wives, “Adah and Zillah, listen to me; wives of Lamech, hear my words. I have killed a man for wounding me, a young man for injuring me. If Cain is avenged seven times, then Lamech seventy-seven times.”

    ———————————

    You seem confused. According to the bible god didn’t “allow” death.
    God brought “death” into the world.

    The fruit from the tree of knowledge wasn’t like Pandora’s box.
    Eating from it didn’t set death FREE to enter the world.
    In Genesis GOD CURSES man with death, suffering, pregnancy pains etc etc.

    From my point of view, suffering and death are natural consequences. Just as SPLAT is the natural consequence of jumping off a tall building. Ever blamed God for that?

    Or mutated genes as the consequence of eating polonium – which I actually compare to sin as a mutagenic force in my personal theories. If a functionally immortal organism ate radioactive benzene, the resulting mutations would likely render it no longer so long lived, hmm?

    And yes, you can proceed to argue that God as the all-powerful could have made it so sin doesn’t lead to death. Please petition for the ability to ignore gravity and fly while you’re at it.

    ———————————

    So apparently this god doesn’t understand the concept of personal responsibility.

    On the other hand, God understands free will.

    In comic form:

    http://scottthong.wordpress.com/2008/03/18/ultimate-fantastic-four-why-god-allows-us-disobedience/

    ———————————

    Now let’s use ME as an example again. Since you won’t have any inclination by your faith to defend ME as you would make excuses for God.

    If I was to:
    ~Build a house to my liking.
    ~Bring in 2 kids.
    ~Build the worlds first explosive device. (Tree)
    ~Put it next to the 2 kids.
    ~Bring in a serial arsonist. (Serpent)
    ~Leave the bomb, the arsonist and the 2 kids together.
    ~Turn my back and walk away.

    I am at the very least, partially TO BLAME, guilty, responsible,
    for that bomb going off. Without my illogical and unnecessary actions, there is no way, those kids can set of a bomb.
    Now if I DID THIS, you would call me irresponsible and a terrible parent., would you not?

    My version:

    I build a robot with advanced AI bordering on sentience. I then tell it I give it complete freedom to do whatever it wants, it is an independent individual.

    Then I laugh because I only gave it a head with video and audio sensors – not even any way to move, act or even to communicate back at me.

    Is this true freedom?

    God made us different from the animals in that we were give the ability, the permission to choose freely – incuding to disobey. The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil is merely the physical manifestation of that outlet for free will. If we didn’t have that ability, the Tree’s presence would be moot. In fact, they probably could have chosen to disobey with or without it – God just simplified the process with a physical representation of that choice, much like the Red Pill / Blue Pill in Matrix.

    Adam and Eve were not children. Honestly, where did people get that idea? They fully comprehended God’s warning, yet chose their own way.

    ———————————

    This truly is the slave master ideology. The concept of OWNING somebody, thus harming them or killing them is justified. A principle of Sadomasochism. Do you honestly think murder is justified on any level? Apparently so. So far you have justified it:

    ~If god does it.
    ~If god orders it.
    ~The slave master ideology.

    Our viewpoints differ on this so much, they cannot be reconciled at this moment. There is no point trying to bring you to see it my way.

    The gap in paradigm is wider than the Dog (who views his master as benevolent for providing and sheltering) and the Wold (who views that same man as cruel for rules and commands).

    ———————————

    Sorry. None of this is applicable.
    If you were to apply this across the board, you could justify killing your own children. If you hadn’t had sex, they wouldn’t be here.
    You helped create them. Thus you can kill them.
    You merely authored their life, how dare we claim you shouldn’t freely claim the life you gave to those kids! THE NERVE!

    Organic composition does not equate to life. Perfectly formed babies can be stillborn, or die in the cradle for no apparent reason. You can stitch together a perfectly constructed little Frankenstein’s Monster on the nano level, but never cause it to live.

    ———————————

    See what happens, when you apply the same line of reasoning in your defense of god, to defend man?
    See how terrible and disturbed it comes off?

    Which is why you are mistaken in trying to treat God and man by the exact same standards. It is the same concept of why we euthanize a mauling dog, but merely jail a human who does similar.

    Even the Old Testament foresaw this when it warns not to treat anything created as a deity. It applies in reverse as well.

    ———————————

    No. Making something doesn’t give you the right to destroy it.
    Creating a life, means you have created a life.
    A life that feels, that hurts, that wants to continue living, and is SCARED TO DIE.

    Let’s turn it around then. Better to have never existed?

    ———————————

    Oh this is cute. So apparently you don’t value each and every human life as something special. You justify gods murders, because according to the totals, he has far less the body count.
    I see. So god killed what? How many hundreds of thousands in the flood? 12,000 by plague in one shot in the book of numbers. It’s a safe estimate to put his body count in the millions.

    But yes, by your estimate, abortionists would FAR exceed that.
    So lets SWEEP the MILLIONS god killed under the rug and forget about them.

    http://www.vaughns-1-pagers.com/history/world-population-growth.htm

    200,000,000 people were estimated alive in 0 A.D.

    http://www.worldometers.info/abortions/

    125,000 babies are aborted every day.

    It takes just 1,600 days for the number of aborted babies to match the total global population of men, women and children in 0 A.D.

    It would take just over 2,409 years to outstrip the estimated total number of people who ever lived which is 110,000,000,000. Even if we blame God for the not-immortal thing, He still took like 12,000 years to achieve that total.

    Your ‘god’ is obviously more efficient than mine.

    ———————————

    Really? Did you JUST attempt to defend INFANTICIDE on the grounds of quantity?

    Again, you jump to the wrong assumption about my goals.

    What I am trying to do is point out the hypocrisy of those who claim to reject God based on His cruel infanticide once upon a time in the distant past in a distant land… Yet turn a blind, even approving eye on the far worse, ONGOING infanticide perpetuated by their fellows almost right outside their doorstep.

  85. Scott Thong Says:

    All the jawboning distracts from the plain and simple difference in opinion as follows:

    I believe that God as the author, creator and sustainer of life has the authority and right to sustain it, or NOT sustain it. Humans as the recipients of only their own respective lives each has no such right. You do not hold this opinion.

    I believe that God being omnipotent is the sustainer of life both directly (the spark of life itself) and indirectly (providing physical necessities and preventing fatal incidents). Therefore whether a person dies from old age, heart attack, meteorite impact or Israelite army – it’s all under God’s control. You do not hold this opinion, or maybe I just can’t get the concept sufficiently across to you.

    I believe that God did what He did in history and pre-history out of His infinite wisdom and omniscience, and puny-minded finite humans are out of their league to try and question, critique or suggest ‘better’ ways to have done it. You do not hold this opinion.

  86. Michael Figueiredo Says:

    @Scott Thong:
    Sorry forgot about this page.
    I’ll try to keep this one much shorter and simpler.
    1. You have not rectified that the offering Jeptha states is not vague. He does not say “make an offering” or vaguely “a sacrifice”.
    He says AS A BURNT OFFERING.
    ~There is no verse that has him change his mind.
    ~He states that this offering he believes god accepted
    [Note that god doesn't actually say squat in this part of the story]
    ~So he BELIEVES this is his pact.
    ~That he CAN NOT go back.

    2. So the next parts you miss are deflection.
    It’s a whole bunch of “move along, nothing to see here, and we’re walking, we’re walking…” You need verses that show him changing his mind. None exist.

    3. I can explain the errors. Many of the bible stories are copies of copies of copies. Many of them like Genesis Deuteronomy Isaiah, have multiple authors. Fragmentation and compilation.
    This is no different with this story. Hence the fuck up.
    One second he is saying BURNT OFFERING, the next he just forgets about it, doesn’t address it.

    4. I can go on all day about the evil of “Christ” not abolishing the law, but rather “fulfilling” it as he states in Matt 5:17.
    But all I need to point out is that had their been a young male in the story present, who had yet to commit a sin, that woman would have been stoned to death. What’s more, is Jesus would have been fine with that. In John, he doesn’t say:
    ~Stoning her is immoral.
    ~I’m erasing that law.
    ~That law is bad.
    ~Don’t stone her no matter what.
    Instead all he does is call out hypocrisy of sinners, stoning other sinners to death. But Jesus has NO ISSUES with anyone yet to sin, to stone her to death. Thus while calling out sinister motives and hypocrisy, Jesus acts upon some of both himself.

    5. What you BELIEVE is irrelevant. As is anyone else’s beliefs.
    They aren’t forms of evidence or argument.

    6. I understand the history of the cannanites who became isrealites.
    The actual history, not the myth of Exodus. I understand how and why the isrealites progressed away from their Canaanite past and past values. I understand you believe the myth, so I will argue on the grounds of the myth. Based on the myth the following would be true:
    ~Yahweh (god of Moses, not the god of Abraham) either:
    A)-Was against human sacrifices always, yet remained apathetic and silent for thousands of years as they were performed, even by isrealites, who were pagans for centuries before converting to monotheism and revising their torah to match.
    This means Yahweh always opposed it, but stood silent.
    Nice.
    B)-Was against it later, but not always. Either way, he allowed it to happen silently.
    So which is it? It prompts other questions like, why did Yahweh take so long to put a ban on it? I understand the answers to these questions because I understand the actual history of the culture and the history of the texts and their alterations. But you operate on the belief in the myths. So my questions apply to the myths, assuming them true for the sake of argument. Either way, you have a deity who kept his mouth shut for thousands of years, then decided, no that’s enough I have to speak up.

    7. The Christian trinity is a joke. The weakness of the faith, and it’s most illogical concept.
    Last time I checked war deity=/=pacifist
    (well if you ignore Rev that is)
    Last time I checked tribalism deity, who was bipartisan to a select tribe, damned be any man, woman, child that got in that tribes way=/=peace deity who tells everyone, to love everyone.
    Logically, the teachings of Yahweh and the teachings of Jesus Christ, are POLAR OPPOSITES. Yet the trinity claims they are the same being. This prompts more questions, that require answers.
    A) Why did god change his mind?
    B) Why didn’t he get it right the first time?
    C) How could he get it wrong some many times, for thousands of years?
    D) How could anyone believe in a religious story, that has a god that makes so many errors. So much for god being perfect, logical, supremely intelligent and omniscient.

    8. You have no explained why you would condemn man for an act of infanticide, but you don’t condemn Yahweh.
    If you appeal to authority or subjugation, it’s merely a cop out.
    Furthermore, I sent verses where Yahweh orders pregnant women’s stomachs ripped open, as a military tactic. Divine abortion if you will. You didn’t address this at all. Though I imagine for any Christian this is a tough pill to face and swallow.
    See the numbers verse I listed where Yahweh used divine abortion via his own powers to force women to miscarry if they conceived their child through adultery? Nice.

    Summary:
    -Your arguments cherry pick the hell out of the text.
    -They are hypocritical and dodgy.
    -You can’t make an honest argument against abortion or infanticide, using the god of the bible, who is big on both.
    -Coping out to Jesus doesn’t change that you claim this one god killed kids, while making excuses for him, but condemning man for the same acts.
    -All the trinity cop out does is raise more questions and strip away more credibility in the claims of the faith.

  87. Michael Figueiredo Says:

    Oh. One more. I just saw this disgusting dodge and appeal to ignorance and subjugation. This is embarrassing man.

    “I believe that God did what He did in history and pre-history out of His infinite wisdom and omniscience, and puny-minded finite humans are out of their league to try and question, critique or suggest ‘better’ ways to have done it. You do not hold this opinion.”

    Again your belief is not logical, evidence or an argument in of itself.

    “His infinite wisdom”
    Clearly not. Since he makes loads of errors and handcuffs himself constantly.

    “and omniscience”
    Clearly not, ever read Genesis?

    Wisdom and omniscience are not things Yahweh possesses. Nor does he value or operate on them.

    “puny-minded are out of their league”
    Appeal to subjugation. Appeal to ignorance.
    I reject both. Re-read what I said.
    I demonstrated that Yahweh is out of the league of the average TODDLER when it comes to logic, efficiency or value of human life.
    Which the final on that list is your underlying thesis.

    REPEAT:
    ~In later verses yahweh puts tribes to sleep (violating free will) to make them easier to kill.
    ~So I suggested putting all of Egypt to sleep.
    Having the isrealites pack up their stuff.
    Stroll on out. Part the red sea. Have them cross.
    Close it. Then blow away all tracks with the wind.
    Snap the Egyptians awake. Problem solved.

    I just used simple, yet superior logic, efficiency, and far more value of human life, including CHILDREN lives (1st born egyptian child)
    than Yahweh. I just saved the Isrealites, faster (no days of Moses negotiations required), and without spilling a drop of a childs blood, or causing any suffering to animals, like the plagues and boils to the livestock. I just easily found a superior and faster solution to freeing the Isrealites.

    Bury your head in the sand if you will and appeal to subjugation all you want. But to avoid my simple demonstration here shows you throw logic out the window when a “puny finite mind”, categorically and demonstrably, with ease, upstages your “infinitely wise” Yahweh. It’s remarkably easy. Just value logic, use it.
    You will solve problems with Yahweh’s powers better than he did in the story. You know WHY its easy for “puny finite minds” to outsmart and outclass the deity of the monotheistic torah?
    Because we have more education and logic than the primitives that made the story up. Who projected themselves as Yahweh and thus Yahweh is limited to the little knowledge and “wisdom” of the primitive cultures creating him.

    Outsmarting Yahweh is child’s play.
    You may now bury your head in the sand again to keep believing blindly. Good day.

  88. HG Says:

    and lives of sinners are valuable because…?

  89. metta Says:

    Whatever comes out of my house–you guess this means he is expecting an animal-he sees his daughter who is not an animal. No need to sacrifice at all, just keep waiting for an animal. How it would never occur to Jepthah that a family member or friend might come out of his house I couldn’t imagine!

  90. metta Says:

    a nun? there was no Catholic church back then, really? Anyone who disagrees is a moonbat and abortionist, guilt by association

  91. Scott Thong Says:

    By nun I mean dedicated her life to serving God and never marrying… As explained in that section itself.

  92. Eunice Says:

    Scot, thanks be to God you caught this revelation. Where in the Bible was human sacrifice made to God? Carnal people interpret the Bible their own way, and hence believe delusions. The clues were hidden in plain sight. God bless you.

  93. Eunice Says:

    Scott, thanks be to God you caught this revelation. Where in the Bible was human sacrifice made to God? Carnal people interpret the Bible their own way, and hence believe delusions. The clues were hidden in plain sight. God bless you.

  94. Scott Thong Says:

    Glad to have blessed someone with my sharing! I have many other realizations and discoveries scattered about my blog that you might find interesting too.

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