Tuesday, December 15, 2009

New YouTube Video: "Thoughts on Slavery and the Bible"

For your convenience, here's the "script" I was loosely working from:

Hey! Adderall Apocalypse here! The other day I was in TogetherForPeace/Jack's blogtv room and one of the things we were talking about was the Bible's stance on slavery. Basically, what he was saying was that the Bible (NT) does provide a basis for the abolition of slavery. But he says that the New Testament writers who talked about slavery weren't very concerned with the political activism; they weren’t very concerned with telling the governments of that time that slavery was wrong and they should abolish the practice. They were more concerned with "freeing peoples' spirits." Well, first of all, I don't believe that people have "spirits" the way Jack believes that we do. Secondly, it doesn't really make sense... if God exists and is all-powerful, I would think he’d be able to free slaves, but instead, all he decided to do was, what, make them feel better, in effect? I think that if I was a slave, I’d rather be not a slave than just be made to feel like Jesus loves me or whatever, but that’s just my perspective... what do I know?

So it seems fairly clear that if God exists, he cares a lot more about "cosmic justice" than actual justice here on earth. Obviously, I don’t believe in God or "cosmic justice." I suppose it makes sense that if God and the afterlife is eternal, this life would be less significant—but don’t you see how logically unworkable this is? That God created an entire universe so that 13.7 billion years later, he could insert souls into some monkeys living on a rock in the middle of nowhere so they could live for 70 years, if that, and then, afterwards, face eternal judgment? And then either be with him forever or be tormented forever for their so-called sins? Isn’t it obvious that the afterlife is an idea people made up to combat their fear of death!?
Another thing he said (and I find that a lot of Christians think this) was that the abolitionist movement was largely Christian; [and] they were inspired to become abolitionists largely because of the Bible. But I think that almost everyone back then was a Christian, right? So there were just as many people who were pro-slavery who could use the Bible as justification for owning slaves as there were who were using the Bible to support their opposition to slavery. So I think it would be more instructive to look at the effects of the enlightenment on the views of the people back then regarding slavery because that was an important period of time for the development of the concept of rights. Now, I don't necessarily believe in "rights," but that's a completely different video. The point is that you're not going to see rights being mentioned or discussed anywhere in the Bible. What you'll see in the Bible is, for example, "THOU SHALT NOT STEAL," because God said so, but the real reason for the law against stealing in the Bible is that it’s disruptive to a society, especially above certain levels. This should be obvious to you. So that's as far as the Bible goes: "don't steal." Maybe from that, you could extrapolate that if you can't steal another person's property then maybe a person has a right to their own property, and you can go from there, and I suppose you could do the same with other "rights" like life and liberty, but it seems to contradict the idea that God is the one who wrote the book when, (I’d assume that) he knew all that stuff, but we had to figure it out for ourselves. It’s almost like we didn’t need God or the Bible to come up with those ideas. I would, of course, suggest that this is the case. [links on what the Bible has to say that could be interpreted as being relevant to the issue of slavery]:

Does God approve of slavery?

What the Bible says about slavery

The infamous religioustolerance.org page on slavery in the Bible

You’ll notice that you can use parts of the Bible to argue either way. You might be tempted to say that this is a paradox. But as I’ve said in my blog, I have proposed that there is no paradox, only contradiction. We can argue about that later, I’m sure...

My point is the main verse that Jack was emphasizing in his blogtv room says that in the kingdom of God "there is neither slave nor free, male nor female," etc., so from that verse, the next logical step is that we are all equal in the eyes of God, and the next logical step FROM THAT would be that slavery is wrong. Ok. Fair enough. I would think that if God really were against slavery, he would have just come right out and said it, but we can go with your explanation... but if slavery is wrong and the Bible is opposed to slavery, it just seems unfortunate that nobody figured that out until 1700 years after the Bible was written.

That reminds me: another thing people like to say is that there are absolute moral laws and, therefore, there must be a moral law giver, and that moral law giver is God. But if you look at history, you’ll see that culture dictates morality, not the other way around (not that I necessarily believe in morality, but again, different video). The system of morality in the Old Testament, for example, says that eating shellfish is an abomination (The NIV says, "you are to detest" shellfish, but whatever). But then, later on, some other people came along and tried to figure out what Old Testament laws they were still supposed to follow and which they could ignore. They split them up into three different categories: moral, civil, and ceremonial laws, but just from reading the Bible, how can you tell that there needs to be three different categories? There doesn't seem to me [to be] any obvious way to distinguish between them. But even if there were, it still seems inconsistent. Did God change his mind? Does he do that? I thought he was perfect, right? Again, you can find parts of the Bible to support either side of that argument. [links]:

Does God Repent?

"does god change his mind?"

Thanks for [reading]...

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