Sunday, March 11, 2007

Religious arguments that I don't find convincing

(I would like to thank for their excellent website. All Tanakh quotes are from their library, unless otherwise noted.)

Well, all of them. Hah! Well, here's a few select ones that are annoying:

"That's the OLD Testament": No duh? Just because God changed his laws (hey, isn't God supposed to be unchanging? Oh well) doesn't mean that suddenly all the God-endorsed rape and murder done by the Israelites on the native peoples of Palestine (Canaanites, etc.) is excused.

"Jesus performed miracles": It doesn't matter how many miracles (if any) Jesus fulfilled. What matters is outlined in Devarim 13. It's like that chapter was written in anticipation of Jesus. First verse:

1. Everything I command you that you shall be careful to do it. You shall neither add to it, nor subtract from it.

Did Jesus add or subtract from the (local) Sanhedrin's ruling? Yes, because he preached that he was God. He preached that the only way to heaven is through him. He changed the kosher laws. That's blasphemy. Devarim 6:4 clearly states:

4. Hear, O Israel: The Lord is our God; the Lord is one.

There's only one God, and He is One. Rashi's commentary for the verse makes this a bit clearer:

The Lord is our God; the Lord is one The Lord, who is now our God and not the God of the other nations-He will be [declared] in the future “the one God,” as it is said: “For then I will convert the peoples to a pure language that all of them call in the name of the Lord” (Zeph. 3:9), and it is [also] said: “On that day will the Lord be one and His name one” (Zech. 14:9). (see Sifrei)

A lot of people I debate with often proceed to bring up the Trinity at this point. One problem: Jesus and Paul invented the concept of the Trinity! The Trinity didn't exist before Christianity. Also, the Trinity contradicts Devarim 6:4 above. Wouldn't God have said: "The Lord is three" or something like that?

Ok, onto the next few verses (of Devarim 13)

2. If there will arise among you a prophet, or a dreamer of a dream, and he gives you a sign or a wonder,
3. and the sign or the wonder of which he spoke to you happens, [and he] says, "Let us go after other gods which you have not known, and let us worship them,"
4. you shall not heed the words of that prophet, or that dreamer of a dream; for the Lord, your God, is testing you, to know whether you really love the Lord, your God, with all your heart and with all your soul.
5. You shall follow the Lord, your God, fear Him, keep His commandments, heed His voice, worship Him, and cleave to Him.
6. And that prophet, or that dreamer of a dream shall be put to death; because he spoke falsehood about the Lord, your God Who brought you out of the land of Egypt, and Who redeemed you from the house of bondage, to lead you astray from the way in which the Lord, your God, commanded you to go; so shall you clear away the evil from your midst.

So let's review:

Jesus arose among the Jews. Check.
Jesus gave signs and wonders. According to the New Testament, yes. (water to wine, walking on water, healing blind men, forgiving whores) Check.
Jesus said to worship other gods that the Jews had not known (namely, himself). Check.
Jesus was sentenced to death for this. Check.

So I'm wondering how Jesus should even be respected. Was he ignorant of the Torah? Did he not have a copy of Devarim 13? Did he not ever think to himself "Hmm, if I'm going to pretend to be the moshiach, I should at least try not to convince people I'm a god as it totally goes against Hebrew monotheism." And his being killed is nothing special. He broke a law, and then got punished for it. Just like the hundreds of other dissidents in the Roman empire at the time.

"Jesus died for our sins": Let's have a scenario. Imagine there is a murderer named Bob who has a friend Joe. Bob goes and murders George. Bob is caught and taken to trial. Bob is sentenced to 10 years in prison. But then Joe comes in and says "Hey, I'll do Bob's sentence for him. Leave him alone." Would it make sense for the judge to accept Joe's proposition? Should Bob get off scot-free while someone else, totally unrelated to the crime, voluntarily undergo Bob's prison sentence? I say no, because Joe doesn't have any desert (I'm using it in the sense of the "nouning" the word "deserve" (Yes, it is a real word)). Only the person who commits the crime deserves to be punished for it. Nobody else. And thankfully, it is illegal in most countries (if not all) of the world today. Think of the disastrous consequences if it was legalized. Someone could go murder people, and as soon as he's caught, he can pay some emo kid to take his place in prison! And this is why I don't buy the "Jesus died for our sins" catchphrase. If anything, Jesus can only die for his own sins. Everyone is for themselves. In Judaism, sin is not a state of being, it is an act. That's why the concept of being "born" a sinner, original sin, etc. are all Christian concepts which aren't found in Judaism.

I think that's enough for now. Tell me what you think.

Inta min?

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