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April 5th, 2014
08:56 AM ET

When God plays the villain

Opinion by Joel S. Baden, special to CNN

(CNN) - Most modern people tend to distinguish between the wrathful God of the Old Testament and the merciful God of the New Testament.

In our age, the merciful God reigns - or so we like to think.

But every so often, stories or books or natural disasters summon visions of a wrathful God, and nowhere is that more in evidence than in the biblical story of the Flood, now brutally depicted in Darren Aronofsky’s new film “Noah.”

With our notion of a God who loves us all individually, especially the little children, we struggle with a deity who would wipe out all of humanity. Surely there were many innocent people, children, who died in the Flood?

But let’s be clear: This is our problem, not the Bible’s.

According to the biblical story of the Flood, it was not individuals who were wicked; it was humanity as a whole, a wickedness encoded in humanity’s very nature. Young, old, male, female, “every plan devised by humanity’s mind was nothing but evil all the time,” says the Book of Genesis.

Nor is the Flood intended to eradicate humanity’s wickedness so that we might begin anew as a peaceful species, as the film “Noah” seems to suggest.

In the Bible, Noah and his descendants don’t promise to behave differently after the flood. Rather, God learns to accept their inherently evil nature: “Never again will I doom the earth because of humanity, since the devisings of humanity’s mind are evil from their youth.”

We are who we are.

In fact, according to the Bible, the reason that God accepts human nature is because we are the only species that can give him what he wants — which, in the view of Genesis, is bloody, burned animal sacrifices. (So much for the pro-vegetarian angle of Aronofsky’s film.)

MORE ON CNN: Does God have a prayer in Hollywood?

The God of the Old Testament is not uniquely protective of children. After all, this is the same deity who commands the Israelites to slaughter their enemies, “man and woman, young and old.”

The same God who accepts without comment Jephthah’s sacrifice of his own daughter, who allows children to be mauled by a bear for taunting one of his prophets, who threatens Israel with such devastating famine that they will be forced to eat their own infants.

Innocent lives are rarely a moral problem for Israel’s God.

Consider the debate between Abraham and God over the inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrah. Abraham asks his maker, “Will you sweep away the innocent along with the guilty?”

Abraham succeeds in talking God down to sparing the city for the sake of 10 innocent lives. When the city is then destroyed anyway, we are left to surmise that there must have been fewer than 10 good people there. But there might have been nine — and they burned with the rest.

Aronofsky must have recognized our modern moral conundrum: His depiction of humanity outside the family of Noah is almost entirely negative, so that we feel very little compassion for them. Even as they clamber for space on mountaintops as the waters rise.

MORE ON CNN: Noah's Ark discovery raises flood of questions

The one exception to humanity’s general wickedness, a young woman who does not make it onto the ark, stands in for all the innocents swept away in the Flood.

But how innocent is she, really?

The film hews close to the Christian notion of original sin: Noah states quite forcefully that humans have all been corrupted since the expulsion from the Garden.

From that perspective, there are no truly innocent humans, regardless of how innocently they may behave.

In the film, the only real innocents are the animals. They remain so, one character says, because they behave as they did in Eden. Which, of course, is more than anyone can say for Adam and Eve. Notably, Aronofsky does not show any animals drowning or struggling for life, though they also must have.

Again, this is not a problem for the Old Testament: The animals are as inherently guilty as the humans. “All flesh” — animals included — “had corrupted its way on the earth,” we are told in Genesis.

So, we have to separate our notion of innocence — and of God’s nature — from that of the Old Testament authors.

The God of the Old Testament does not love humans; he barely tolerates them. The relationship is not one of affection but one of necessity and of obedience.

We are promised that there will never be another Flood because God wants and needs our sacrifices.

The family of the patriarchs is chosen out of all humanity not because they are somehow more righteous but so that they can exemplify correct obedience for the other nations of the world.

Israel is saved from Egypt not out of love but in order that they will be uniquely beholden to God and will serve him — again, with sacrifices — in the way that God most desires.

Israel’s God is not a beneficent one. He is, in the words of his prophet Nahum, “a passionate, avenging God; vengeful, and fierce in wrath.”

It is not his job to keep us happy and comfortable; it is, rather, our job to make ourselves uncomfortable that he might be appeased.

And yet there is no question that the Old Testament God is not the same God we know and worship today, in modern America.

How, then, do we, who still hold the Bible dear, reconcile our idea of God with God’s actions, in the Flood story and elsewhere?

One possibility is simply to take the Bible at its word: All of humanity, and indeed all of the animals too, was wicked, and even Noah was not entirely righteous but only the most righteous of his wicked generation, as an ancient Jewish tradition stated.

The moral problem is then not why everyone perished, but why — as the movie version asks — anyone was saved at all.

Another possibility is to attribute a shift in personality to the deity: from wrathful to merciful, in line with the division between the Old and New Testaments.

For those who believe in a new dispensation with the arrival of Jesus, this option seems relatively easy. For those who don’t, not so much.

A third choice is to fall back — quite easily — on the essential unknowability of God.

We are not granted the same understanding or perception as is the deity. Which is to say: We have to give him the benefit of the doubt.

Whichever of these paths one takes — and there are surely others — we are struggling with the same basic problem, trying to find some solution that will bring the God of the Old Testament into line with our modern God.

In other words, it is our changing concept of God, over two millennia, that is responsible for the moral dilemma. It’s our problem, not the Bible’s.

Joel S. Baden is the author of “The Historical David: The Real Life of an Invented Hero,” and an associate professor of Old Testament at Yale Divinity School. The opinions in this column belong to Baden. 

Box office report: 'Noah' wreaks Old Testament havoc on its competitors

A flood of reviews for 'Noah'

Is 'Noah' film sacred enough?

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Art • Belief • Bible • Christianity • Death • Faith • Judaism • Media • Movies • natural disasters • Opinion

soundoff (1,259 Responses)
  1. doobzz

    "In the Bible, Noah and his descendants don’t promise to behave differently after the flood."

    So what was the point of the whole genocide thing?

    "Rather, God learns to accept their inherently evil nature: “Never again will I doom the earth because of humanity, since the devisings of humanity’s mind are evil from their youth.”"

    God learns? I thought God was omniscient. I thought he already knew everything, including about the so called inherently evil nature of man.

    As an apologetics piece, this one is extraordinarily weak.

    April 5, 2014 at 12:47 pm |
    • ssq41

      A poor litlte child that didn't get his way...hmmmm.

      Funny how this God and his NT morph looks so much like the humans who created him.

      April 5, 2014 at 1:01 pm |
      • doobzz

        Isn't it?

        For a supposedly omniscient, omnipotent being, the god of the bible certainly fails to be either. But he loves us!

        April 5, 2014 at 1:46 pm |
        • readerpan

          "But he loves us!" While he slaughters us indiscriminately or orders others to do it. With friends like this...

          April 5, 2014 at 1:51 pm |
  2. Doris

    RB: "The cause for their bad behaviour was their lack of faith in the Redeemer.

    I guess that at Noah's time all embryos, infants and little children and the rest of the mankind had turned apostate.

    BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH...."

    Don't delay Rainy. Go ahead and get started on your self-flagellation today. You and I both know it's the only thing that will quell your propensity to lament ad nauseam over mythology.

    April 5, 2014 at 12:45 pm |
  3. Rainer Helmut Braendlein

    The God of the Old Testament does not love humans; ..."

    Unquote.

    If Mr. Baden really believes that, he is really bad, and can hardly be worsened.

    Of course, also the God of the OT loves humans, and he is also the God of today, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.

    He judged the old mankind through the Flood because they committed so many crimes. Seemingly, they slaughtered each other.(outrages or acts of violence). The issue was their bad, evil behaviour. The cause for their bad behaviour was their lack of faith in the Redeemer.

    They could have asked Noah and his relatives about the meaning of the sacrifices (of animals), and they had told them that these sacrifices were worthless in themselves, and only valuable if someone would grasp them as a reminder of the unique, future sacrifice of the Redeemer (we today know that he was Jesus).

    Noah and his relatives did not consider the sacrifice of the Redeemer as a mere atonement for their sins, but through the releasing power of the Redeemer they lived a life of faith, love of neighbour and righteousness in contrast to the remain of the mankind.

    Mystery of faith. Amen.

    April 5, 2014 at 12:37 pm |
  4. Rainer Helmut Braendlein

    "The God of the Old Testament does not love humans; ..."

    Unquote.

    If Mr. Baden really believes that, he is really bad, and can hardly be worsened.

    Of course, also the God of the OT loves humans, and he is also the God of today, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.

    He judged the old mankind through the Flood because they committed so many crimes. Seemingly, they slaughtered each other.(outrages or acts of violence). The issue was their bad, evil behaviour. The cause for their bad behaviour was their lack of faith in the Redeemer.

    They could have asked Noah and his relatives about the meaning of the sacrifices (of animals), and they had told them that this sacrifices were worthless in themselves, and only valuable if someone would grasp them as a reminder of the unique, future sacrifice of the Redeemer (we today know that he was Jesus).

    Noah and his relatives did not consider the sacrifice of the Redeemer as a mere atonement for their sins, but through the releasing power of the Redeemer they lived a life of faith, love of neighbour and righteousness in contrast to the remain of the mankind.

    Mystery of faith. Amen.

    April 5, 2014 at 12:34 pm |
  5. LinCA

    Toward the end of the article, Baden says, "How, then, do we, who still hold the Bible dear, reconcile our idea of God with God’s actions, in the Flood story and elsewhere?". He goes on to mention three possible path, none of which seem very satisfactory, and concludes with, "Whichever of these paths one takes — and there are surely others — we are struggling with the same basic problem, trying to find some solution that will bring the God of the Old Testament into line with our modern God."
    He completely ignores the only rational explanation. He doesn't even mention the one obvious solution that completely demystifies the entire conundrum. It's all just an ancient fairy tale. It's complete and utter bullshit.

    The only reason those "who still hold the Bible dear" can't seem to shake the shackles of their religion is indoctrination, perhaps further hindered by limited ability for rational thought.

    April 5, 2014 at 12:31 pm |
    • readerpan

      Probably more creative wishful thinking than anything else. They NEED a loving sky daddy who can save them from life.
      He who lies to others is a knave; he who lies to himself is a fool.

      April 5, 2014 at 2:01 pm |
  6. CS

    Hey world reflection;
    Whipped misery gardener.

    Flowers; evil children.
    Cain disengaged.

    Murderers breaking ground;
    Disposable nobodies.

    God hard gun; dead dreams.
    Tainted dreams; dope dreams.

    Personal; beautiful God.

    April 5, 2014 at 12:27 pm |
  7. CS

    @thefinisher1

    I will ask you for a sixth time. What is wrong with being an atheist?

    The closest you came to answering me was "it is false" which I did not understand.

    April 5, 2014 at 12:24 pm |
    • thefinisher1

      Atheism is fine. I have a problem with dishonest atheists who have turned their atheism into a religion but won't admit to the world they have.

      April 5, 2014 at 12:27 pm |
      • CS

        See, that wasn't so hard. Thank you.

        April 5, 2014 at 12:28 pm |
      • igaftr

        Seinng that atheism is not a religion, what defintion are you incorrectly using that makes you think it is.
        Is not believing in the Loch Ness Monster also a religion?

        April 5, 2014 at 12:30 pm |
        • thefinisher1

          Seeing that atheists have made their own churches, atheism has indeed become a religion. I don't know why you hate it when people call atheism a religion. That means it is a religion.

          April 5, 2014 at 12:37 pm |
        • igaftr

          No, that does not make it a religion just because you said so. What definition of religion are you falsely using to say atheism is a religion?

          If it is a religion, then so also is not believing in the loch ness monster, or the tooth fairy.
          It is not a religion at all. How is NOT believing a religion?
          SHow your definition.

          April 5, 2014 at 12:43 pm |
        • thefinisher1

          Today's atheists have a weird obsession and attachment to just Christianity. Your atheism is only surrounded by disbelieving in God while the other 99.999% of all other gods you don't care for. Those atheist churches only dedicate their time and effort with disbelieving in the Christian faith. Others faiths you aren't attached to like a leech.

          April 5, 2014 at 12:46 pm |
        • igaftr

          You can dodge and dance all day.
          Just answer the simple question
          What definition are you falsely applying that makes atheism a religion?

          April 5, 2014 at 12:47 pm |
        • thefinisher1

          There's no point in denying the strangeness that has happened in today's form of atheism. It's not like what it use to be. Atheists in the past used logic and reason. You atheists today don't and have a serious obsession to the faith that you grew up in an left or the faith that is most popular in your area. So today's atheism isn't disbelieving in all gods. It's disbelieving in all but one.

          April 5, 2014 at 12:50 pm |
        • igaftr

          What definition of religion are you using?
          Simple question.
          Answer it.

          April 5, 2014 at 12:52 pm |
        • CS

          igaftr, it took me two weeks to get a simple answer out of thefininisher1 so don't hold your breath.

          April 5, 2014 at 12:52 pm |
        • thefinisher1

          I'm not using a definition. I'm using actions from atheists that display they have turned atheism into a religion. Actions speak louder than words, kid.

          April 5, 2014 at 12:56 pm |
        • Doris

          tf1: "I'm using ..."

          You haven't used anything. You've made some general claims. Maybe when your emotions calm down, you'll get around to providing some evidence for your claims... if you can find any...

          April 5, 2014 at 1:00 pm |
        • igaftr

          Ahhh. so you keep using a word incorrectly because you are too lazy to look up the appropriate word.
          All of your claims that atheism is a religion then, are clearly lies, since there is no definition of religion that you could possibly fit atheism into.

          Thank you for admitting that you are just trolling by making up false claims and lies, just to get a response.

          April 5, 2014 at 1:07 pm |
        • TruthPrevails1

          tf: Did you once consider that maybe the reason it appears we speak out more against your god than other gods is because it is your gods believers that seem to be at the center of so much in this world??? I don't see Pagan's standing on street corners or attempting to use their holy books to deny equal rights. Nor do I see Hindu's, etc. I don't believe in any god due to the complete lack of evidence for any of them. I do believe that claims such as the ones in the bible deserve to be scrutinized, especially when it is those claims that are being used to try to impede of everyones rights even if they don't believe in that religion. The simple solution is keep it in your homes and churches and respect the fact that you reside in a Secular country.

          April 5, 2014 at 1:50 pm |
      • LinCA

        @thefinisher1

        You said, "I have a problem with dishonest atheists who have turned their atheism into a religion but won't admit to the world they have."
        I also have a problem with dishonesty, but don't see that limited to any particular group of people. Can you point out where you perceived atheists to be dishonest?

        Also, what would be the problem with turning atheism into a religion (if that were possible)? Isn't everyone free to believe and worship as they please? In the US at least, that right is afforded to everyone, regardless of their beliefs or lack of beliefs.

        April 5, 2014 at 12:37 pm |
        • thefinisher1

          Atheists claim that it's not a religion even though they have made it into one. See. Dishonesty.

          April 5, 2014 at 12:39 pm |
        • Doris

          More generalizations from tf1. So easy to squawk.... not so easy to back up your claims...

          April 5, 2014 at 1:02 pm |
        • LinCA

          @thefinisher1

          You said, "Atheists claim that it's not a religion even though they have made it into one."
          What exactly do you perceive in atheism to be a religion? I don't see any of the traditional religious aspects in what atheists do. I don't see any atheist clinging to obvious nonsense. I don't see any atheist chanting to an imaginary friend. I don't see any atheist going door to door spreading the "good news". I don't see any atheist pushing for legislation based on fairy tales. I don't see any atheist trying to force anyone to conform to their delusions.

          You said, "See. Dishonesty."
          No, I don't see. Pointing out how moronic and infantile the core beliefs are that believers cling to, isn't dishonest. Trying to get believers to shed their delusions isn't either. It's a public service.

          What you do with that information is entirely up to you.

          If there's any dishonesty it's on the side of the believers. I can't imagine that all of them are so dimwitted that they are unable to grasp the simple concepts that clearly show that their religion is complete bullshit. The fact that they cling to it despite a complete and utter lack of rational support for it shows that they are at the very least dishonest with themselves.

          April 5, 2014 at 1:45 pm |
  8. Doris

    RB: "I guess that at Noah's time all embryos, infants and little children and the rest of the mankind had turned apostate.

    BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH...."

    Don't delay Rainy. Go ahead and get started on your self-flagellation today. You and I both know it's the only thing that will quell your propensity to lament ad nauseam over mythology.

    April 5, 2014 at 11:51 am |
  9. Rainer Helmut Braendlein

    "With our notion of a God who loves us all individually, especially the little children, ..."

    If this is our notion, it is probably not God's notion. I don't believe that God loves little children more than other human beings. I rather suppose that He loves us all at first with the same love independent from the age. It is only that little children could easier believe because they are less able to scrutinize like adults. And if infants were taken to Jesus, in order to be blessed, we can imply that there parents were faithful.

    I keep on reading the Psalm, and somewhere there it is written that yet an embryo can turn apostate in the womb of his mother. Of course, outrageous and incredible, but God tells us that. On the other hand John the Baptist became a believer (converted) yet as an embryo in the womb of his mother Elisabeth when she encountered Mary who carried Jesus in her womb.

    I guess that at Noah's time all embryos, infants and little children and the rest of the mankind had turned apostate. Earthly pleasure was more valuable for them than eternal reward. Only Noah, his wife and his relatives were saved from the Flood because they believed in the Redeemer, and lived a life of love of neighbour through the Redeemer's power,

    April 5, 2014 at 11:36 am |
    • readerpan

      Your testimony is delusion bordering on insanity. It is so far from rational as to make mere irrationality seem desirable.

      April 5, 2014 at 2:17 pm |
  10. thefinisher1

    If atheists know more about the bible than most people do, where's the proof? Show us your masters degree from your college that proves you are an expert. Oh wait! Atheists lie for their logic god all the time! Liars for atheism are the worst people to ever exist. All they do is lie to feel superior. Show us proof that you are indeed an expert atheists and more people won't call you liars. Stop lying for your atheism and stop acting like spoiled brats.

    April 5, 2014 at 11:22 am |
    • Doris

      (Emotionally asinine generalizations are all thefinisher1 seems to come up with.)

      Regarding the Bible, thefinisher1, let me ask you – who authored Peter 2, where allegedly Peter puts his stamp of approval on Paul's ministry as the word of God?

      April 5, 2014 at 11:25 am |
      • thefinisher1

        I'm not an expert nor do I claim to be. Atheists who claim to be experts only use parts of the bible that will support their agenda(god is evil and murderous) but won't tell the entire story. They only tell half of the story. They tell people who are Christian they must follow Jewish religious laws and customs when THEY ARENT JEWISH!! That right there means they lie for their atheism because they only desire to mock and hate not understand what they read. Just goes for anyone else. It takes time to understand the bible including understanding ancient Jewish beliefs, life surrounding the areas mentioned in the bible, and understanding EVENTS without bias. That means instead of doing what other people do, instead of using stories or verses to make people look dumb or evil for following, TAKE THE TIME to understand it. Most atheists will pick stories they know will make people enraged and will respond with emotion such as the flood or any other event caused by God. You tell only parts of the story you know will get an emotional response from the believing(meaning they will respond the way you want them to) but you don't tell the entire story. Today's atheists aren't experts, you just claim to be for superiority reasons.

        April 5, 2014 at 11:34 am |
        • colin31714

          A simple "I don't know" would have sufficed.

          Most atheists know a lot more about the Bible than your average Jew or Christian. Not all, but most. This is a large part of why we are atheists. When one looks at how the book was written, edited, compiled, altered and translated over the centuries, it becomes pretty obvious that it is an entirely human affair, bereft of any divine authorship or inspiration.

          April 5, 2014 at 11:39 am |
        • Doris

          More generalizations. And you start off talking about "Atheists who claim to be experts" and end up talking about "Today's atheists". Just who ARE you talking about? Once we can settle that, we can look to see if you can back up your claims. I will say, given the over 41,000 sects of Christianity and how they vary over adherence to different parts of the Bible, Christians should expect questioning on all parts of the Bible.

          April 5, 2014 at 11:42 am |
        • thefinisher1

          Looking at it with pure bias does not mean you understand what you read. It's all a made up lie you have to tell yourself to boost yourself past the people you don't like. That's the only reason why atheist will claim to know more. You don't know more. It's all a lie. Why did God cause the flood? The bible mentions why but in my own experience, most atheists generally skip that part and just attack. You tell and see the parts that will agree with your thinking. That's it. Doesn't mean you are "better educated". It means you are filled with hate and extreme bias.

          April 5, 2014 at 11:44 am |
        • thefinisher1

          The only reason why you atheists will claim to know more about the bible than Christians is to boost yourself past the people you don't like. That's the only reason. It's a selfish, childish and egoistic reason. Grow up and admit you're wrong.

          April 5, 2014 at 11:47 am |
        • igaftr

          "Why did God cause the flood?"

          "He" didn't. We know it never happened, so invalid question.
          Why did the writers of the myth say god allegedly did it?, is a far more valid question

          April 5, 2014 at 11:51 am |
        • thefinisher1

          LOL!!!!!!!!! I was speaking about what the bible says, dumb troll. Your false logic god must be proud of you! ^_^

          April 5, 2014 at 11:53 am |
        • Doris

          tf1: "It's all a made up lie ....."

          What's a made up lie? Atheism? Well, please, knock yourself out and prove it as such.....

          April 5, 2014 at 11:54 am |
        • Doris

          So when poor butthurt thefinisher1 can't answer questions, he resorts back to his emotional generalizations. Good job, tf1.

          April 5, 2014 at 11:56 am |
        • thefinisher1

          Your argument that atheists know more IS an emotional response because you are egoistic and a spoiled brat at heart.

          April 5, 2014 at 11:58 am |
        • Doris

          tf1: "Your argument that atheists know more IS an emotional response because you are egoistic and a spoiled brat at heart."

          Show where someone's argument here is that atheists know more, and then we'll see who's egoistic...

          April 5, 2014 at 12:02 pm |
        • thefinisher1

          Most doesn't apply to all and stop avoiding. Unless the atheist studied the bible in college, as a masters degree to prove it, and has been studying the bible ever since, I don't believe atheists know more. Today's atheism has become a child's game of mocking, attacking, and flaming anything that had to do with your childhood experiences with the faith you left. You don't use logic or reason to convert people. You use attacking and mocking as a means of conversion.

          April 5, 2014 at 12:07 pm |
        • igaftr

          ". You use attacking and mocking as a means of conversion"
          As opposed to religion which uses lies and threats.

          If trolling were an art form, you are at the coloring book stage.
          try growing up.

          April 5, 2014 at 12:24 pm |
        • thefinisher1

          Atheists use lies all the time including distorting vents to further their agenda and bias against the faith you left.

          April 5, 2014 at 12:29 pm |
        • igaftr

          That is simply incorrect. They tried to indoctrinate me, but the brainwashing did not take. The propoganda was too weak, too many flaws and holes ( and I am referring to the often wrong bible).
          Never had "faith" to lose.

          April 5, 2014 at 12:32 pm |
        • thefinisher1

          Stop forcing the reasons you left onto every believer on earth. The fact that you think every person has the same reason(aka "brainwashing") doesn't mean it's true. Your reasons are your own you ignorant child.

          April 5, 2014 at 12:42 pm |
        • igaftr

          Just correcting YOUR false statement. I did not leave any faith, and it was because the propoganda ( and the bible is the very definition of the word, being written to propogated to the people) was clearly flawed.

          April 5, 2014 at 12:46 pm |
        • thefinisher1

          Atheism itself is a flawed idea yet you still continue to believe it.

          April 5, 2014 at 12:47 pm |
        • igaftr

          You claim atheism is a flawed idea.
          Explain in detail what you mean by that.

          April 5, 2014 at 12:49 pm |
        • thefinisher1

          It has no backbone(evidence) and you expect people to stop believing by a stop of your fingers and when they don't, you whine and complain. You expect others to just stop believing because you say so not realizing...that takes fait! ^_^

          April 5, 2014 at 12:52 pm |
        • Doris

          Is that all that's left for you, thefinisher1 – emotional butthurtedness for being called out on your silly generalizations?

          April 5, 2014 at 12:53 pm |
        • igaftr

          That again is incorrect. I do not whine and complain, though your posts prove you do.
          Why won't you answer the simple question of what definition of religion you are using that could possibly put NOT believing as a religion?

          Since I know you won't be able to find one, every one of your posts that claims it is, is a flat out lie.
          I don't know what you intend to accomplish by trying to propogate that lie in the first place, but it is a lie.

          You can refute that by showing your definition.

          April 5, 2014 at 12:57 pm |
        • ssq41

          @finished....

          "Bitter, party of one!"

          April 5, 2014 at 12:58 pm |
        • thefinisher1

          Butthurt? Lol!!! I think that's you troll Doris.

          April 5, 2014 at 12:59 pm |
        • TruthPrevails1

          Wow, I would never claim to know more about the bible than christians. What I will state is from personal experience that pertains to my path in this world. I have seen the good and bad of christianity and in viewpoint after much questioning, I see no justification for it-simply no need. It is a very divisive group of believers-if it's not in your book, you tend to fight against it...ie; LGBT rights-your book says it is a 'sin', yet updated studies have shown it is not–no matter what the updated info is, christians (not all) will argue it while holding their bibles in your face.
          I personally don't wish to be a part of it. I want to be a part of a world where we all work to save our species and planet instead of depending on the unknown to do so. It is a well stated fact that without religion we would be much further ahead.
          You want to slam Atheists constantly as if we're the issue in this world but those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it...take a look in the mirror and stop the hypocrisy for a change.

          April 5, 2014 at 1:39 pm |
        • readerpan

          thefinisher1
          "Looking at it with pure bias does not mean you understand what you read." Hence the reason that claiming to be a bible believing christian carries no weight of evidence. No one has more "pure bias" than one who believes in mystical beings (gods) without evidence (christians, muslims, hindus, etc).

          April 5, 2014 at 2:24 pm |
  11. Rainer Helmut Braendlein

    "Most modern people tend to distinguish between the wrathful God of the Old Testament and the merciful God of the New Testament."

    Unquote.

    Can that statement be proved by any poll?

    Even if it would be the case, the statement is a very false assumption in itself.

    If there would be a distinction between the God of the Old Testament and the God of the New Testament, the whole Bible would be a nonsense for it is clear that a divine being must always remain or be the same. The adjective "alterable" can be used only for creatures but not for God. God would not be God, if he would be alterable. That is a philosophic issue.

    Solution:

    The gospel of Jesus Christ revealing the eternal God's love towards us is somewhat hidden in the Old Testament. Yet, somebody reading the Old Testament led by the Holy Spirit will discover that the Redeemer is mentioned at many passages. It is only that the Old Testament believers did not yet know his name Jesus.

    In Jesus from Nazareth all plans of the Old Testament God materialized, and the New Testament is an account of that stories. Therefore there is no difference between the OT God and the NT God.

    April 5, 2014 at 11:09 am |
    • Doris

      RB: "If there would be a distinction between the God of the Old Testament the God of the New Testament, the whole Bible would be a nonsense [..]"

      It certainly seems to be...

      RB: "for it is clear that a divine being must always remain or be the same. The adjective "alterable" can be used only for creatures but not for God. God would not be God, if he would be alterable. "

      Yes, it seem that the Gods of Gullible's Travels, Parts 1 & 2 didn't play by the Rainer Braendlien playbook. How awful for you.

      RB: "That is a philosophic issue."

      One can apply philosophy to fiction.

      April 5, 2014 at 11:22 am |
    • Akira

      So. Now you are going to tell people how to interpret the Bible?

      Of course you are. It's what you do.

      April 5, 2014 at 11:44 am |
      • Rainer Helmut Braendlein

        The Holy Spirit dwelling in the Christian Church interpretes the Bible well.

        The Holy Spirit is not alterable like the whole Godhead.

        April 5, 2014 at 11:48 am |
        • ssq41

          Which Holy Spirit, RB...

          the Pentecostal Holiness one? The Pentecostal one? The Assembly of God one? The Anabaptist one? The charismatic one? The Luther one? The Catholic one? The Jesse Duplantis one? How about the TBN one? The First Baptist one? Or maybe the 2nd Baptist Church of Memphis one?

          So many Holy Spirits...so little time.

          April 5, 2014 at 11:57 am |
        • Rainer Helmut Braendlein

          The talking of the real Holy Spirit can always be confirmed by the scriptural proof:

          The interpretation of one verse or passage must always fit together with the content of the whole Bible.

          April 5, 2014 at 12:02 pm |
        • ssq41

          Well said, RB...by every one of those individual denominations.

          April 5, 2014 at 1:06 pm |
    • ssq41

      "The gospel of Jesus Christ revealing the eternal God's love towards us is somewhat hidden in the Old Testament"

      And who can count the volumes written over the past 2000 years by those claiming that, although somewhat hidden, Jesus fits perfectly into their denomination, religion, cult, ideology, philosophy, politics, or demographic.

      Truly a man for all seasons.

      April 5, 2014 at 11:54 am |
      • Rainer Helmut Braendlein

        I guess that the true faith is the faith leading people to unbiased love. I don't claim that every Christian practices unbiased love, but at least through faith in Jesus he would be able to do that.

        Christianity (faith in Jesus) is anti-bigotry.

        April 5, 2014 at 11:58 am |
        • midwest rail

          Oh, the irony...

          April 5, 2014 at 12:02 pm |
        • ssq41

          A team of comedy writers couldn't come up with this stuff, eh midwest?

          April 5, 2014 at 1:07 pm |
        • readerpan

          Do you write script for Stephen Colbert?

          April 5, 2014 at 2:28 pm |
  12. ausphor

    Of course the bible is man made historical, sort of, fiction. I do not see a whole lot of difference between the old and the modern god that the article suggests. The newer image of god, Jesus, clearly states that if you believe in him you are just swell, looked after, but if you dare disbelieve in Him you will suffer the old timey wrath of god. Proselytizing by threats still goes on today.

    April 5, 2014 at 10:48 am |
  13. Rainer Helmut Braendlein

    "Most modern people tend to distinguish between the wrathful God of the Old Testament and the merciful God of the New Testament."

    Unquote.

    Can that statement be proved by any poll?

    Even if it would be the case, the statement is a very false assumption in itself.

    If there would be a distinction between the God of the Old Testament the God of the New Testament, the whole Bible would be a nonsense for it is clear that a divine being must always remain or be the same. The adjective "alterable" can be used only for creatures but not for God. God would not be God, if he would be alterable. That is a philosophic issue.

    April 5, 2014 at 10:46 am |
    • Doris

      RB: "If there would be a distinction between the God of the Old Testament the God of the New Testament, the whole Bible would be a nonsense [..]"

      It certainly seems to be...

      RB: "for it is clear that a divine being must always remain or be the same. The adjective "alterable" can be used only for creatures but not for God. God would not be God, if he would be alterable. "

      Yes, it seem that the Gods of Gullible's Travels, Parts 1 & 2 didn't play by the Rainer Braendlien playbook. How awful for you.

      RB: "That is a philosophic issue."

      One can apply philosophy to fiction.

      April 5, 2014 at 10:55 am |
      • Doris

        Sentence correction: "Yes, it seems that the Gods of Gullible's Travels, Parts 1 & 2 didn't play by the Rainer Braendlein playbook. How awful for you."

        April 5, 2014 at 10:57 am |
    • Akira

      Of course your interpretation of the Bible is different from Baden's. Baden's is different than mine, and so on and so forth.
      What a shock that the interpretations are as different as the individuals reading it.

      April 5, 2014 at 11:06 am |
      • Rainer Helmut Braendlein

        My interpretation is that one of the Early Church or the general Christian Church. I don't spread my own filth, but my statements are confirmed by the confessional docu-ments of the Protestant churches, the writings of the Fathers, the decisions of the Ecu-menical Councils, Luther, Bonhoeffer, Augustine, etc.

        I only spread what has ever been spread by the Church. There is only one generally valid doctrine.

        April 5, 2014 at 11:16 am |
        • G to the T

          "My interpretation is that one of the Early Church or the general Christian Church."

          Which early church? You mean the Paul's church or one of the other version of Christianity that existed around that same time?

          Either way, I guarantee you get enough Christians in the same room and their versions of Christianity will vary accordingly. It's great you think you're following the "true" Christianity, but I think you'd be surprised how often I hear that statement.

          April 5, 2014 at 4:00 pm |
  14. colin31714

    Let me suggest a fourth option for understanding the deep inconsistencies between the hateful, infantile, temper-throwing god of the Old Testament and the "one size fits all," loving, benevolent being many picture today. We made God in our image, not vice-versa. This is why the Jewish god was obsessed with the Jews, why the Hindu gods of India are obsessed with the Indians and why the gods of the Australian Aboriginals put them at the center of his creation.

    Every culture that has ever existed has had its own god or gods and they all favor that particular culture, its values, hopes and prejudices, over all others. Gods are a mere reflection of a culture's collective values, outsourced and personified to give the values higher authority and credibility.

    The problem for the Bible is that cultural norms change over time, but the Bible's words do not. So, 2,500 years later, we are left in a situation today where people who believe in God as an actual being are left trying to reconcile his beastly personality from his creation back in the late Bronze Age with our softer, more accepting cultural norms today. Hence we get the feeble attempts at reconciliation, as laid out in this article; (i) humans are inherently evil; (ii) Jesus’ arrival change God’s personality; or (iii) God is “unknowable” – even though the entire Judeo-Christian tradition is founded on knowing his desires and intentions.

    It’s all apologetic nonsense. The fact is that, God, being nothing more than a projection of prevailing societal values, has changed, is changing and will always change – in perfect lockstep with the values of the society that created him. Ever wondered why he stopped killing rival tribes, just as we did, stopped demanding animal sacrifices just as we did, stopped wanting the death penalty for many trivial things just as we did and started accepting gays and other minorities just as we did?

    April 5, 2014 at 10:39 am |
  15. rogerthat2014

    The Bible god is the greatest supervillain ever created. "Pure evil" is the only label that can be placed on an omnipotent and omniscient deity that creates humans for the sole purpose of eternal tourture. Hitler's victims suffering ended at their death. Of course there are the ones that then went to hell where the tourture really starts. Nice God you've got there.

    April 5, 2014 at 10:24 am |
  16. Alias

    "But let’s be clear: This is our problem, not the Bible’s."

    Only if we accept the bible as anything more than fiction.
    The Harry Potter stories had moral flaws as well, but I'm not losing any sleep over those either.

    April 5, 2014 at 10:12 am |
  17. hotairace

    Why do people believe The Babble is anything but fiction?

    April 5, 2014 at 10:10 am |
  18. Doris

    "Most modern people tend to distinguish between the wrathful God of the Old Testament and the merciful God of the New Testament."

    Yet another reason that I keep Gullible's Travels, Parts 1 & 2 on the shelf where I have all the other fiction.

    April 5, 2014 at 9:44 am |
  19. lookatuniverse

    Quran says (Islamic Scripture)

    Does the human being not see that we created him from a tiny drop, then he turns into an ardent enemy? [36:77]

    “He raises a question to us – while forgetting his initial creation – "Who can resurrect the bones after they had rotted?" [36:78]

    “Say, "The One who initiated them in the first place will resurrect them. He is fully aware of every creation." [36:79]

    “Is not the One who created the heavens and the earth able to recreate the same? Yes indeed; He is the Creator, the Omniscient.” [36:81]

    “All He needs to do to carry out any command is to say to it, "Be," and it is.” [36:82]

    “O people, here is a parable that you must ponder carefully: the idols you set up beside God can never create a fly, even if they banded together to do so. Furthermore, if the fly steals anything from them, they cannot recover it; weak is the pursuer and the pursued.” [22:73]

    “They do not value God as He should be valued. God is the Most Powerful, the Almighty.”[22:74]

    “If you obey the majority of people on earth, they will divert you from the path of God. They follow only conjecture; they only guess.” [Quran 6:116]

    “The example of Jesus, as far as GOD is concerned, is the same as that of Adam; He created him from dust, then said to him, "Be," and he was.” Quran [3:59]

    “It does not befit God that He begets a son, be He glorified. To have anything done, He simply says to it, ‘Be,’ and it is.” [19:35]

    Thanks for taking time to read my post. Please take a moment to visit whyIslam org website.

    April 5, 2014 at 9:26 am |
    • igaftr

      more quotes from a book that has no basis in reality.
      Nothing but belief.
      Islam is just as corrupted a christianity.

      April 5, 2014 at 10:08 am |
  20. Mr. T

    Need another movie like the "Ten Commandments".

    April 5, 2014 at 9:20 am |
    • Mr. T

      Having said that, as it relates to this article, have to agree with Joel Baden. He is spot on when he writes –" It’s our problem, not the Bible’s.."

      April 5, 2014 at 9:28 am |
    • Alias

      We need a documentary to show how flawed the religion is. We need to highlight the logical failures and explain how it has changed through time to fill the needs of its followers.

      April 5, 2014 at 10:17 am |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.