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Exodus

I had a couple hours of driving to do yesterday, so I listened to some of Exodus. I got about as far as the parting of the Red Sea. One thing that has often been noted about the story of Moses is that god repeatedly "hardens the heart of the Pharaoh" so that he won't let the Isrealites leave. But not a lot is mentioned about the reason god gives for supposedly doing this... turns out it's because he wants the Isrealites to have a good story to pass down to their kids.

Yep.

God hardens the heart of the Pharaoh because it makes for better story telling if against all reason he continues to resist keeping his own promises, and god can keep mucking around with the laws of nature.

In such a scenario, I don't think god comes out looking particularly rosy.

The other thing that struck me is just how weak and pathetic the Israelites turn out to be once they follow Moses and Aaron out of Egypt. They are weak-willed to say the least, and from what I know of the story to come, lacking in self-control, loyalty, faith, and a whole constellation of other positive traits. These hardly seem like the chosen people. These hardly seem like traits that should be emulated. If they are really that pathetic, why should I conclude that they are god's chosen people? To me, chosen, should imply "better" in some tangible sense... oh, kinda like evolution would do.

But hey, maybe that's just me and my materialist sensibilities talking.

Comments

( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
(Anonymous)
Sep. 27th, 2008 09:21 pm (UTC)
I’m always struck by the fact that atheists just cannot get past the idea that some kind of merit must be involved when it comes to a relationship with Creator God. God does not chose us because we have value. We have value because God has chosen us. God does not rescue us because we’re good. He comes to our rescue because we’re helpless and lost.

And as far as God hardening Pharaoh’s heart, have you ever wondered if He is doing the same with you? Check out Romans 9:22-24.

Finally, I notice that you find the Israelites weak as pathetic. Only a profound lack of insight on your part can make you think that you are better than they. As C.S. Lewis so astutely wrote, "No one knows how bad he is until he tries really hard to be good. A good person knows about the evil still left in him while a thoroughly bad person thinks himself as good."

Makarios
inafoxhole
Sep. 27th, 2008 11:27 pm (UTC)
I’m always struck by the fact that atheists just cannot get past the idea that some kind of merit must be involved when it comes to a relationship with Creator God. God does not chose us because we have value. We have value because God has chosen us. God does not rescue us because we’re good. He comes to our rescue because we’re helpless and lost.

That's a really depraved idea. I have value because I exist, not because anyone gives me value. And frankly, according to some views of biblical literalism, one can't know if god values you or not and that most people are in fact valueless because they are not chosen by god. You want to live in that kind of sick world? I certainly don't. Your argument is entirely circular. No wonder Christians think that in a world without god there is no value, because of nonsense premises like the one you stated.

And as far as God hardening Pharaoh’s heart, have you ever wondered if He is doing the same with you? Check out Romans 9:22-24.

I'll get to Romans when I get to Romans, but no, I haven't wondered it. Because I tried for years to receive the Holy Spirit, even thought I'd gotten close a couple times. And if god is hardening my heart, I wouldn't want to live in such a tyranny anyway, where I get punished for something I am not choosing of my own free will. Make up your mind, dude. Either god's a nice guy and I have free will and so deserve to be punished for my mistakes. Or god's a nasty shit, makes me do things I don't want to do, and I get punished for things on his capricious whim. These are mutually exclusive concepts.

Finally, I notice that you find the Israelites weak as pathetic. Only a profound lack of insight on your part can make you think that you are better than they. As C.S. Lewis so astutely wrote, "No one knows how bad he is until he tries really hard to be good. A good person knows about the evil still left in him while a thoroughly bad person thinks himself as good."

Of course it's hard to be good, for normal people, but for a chosen people, it seems a little weird that they wouldn't have a little higher probability of success. I don't pretend to be chosen, so my weaknesses say only that I'm human and fallible. I'm not the one making any claims to personal perfection or having special value.
inafoxhole
Sep. 29th, 2008 05:22 am (UTC)
Incidentally, I'm always struck by how many theists respond to this blog anonymously.
( 3 comments — Leave a comment )

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