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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. cramerjean

    This is my problem with Christianity. If god made man, why does he blame us for the results. Free will doesn't really have any meaning if there is a creator. The creation is whatever the creator decided to make it.

    April 6, 2014 at 9:10 am |
    • saggyroy

      Hard to tell who is the devil and who is the benefactor.

      April 6, 2014 at 9:27 am |
      • bostontola

        That's just it, in the bibles and Christian doctrines, there isn't a benefactor. Satan is self centered and wants man to be self centered. God is self centered and wants man to be God centered.

        God is all, love me more than yourself, your children, mother, and father. If you don't, burn in hell for eternity.

        Conclusions:
        1. God is not benevolent.
        2. The free will story is equally vacuous. Choose me or burn for eternity? That is a contract offered under extreme duress. That would be vacated in any court.

        This is a vestige of the OT God character, obey or die. Only in Christianity they raised the stakes by promoting the afterlife above this life, and threatening eternal pain.

        I am stunned that people can't see the immorality in this story.

        April 6, 2014 at 9:45 am |
    • James XCIX

      Doesn't really seem fair, does it? If I create a faulty chair that breaks the first time someone sits in it, I'm not going to blame the chair, am I?

      April 6, 2014 at 9:49 am |
      • bostontola

        Nice analogy.

        April 6, 2014 at 10:05 am |
    • seedenbetter

      That's the insanity of Christianity. Delusional followers must constantly ignore mountains of absurdities and contradictions.

      April 6, 2014 at 1:12 pm |
  2. dcobranchi

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

    And the fourth (and, IMO, most likely) choice is just to acknowledge that there is no god, and that the Israelites worshipped a malign mass delusion.

    April 6, 2014 at 8:47 am |
    • saggyroy

      40 years of wandering the desert might do that to a person.

      April 6, 2014 at 9:28 am |
  3. whippstippler7

    What about Santa Claus? Santa is far more probable than a god. Let's compare the two:
    Santa – human, or at least, human form. We see human forms every day. God – ?
    Santa – lives at the North Pole,a place we know exists. God – ?
    Santa – manufactures a ton of toys, like Mattel. God – ?
    Santa – flies very quickly. Ever go on a jet? God?
    Santa- delivers a huge number of items with precision very quickly. Fed-Ex, perhaps? God?

    My point is, what Santa is and does is not very far off from our reality today, and with advances in technology, is easily within the realm of attainability. So why is it that a grown person who believes in Santa would be laughed out of town, whereas someone who believes in something far, far, far, far less probable, with no evidence whatsoever, they are applauded for their "faith"?

    Children are upset when they learn and accept the truth about Santa, but they get over it. It's time for those believers tout away their childish beliefs. It's probably a frightening thing to contemplate, but it's really not scary at all.

    April 6, 2014 at 8:46 am |
  4. Bootyfunk

    "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."
    +++ justifying your god's infanticide? disgusting. only a monster could look at a newborn babe and pronounce the child evil, worthy of being drowned. seriously, only someone absolutely deluded and brainwashed could make excuses for killing children.

    April 6, 2014 at 12:21 am |
    • arthurpaliden

      People who justify the Flood should be made to retrieve the bodies of children and infants after a real major flooding disaster.

      April 6, 2014 at 8:46 am |
    • tacitustalks

      And by your statement how do your feel about Obama who voted against a law in Illinois that required that a baby that survived an abortion by accident, was to be saved. He said that the baby should be finished off.

      April 6, 2014 at 9:04 am |
      • TruthPrevails1

        "Anti-abortion activists accuse Obama of "supporting infanticide," and the National Right to Life Committee says he’s conducted a "four-year effort to cover up his full role in killing legislation to protect born-alive survivors of abortions." Obama says they’re "lying."

        At issue is Obama’s opposition to Illinois legislation in 2001, 2002 and 2003 that would have defined any aborted fetus that showed signs of life as a "born alive infant" entitled to legal protection, even if doctors believe it could not survive.

        Obama opposed the 2001 and 2002 "born alive" bills as backdoor attacks on a woman’s legal right to abortion, but he says he would have been "fully in support" of a similar federal bill that President Bush had signed in 2002, because it contained protections for Roe v. Wade."

        "As originally proposed, the 2003 state bill, SB 1082, sought to define the term "born-alive infant" as any infant, even one born as the result of an unsuccessful abortion, that shows vital signs separate from its mother. The bill would have established that infants thus defined were humans with legal rights. It never made it to the floor; it was voted down by the Health and Human Services Committee, which Obama chaired."
        (http://www.factcheck.org/2008/08/obama-and-infanticide/)

        You might wish to fact check before accepting everything you hear next time!

        April 6, 2014 at 10:00 am |
  5. observer

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

    You must know what you are talking about.

    (Malachi 3:6) “For I, the Lord, do not change”

    Oh! Never mind.

    April 5, 2014 at 7:59 pm |
    • Bootyfunk

      jesus himself said his followers are not to drop a single letter from the OT. i really don't see how christians get around their own messiah telling them to follow the OT and yet they say they aren't bound to it. the NT supersedes the OT, but it doesn't replace it - it supplements it.

      April 6, 2014 at 12:27 am |
      • arthurpaliden

        Same God used killing as his 'go to' problem solving technique.

        April 6, 2014 at 8:45 am |
      • saggyroy

        I think the problem as to why the OT was included in the canon was to justify and to prophesize Jesus' coming.

        April 6, 2014 at 9:20 am |
  6. arthurpaliden

    Greenland Ice Cap Disproves the Flood
    =====================================
    A. Paliden

    Every year in the central area of the Greenland Ice Sheet a layer of ice is created separated by a line of dust. This is because all year long dust falls out of the atmosphere along with, in the case of the far north, snow in the winter time. Now in the summer time this snow starts to melt and the dust drops down creating a layer. Now due to the shortness of the summer when it is hot enough to melt all the snow. So that come the next winter the remaining water laden snow freezes to ice with a layer of dirt on top. This happens every year.

    Now the flood is supposed to have happened about 4361 years ago (2013)[1] so that means that if we go down that number of layers we should find on or about that layer evidence of the flood in the form of dead plankton, salt, and other ocean detritus.

    None of this is found.

    So either it never happened or it melted the entire ice cap.

    OK so, lets say that it melted clean away. That means in the last 4500 or so years the ice cape has reformed.

    Well since the ice cap has over 100,000 layers[3] in it that means that over the last 4500 years about 22 layers per year must have been laid down. Now to create a layer you need a large snow fall fallowed by warm sun light to melt and compact the snow which causes all the dirt that has fallen on the snow during the year to form a layer. This means that those 22 layers can only be laid down in the Greenland summer which is only about 3 months long. So during that three month period you need a snow storm followed by warm weather every three days. Which being as people have lived there from at least 600 BC [2] we know is not the case. That sort of weather is not happening now and has never happened in the past.

    This then leaves us with the period before we know people lived in Greenland, a period of 1900 years since the supposed flood. Which means that we now have to have 53 layers build up per year. This means during the three months of the Greenland summer months there had to be a snow storm followed by a dust storm followed by hours of warm sunlight every day or so for the three months of Greenland summer.

    Such weather does not exist. Such weather never happened. Ergo, the flood never happened.

    Note 1:

    One other thing particular to the dust is that if the layer contains volcanic ash you can tell from which volcano it came from. Yes volcanic ash for each volcano is different. So it is possible to calibrate the the dating of the ice layers based on known historical records.

    Note 2:

    That stuff about the airplanes under the hundred or so feet of snow well depth has nothing to do with layering and where those planes are it is near the coast and they get over 2 meters of snow there a year so yes they should be buried quite deep by now. Not only that but they are also on a moving glassier and the ice cores used for dating well they are taken from the interior of the ice sheet where the ice is quite stable and they don't get anywhere near 2 meters of snow per year.

    Note 3:

    Planktonic life in the Arctic Ocean

    During the polar night, planktonic algae stop growing for lack of light. When the thaw begins, the nutritious elements in the water are enriched by the addition of seawater and various organisms that were trapped in the sea ice, and by input brought by the currents and coastal run-off. When the sun returns, marine life reawakens and the food chain starts to function once more. By the time summer arrives, microalgae are even growing underneath and inside the sea ice.

    Note 4:

    If creationists really wanted to show the flood rally happened they could go up to central Greenland today and do their own coring and show that the debris from the flood is there. To date they have not.

    Note 5:

    Paul H. Seely

    Recently an ice core nearly two miles long has been extracted from the Greenland ice sheet. The first 110,000 annual layers of snow in that ice core (GISP2) have been visually counted and corroborated by two to three different and independent methods as well as by correlation with volcanic eruptions and other datable events. Since the ice sheet would have floated away in the event of a global flood, the ice core is strong evidence that there was no global flood any time in the last 110,000 years.

    http://www.google.Ca/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=4&ved=0CEMQFjAD&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.asa3.org%2FASA%2FPSCF%2F2003%2FPSCF12-03Seely.pdf&ei=Shi9Ue2VI4m2rQH9w4GYBQ&usg=AFQjCNERQTa_a0xXjforrCgY9w89bwsUeQ&sig2=ytY9CMPgy9guPwG4gCXmKw&bvm=bv.47883778,d.aWM

    [1]http://www.answersingenesis.Org/articles/2012/03/09/feedback-timeline-for-the-flood
    [2]http://natmus.Dk/forsknings-og-formidlingsafdelingen/etnografisk-samling/sila-arctic-centre/prehistory-of-greenland/saqqaq/
    [3]http://en.wikipedia.Org/wiki/Greenland_ice_sheet
    [3]Meese, DA, AJ Gow, RB Alley, GA Zielinski, PM Grootes, M Ram, KC Taylor, PA Mayewski, JF Bolzan (1997) The Greenland Ice Sheet Project 2 depth-age scale: Methods and results. Journal of Geophysical Research. C. Oceans. 102(C12):26,411-26,423.

    April 5, 2014 at 7:32 pm |
    • Salero21

      So then... your copy & paste is all is needed to refuse/reject the narrative of the Bible just because you and some Pseudo-science says so. Sure but of course!! See... this is why I must keep saying that atheism/evolutionism/idolatry are all absolute, complete, Total stupidity.

      April 5, 2014 at 8:13 pm |
      • arthurpaliden

        Yet of course you were unable to refute my science, cut and pasted my own article by the way, you just attacked me personally. You know what they say "If you cannot counter the data attack the messenger."

        By the way it does not refute the Bible just one of the pillars of the Christian faith. Now it one is impossible then the others also fall into question.

        April 5, 2014 at 8:20 pm |
        • observer

          arthurpaliden,

          Keep in mind that if anyone would know about stupidity, it's Salero21.

          April 5, 2014 at 8:26 pm |
      • Akira

        Is c/p no longer a valid form of posting, Salero? I don't suppose you would see the irony of that position, would you?

        April 5, 2014 at 8:28 pm |
      • AtheistSteve

        The absolute irony of you labeling this as pseudoscience made me spit out my cornflakes. My sides still ache from laughing.

        April 6, 2014 at 7:30 am |
      • TruthPrevails1

        sally sally sally, pseudo science is what you live by...no great flood, no virgin birth...the bible is full of pseudo science but if you had an education past grade 1 you'd comprehend that. You never did answer as to how the trip to the rubber room was and why they released you back to society...did you lie and say you were no longer suffering from the grand delusions?

        April 6, 2014 at 7:40 am |
      • sameeker

        The poster cited a source for the information. That is what you are supposed to do.

        April 6, 2014 at 9:28 am |
  7. new-man

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dprFvYDKtNU

    April 5, 2014 at 6:51 pm |
  8. ausphor

    What is with the Christian backers of their god as soon as they are backed into a corner and they do not have a logical answer they come back well after the fact and start the same BS arguments all over again. You people are so obtuse to be worthy of ridicule, mocking and derision; stand up or shut up already.

    April 5, 2014 at 6:21 pm |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

      I think it is like an abusee in a relationship...from the inside the alternative is scary.

      April 5, 2014 at 7:39 pm |
      • ausphor

        Stockholm Syndrome!

        April 5, 2014 at 7:45 pm |
        • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

          I think there is a lot of social pressure to "stay in the fold". That was (and is) the most difficult part for me. It was only when I realized I could no longer live dishonestly that I completely let it go.

          April 5, 2014 at 7:52 pm |
        • ddeevviinn

          Cheese

          " I no longer could live dishonestly"

          Funny how our human minds, from one individual to another, can differ on such fundamental levels. I find, and I say this with all sincerity, one of the most significant factors that prevents me from disovowing my Chrisitan faith is the realizatin that I would have to " live dishonestly."

          April 5, 2014 at 10:10 pm |
        • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

          devin, I believe you and think you are being sincere. Where you and I differ, in my opinion, is you think "ultimate truth" can be strictly personal and I don't, and I don't point that out in a disparaging way. I am not even sure I phrased it the way I mean it but I think you will probably get my gist.

          April 5, 2014 at 11:12 pm |
  9. bostontola

    "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."

    The incessant rationalizing is obvious. What about the most likely explanation:
    The Bibles were authored by men. The OT captured the God concept of 3000 years ago, the NT captured the God concept of 2000 years ago.

    The inconsistencies in the God character are well laid out in this article. It's not because God is inscrutable, or because we can't interpret and cherry pick verses well, it's because it's all made up by people that couldn't see the inconsistencies.

    April 5, 2014 at 5:55 pm |
    • kudlak

      So, God mellowed out in his old age, while his son use to be easygoing, but is going to go full-postal the next time he visits, eh?

      April 5, 2014 at 6:21 pm |
      • arthurpaliden

        That is what you sometimes get that with abandoned children who are adopted out.

        April 5, 2014 at 7:36 pm |
  10. Vic

    ♰ ♰ ♰ Jesus Christ Is Lord ♰ ♰ ♰

    There is no mystery to it, we've been saying it all along, God made several covenants with man, e.g. Adam, Abraham, Noah, Moses, David, etc.

    That's the difference, God made the Old Covenant with Israel through Moses and then replaced it with the New Covenant through Jesus Christ.

    Those are "Time Dispensations" by God. The "Dispensation of the Law," the Old Covenant, through Moses ended, and the "Dispensation of Grace," the New Covenant, through Jesus Christ commenced and is reigning till the end of time.

    April 5, 2014 at 3:47 pm |
    • Vic

      p.s. Thanks Andy for pointing out "Adam" earlier.

      April 5, 2014 at 3:49 pm |
    • Sherman

      Amen, preach it, brother!

      April 5, 2014 at 3:51 pm |
    • arthurpaliden

      So God make a mistake and did a 'do over'. To be expected after all He is only human.

      April 5, 2014 at 3:55 pm |
      • Vic

        actually, it is the other way around.

        It is man who did not conform to God's covenants, so He God out of His Grace kept easing off the yoke and ending with the "Ultimate Provision" for our Salvation through the Passion of the Lord Jesus Christ, the New Covenant.

        April 5, 2014 at 4:00 pm |
        • tallulah131

          All this would have been avoided if god had done the job right the first time. So basically god had to kill almost all of humanity because he made a mistake. Nice god you have there.

          April 5, 2014 at 4:12 pm |
        • Vic

          I appreciate the impression.

          God is Sovereign, and we do not know "everything" about His Divine Will, Wisdom, Justice, and Command, and how they totally work.

          April 5, 2014 at 4:19 pm |
        • new-man

          tallulah131,
          pride is thinking you know more than God. Do you stand in judgment of God or is He your Judge. He is also your Lord, Savior and Redeemer.

          God always starts His new Beginnings with clear Endings. So God knew the ending long before you came on the scene. It's you, whose heart and mind have to catch up/transition with this implication.

          April 5, 2014 at 4:30 pm |
        • sam stone

          new-man: pride is making you think you KNOW anything about "god"

          April 5, 2014 at 5:00 pm |
        • new-man

          ss
          clearly, I KNOW God, and you don't (as per your confession); so what's your point? Should I deny knowing him to appear less pride-full to you? God Forbid.

          I KNOW GOD.
          GOD KNOWS ME.

          Blessings!

          April 5, 2014 at 5:12 pm |
        • ausphor

          How are you newman?
          Yes I am far more ethical than your god. I have never participated in mass murder or demanded that you believe in ME or suffer eternal damnation. I would much rather be me than your very ugly god, thanks anyway.

          April 5, 2014 at 5:15 pm |
        • hotairace

          Given that there is no actual evidence for any god, it is highly unlikely any god exists, therefore it is very likely that everyone knows more any alleged, but never proven, god.

          April 5, 2014 at 5:16 pm |
        • ssq41

          New-man...perhaps you should read tallulah131's responses a little closer. Dictating to her that your God is her Lord, etc., etc. is quite dictatorial.

          But Christians are well known for being so arrogantly disrespectful of how others see the world (and how they cry when the atheists treat them that way).

          You would have made a great interrogator at Hanoi, or in Siberia, or even at Abu Ghraib. If you've read Tolstoy, did the Grand Inquisitor give you a warm fuzzy feeling?

          Wait! I know...had you lived in the 1st Century Palestine, you would have been a leader among the Sadducees!

          And every time you heard Jesus say "You've heard it said, but I show you another way..." You would have plotted how to hand him over to the Romans.

          Such arrogance dictating such things to those who have free will, according to your own philosophy.

          April 5, 2014 at 5:19 pm |
        • ausphor

          Vic
          Do you believe in magic?

          April 5, 2014 at 5:26 pm |
        • new-man

          ssq41
          you're taking offence at a comment that was made to tallulah.
          do you go through the blog and correct every atheist who make "dictatorial statements"? if not you should, otherwise whatever credibility you have is on the line.

          enjoy your evening... blessings in all good things.

          April 5, 2014 at 5:40 pm |
        • ssq41

          No, new-man...because you claim that "Father" exists and you and the other members of the Body of Christ so conveniently forget that he has set a higher standard for your behavior and every person on this planet should be holding you to that standard long before you open your mouth or put finger to keyboard (since you, clearly, are unwilling to hold yourself accountable.

          So freely you dictate how others should behave according to Father, but you can't even garner the courage to set an example and live even the most basic commands issued to you.

          Oh, and as long as there is a reply button, you don't get to dictate to me or anyone else what conversations we will enter into.

          I know, it is depressing for you not to be in complete control...so sorry.

          April 5, 2014 at 5:51 pm |
        • ausphor

          How are you newman?
          That is where you get it entirely wrong. I am the judge of what is god. I have thousands to chose from, they bow down to my determination of which god is the really good goddy like guy. It is up to me, I determine what god is real to me, not the other way around. Come on Newnan, look around escape the brainwashing you may find a more believable, more compassionate god out there or just believe in none at all.

          April 5, 2014 at 5:52 pm |
        • sam stone

          new-man: clearly, you are delusional. you know words from translated, edited iron age hearsay and attribute it to god. you need to be heavily medicated

          April 5, 2014 at 6:48 pm |
        • arthurpaliden

          So Man was able to force go to change. Hey that is even cooler. Man is very powerful.

          April 5, 2014 at 7:23 pm |
        • steelontarget

          "It is man who did not conform to God's covenants, so He God out of His Grace kept easing off the yoke and ending with the "Ultimate Provision" "

          So you admit your god made imperfect creatures such as man?
          So your god made imperfect man, hence your god is imperfect to the extent he has to wipe out his creations to create a celestial "mulligan".
          Why do you call him god and why do you think you owe him anything then?

          April 5, 2014 at 7:52 pm |
        • ausphor

          Arthur....
          Of course man is all powerful, depending on the culture and the multiple gods, it is man who decides what powers they have in their culture. If you do not believe me, reference Marvel comic books, same, same.

          April 5, 2014 at 7:53 pm |
    • Doris

      Vic: "There is no mystery to it, we've been saying it all along, God made several covenants with man, e.g. Abraham, Noah, Moses, David, etc."

      Translation: The reshaping of God to best suit man's view of himself in a particular part of the world.

      April 5, 2014 at 4:13 pm |
      • igaftr

        Yeah Doris...the eastyern philosophies had been coming to the area by way of the silk raod for several hundred years. The people started to embrace many of these philosophies, so the keepers of the bible came out with bible2.0. In it they created this Jesus character, who is a metaphor for all the potential "good" a man can posess, and Satan, the metaphoric "evil" person. Now incorporate the eastern philosophies ( A huge portion of what Jesus allegedly said came from the Buddha, Confucious and a few others) into this Jesus character...then tie the story back in to the original god ( but also ver2.0 of god, same god, but a kinder, gentler vengeful god)) and voila...the "new" testament.
        It is quite obvious when you see it from a "why did men write this" standpoint.

        April 5, 2014 at 5:07 pm |
    • lewcypher

      religion and the worship of god(s) is a filthy perverted disease of the mind.

      If you had been born and raised in central america 1000 years ago you would be worshiping quezacoatl

      April 5, 2014 at 4:37 pm |
    • sam stone

      There's no mystery to it, we've been saying it all along. IT'S MYTHOLOGY

      April 5, 2014 at 4:57 pm |
    • Akira

      Vic,

      "I don't understand why some people track others on here! "

      I asked you this on the previous page, and was judged a troll by some random person for my question, but what does this statement mean?

      April 5, 2014 at 5:45 pm |
      • Vic

        I never understood your question.

        I believe my question was clear. It was obvious at the time what was going on given the comments, it is something that happens here all the time, and someone else seemed to see clearly to it.

        I myself choose to only engage in objective discourse of the subject matter, otherwise, I hold my peace in the face of hostility.

        April 5, 2014 at 7:12 pm |
        • Akira

          Vic,
          Maybe it's the odd use of the word "track". The statement wasn't clear to me.

          You're not going to address jerks. Gotcha.

          April 5, 2014 at 7:40 pm |
    • kudlak

      Vic
      He never made a covenant with me.

      April 5, 2014 at 6:23 pm |
  11. arthurpaliden

    And He blotted out every living substance which was upon the face of the ground, both man, and cattle, and creeping thing, and fowl of the heaven; for after the 40 days and nights God let up the rains and gazed down upon the Ark looking resplendent in a sea of dead and bloated babies and children. Their faces contorted in the agony of drowning while the carrion birds of the ocean did feed on their bloated and discoloured corpses. And they were blotted out from the earth; and Noah only was left, and they that were with him in the ark. And the Lord God smiled at the bloated and rotting little bodies and was joyful for he knew then that his retribution had been slow and painful and without mercy for even the young and innocent. (Genesis 7:23- non white washed version)

    April 5, 2014 at 3:34 pm |
    • hotairace

      Unless you can show "He" exists I must reply with "Bullsh!t!!"

      April 5, 2014 at 3:38 pm |
    • Athy

      Real nice guy, this god of yours.

      April 5, 2014 at 3:51 pm |
    • hotairace

      Given that Artie didn't actually say anything, merely quoted a section of The Babble, perhaps he's trying to show what an azzhole the alleged but never proven god of The Babble is. Of course, to actually be an azzhole, "god" would have to exist.

      April 5, 2014 at 5:24 pm |
      • arthurpaliden

        Be definition 'holes' do not exist they are defined.

        April 5, 2014 at 7:34 pm |
        • hotairace

          Then your god is the definition of an azzhole.

          April 5, 2014 at 7:38 pm |
    • ssq41

      Actually, this is what Arty fantasizes about if there wasn't a Consti.tution...how he sees the landscape if he could freely finger the trigger of "Gabriel," his precious AR-15 with the firing pin filed down to make it just about automatic.

      April 5, 2014 at 5:28 pm |
    • Akira

      Actially, I think this is probably satire. That's how I take it, anyway.

      April 5, 2014 at 5:49 pm |
      • igaftr

        Bingo Akira, he clearly has an issue with the Noah Myth, clearly a satirical post....some people really need to read before replying ( and more importantly, comprehend).

        April 5, 2014 at 5:55 pm |
  12. CS

    Possibly the greatest line from any musical ever.

    April 5, 2014 at 3:33 pm |
    • tallulah131

      Which musical?

      April 5, 2014 at 4:12 pm |
      • tallulah131

        Never mind. I googled. I should have guessed!

        April 5, 2014 at 4:15 pm |
      • CS

        The Book of Mormon

        April 5, 2014 at 7:52 pm |
  13. naturechaplain

    My goodness. A professor at Yale who still refers to the Hebrew Bible as the "Old Testament" and suggests the "New" Christian portion of the Bible shows a different kind of (better, improved?) God! As a religion teacher and one who was a minister for many years (now a Freethinker), I find this scan of the Noah story troubling. The story is a story, accepted by most scholars as myth, though the problem remains: even if a myth, what is the point? Yes, a wrathful deity, but really more a bumbling mass murderer with too much power! Saving the animals only to enjoy the smell of a mass barbecue and choosing mass genocide because imperfectly made humans aren't pleasing enough. . .leaves us empty and perplexed, if we care at all. The Noah Story leaves us with just what the whole Bible and all sacred scriptures leave us with: gems of wisdom stuck in mountains of mud. Ah for the fresh air of Nature and a good breeze from Emerson, Muir and Burroughs!

    April 5, 2014 at 3:24 pm |
    • Doris

      " gems of wisdom stuck in mountains of mud."

      lol – yes, great description!

      "Ah for the fresh air of Nature and a good breeze from Emerson, Muir and Burroughs!"

      Or, of course, Emerson, Lake and Palmer....

      April 5, 2014 at 3:28 pm |
    • Russ

      @ naturechaplain: your transcendentalists fail to account for why the Jews found this compelling. it is ethnocentric to think they were any less skeptical than you are.

      consider, for all the debate regarding the "innovation" of monotheism in the Abrahamic religions, how could there be such sophistication WHILE requiring such naiveté as your read of Genesis does? even from a purely sociological study, your hypothesis requires two opposite contingencies.

      April 5, 2014 at 3:37 pm |
      • Doris

        Perpetuation of myth precludes sophistication, Russ?

        April 5, 2014 at 3:41 pm |
        • Russ

          @ Doris: your question is unclear, but if i'm reading you correctly...

          consider what naturechaplain's claim about the God of the OT requires:
          1) the Jews had the sophistication to bring about the 'innovation' of monotheism (sociologically speaking)
          WHILE
          2) the Jews naively worshipped "a bumbling mass murderer with too much power"

          April 5, 2014 at 3:52 pm |
        • Doris

          Please explain where how what nature claim requires your itemized points, Russ.

          April 5, 2014 at 3:59 pm |
        • Russ

          @ Doris: i itemize my points to make things easier to read.

          in this case, #2 is a direct quote from his original point – if not the primary thesis he's advancing.
          #1 is possibly the most often discussed conundrum regarding the history of religions & the supposed 'development' of monotheism.

          but the point is this: is it logical to claim one group has such grand sophistication while *simultaneously* arguing for that level of naiveté?

          April 5, 2014 at 4:03 pm |
        • Doris

          Hmm. perhaps not logical to me, but perhaps it shouldn't be surprising. I keep hearing that there is a minority of the most brilliant scientists who are believers, so in a similar way, that doesn't seem logical, not to me.

          April 5, 2014 at 4:11 pm |
        • Russ

          @ Doris: so you think naive & sophisticated are synonymous?
          are they adjectives often used to describe the same group?

          again, you're not conceding the entire argument to understand the point i'm making here.
          aren't naive & sophisticated virtually antonyms? or is that illogical to you?

          April 5, 2014 at 4:33 pm |
        • Doris

          Russ – where does naturechaplain claim the Jews were naive?

          April 5, 2014 at 5:02 pm |
        • Russ

          @ Doris: read naturechaplain's description again of the God of the Bible & ask me that with a straight face. really? followers of "a bumbling mass murderer with too much power"?

          April 5, 2014 at 5:16 pm |
        • Doris

          So in other words, Russ, just because of naturechaplain's characterization of the Hebrew God, you assumed he was characterizing the Jews as naive to the point where you claim his opinion requires "two opposite contingencies". Interesting....

          April 5, 2014 at 5:44 pm |
        • Russ

          @ Doris:
          so if i said *you* were giving your life over to following/serving a "bumbling mass murderer", would you take that as a compliment? would that somehow imply you were sophisticated?

          April 6, 2014 at 10:10 pm |
  14. Russ

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

    what does he make of the NT claims about the OT, namely:

    1) Jesus claimed to be the fulfillment of the OT, not the replacement/rejection/debunking of it
    (Lk.24:27,44; Jn.5:39-40; Mt.5:17-18; etc.)

    2) Jesus on the cross
    Jesus claimed to be the ultimate sacrifice which ALL the OT pointed toward, including the cross as the place where both justice/wrath & mercy meet. if the NT God is a different God, why is there a cross? and why all the outreach to Jews first, and repeated quoting of the OT (263 times!) as the word of God which pointed to Christ?

    3) Ananias & Saphira
    the God of the NT apparently has no problem striking people dead as well (Acts 5). if the NT is all about mercy w/o wrath, what is THAT?

    4) Marcion
    why did the early Church reject Marcion? He said exactly the same thing only about 70 years after Jesus' death – yet the followers of Jesus rejected him. if Dr Baden's view is correct, they should have embraced him.

    April 5, 2014 at 3:19 pm |
    • Sherman

      Well, you'll have to read Acts 7:51 to understand the problem with the human heart. It's not a problem with the bible or God, it's a problem with the human heart.

      April 5, 2014 at 3:31 pm |
      • In Santa We Trust

        And according to your myths who created the human heart?

        April 5, 2014 at 3:41 pm |
      • kudlak

        "You stiff-necked people! Your hearts and ears are still uncirc.umcised. You are just like your ancestors: You always resist the Holy Spirit! Acts 7:51

        "Uncircu.mcised" hearts and ears? Wouldn't that be Jesus talking about some problem with Jews? Why should we gentiles be concerned about this?

        April 5, 2014 at 6:35 pm |
    • Doris

      Russ: "... and repeated quoting of the OT (263 times!) as the word of God which pointed to Christ?"

      Fulfilling desired prophecies in writing (making the sequel fit) is a lot easier, of course, when you can claim their validity without having to show authorship where the validity of said writings could have been further traced. Lets' review:

      Gospels – authorship unknown

      Peter 2 (where Peter allegedly puts his stamp of approval on Paul's ministry as Scripture) – authorship unknown

      That, of course doesn't say much for Luke, who was Paul's disciple.

      So what else do we have to back up Paul's claims? Not much from where I stand.

      April 5, 2014 at 3:55 pm |
      • Russ

        @ Doris:
        1) the debate in view here is whether or not the OT & NT *in final form* have the same God in view.
        you are introducing a red herring.

        2) i'm willing to have this debate, though – if memory serves – we had the very same discussion just last week.
        again, I'd point you to Richard Bauckham's "Jesus & the Eyewitnesses" as a good, recent scholarly summation of the evidences here.

        April 5, 2014 at 3:58 pm |
        • Doris

          I don't believe that is a red herring, Russ, since you were the one introducing the wild claim of prophecy fulfillment.

          April 5, 2014 at 4:01 pm |
        • Doris

          And as I stated previously, Russ, if you had clear evidence, you would be presenting here rather than week after week referring to more written opinion.

          April 5, 2014 at 4:03 pm |
        • Russ

          @ Doris: a red herring diverts from the debate at hand.

          you want to make the argument about the historical accuracy of the claims of Jesus, right? "did he really say that? was he who the Bible says he was? were these really eyewitnesses? etc."

          here's the problem: that's not the debate here. my point about OT fulfillments *doesn't require your belief* in the Bible. historically speaking, did Christians advance this thesis or not (regardless of HOW you believe they derived that thesis)? virtually *every* scholar (theist & non alike) concede that Christians certainly did. the NT is rife with OT quotes.

          here's a helpful chart as an overview of those 263 quotations of the OT in the NT:
          http://www.crossway.org/blog/2006/03/nt-citations-of-ot/

          so, yes. as a Christian, i'd gladly discuss with you the legitimacy of Jesus – but that is NOT what my thread was about here. Dr Baden is claiming (functionally) that the God of the OT is not the God of the NT. you don't believe in EITHER, but you don't have to believe in either to see that – from a purely literary standpoint – his claim is erroneous.

          again, the debate we had last week notwithstanding, the current debate (which i introduced in this thread) is not contingent on the either/or of our disagreement there. i hope you can see that – especially since it doesn't require you agreeing with my views on authorship, etc.

          April 5, 2014 at 4:13 pm |
        • Russ

          @ Doris:
          you said: "if you had clear evidence, you would be presenting here rather than week after week referring to more written opinion."

          1) these are peer-reviewed, scholarly works. if i was just giving you my thoughts, you'd object they were just unfounded opinions. you can't have it both ways.

          2) these are lengthy works (with good reason, there's a lot of evidence to consider). i'm not here to distill 500 pages for you, but i'll gladly reference some of the big topics.

          here's a video on one of the NEW evidences that technology has recently exposed. only in the last 15 years have we obtained the databases of information to consider certain facts of the text literarily – in this case, the study of the use of names. we know, virtually by decade & region, which names were most known & in common use.

          why does that matter? some have claimed the Gospel accounts are 'generations removed' like some horrible telephone game, wherein the details were lost. aside from several other internal evidences to the contrary (as i mentioned before, look up the pool of Bethesda), here is an extra-biblical corroboration of the immediate context regarding names.
          -consider: we can chart most used names by region
          -common names would need a modifier for distinction
          -different regions had VERY different names (even among Hel.lenized Jews)

          what do we find? in virtually EVERY case, the Bible gets it right. names in the top 50 usage in Judea at that time all have modifiers. those outside the top 50 do not. moreover, the names used match Judean names at the time – when even contemporary regions had different charts, as well as just a years later in the SAME region. and notably, the apocraphyl Gospels *get it wrong.* not only do they have *little to no* such details, but when they do use them, they mostly get it wrong.

          so what? here's an affirmation that even in the generic knowledge of the authors of the Gospels, they prove themselves to have accurate knowledge of the particular time & setting in which Jesus lived. that removes the claim that these are "19th hand" repeti.tion (Bart Ehrman & co.) as a possibility. it puts the authors in the time & place you would expect of eyewitnesses – or at the very least, those ready made with ACCESS to eyewitnesses.

          consider:
          1) this is an argument the authors had NO WAY of foreseeing... and yet there story is yet again corroborated (at the very least in terms of context).
          2) certainly, the odds of someone outside that time & place, fabricating such names accurately is preposterous.

          SUM: the popular, recently articulated view of the higher critical scholars who were just "sure" the Gospel authors had to be far removed from the immediate context is proven untenable.

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r5Ylt1pBMm8

          April 5, 2014 at 4:28 pm |
        • Doris

          Wow Russ – someone repeating something from the religion they grew up with zzz number of times in a new writing. Wow – Paul & Luke just nailed the fulfillment issue right there! (huge eyeroll–obviously I'm not impressed) I addressed this because it was your #1 point in response to the article with respect to the NT. Without referring to links or someone's book on the subject, Russ, try address one point of fulfillment of OT that we can trace in the NT without running into writings of unknown authorship. It should be easy for you, Russ. Maybe you can teach me something here.

          April 5, 2014 at 4:30 pm |
        • Russ

          @ Doris: you are reading this entire discussion through last week's debate and therefore missing the point of the altogether DIFFERENT discussion happening here.

          i'll state this as simply as possible:

          REGARDLESS OF AUTHORSHIP (last week's debate), it is factually demonstrable that the FINAL FORM of the NT considers the God of the OT to be the VERY SAME God it is writing about (against Dr Baden's claim).

          you don't have to believe the Bible. that's not the point of the debate (despite your repeated attempts to go back to that debate). literarily speaking, it is abundantly evident that the NT regards the OT God as the SAME God.

          April 5, 2014 at 4:40 pm |
        • Doris

          I've seen that video, Russ. It's not convincing to me. In the middle of your last post, you are arguing arguments that I don't believe matter much, especially since I didn't argue about anything from another place and/or time. I'm interested in you filling in some holes in the story, authorship primarily.

          Russ: "so what? here's an affirmation that even in the generic knowledge of the authors of the Gospels, they prove themselves to have accurate knowledge of the particular time & setting in which Jesus lived."

          You're expecting someone to find a prophecy fulfillment met and all you can say is that whoever wrote the Gospels had to have an "accurate knowledge of the particular time & setting in which Jesus lived."? Sorry Russ, that just doesn't cut it for me.

          Russ: "that removes the claim that these are "19th hand" repeti.tion (Bart Ehrman & co.) as a possibility." I find that quite a stretch, Russ – I don't think a possibility similar to how you referenced that is removed at all.

          Russ – I don't think you'll find people arguing too much about the few character names we have, but more about other pieces of information that should be available to corroborate the supernatural aspects of the stories. I mean, what are these stories without the "magic"?

          April 5, 2014 at 4:49 pm |
        • Doris

          Russ: "it is abundantly evident that the NT regards the OT God as the SAME God."

          Well yes on that point I would agree that is the intent expressed in the NT and followers of the NT. Did the author really mean to say they are two different gods? Or is he merely separating the character description of the God of Abraham for the sake of highlighting what many perceive as an apparent difference?

          April 5, 2014 at 4:55 pm |
        • Russ

          @ Doris:
          1) you still have not indicated that you understand why this entire discussion is a red herring in regard to what Dr Baden wrote.

          2) name usage statistics do not guarantee the miraculous – but they certainly place an author in that immediate context (or at the very least, with direct access to someone who was from that immediate context), which is a MAJOR contingency that has been much debated in the question of authorship... which IS the topic you raised.

          3) you said: "You're expecting someone to find a prophecy fulfillment met and all you can say is that whoever wrote the Gospels..."
          again, you aren't hearing the primary argument. EVEN IF one denies the legitimacy of the claims of the Bible, the text clearly states these things and functioned in that capacity from the earliest known days of Christianity.

          yet again, you are injecting your red herring (the previous debate). authorship is IMMATERIAL in the debate at hand. even though you & i disagree on authorship, the final form is readily available for ANY to read and it clearly cites the OT. it's a literary fact – not contingent on authorship.

          4) you said: "what are these stories without the "magic"?"
          here you show your hand, maybe more than you intended. while you may be objecting to the miraculous/supernatural/'magic' (as you put it) aspects of the text – despite Jefferson's best efforts to the contrary – they are inextricably interwoven. in particular, the incarnation (the claim that the supernatural ENTERED the natural realm) presses that point home.

          while you may want to delineate within the text, the text itself DOES NOT do so. and any attempt to navigate the text as one or the other immediately recedes into the "quest for historical Jesus" nonsense that has largely been debunked after three rounds. there is no access to Jesus apart from the earliest known sources – which includes historical claims.

          now, while certainly the circu.mstantial (read: natural) claims of the text (such as setting, time, location, etc.) do not necessarily PROVE the supernatural claims, IF those circu.mstantial claims could be proven false, wouldn't you readily extend the argument to the supernatural claims? of course you would ('if you can't even believe the historical facts of the setting the Bible presents, how can you believe these ludicrous claims...', etc.). so why are you surprised I am doing the reciprocal? it is not definitive, but it DOES draw the debate down into the claims themselves.

          and AGAIN: that's the point where YOUR debate (the authorship of the NT) & the debate of this thread (the consistency of the theological claims of the OT & NT) take differing forks in the road. and that's why i keep saying, this is ultimately a red herring here.

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

          Authorship is germane to your claim about claimed OT fulfillment of the NT, Russ, is one is to consider such fulfillment as fiction or not. Are there not claims as part of that fulfillment pertaining to Jesus being the son of God? and again, Russ – this was in your #1 point as part of your response regarding the article. How is that not germane?

          April 5, 2014 at 5:49 pm |
        • Doris

          Of course, Russ, if the question of the Bible being complete fiction is secondary to noting that the OT God to you seems like the NT God, then I guess I understand your position.

          April 5, 2014 at 5:52 pm |
        • ssq41

          I just can't stop laughing at how much the Russ', the new-man's, the devin's, the kermits, the Rainer's, etc., etc., on this blog are so desperate to be in control and demand that the Doris' stay on the "current" argument since they can't handle anything that deviates outside their talking points.

          Doris, don't you know your place?! You're not to challenge Russ' superior intellect...you are, after all, only a woman.

          I hope you all are getting a clear picture of the psychology of individuals who man the pews and pulpits and political offices so they can compensate for their profound insecurites.

          These are great case studies for why religion will continue to be a powerful force for decades to come. And nothing is more powerful than a divine source that fills your ego with a sacred purpose.

          April 5, 2014 at 6:04 pm |
        • ssq41

          Dear God! How could I have forgotten to include "truthfollower01"...

          My deepest apologies.

          April 5, 2014 at 6:06 pm |
        • Russ

          @ ssq:
          it's not about control. it's about redundancy.
          i had the EXACT same discussion on authorship ad nauseam with Doris just last week.

          the point was not to *avoid* that topic, but to avoid *repeating* that debate unnecessarily.
          it's clear she & i disagree fundamentally on that topic, but that topic DOES NOT ultimately affect the topic here.

          April 6, 2014 at 10:00 pm |
        • Russ

          @ Doris:
          1) no, in this discussion – EVEN if you regard the Bible as fiction – there is still evident continuity.
          that's the point here. and that's why your discussion of authorship is irrelevant on that particular topic.

          2) i didn't say authorship is not germane *at all.* I said it isn't germane on the discussion of whether the OT has any continuity with the NT. clearly, from even just a cursory reading of the final form of either (again, w/o reference to authorship), continuity is evident.

          April 6, 2014 at 10:05 pm |
  15. Doris

    RB: "In Christ we can overcome the lust of our body or our selfish old nature....

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

    We have inherited Adam's nature: His doubts in God's love, and the inclination to follow our lust.

    .... we have inherited the inclination to sin ....

    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 3:18 pm |
  16. virginiajeff

    This essay has so many factual errors. For example, "We are promised that there will never be another Flood because God wants and needs our sacrifices." That's false. The Jewish Bible (aka the Old Testament) does not claim that God "needs" anything, nor does scripture say that God spared Noah out of a desire for sacrifices. In fact, God declares, "I desire obedience more than sacrifice" - clearly, sacrifice is not the first nor the main desire of God. Nor is the God of Israel only "vengeful;" rather, he is also referred to as loving and bestowing blessings. It's really disconcerting to see a scholar get so much wrong.

    April 5, 2014 at 3:12 pm |
    • kudlak

      He's not only vengeful, he's also jealous. Actually, God displays pretty much the whole range of emotion we see in ourselves, exactly like the Greek and other pagan gods.

      April 5, 2014 at 3:24 pm |
      • tallulah131

        And he can only be appeased by human sacrifice. It just goes to show that the christian god is not terribly different than any pagan god. In fact, I'd say he was just like the pagan gods, simply repackaged for improved sales.

        April 5, 2014 at 3:36 pm |
        • kudlak

          I can almost understand if God made a promise to himself that he wouldn't save anyone, and then realized what a big, stupid blunder this was on his part. So he decides that he has to punish himself, the way a guy will drive his fist into a wall, and Jesus was his way of doing this.

          What do you think?

          April 5, 2014 at 6:01 pm |
    • new-man

      see, mr. baden is already deceived, and is now in turn a deceiver.
      if you've seen any of his other opinion pieces here, he's shown himself a liar and an unwise man who clearly doesn't have the truth in him.

      I pray he will find a job elsewhere outside of "teaching divinity" where he'll be paid 3-times his current salary, as I cannot imagine what kind of "knowledge" he has to pass on to his students.

      April 5, 2014 at 3:33 pm |
      • tallulah131

        His interpretation of the bible is different than yours, therefore you claim he is the one who is deceived. That's just anther flaw with the bible: everyone has an interpretation they prefer and they're willing to fight about it. With over 30,000 interpretations, it's no wonder the bible has caused so many wars and so many atrocities.

        April 5, 2014 at 3:40 pm |
        • new-man

          if you had a clue what you were saying, you wouldn't need to bring interpretation into this, as even the literal words of the Bible are ignored by mr. baden so that he could insert his own willful and dishonest interpretation.

          April 5, 2014 at 3:43 pm |
        • tallulah131

          So of all the 30,000 literal interpretations, yours is the only correct one? I thought pride was a sin.

          April 5, 2014 at 3:44 pm |
        • new-man

          you're the only one speaking of interpretation.

          and since you clearly know what the Bible says or doesn't say, then obviously even you can see mr. baden is a liar and a deceiver who is willfully ignoring what the words in the Bible in order to insert his own lies. That alone shows him for the dishonest person he is, who has no regard or respect for his own integrity nor that of his readers, and especially his students.

          April 5, 2014 at 3:56 pm |
        • tallulah131

          You just don't get it, do you? Every denomination of christianity thinks that they have it right. People like you are why so many wars have been started - and why so many innocents have been slaughtered - in the name of the "Prince of Peace."

          April 5, 2014 at 4:05 pm |
        • igaftr

          newman
          "who is willfully ignoring what the words in the Bible in order to insert his own lies."
          Which is exactly the same that EVERYONE who interprets the bible does. They all read it, and make the meaning to be what they want it to mean. Every single person who has interpretted the bible has made up their own lies. Over 40,000 denomin=ations clearly show that all of those 40,000 think the others are lying as well.

          April 5, 2014 at 4:10 pm |
        • new-man

          I get you tallulah.
          I'm just not allowing you to push me under the umbrella of religiosity and condemnation that you're trying to place me under by ignoring the topic at hand.

          as Ms. Jeff pointed out: This essay has so many factual errors. For example, "We are promised that there will never be another Flood because God wants and needs our sacrifices." That's false.

          it's your choice to live your life without the "Prince of Peace"; just don't act surprised and ask where He is when there's turmoil all around you.

          April 5, 2014 at 4:21 pm |
        • tallulah131

          Actually, you don't get it, new-man. You seem to think that your interpretation of the bible is somehow more valid than other interpretation. You have only your opinion to support this view. You are not special. You have simply decided that you are special. The only person you fool is your self.

          April 5, 2014 at 10:41 pm |
  17. Russ

    Dr Baden said:
    "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."

    so what does he do w/ so many OT passages about:

    1) God's identi.ty as a God of mercy (Ex.34:6; Num.13:18; Ps.86:5; 103:8; 145:8; Neh.9:31; Lam.3:22-23; etc.)

    2) God's rejoicing over his people (Zeph.3:17), even as a groom over his wife (Hosea [esp.2:16-20]; Song of Solomon; Isa.61:10; 62:5)

    3) Israel's identi.ty as the chosen of God.
    Do you rescue people you "barely tolerate"? certainly he'd agree Israel's sense of self is those "chosen by God" & rescued from Egypt...

    April 5, 2014 at 3:11 pm |
    • MidwestKen

      @Russ,
      I really don't know the author's answer, but it seems reasonable to guess that necessity could answer those questions:

      "rejoice" that certain individuals even tried

      "mercy" because He didn't kill them all even if they deserved it.

      "chosen" as the least detestable of a bad lot.

      Not that I agreed with any of it, the character of God in the Bible seems very unstable, capricious, and inconsistent to me, but whatever.

      April 5, 2014 at 3:19 pm |
      • Russ

        @ MidwestKen:
        you don't have to be a Jew or Christian to see significant error here. Read those passages. the God of the OT is talking in terms of the most intimate love a groom has for his wife, a father singing over his child's crib, etc.

        at the very least, Dr Baden has failed to engage with a MAJOR theme of the OT – even if you view that God to be inconsistent (which, notably, i do not).

        April 5, 2014 at 3:24 pm |
      • MidwestKen

        Again, it doesn't matter what I think the answer is, but it seems that a reasonable interpretation might hold those sections as being either hopeful wishes, as opposed to exiting feelings, or in some cases descriptions by men not by God and therefore not entirely accurate. In other words, I guess, either hopeful wishes expressed by God and/or by men.

        April 5, 2014 at 3:36 pm |
        • Russ

          @ MidwestKen: if you are going to argue the positive statements are merely "hopeful wishes" by God or men, why not argue the reciprocal about the negative statements? consistency would require it.

          and at that point, it should become clear: such a reading is a failure to engage the literature in context.

          1) it's a demonstrable fact: that's not how these passages functioned historically in the practicing Jewish community

          2) such a reading fails to account for the multi-faceted ways in which that constant is presented (various authors, genres, times & contexts, all saying the same thing). Ockham's razor...

          3) many of the passages that talk about God's wrath SIMULTANEOUSLY talk about God's mercy. so how can one *avoid* reading BOTH traits in the same fashion? you can say they are BOTH factual statements or BOTH "hopeful wishes", but you can't say one is one while the other is something else.

          April 5, 2014 at 3:45 pm |
        • MidwestKen

          @Russ,
          The different treatment can often be supported by the terms used:

          “in his love he will no longer rebuke you,
          but will rejoice over you with singing”

          ...whereas wrath is often paired with present tense action, such as floods, death, and destruction.

          However, it's your religion, interpret it as you wish.

          April 5, 2014 at 4:29 pm |
        • Russ

          @ MidwestKen: case in point, Ex.34:5-7...

          "The Lord descended in the cloud and stood with him there, and proclaimed the name of the Lord. The Lord passed before him and proclaimed, “The Lord, the Lord, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but who will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children and the children's children, to the third and the fourth generation.”

          Here God gives his name & explanation of who he is to Moses. This is repeated many times in the OT. Note well how BOTH wrath & mercy are interwoven throughout. Note how comprehensive BOTH are, and how interdependent BOTH are. notice how both have similar claims and contingencies made about them.

          again, you don't have to be a practicing Jew or Christian to see what the text is saying. YHWH's wrath & mercy are interconnected here, treated in very similar ways, and are being espoused as facets of the very personality of YHWH. it doesn't require faith. it's a literary fact of the text.

          April 5, 2014 at 4:50 pm |
        • new-man

          Russ,
          you have done an excellent job in pointing out God's Judgment and Mercy in the OT which Mr. Baden PURPOSELY failed to do.

          notice, those whose talents are spent vilifying the Word of God have no interest in the merciful, gracious, and loving, side of God. All they can see is wrath, anger, judgment, and will go to any lengths to mock, scorn and perjure those who KNOW their God, and know that like a diamond, with many facets, so are the characteristics of Father.

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

          newman
          You do not "know god" nor do you know if your bible had any god involved with it at all. To say you do is arrogance of the highest.

          Try admitting that you have no valid reason for your beleif, but believe anyway.
          For all you know, satan inspired your "gods word" and you follow his word. (more likely, men wrote every word, and you are following the words of very ignorant men.

          With so many gods out there, and none of them can be confirmed, yours is VERY arrogant, and if you cannot admit you do not know, then you in effect, admit your delusion.

          April 5, 2014 at 5:42 pm |
        • MidwestKen

          "you don't have to be a practicing Jew or Christian to see what the text is saying. YHWH's wrath & mercy are interconnected here, treated in very similar ways, and are being espoused as facets of the very personality of YHWH. "

          But apparently you do need to be a Christian to avoid seeing that there is a huge difference in the supposed behavior of your God between the OT and the NT. Dispensations, ultimate sacrifices, fulfillment of laws, all seem to just be rationalizations for nearly complete 180 on part of the God character.

          April 5, 2014 at 6:51 pm |
        • Russ

          @ MidwestKen: so you don't regard the cross as an equally (if not MORE) violent demonstration of God's wrath?

          April 6, 2014 at 10:07 pm |
        • MidwestKen

          @Russ,
          Was that God's wrath? I thought Jesus was crucified by the Romans.

          April 6, 2014 at 11:15 pm |
        • hotairace

          As part of the alleged but never proven god's plan.

          April 6, 2014 at 11:23 pm |
        • Russ

          @ MidwestKen:
          we were justly objects of God's wrath (Eph.2:3).
          Christ took it for us (2 Cor.5:21).

          April 7, 2014 at 5:15 pm |
        • MidwestKen

          @Russ,
          How do either of those make it an alleged God's wrath? Was Jesus not supposedly the ultimate sacrifice to God? Would that not make it be definition not God's wrath?

          I really don't know how believers keep it all straight.

          April 7, 2014 at 7:55 pm |
        • MidwestKen

          sorry, that's probably "for our sins" not "to God" per se, right?

          ...whichever.

          April 7, 2014 at 7:56 pm |
        • Russ

          @ MidwestKen:
          yes, our sins deserved punishment. Jesus took that just punishment on himself *in our place.*
          Hebrews 9 & 10 are two helpful chapters on this topic.

          April 8, 2014 at 4:10 pm |
  18. Salero21

    God doesn't "plays" anything, God is Always God and Very, Very Serious about it!! Clearly Mr. Baden IS NOT the brightest bulb in the church Lamp; Or could it be Biden?

    April 5, 2014 at 3:07 pm |
    • lewcypher

      which god?

      April 5, 2014 at 3:38 pm |
      • tallulah131

        There's only one god! He is the Sun God! Ra! Ra! Ra! (Just a little Akhenaten humor for you.)

        April 5, 2014 at 3:42 pm |
  19. Rainer Helmut Braendlein

    "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.'"

    Unquote.

    As fas as I know some states of the US still apply death penalty. The death penalty is imposed, if somebody has committed a very heavy crime.

    Conclusion: Even we as sinful human beings punish our fellow human beings, if they extremly get out of line. That is simply the reality.

    We should not accuse God for something we are also doing. God is not beneficent to the evildoers. We are not beneficent to the evildoers. Therefore God is not "guilty".

    Some of us may claim that they are no evildoers but loving people, and refuse to be designated as sinners. But true love is unbiased. I claim that 99,999999... % of us only practice biased love but no unbiased love. We consider the wealth of somebody, his colour, his belief, his nationality, his intelligence, his rank, etc. Through our misbehaviour (biased love) we keep the disadvantaged people in unhappy state – we give them no chance to get out. Ain't that almost hatred? Ain't we responsible for the misfortune of many innocent people.

    Don't make a mistake: The next judgement will come: It will be no flood but eternal fire.

    Repent right now, and start to practice unbiased love towards everybody through the releasing power of Jesus Christ. Experience the rebirth through sacramental baptism.

    Jesus died and rose for us. Get connected with the releasing power of his death and resurrection through faith and sacramental baptism (infant baptism is valid). Baptism is the rebirth through Water and Spirit. Escape the "sarx" (the inescapable fate of sin). What actually would not be possible takes place through a divine miracle: God himself releases us through the rebirth: We die for the sin, and enter Christ. In Christ we can overcome the lust of our body or our selfish old nature, and practice love of neighbour and love to God.

    April 5, 2014 at 2:52 pm |
    • Alias

      We execute people who are a danger to us. We only do it after they have been found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt of having killed others. Your god kills innocent people by the millions. Same thing?
      I claim thet you are in no way qualified to say what kind of love everyone else feels. You make these silly statements only to support an otherwise unprovable conclusion.
      Jesus was executed because he turned over tables during a festival and the local government wanted to keep order. He is still dead.

      April 5, 2014 at 3:05 pm |
      • Rainer Helmut Braendlein

        Innocent?

        God would never punish a single innocent human.

        Most of us neglect disadvantaged people (not knowing whether they are guilty or innocent). Through negligence we keep them in their poor state. Ain't that a kind of murder?

        God will punish us for that, and that is very righteous.

        April 5, 2014 at 3:13 pm |
        • tallulah131

          Aw Rainy. Look at you making excuses for your abusive god: "He loves us. He only hurts us for our own good!"
          Someone needs to throw an intervention for you.

          April 5, 2014 at 3:43 pm |
        • Akira

          Babies are not born sinful.

          April 5, 2014 at 3:54 pm |
        • sam stone

          Your god is a vindictive pr1ck, rainy, and you are nothing but a snivelling, slobbering sycophant Jeebus is waiting for you. If you have the courage, go meet him

          April 5, 2014 at 5:11 pm |
        • kudlak

          The difference here is that a loving father may use tough love on his children, but only to train them into becoming strong, independent adults who can run their own lives.

          God, the father, never lets his "children" grow up and become independent of him. He would be like the 100 year-old patriarch still giving orders to his 80 year-old son, and punishing him for crossing him.

          And what kind of father would even torture the adult children who reject him?

          Christians, if this doesn't sound like your relationship with God then "loving father" isn't the proper t.itle you should give him, right?

          April 5, 2014 at 6:53 pm |
      • sandersm2670

        Sadly there are no innocent people, we are born with evil in our nature. God spoke to Noah and his family after the flood and He told them anyone who kills another human should suffer the same fate.

        April 5, 2014 at 3:14 pm |
        • hotairace

          Re: "we are born with evil in our nature." Bullsh!t!, Maybe members of the dead jew zombie death cult are, but there is no reason, other than the voodoo mumbo jumbo of The Babble to believe such nonsense.

          April 5, 2014 at 3:21 pm |
        • tallulah131

          It takes a special kind of hatred to accuse children and babies of being sinners. Yet another reason that the bible is an evil, evil book.

          April 5, 2014 at 3:56 pm |
        • sam stone

          "there are no innocent people".......

          sandersm.....do you beat yourself also?

          April 5, 2014 at 5:13 pm |
        • kudlak

          We're born with our human nature to survive, which requires us to satisfy our needs. Sometimes this instinct temps us with doing things that are a more selfish than necessary for our survival. I agree that's often a problem, especially if we hurt people. I hardly think that this makes us "evil" by nature. That's an overly pessimistic view of human nature.

          April 5, 2014 at 7:02 pm |
    • sandersm2670

      Christians must not be judgmental though. I was saved over 20 years ago, but I still sin. The Bible tells us not one of us is not sinful. The good news is we have a savior who has paid for our sin past, present, and future.

      April 5, 2014 at 3:10 pm |
      • igaftr

        And when you are hanging upside down before Quetxlcoatl, how will you explain your devotion to the wrong god all those years?
        Odd you need to be saved BY your god, from the threat FROM your god.

        April 5, 2014 at 3:13 pm |
        • sandersm2670

          How is that odd? He is the source of the law, our disobedience is not His it's ours. The wages of sin is death. God knows we are incapable of obeying His laws. In the Old Testament a spotless lamb was required as a blood sacrifice for atonement. In order for our permanent atonement a blood sacrifice of a spotless human is required. But we are not capable to provide that sacrifice, only God is perfect. So He became a man to be the blood sacrifice for us

          April 5, 2014 at 3:21 pm |
        • In Santa We Trust

          sanders, If your god created the universe and all in it, it created humans with all the perceived flaws and it created evil.

          April 5, 2014 at 3:36 pm |
        • igaftr

          That's funny, since the other gods all say something different.

          April 5, 2014 at 3:52 pm |
      • Rainer Helmut Braendlein

        If you don't allow Jesus to change your life, his sacrifice will not be of any benefit for you.

        You must accept both Jesus' sacrifice as an atonement AND Jesus' sacrifice and resurrection as a work releasing your from sin and dead.

        God offers to you two presents in one packet. You cannot take one present of the two separate from the other one. Either you take both presents at the same time, or you will get nothing at all.

        Grasp the wisdom of God.

        April 5, 2014 at 3:18 pm |
        • sam stone

          Sacrifice, rainy man? A bad weekend, then eternity in "heaven"? You call that a sacrifice? How does an omipotent being sacrifice anything?

          April 5, 2014 at 9:09 pm |
        • observer

          Rainer Helmut Braendlein

          "If you don't allow Jesus to change your life, his sacrifice will not be of any benefit for you."

          NO ONE needs that advice more than YOU. Your brainless comments about gays show you don't have a CLUE in the world what Jesus preached. Read about the Golden Rule for the FIRST time.

          April 5, 2014 at 9:25 pm |
      • kudlak

        "The good news is we have a savior who has paid for our sin past, present, and future."

        But only if you pay him with belief and worship first, and thereafter, right?

        That's a pretty high price to pay for a cure to something that nobody can even prove that I have.

        April 5, 2014 at 7:05 pm |
  20. grumpy0ldman

    The great flood is one of the silliest stories in that book of myths. A breeding pair of each animal on the earth in one boat. How in the world do so many people believe that nonsense?

    April 5, 2014 at 2:45 pm |
    • thefinisher1

      Why do silly atheists believe we exist by some random explosion in space that randomly set itself off for no reason thus creating human life and everything else? Those who believe that deserve to be put into a mental inst.itution.

      April 5, 2014 at 2:49 pm |
      • lewcypher

        and yet you believe your god created everything out of ...................... nothing

        April 5, 2014 at 2:50 pm |
        • thefinisher1

          The atheist belief is insane. That's all there is to it!

          April 5, 2014 at 2:56 pm |
        • In Santa We Trust

          How is it insane? There is evidence to support our knowledge and no evidence to support your myths.

          April 5, 2014 at 3:38 pm |
      • CS

        I am not silly. You have offended me madam.

        April 5, 2014 at 2:51 pm |
        • thefinisher1

          You not admitting atheism takes faith offends me.

          April 5, 2014 at 2:57 pm |
        • CS

          Good conversation starter. Ok, so why does me not admitting atheism takes faith offend you?

          April 5, 2014 at 2:59 pm |
        • igaftr

          Atheism takes zero faith.
          How much faith does it take for you to NOT believe in the tooth fairy?

          You may claim that what atheist may believe requires faith, but the word atheist does not describe what IS believed, so your assertion that NOT believing requires faith is absurd.

          April 5, 2014 at 3:02 pm |
        • sam stone

          one click, finisher, you could be on your knees in front of the slavior. that's all it takes.

          April 5, 2014 at 3:09 pm |
      • igaftr

        "Why do silly atheists believe we exist by some random explosion in space that randomly set itself off for no reason thus creating human life and everything else?"

        They don't. Allow me to correct you.

        Atheist...someone who does not believe in god (s).
        It says NOTHING as to what they DO believe.

        Also, we know the Big Bang happened, we just do not knwo what caused it, unlike religions that claim to have the answers, but are based of of nothing more than imagination.

        You really need some lessons in how to debate. You keep comoing acrossed as a middleschooler.

        April 5, 2014 at 2:58 pm |
      • MidwestKen

        @thefinisher1,
        Technically, Atheists are not required to be scientists nor accept scientific findings.

        Those who do however are simply following the evidence.

        April 5, 2014 at 3:03 pm |
      • tallulah131

        I'm curious. What exactly are you finishing? It seems to me you are just starting silly arguments that you don't win.-

        April 5, 2014 at 3:57 pm |
      • kudlak

        The expansion happened. That was discovered by a Catholic priest. We don't know why the universe is expanding from a singularity, but since no supernatural explanation has ever been proven, a natural one for the origins of the universe really is a more than fair assumption, wouldn't you say?

        April 5, 2014 at 7:33 pm |
    • sandersm2670

      Why is that so hard to believe? We don't know how many species existed then. Inter-breeding is not impossible and far more understandable than a single cell evolving into a creature of any kind. Single cell evolution is impossible.

      That book of myths has been confirmed in numerous archeological discoveries over time, it seem to me just as fantastic to believe it all cane from some cosmic explosion with no proven source to create such an explosion. It takes just as much faith to believe that as it does to believe in God.

      April 5, 2014 at 3:05 pm |
      • lewcypher

        then you have no reason not to believe in any other god

        April 5, 2014 at 3:41 pm |
      • tallulah131

        Troy was found using passages from the Iliad. By your logic, the Greek pantheon is real.

        It comes as no surprise that ancient men were aware of their geography and their history, so it's no surprise when ancient cities and people are shown to have existed. However, there is not a single shred of proof that any of the supernatural events of the bible actually took place. Not a single shred. You simply believe because you want to believe.

        April 5, 2014 at 4:03 pm |
      • kudlak

        Nobody id arguing that Jews existed in ancient times. Archeology has only been able to confirm historical events back to the phrase "The House of David" which means that there's nothing to back up claims about Adam, the Flood, Abraham, Moses, the Exodus, or the invasion of Canaan. It doesn't even confirm that David was actually a real king of Israel.

        Any accuracy in the history of Israelites probably comes after the Babylonian captivity, where serious written language skills would have been learned, and where they would have heard the story of Gilgamish, amongst other myths that they could adapt to their use.

        April 5, 2014 at 7:26 pm |
    • kudlak

      And then, after only about 150 years of inbreeding, there is a big enough human population to have a civilization building a tower up towards God. A big enough population that God can mess up their language and scatter them into multiple nations. I'm not even sure that a population of 8 rabbits could reproduce that fast.

      April 5, 2014 at 7:15 pm |
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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.