A member of the wiccan religion named Pendragon, whose site is here: http://pendragon343.com has made a list of 142 questions for Christians. He has given me permission to post his list, with my answers, on this site. His questions will be in italics, and my answers will be in plain type.
I invite Pendragon, or anyone else, to respond to anything I say on these pages or to ask further questions.
I should also note that J.P. Holding, who runs the Tektonics site, has also answered Pendragon's list here: http://www.tektoonics.com/parody/pendragon142.html. I did read Holding's answers to the list and while I agree with Holding on many points, all of the answers on this site are my own.
Permission to reprint Pendragon's list of questions was given to me by Pendragon on March 29, 2006
He wanted me to say that.
1. Have you ever read the entire Bible, cover to cover? Why not? If you haven't read the whole thing, why do you claim to believe that every word of it is true?
I have not read it straight through yet (I'm in the process). But the question of whether or not it is true is not dependent on whether or not I have read it. Does my reading it prove it's true? Perhaps you mean that if I have not read all of it, perhaps there are passages which, when I come across them, I will be unable to believe. But I've visited and responded to enough critical sites, and debated enough Bible critics in public forums, that I believe I've been made aware of the passages critics call the "problem" passages, and researching those passages, haven't found problems at all.
Think about it...your Heavenly father, the creator of the entire universe, who sent his only son to die for your sins...has written only one book, just for you...and you've never even read it!
God didn't write it, people inspired by God did. And the book wasn't written "just for me", but for many, many people.
2. The Bible orders you to kill witches; it is the explicit, unequivocal commandment of your God (Exodus 22:18; Leviticus 20:27). And no, I'm not "taking those verses out of context;" go ahead and look them up. I'll wait.
Orders ME PERSONALLY to kill witches? Yes, that is out of context. Since I'm not an ancient Israelite bound by the old covenant, no one has ordered ME to kill witches.
I am a witch ... a card-carrying pentagram-wearing circle-casting Tarot-card-reading Sabbat-celebrating witch (Merry meet!). If we met, and I assured you that I am in fact a witch (I'll swear to it on your Bible if you like), would you kill me?
I'll try to contain myself.
If not, why not?
Two reasons. One, I am not an ancient Israelite bound by the old covenant. Second, the ones that are commanded to be killed are completely unrelated to modern Wiccans. The word used refers to those who recite curses, or concoct poisons, to hurt others. Since modern Wiccans reject both harmful curses and poisons (and I assume you do) they aren't the type being talked about here.
You should obey God rather than men (Acts 5:29). Are there any other parts of the Bible that you routinely disobey?
Other parts that obviously don't apply to me, yes.
Does this mean that you have a rebellious spirit, and need to repent?
Yes, I do have a rebellious spirit, but I have already repented. Thanks.
Or does it perhaps mean that you obey only the easy commandments of God ("Love thy neighbor") and ignore the commandments that might get you into trouble?
No, it means that I don't follow commandments that are meant for other people from other times bound by other covenants.
How would you like it if MY holy book ordered me to kill Christians? Would it make you a little bit nervous if we got into the same elevator?
If your holy book ordered you to kill Christians, then I'd have some questions about this.
1) Was the command given under the authority of someone who created my life and thus has dominion over my life (has the right to decide whether I live or die)?
2) Does the one giving the command have a legitimate reason to want me and my fellow Christians dead? Who or what are we a threat to?
3) If the authority has a legitimate dominion over me, then is there anything I can do to appease the authority so that I no longer deserve the death penalty?
4) Was the command given in the holy book a command to everyone who believed in the book, or just to a certain group at a certain time?
5) Do I meet the author's understanding of what a "Christian" is, or is he talking about a certain type of Christian which I don't actually fit into?
If I felt that your book had no authority to put me to death, I would try to explain this to you (and if I failed, and you made it clear that you intended to kill me, I'd get the heck away from you and call the cops). If the book had such authority, and I recognized the authority, I would repent to that authority if possible and give up doing whatever the authority doesn't want me to do.
3. In Genesis 22, God ordered Abraham to kill his own child. If God ordered you to kill your own child, would you obey Him? If not, why not? Surely you don't think you're smarter than Abraham, do you?
Yes, I would obey Him. Especially if I knew (as Abraham did) that God promised that my child would have many descendents, making it painfully obvious that my child would either not actually die or not stay dead.
4. Do you believe that rabbits chew cud (Leviticus 11:6, Deuteronomy 14:6-7)? Your God does.
No, they chew "gerah" which means any predigested material. Which rabbits do, since they chew their feces. Translating "gerah" as "cud" was a mistake (confusing refection and rumination), though the error is the translator's, not the original writer's or God's.
5. Are you aware that the Old Testament contains absolutely no descriptions of the afterlife — either heaven OR hell? Why do you think this is?
It contains a few, actually. Psalms 115:17, Isaiah 14:9-11, Ezekiel 32:31. The reason it contains so few is that the Israelites weren't future-oriented. They were concerned primarily with the present and the past.
6. Mark 16:18 says that if a Christian drinks deadly poison, it won't hurt him at all. Are you a Christian? If I gave you some poison, would you drink it? Ready to put your money where your mouth is? Ready to "step out in faith?"
First of all, there is good reason to suppose that Mark 16:18 wasn't part of Mark's original text, making its authority questionable. And on top of that, if Jesus did say this, He appeared to be talking about a specific group of believers in that day, perhaps the apostles, not about all believers for all time. There's no reason for me to assume I'm covered by Mark 16:18.
7. Do you believe that God creates evil (Isaiah 45:7, KJV)? If you believe this, why do you worship Him?
Let's look at that verse, shall we?
"I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these things."
The word used for evil there, "ra", does, at times in the Old Testament, refer to wickedness, but other times it refers to troubles and sorrows. So which does it mean here? Since the verse uses "light" and "darkness" as contrasts, and then used "peace" and "evil", it's unlikely that "evil" refers to "wickedness", since "wickedness" is not the opposite of "peace". "Troubles and sorrows" is a better contrast for "peace", so is almost certainly what is being described here. So then it's just a question of whether the troubles and sorrows are deserved or not. Certainly, bringing troubles and sorrows upon people who are behaving themselves, for no good reason, is wrong. But since nowhere else in the Bible do we see God doing this, it's clearly referring to troubles and sorrows being put upon people who are acting outside of God's will.
8. I read in Matthew 2:23 that it was spoken by the prophets that "He [Jesus] shall be called a Nazarene." Can you find this prophecy in the Old Testament for me, please, or in any other writing that existed prior to 31 AD?
Nope, since Matthew wasn't referring to a specific prophecy, but a general theme reflected by multiple prophecies (note the plural word "prophets" in the verse). There are many prophecies stating that the Messiah would be rejected by many of the people of His day (see: Psalms 22:6-8,13; 69:8,20-21; Isaiah 11:1; 49:7; 53:2-3,8; Daniel 9:26). The city of Nazareth was one scorned by neighboring communities. People believed that nothing good could come from such a city (see John 1:46). Nazareth was used by Matthew as a specific example to describe a general theme.
9. Joshua 10:12ff tells a story about God making the sun "stand still" overhead for about a day. This would certainly have been noticed by every human being on earth. Do you ever wonder why there are no other accounts of this event, anywhere, in non-Biblical historical writings?
No, since there's no reason to suppose that if others wrote of this event (which is questionable itself concerning the literacy rate of the time and the fact that most of the people of Earth would have had no idea about the significance of what was going on), their accounts would have survived to this day. The vast majority of ancient texts have been lost over time.
10. Ecclesiastes 1:4 says that the earth will last forever; II Peter 3:10 says that it won't. Which do you believe?
Actually, neither passage really says what you think it says.
Ecclesiastes doesn't say that the Earth will never cease to exist, only that it remains standing for a long time, outlasting the various generations of men who come and go. The Hebrew word used here, "olam", is used elsewhere to describe things that last a long time, but are ultimately only temporary - see Exodus 12:14, Numbers 25:13, Isaiah 32:14.
2 Peter 3:10 is an example of apocalyptic hyperbole, just saying that things are going to change dramatically, not speaking of the literal destruction of planet Earth.
11. Genesis 6:19 tells us that God ordered Noah to take one pair of each animal into the ark. Genesis 7:2 tells us that God ordered Noah to take seven of every clean beast and two of every unclean beast. Which do you believe?
When I see these kinds of questions, supposed "contradictions" between passages which are practically concurrent, I have to wonder if the critics here really think that the authors were THAT confused, completely forgot what they wrote just a few verses earlier, and no one noticed this until the present day.
God ordered Noah to bring in two for the purpose of keeping the beasts alive, then added extras of the clean beasts since they were to be used for food.
And by the way, I consider the Noah story to be parable, not history.
12. Ecclesiastes 1:18 says that wisdom brings grief; Ecclesiastes 8:1 says that wisdom causes one's face to shine. Which statement do you believe?
Forget for a moment that these are in the Bible (since critics seem to just assume that any two Biblical passages which CAN be read as contradictory MUST be read as contradictory). If someone told you that wisdom can bring grief, would you consider this a true statement? Of course. Any reasonable person can think of examples of wisdom bringing grief to someone, and it's pretty much the corrolary of "ignorance is bliss". If someone told you that wisdom can bring joy, would you consider this a true statement? Of course. Again, examples come easily to mind. So since both statements are true, how are they contradictory? I believe both statements, as does any reasonable person not mining for contradictions.
13. II Kings 2:11 says that Elijah ascended to heaven in a whirlwind. John 3:13 says that nobody before Jesus ever ascended into heaven. Which statement do you believe?
Look at the context of John 3:13, especially noting the preceding verse. Jesus is telling a gathering crowd that only He can speak of heavenly things, since only He has been there. This means that of all those present at that time, only Jesus has been to Heaven. Elijah would not be covered by this statement, since he had not returned to Earth afterwards, and thus could not speak to the gathering crowd.
Just like if I met a group of people who have never been to Hollywood, I could say to the group "since I am the only one who's visited Hollywood, only I can tell you what the place is like", without implying that absolutely no one else has ever been to Hollywood.
14. Do you believe that a stubborn and rebellious son should be executed in public?
No. I'm not an ancient Israelite bound by the old covenant.
Your God does (Deuteronomy 21:18ff).
No, He does not. This was intended for the Israelites prior to Jesus' time. Jesus' sacrifice on the cross brought about a new covenant under which we are not bound by the old rules. Jesus died in place of that stubborn and rebellious son, among others.
15. Do you believe that a medium or spiritist should be killed? Your God does (Leviticus 20:27).
See question 14.
16. Do you believe that people who commit adultery deserve to die? Your God does (Leviticus 20:10).
See question 14.
17. Do you support the death penalty for homosexuality? Your God does (Leviticus 20:13).
See question 14.
18. The Bible is an extremely bloodthirsty book. It specifies, over and over, whole categories of people who should be killed (including children who "curse their parents" ... Exodus 21:17). Are you aware that Silver Ravenwolf has written many books on Wicca, and that none of them recommends the killing of anyone?
Since Silver Ravenwolf didn't create mankind and thus has no dominion over mankind, I would hope that he doesn't pretend to have such authority.
19. Do you hate your mother and father?
Jesus said that if you don't, you can't be his disciple (Luke 14:26).
It also says to hate our spouses, children and even ourselves. Yet it's odd that whenever critics bring up this passage, they only mention hating parents. Did you ever wonder why that is? I believe it's because if they only mention parents, their audience might find it believable that the word "hate" is to be taken literally, that it's much easier to believe that the Bible is ordering you to despise your parents than it is to believe that it's ordering you to despise your spouse, children and yourself. They know that if they include spouse, children and self that the audience will be rational enough to know that this passage is clearly hyperbolic, not literal. Try it sometime. Tell someone that this passage says to hate your parents, spouse, children and yourself, and see if they're fooled into believing that it's literal. I'm pretty sure that they won't be.
This is an example of Jesus using hyperbole to show contrasts between priorities, and we see this kind of contrasting done elsewhere in the Bible. For example, in Luke 16:13 Jesus says "No servant can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other." There's obviously no reason why someone serving two masters must despise one of them, but someone serving two masters will logically end up favoring one over the other.
In the Luke 14:26 passage, Jesus is saying that we must favor God over our parents, spouses, children and even ourselves, not to literally hate our families and ourselves.
Are you disqualified from being a Christian? Isn't it time for you to repent of your sin of being a mother-lover?
Since I love God more than my mother, and more than myself, I think I'm okay.
20. Do you believe that anyone has ever seen God? Isaiah said he did (Isaiah 6:1); John said (twice) that nobody has ever seen God at any time (I John 4:12; John 1:18). Who's lying, John or Isaiah?
Neither. God in His eternal, non-physical form cannot be seen, as John was saying. But when God manifests Himself into temporary, physical forms, He can obviously be seen, as is what happened with Isaiah.
21. Exodus 20:5 says that God will punish a child for his father's sin (see also Jeremiah 16:10-11); Ezekiel 18:20 says he won't. Which do you believe?
First of all, notice that in Exodus 20:5, the punishment is passed down among the generations 'of them that hate' God. It's a fact that children often adopt the same religious beliefs as their parents (though not always - I didn't). So if you hate God, it's quite likely that your children, grandchidren, etc. will also hate God. And the consequences you suffer for your sins will also be suffered by your descendants. This is what is meant by 'visiting the iniquity', not that they will be punished for your sins, just that they are likely to repeat your sins and thus suffer the same consequences. But if you hate God and your children love Him, they will not bear your iniquity (and since they are not generations 'of those that hate God', they are not covered by what is said in Exodus 20:5).
22. Do you believe that you can be saved (go to heaven after you die) if you don't believe in the virgin birth of Jesus?
Yes. As long as you accept Jesus as your savior and repent of your sins, you are saved. If the virgin birth is true (as I believe it is), those who don't believe in it will be forgiven for their disbelief.
Did you know that two of the four gospels [i.e., Mark and John] don't mention the virgin birth at all?
Yes. All of the followers at the time knew about it already from the other two Gospels and other preachings of the day. There was no reason for Mark and John just to rehash it since, if they had, they could only have used the other Gospels as sources. None of the four authors were witnesses to the birth of Jesus. Luke and Matthew used other sources for their information. Mary herself appears to be Luke's source. Matthew's source is unclear, but the story seems to be Joseph's version of the events. But since Joseph died before Jesus' ministry, it's unlikely that Joseph told Matthew the story directly, so Matthew's source was probably someone who knew Joseph and had heard the story from him, perhaps a friend of neighbor of Joseph's. Perhaps Jesus Himself told it to Matthew.
Are you aware that (a) there is good reason to believe that the word translated "virgin" in Isaiah 7:14 doesn't mean "virgin," and (b) this is the only Old Testament verse that "prophesies" the virgin birth of anybody?
[The Hebrew word in Isaiah 7:14 that's mistranslated "virgin" is almah, which means "young woman." It carries with it no indication, either way, about the young woman's sexual experience. The Hebrew word that specifically means "virgin" is bethulah, a word that we know Isaiah was familiar with, since he used it four different times - (a) Isaiah 23:12, (b) Isaiah 37:22, (c) Isaiah 47:1, and (d) Isaiah 62:5.]
All of that is false, actually. "Almah" is only used to describe women who are clearly virgins, and "Bethulah" is used to describe non-virgins, including a widow in Joel 1:8.
23. Do you have faith in God?
Ummm...I think so.
Does your faith express itself in love? Are you aware that the Bible says that the only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love (Galatians 5:6)?
"availeth any thing" isn't the same as "all that counts", but I appreciate the sentiment.
24. Do you believe that a snake can talk (Genesis 3:1)?
Present tense? No. No Christians (that I'm aware of) believe that a snake CAN talk, only that one DID. For that matter, I don't believe that this story is literal history, but a parable.
It doesn't have lips. How does it make the "w" sound?
Beats me. Those who take the story literally probably believe that satan did the actual speaking and the snake was an illusion of some sort. Ask one of them.
25. Are you aware that Jesus threatened to murder children (Revelation 2:23)?
You do know that this is symbolic language and that Jezebel and her children aren't actual people, right? Pretty much all of Revelation is symbolic. And even if it was talking about actual people, "Children of Jezebel" doesn't necessarily mean kids. I am the child of my parents, yet I am an adult.
Does this change your opinion about him?
If not, what would it take to change your opinion about Jesus?
Actually threatening to murder children would, for sure.
Of course, his Father also threatened to kill children. See Hosea 9:16.
That's not God talking. The author is talking to God (see verses 14 and 17).
Here's what Jehovah God Almighty (the deity to whom your child prays his bedtime prayers each night) says in Psalm 137:9: "Happy shall he be, that taketh and dasheth thy little ones against the stones."
That's not God talking either, but David talking to God (see verse 7).
Do you, like God, ever want to throw human babies against rocks? Would doing so make you happy, as God predicts?
Again, that's not God speaking.
Would you want this hideous Bible verse taught to your child in Sunday School?
Nope, not age-appropriate.
In a children's Bible, how do you think this verse should be illustrated? Please take a minute and do a quick sketch to illustrate Psalm 137:9 for my son.
Show me a Children's Bible that has this verse in it, please.
And please explain to me your theory of how the mysterious omniscient almightiness of God could transform this detestable verse into anything other than what it is (i.e., an absolute obscenity).
Again, it wasn't God speaking. But why did David say it? It's the reality of the times. When your enemies are heartless and cruel, it makes you want to be heartless and cruel back to them, to give them "a taste of their own medicine". Right or wrong, it's a natural response.
26. Do you believe that there's any Bible verse that applies to abortion? Which verse(s)?
There aren't any that apply directly. Since children were of great value to the future of the Israelites, they wouldn't even consider it. It would have been foolish.
Do you believe that "abortion is murder?"
It depends on what you mean by "murder". If you mean it in the legal sense, it's obviously not murder, since abortion is completely legal (at least in this country). That said, I believe that abortion is extremely morally wrong, unless the life of the mother is at stake.
If so, would you kill a doctor who was about to perform an abortion, in order to defend the "life" of the fetus?
No, since I have no dominion over the life of that doctor, and what he is doing is legal. If what he was doing was illegal, I'd notify the authorities.
Do you think that would be justifiable homicide?
Do you believe there are any circumstances where abortion is permissible?
Depends what you mean by "permissable". As long as abortion is legal, it's technically permissable. A better phrase for your question would be "the right thing to do".
What circumstances? Rape? Incest? To save the life of the mother?
If my wife or one of my daughters was pregnant by rape or incest, I would urge them not to get an abortion, but to give the baby up for adoption if they refused to keep it. But if they insisted on an abortion, I would not stop them, since I have no legal authority to do so. As long as it's legal, I have no way to stop them. Abortion would, in my opinion, be wrong, since the one who gets the worst end of it is a completely innocent party, the baby, who deserves a chance at life. As for "to save the life of the mother", I honestly would approve of my wife or my daughters getting an abortion for that reason.
If abortion is murder, why would these special circumstances make any difference — why would they make it okay to kill a helpless fetus?
Only in the last case, to save the life of the mother, would I consider it 'okay'. No one should be morally required to give up their life for another person if they don't want to.
And please give a specific Bible verse to justify your position that abortion is permissible if it causes the death of an innocent baby who is the result of a rape.
That's not my position, so I won't respond.
Let's suppose it's 1888, and we're all living in Austria. Adolf Hitler's mother has just found out she's pregnant, and she's on her way to the (secret) abortion clinic. You and your foaming-at-the-mouth anti-abortion folks have two options: (1) hold a huge rally, block her path, and prevent her from getting an abortion; or (2) do nothing (i.e., mind your own business) — and the birth of a mass-murdering monster will be prevented (and you'll save the lives of six million innocent Jews). What would you do?
That's actually about as nonsensical an anti-abortion argument as you can find. It's true that if I knew for a fact at that time that the woman was carrying a future genocidal maniac, I'd be tempted to tell the others, "Ummm...let's let this one through, guys...and wipe your mouth, you're foaming again". But since I am not omniscient, your question is based upon an illogical premise. Arguing that abortion is good because it might have hypothetically ridded the world of a single genocidal maniac is hardly a convincing argument, especially since there's no reason to suppose that the Nazi holocaust wouldn't have happened anyway. Hitler hardly acted alone. There's also no reason to suppose that Hitler's mommy was considering an abortion, which would mean that the only thing which would have prevented the birth of Hitler was if abortion was forced upon her against her will. And surely you aren't arguing in favor of forced abortion upon women, are you? You do realize that your argument could be easily used to justify forced abortion upon women (let's say someone is taking Adolf Hitler's mother against her will to force an abortion upon her. Would you stop them, or do nothing?). Or how about justifying the murder of teenage girls (let's say someone is on their way to murder Adolf Hitler's mother back when she was a teenager. Would you stop them, or do nothing?)
And besides that, assuming abortion was illegal in Austria at the time, why the heck are we all protesting instead of just informing the authorities of the illegal clinic and getting it shut down?
It's true that a woman considering abortion might be carrying the next Hitler or Dahmer or Manson or Yanni, but she might be carrying the next Lincoln or M.L. King or Gandhi, also. Since there is no litmus test to determine whether a specific unborn baby will be a benefit or detriment to society, your question has no practical relevance. We're left simply playing the odds, and odds are that a given unborn baby will end up being a decent human being, of benefit to society, and not a genocidal maniac. Odds are that a given unborn baby deserves the chance to live.
In the meantime, you might want to stick with arguments like "if you can't trust her with a choice, how can you trust her with a child?" or "When abortions are outlawed, only outlaws will have abortions." Much more sensible arguments. Better yet, get one that rhymes.
27. Can you show me a single Bible verse that condemns the practice of slavery?
Exodus 21:16 "And he that stealeth a man, and selleth him, or if he be found in his hand, he shall surely be put to death."
I like this one because it's clearly talking about what most people think of as "slavery", where you kidnap people from their homelands and sell them insto servitude against their will, the kind that was practiced in the USA until the 1860's. This distinguishes it nicely from the Old Testament form of slavery, which is better known as "indentured servitude", where people voluntarily sold themselves or family members into servitude in order to avoid starving to death.
If you were God, would you have written the Bible to include a commandment against slavery?
Yes. The one in Exodus does nicely, and it clarifies that we're talking about American slavery and not indentured servitude.
If not, why not? Do you believe that slavery is an acceptable institution?
American slavery was never acceptable Biblically, though indentured servitude was. Considering the difficulties of the times, it was the only option for some.
Your God obviously does.
He allowed indentured servitude since it prevented people from starving to death.
He wrote an entire book of picky little rules (including a prohibition against boiling a goat in its mother's milk - Exodus 23:19), but never condemned slavery!
Stealing and selling people, that is American slavery, was definitely condemned. By death, in fact.
In fact, in Exodus 21:7ff, God gives instructions on how a father can sell his own daughter into slavery. If I followed this Biblical teaching, would you want to be friends with me?
If this were Biblical times and you were doing it to prevent your daughter from starving to death, I wouldn't have a problem with your doing it.
Would you let your children come over to my house to play with my children?
Assuming this was ancient Israel and not modern times, yes.
The best-selling book in history ... authored by the creator of the universe ...
Actually, authored by people inspired by the creator of the universe...
and it never condemns pedophilia,
Which wasn't a problem in ancient Israel
child abuse, animal abuse, or domestic violence.
For an ancient Israelite, your children, animals and wife were your ticket to survival and prosperity. Saying not to abuse them needlessly is like telling someone today not to take a sledgehammer and pound their car into smithereens. It's hardly necessary. But there are passages regarding a man's relationship to his children and spouse that abusing them would clearly violate.
"And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. " (Ephesians 6:4)
"Husbands, love your wives, and be not bitter against them." (Collosians 3:19)
In fact, Biblegod endorses the beating of children (Proverbs 22:15).
No, the "rod of correction" is figurative language, as is most of Proberbs. If your child is acting foolishely, correct them. It may be harsh, but its necessary for your child's survival and prosperity.
Here's his chance to make things right, to give us a definitive moral guide for living, to tell us not to beat up children, to tell us that men and women should have equal rights ... but he says the exact opposite.
No, he doesn't.
Women are second-class citizens in God's eyes.
No, they're not.
Isn't the Bible out of step with (a) modern times and (b) common-sense morality ... you know, the kind that comes instinctively to a mentally-retarded seven-year-old?
Modern times, yes (at least for the Old Testament). Since the Old Testament was written for the culture from whom the Messiah would arise, and not for people under the protection and redemption of that Messiah, it was different times and a lot of its rules applied only to those people in that culture at that time, not for all cultures for all time. But there's nothing in the Bible that goes against the common-sense morality of the times it was written in.
And while the Infinite All-Knowing Mind of God was dispensing wisdom ... couldn't he have told those guys back in 950 BC some really useful stuff? Like what causes tooth decay? How about the germ theory of disease? Maybe a warning about cholesterol? Some rudimentary instructions on the manufacture of penicillin?
Because there is value in mankind finding these things out for themselves, and the Israelites got along just fine without them.
Couldn't he have told them that the earth revolves around the sun ... that it's not flat?
First of all, it's quite likely that they already knew, at the very least, that the world was round. It's never been widely believed that it was flat. Which body revolves around which was irrelevent to them at that time. If God had told them, what would they have done with that knowledge?
Maybe some clear guidance about abortion ... when (if ever) is it okay? When is it NOT okay?
They already knew that abortion was bad, since it took away the children that the Israelites needed in order to survive.
What's the age of consent for sexual activity? What are the exceptions to the hearsay rule?
These are the kinds of things people don't need a God to tell them.
28. And are you aware that not only does the Bible NOT condemn slavery, it specifically allows it — even giving rules on how to buy slaves, and how they should be treated? See Leviticus 25:44, Exodus 21:2,
You saw 21:2 but not 21:16, huh?
and Ephesians 6:5. Would you vote for a President who stated publicly that he agrees with this clear, unequivocal doctrine of the Bible (the acceptability of slavery)?
As long as he agreed with Exodus 21:16, that no one should be sold into slavery against their will, then he's not talking about what you call "slavery". If he was talking about indentured servitude, I'd tell him that modern American society has no need for it.
29. James 2:20 says that faith without works is dead; Ephesians 2:8-9 says that we are saved by faith without works. Which do you believe? Is FWOW dead, or does it save us?
Both. God knows whether or not we have faith, so He doesn't need to see works to have it proven to Him. But if we have faith, works will naturally flow from our faith. So if we claim to have faith, but we do nothing with it, then our faith is, in reality, dead. In other words, God doesn't need to see our works to know we have faith, but people do. These are not contradictory.
And by the way ... can one be saved by works without faith? The Bible clearly says that one can (Ezekiel 18:21-22) ... and clearly says that one can't (Ephesians 2:8-9). Which do you believe?
Repenting of your sins and keeping God's statutes, as the Ezekiel passage talks about, are acts which clearly involve faith in God.
30. James 2:21 says that Abraham was righteous because of his works; Genesis 15:6 says that Abraham was righteous because he believed God. Which do you think is true?
Both. Men considered him righteous because they saw his works, the evidence of his faith. God considered him righteous for his faith, since God doesn't need to see the works to know who has faith.
31. We know for a fact that Lot was a righteous man, because the Bible says so (II Peter 2:7). We also know for a fact that Lot got drunk, screwed his own daughters (Genesis 19:31ff), and got them both pregnant. If I did this to my daughters, would you tell people that I was a righteous man?
Depends. Did you take advantage of your daughters, or did they take advantage of you? In Lot's case, it was the latter.
What if I ate rabbit meat (Deuteronomy 14:7)? We know damn well that's a sin !!!
You're mixing up present tense and past tense again.
32. Have you ever prayed to your God and not gotten what you asked for? Have you ever prayed to your God and asked for something worthwhile (such as healing for a sick relative), but still didn't get what you asked for?
Yes and yes.
Are you aware that the Bible says this is evidence of your lack of faith (Matthew 7:7-8, 21:22)?
Neither passage says that.
Why haven't you ever asked your all-powerful God to eradicate cancer or AIDS? Do you think he'd do it?
God gave us the cure. We rejected it. If we want to stop cancer, then we need to quit poisoning our world and ourselves. If we want to get rid of AIDS, then we all need to be abstinent until marriage and then monogamous afterwards. The fact that we're unable or unwilling to take such steps means we don't deserve to have the cure handed to us. If mankind can find the cures ourselves, then great. But we have no business expecting God to step in and save us from ourselves.
Why haven't you asked him to stop the genocide in Darfur?
Because the only way to stop it would be to over-ride the free will of those doing the genocide, and God isn't into over-riding our free will. Now that we have Jesus, all choices are ours to make.
Or to strike George Bush dead?
We collectively elected him (though, in my defense, I voted for his Democrat opponent both times). That's our society's fault.
33. II Thessalonians 2:11-12 says that God sends a powerful delusion to certain people, causing them to believe a lie, so that they will be condemned (i.e., spend eternity suffering in hell).
No, look at the passage in context:
 And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming:
 Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders,
 And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved.
 And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie:
 That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.
God is sending a strong delusion to those who reject "the love of the truth" and are already perishing. He is not, as you're suggesting, causing non-condemned people to become condemned. Instead, He's giving people exactly what they're asking for.
Isn't this, frankly, immoral? Isn't this what Christians accuse Satan (the father of lies - John 8:44) of doing?
No. Satan tries to cause the saved, or those on the fence, to become condemned.
If you were God, would you cause people to believe a lie? Why?
Hard to say, since I don't have God's understanding of human nature.
34. Do you believe that prayer should be allowed in public schools?
Allowed? Yes. Required? No.
Are you aware that Jesus specifically commanded people not to pray in public (Matthew 6:5-6)?
No, He said not to "be as the hypocrites are" when praying, praying insincerely only to display to others what a great follower you are. Since it is possible to pray privately and/or sincerely in schools, there's no reason one can't pray in a public school.
Or if you're going to take it ultra-literally instead of getting to the point of what Jesus was saying, it specifically said not to pray in synogogues and on street corners, but to pray in closets, instead. Schools don't have synogogues or street corners in them, but they do have closets!
35. Are you aware that the Bible unequivocally states — twice — that women are not allowed to speak in church (I Corinthians 14:34, I Timothy 2:12)?
Yes. When being taught, you're supposed to listen, not talk over the teacher. Women are specifically mentioned here because they were the ones at the time who weren't obeying this.
Has your pastor ever preached a sermon on this obviously important Scriptural principle? Does the pastor of your church enforce this commandment?
I'm sure that if women were rudely talking during the pastor's sermon, he'd ask them to be quiet.
Are there any other areas of your life in which you are rebelling against the Lord? If you are a female, are you ready to repent of your sin of speaking in church, and turn back to the Lord?
I'm not female, but if I was being rude to the pastor, I'd apologize.
If you were the pastor of a church, and it was Sunday morning, and you caught a woman in your church violating this commandment, how would you handle it? What would you say to her?
"Quiet, please, I'm speaking."
By the way, Christians are famous for engaging in the most amazing, dishonest acrobatics/contortions of logic in trying to avoid the clear, plain, obvious meaning of the "women-have-to-shut-up-in-church" verses (and other verses that show that Biblegod is really some male chauvinist non-deity like Moses in disguise). The "standard" apologetics are: (a) not meant for modern times; (b) there are other verses that indicate that women taught and/or were actually apostles in the early church; (c) you're taking it out of context.
I'll go with (c)
Some of the greatest entertainment in the world is watching Christians do furious backflips trying to explain these embarrassing "non-PC" Bible passages.
And some is watching critics twist passages to try to make them say what they don't say.
36. Deuteronomy 13:1-5 states that anyone who preaches a God other than your God should be put to death.
Read it again. It doesn't say "anyone" who preaches another God, but only Israelites who preach another God (see verse 1).
PLEASE tell me that you disagree with your God on this point.
No, I think that Israelites needed to stay focused on the one true God which was protecting them. It's harsh, to be sure, but considering how easily the Israelites were led astray (worshipping a golden cow just after God got them out of Egypt, for example), they needed the harshness. They were the ones from whom the coming messiah was suppose to arise, thus they were threatening the salvation of billions by worshipping gods other than the one who'd just saved their butts by getting them out of Egypt. Besides that, knowing the penalty for the offense probably meant that few Israelites preached other gods, meaning few, if any, people ever had to be put to death.
And if you agree with our Heavenly Father about Deuteronomy 13:1-5 (and I already know that you do, since you're a Bible-believing Christian), please send me an email so that I can give you the names and addresses of some people that your God wants you to kill.
Wow! You know some ancient Israelites who believe in other gods? Definitely send me their names and addresses, since I've never seen anyone who was thousands of years old. Though I have to admit - the fact that they've lasted thousands of years must mean God doesn't want them dead.
And let me know if you need to borrow a gun (and specify the caliber, please. Currently available are a .357 revolver and a nice bolt-action 8mm Mauser with a scope).
Do give me a nice camera, though, I want to get a clear shot of how many wrinkles they must have.
And Deuteronomy 13:6-10 orders an ancient Israelite to rat out his brother — his daughter — his wife — his friend — if one of them advocates worshipping another god. If you were an ancient Israelite, and your eight-year-old son casually suggested following a different religion (don't tell me this thought hasn't occurred to YOU once or twice), would you turn him in to the authorities, knowing that he would be sentenced to death?
I'm glad you're finally acknowledging that these rules apply to ancient Israelites only, and not to modern followers. Good job! But if I was an ancient Israelite and my son did this, I would certainly be tempted to disobey God (as Israelites frequently were), but it would be wrong to put the welfare of the Israelites as a whole, and the future salvation of billions, above the welfare of my one son.
Is God starting to remind you of Adolf Hitler? Are you starting to notice that your Holy Bible contains a large number of "death orders?"
Hardly, since Adolf Hitler was putting people to death who BELIEVED in the Israelite god. And on top of that, Hitler had no dominion over man, no right to sentence ANYONE to death. But since God created and has dominion over the human race, He has such a right.
37. The Bible tells us that the Israelites wandered in the Sinai desert for 40 years, and that most of them died there (Numbers 14:20-24). Using the census numbers from Exodus and Numbers, that means that approximately two million people died in 40 years in a relatively small area (and we know where it is). Are you aware that there is absolutely no archaeological evidence of those people having been in this part of the world? How do you explain this?
By saying that nomadic people occupying an area for only a few decades are unlikely to leave much, if any, archeological evidence of their having been in an area, especially not the kind that would last for thousands of years. We rarely find any kind of evidences for ancient nomadic tribes, even in areas they occupied for much longer periods. For example, try to much find evidence of the Scythians, a nomadic tribe much larger than the Israelites, who we know were in Asia for around 1500 years (1000 BC to 500 AD). There is a little evidence for them, but not much. No reasonable scholar is surprised by this, any more than they are surprised by the lack of archeological evidence for the Israelites, a much smaller tribe that was around for only a few decades.
38. The Bible promises that God will meet ALL your needs (Philippians 4:19). Do you carry insurance?
Why do you think you need it?
So that I'll have more than just what I "need" if something bad should happen.
Don't you believe what the Bible says?
Yes, I do.
39. Do you believe in evolution?
Yes. Keep in mind evolution doesn't explain where the universe and life within it came from, just what happened to it after it arrived.
Are you aware that the DNA of a bonobo (a primate) is 98.4% identical to yours (hell, in some states, that's high enough to establish paternity)? If God created everything, why do you think he created you almost exactly like a hairy jungle primate?
Having the same building blocks isn't being "almost exactly like" something.
Are you aware that your skeletal system is pretty much identical to that of a bird, or a dog, or a cat, or a rat — an arm that has a radius and an ulna; carpal and metacarpal bones; a scapula; ribs; a sternum; a pelvis; tibia and fibula bones in the legs; the whole framework covered by a system of muscles and skin tissues; bilateral symmetry; a blood/circulatory system that's powered by a heart? Is your God simply lacking in imagination, that he created most of the warm-blooded animals using exactly the same basic design?
Or is there perhaps the tiniest possibility that we all evolved from a lower life form?
As a matter of fact, evolution is completely a non-issue for me. I have over 600 pages on my Christian site, and this very page is about as far as I've gone in discussing evolution. I don't argue it with people, since I don't find it worth arguing about. It doesn't change my belief that God exists or that Jesus was resurrected. It doesn't even touch on either issue.
40. John 7:38 quotes Jesus as saying, "Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him." In 31 AD, the Scripture (being the OT only ... the NT hadn't been written, of course) said no such thing. What exactly was Jesus talking about?
Sirach 24:30-32. "The Scripture" does not refer to Biblical writings only, but to anything written down and generally considered to be wisdom.
And did you know that Jesus contradicted himself ... in two statements that are recorded in the same book of the Bible?
(1) "Jesus answered and said unto them, though I bear record [marturia] of myself, yet my record [marturia] is true." (John 8:14)
Marturia means "bear witness" (NAS) or "testify" (NIV, NRSV), and it's the same word used in John 5:31, where Jesus says,
(2) "If I bear witness [marturia] of myself, my witness [marturia] is not true."
So tell me, based on the statements of Jesus himself ... if he bears witness of himself, is it true, or not true?
Are you really saying that you think Jesus was calling Himself a liar? In the Hebrew judicial system, there is a law that someone's testimony about himself cannot be taken as evidence unless someone else backs it up. In John 5:31, Jesus is telling them what the law says, not saying "I'm lying!" In John 8:14, Jesus is saying that DESPITE what that law says, everything He says is the truth. Essentially, He's contrasting God's law and man's law.
41. Genesis 5:27 says that Methuselah lived 969 years. Honestly now ... do you believe this?
What do you think his family gave him for his 762nd birthday? Surely he had enough neckties and cologne.
Rumor has it he died while trying to blow out 969 candles simultaneously.
42. In Numbers 31:1-18, God commanded the Israelites to kill the Midianites — all except the female virgins, whom the Israelites were to "save for themselves." If your son were in the Army, and he murdered defenseless civilians, but spared the women so that he could screw them, what would you think of him?
Who is saying anything about having sex with them?
Would it make you proud of him? Would you brag about him to your friends? "Yep, Jeff is a good boy ... killed lots of Iraqis, and then raped some Iraqi girls ... wanna see the pictures he sent us?"
Since the "female virgins" were all pre-pubescent children, even infants (in Midianite culture, all girls were married at puberty), why do you assume they were being kept for sexual purposes? What's your source for this? There is no evidence that the Israelites practiced pedophelia.
Interestingly enough, the Israelites weren't even at war with the Midianites at the time (and hadn't been in the past) - they were just living in Midian as guests.
Please. The Midianites were out to destroy the Israelites and had already aligned themselves with the Amalekites.
43. II Samuel 12:15-20 tells the story of God killing an infant because it was the product of its parents' adultery. If you were God, would you do such a thing? Please (a) explain to me the justification for this infanticide and (b) tell me what this incident reveals about the true character of Biblegod.
That He's concerned with what's best for people as a whole in the long run. David (the father here) was king and thus was supposed to set an example for his people. This judgment, as harsh as it was, taught the people a powerful lesson and thus was best for the people as a whole in the long run.
And please give me a list of all sins which justify the killing of a newborn baby (not including someone else's sin of adultery, which we already know about).
Depends who's doing the killing. Again, God has dominion over life. That baby would not have even existed in the first place if it wasn't for God.
44. II Samuel 24:1 says that the Lord incited David to take a census of Israel; I Chronicles 21:1 says that Satan incited David to take a census of Israel. Which do you believe?
Both. Satan incited the census, and God gave the nod of approval (you could say He incited satan to incite David), knowing the results of the crime and its aftermath would drive David towards God.
And if your explanation is that it was a scrivener's error, explain to me why the Almighty Omnipotent Creator of the Universe is powerless to prevent copiers' errors. Also, explain to me how any scrivener could be so inept that he accidentally wrote "Satan" instead of "God" (or vice versa). A "slip of the pen?"
That's not my explanation, so I won't respond.
45. In Genesis 1:26, when God said, "Let us make man in our image," whom was he talking to? The animals? The plants? It couldn't have been a human, because humans didn't exist yet. There's only one God, so he couldn't have been talking to some other god.
Some say He was talking to the other parts of the trinity, but I'd say He was talking to Himself. So why the plural? In ancient languages, a singularity that was great or eminent was frequently expressed as a plural. For example, Artaxerxes the King refers to himself as "us" in Ezra 4:18 (he refers to "the letter sent to us", yet it is clear that the letter was for him alone).
(To Be Continued)