Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Why I Turned Away From Christianity - Introduction to Part 1 - The Chosen People of the Supreme Being Test

In my last post, I explained in a general way why I lost my faith in Christianity and came to the conclusion that the God of the Bible does not exist. Beginning with this post, I will go into greater detail the reasons why I rejected Christianity and additional reasons that served to confirm that rejection afterwards.

Those who believe that the Bible represents the revealed truth of the Creator of the Universe believe that the Jewish people were the chosen people of the one true god. The difference between Jews and Christians is that religious Jews today still believe they are God’s chosen people, whereas Christians believe that Jesus was the Messiah and that his coming into the world negated Jewish law. But before I proceed, I wish to point out that this post should not be interpreted in anyway as condoning anti-Semitism or rejecting the right of Israel to exist as a state in the Middle East. I simply reject the idea that the Creator of the Universe gave the land of Israel to the Jews.

Anyway, I would submit that if one is going to claim that a group of people represent the chosen people of the one and only Supreme Being who not only created the universe but is also omnipotent and omniscient, then there should be some criteria that these chosen people should be expected to meet. After all, it is not enough to say that the ancient Israelites are God’s chosen people simply because the Bible says so.

So what criteria can we reasonably expect from a nation that has the backing of the most powerful entity in the universe behind it? Let us start by looking at what the Bible itself say. In Genesis 12:2, God tells Abram (later Abraham) “I will make you into a great nation”. In Genesis 17:8, God tells the newly renamed Abraham “The whole land of Canaan, where you are now an alien, I will give as an everlasting possession to you and your descendants after you; and I will be their God.” Engaging in a brief soliloquy in Genesis 18:18, God says to himself (who was writing this down by the way?) “Abraham will surely become a great and powerful nation, and all nations on earth will be blessed through him.” In Isaiah 49:6, God tells the people of Israel “I will also make you a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring my salvation to the ends of the earth.” More boastfully in Isaiah 49:23, God tells the Israelites “Kings will be your foster fathers, and their queens will be your nursing mothers. They will bow down before you with their faces to the ground; they will lick the dust at your feet.”

Based on what the Bible tells us, as quoted above, it is an easy thing to examine the historical record to determine if what God tells to Abraham or says of Abraham came to pass. If so, we should reasonably expect the following:

1. The Israelites would be the strongest nation on Earth, unconquered by her neighbors and rarely, if ever, defeated in battle.

2. The Israelites would be more advanced than any other nation on Earth in terms of military technology, scientific and medical knowledge, engineering skills and so forth.

3. The Israelites would influence the culture of her neighbors in areas such as religion, literature, architecture and the arts.

If one’s knowledge of the history of the Middle East is based solely on reading the Bible, it might be understandable to think that everything that happened there several millennia ago revolved entirely around the Israelites. Israel’s neighbors, such as Egypt, Assyria, or Babylon, seem to exist only as external forces that God uses to punish the wayward Israelites rather than as complex and sophisticated civilizations that were superior to the Israelites by any measurable criteria. Christians who believe in every word of the Bible being the literal truth of God make the mistake of looking at ancient history through the lens of the Bible rather than looking at the Bible in its historical context. When one does this, it should become rather obvious that by just about any yardstick, Biblical Israel cannot be considered a great nation when compared with its neighbors. I will attempt to demonstrate this with one post for each of the three criteria in the next few days.

24 comments:

Theerasak Photha said...

It's awful lonely here without winger trolls.

Stardust said...

Theersak...better to be lonely and have sanity than playing games with chicken lady (if you want intelligent discussion).

Stardust said...

sorry theerasak for misspelling your name in my previous comment.

Theerasak Photha said...

Mai bpen rai...

Tommy said...

I'm sure she lurks here once in a while.

Actually, I would be very interested to her reaction once I've completed this series.

Theerasak Photha said...

in case anyone is interested, I'm trolling another wingnut here.

Notice the Scandinvian alter ego---HUSH!!

Tommy said...

Vindalf?

What is that, Gandalf's Viking cousin?

Theerasak Photha said...

'Gandalf' appears as the name of a Dwarf in the Voluspa, the Norns' counsel for Odin that ultimately fortells his fate in Ragnarok. It means 'magic Elf'. 'Vindalf' just means 'wind Elf'.

Many of Tolkien's fans know about the linguistic origins of Elvish and perhaps others (I was surprised to find Khuzdul is based on Hebrew, though it made sense afterwards). Not as many people know of the mythological origins of the text. Much of it draws from Norse mythology, such as the loss of Beren's hand to Carcaroth (c.f. Tyr).

Sirkowski said...

Great post!

Aileron said...

Why all the effort to explain your rejection of Christianity?

Tommy said...

Hi Aileron. Thanks for visiting.

Why all the effort?

Well, one, to share with fellow atheists and skeptics.

Two, for theists who cannot seem to understand how a person can reject Christianity. While I do not seek to deconvert anyone from Christianity (that would be an "exercise in futility"), if it makes them think about their faith and why intelligent people like me reject it, then that will be a worthy accomplishment. Plus, I would be interested in hearing what counterarguments they offer.

Third, this blog provides me with a good forum to lay out my reasons in an easily accessible forum for myself.

Sable Chicken said...

Happy New Year Tommy.
This is my thoughts about your post:

"1. The Israelites would be the strongest nation on Earth, unconquered by her neighbors and rarely, if ever, defeated in battle."

Israel of the OT did not please God, so why should God make lsrael the strongest.

"2. The Israelites would be more advanced than any other nation on Earth in terms of military technology, scientific and medical knowledge, engineering skills and so forth."

Why? Is that Gods goal for His people. It was not in God's design for any of His people to have war technology. Killing each other came after the fall of man. I think at this point God does have His people in all the most advanced skilled areas that you have mentioned.

"3. The Israelites would influence the culture of her neighbors in areas such as religion, literature, architecture and the arts."

Well I think that the God of the OT lsraelites has made a huge impact on the whole world.

"Biblical Israel cannot be considered a great nation when compared with its neighbors."
The promised land is not on Earth but in Heaven....Biblically wheather or not Israel, has the same meaning, is where I think you have it wrong in this.

Tommy said...

Hello Sable. I knew my prediction would come true.

The whole point of the post and the series to soon follow (which I regret not being able to do yet as my mom is in the hospital from pneumonia and injuries from falling) is that the Bible has God making a series of promises to Abraham and these promises did not come true.

Aileron said...

Tommy,

O.K.

It is certainly easier to be a skeptic than a believer - at least until you experience a personal relationship with Christ.

I will concede that you can come up with far more questions than I could ever answer.

FWIW, my own experience has been that my life is far better with Christ than without Him. The grace of God is there for all of us. It is a gift from God who loves all of us unconditionally.

I appreciate your kindness and willingness to exchange ideas with me.

I hope the new year is a good one for you and your family.

Tommy said...

Same to you Aileron.

I do not have any problem at all with religious belief when it is a means for people to better their own lives. For things like that, we all need to follow the paths that are right for us.

I believe that government should be neutral with respect to religion, but that individual liberty should prevail with respect to the religion one practices or for those such as myself who do not practice any of them. That is one of the things I love most about America, this vital freedom that serves to allow us with our different beliefs to coexist with one another in a free society.

I know some of the guys and gals over at Liberal Avenger give you a hard time, but even though you and I disagree about some things, we probably are not far apart on some other issues and you strike me as a good man. Feel free to chime in any time.

Best regards,

Tom

Stardust said...

my mom is in the hospital from pneumonia and injuries from falling

Oh my goodness, tommy. I am sorry to hear your mother is suffering so. I hope she is improving and will be well soon. Hang in there.

Stardust said...

That is one of the things I love most about America, this vital freedom that serves to allow us with our different beliefs to coexist with one another in a free society.

Tommy - this is the whole point of why most atheists speak out. We are mostly at odds with the fundamentalist xian folks because they want things done according to their own religion, and that in turn would become theocratic rule according to one specific belief system and most people do not want that.

It is interesting to note that we rarely see this type of intense debate between atheists and buddhists, or atheists and Hindi...for example. Most of the time intense disagreements are between fundamentalist xians and muslims concerning the desire of the religious who wish to force their religion on others, and the atheist who wants to uphold the freedoms and rights of all people that this country was founded on.

Sable Chicken said...

Tommy I'm sorry that your mom has been sick I hope she recovers soon.

Tommy said...

Thank you Sable. I am happy to report that she is greatly improved. They discharged her from the hospital today as her pneumonia cleared up and I just got back from seeing her at the facility nearby where she will be undergoing physical therapy so that she can walk unassisted again.

Sable Chicken said...

It's good that you live near enough that you can help her. Did she brake some bones in her fall? I hope not. Glad to hear that she is getting better.

Well I have been working on a response to your post...here it is.

I will surely bless you and make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as the sand on the seashore. Your descendants will take possession of the cities of their enemies, and through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed, because you have obeyed Me." Genesis 22:17-18

Abram/Abraham had no children and didn't think that he and his wife would ever have any kids because they were old, when God told him that he will make a great nation out of him.

An interesting point about Abraham is that although all bloodline Jews of today are descended from him, Abraham himself was not a Jew! Abraham's son Isaac, had a son Jacob (who was renamed Israel), who had 12 sons (from whom came The Tribes Of Israel), one of which was Judah, from whom came the Jews. The first "Jew" was Judah, Abraham's great-grandson. Both Jews and Arabs are equally descended from Abraham, but Abraham himself was neither "Jew" nor "Arab". Many fierce Middle East wars have since been fought between Abraham's children, right to the present time.

"To your offspring I will give this land." (Genesis 12:7).


The greatest test of Abraham came when God commanded him to sacrifice Isaac. Despite the grief and horror that he must have been experiencing, Abraham was actually about to go through with it before being stopped by God (the event occurred on what was then barren Mount Moriah - today, the Temple Mount in Jerusalem where sits The Dome of The Rock).
God said to him, "I swear by Myself, declares The Lord, that because you have done this and have not withheld your son, your only son, I will surely bless you and make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as the sand on the seashore. Your descendants will take possession of the cities of their enemies, and through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed, because you have obeyed Me."
Genesis 22:17-18
That blessing is Jesus Christ


Israel was to be a people following Christ.
A light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of your people Israel.
- Luke 2:32

Israel was to be a blessing to the other nations of the world.
...and in you shall all families of the earth be blessed.
- Gen. 12:8

"The Lord had said to Abram, "Leave your country, your people and your father's household and go to the land I will show you. I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you." (Genesis 12:1-3)

God gave his Word, The Bible, to Israel and they have preserved it. The English-speaking peoples are the main evangelists and publishers of the scriptures, which was originally written in Hebrew and Greek. The reason why the English-speaking people publish more Bibles than anyone is that they are the descendants of Abraham!



http://www.logon.org/_domain/abrahams-legacy.org/identifying-signs.html#one

http://www.keyway.ca/htm2002/abraham.htm

Anonymous said...

Tommy...

intelligent people..

Not you.. Sorry

Ray Melnik said...

OK, that's one. There are thousands of conflicting and erroneous accounts in the bible. Not to mention the just plain stupid entries. I heard said once, "If people don't want me to make fun of their beliefs, then they shouldn't have such a silly beliefs.

Perhaps the clearest illustration to me is:
The bible is based on a progression of ancestors who lead back to Abraham, who traces back to Adam & Eve. Since evolution is established fact, it renders this progression a fiction or a simple family tree. Based on this fact, it makes the old testament pure fiction and decimates the whole foundation of the Jewish faith. Since Christianity stems from the old testament with it's vision of a savior to come, it decimates the foundation for this religious flavor as well.

Muslim faith as well counts the old testament as their foundation as well. ..and don't even get me started with the flying horse traveling to heaven.

Ray

Tommy said...

Hey Ray!

Thanks for visiting!

That is what I envision to be the point of the series. Since Jesus is alleged to be fulfillment of OT prophecy, making a persuasive case that the Israelites were not the chosen people of a supreme being tears out the foundation for Jesus as well.

Anonymous said...

Agreed.