During the previous three posts on this blog, I have been answering comments from blogger ClubSchadenFreude. She left those comments on a previous post of mine. ClubSchadenFreude is an atheist, and you can read her blog posts on WordPress. In her comments on my post, she said (among other things) this:

No reason to think you or anyone else knows what this god is “like” since Christians cannot agree on that nor show that their version is the right one. What do you think about a god that kills a child for the actions of its parents, a god taht [sic] requires a man to make a choice between freedom and his family, a god that kills a people who are ruled by a king and who can’t do anything about him, a god who kills a man who simply tried to keep this god’s magic box upright, if not vicious? If a human tried to make people do these things, killed children, etc, would you think that human vicious?

Your bible betrays your claims of a good and benevolent god.

I’d like to address her final point in this last blog.

The last charge

… a god who kills a man who simply tried to keep this god’s magic box upright….

I’ve been addressing ClubSchadenFreude’s points in order, and this is the last one that leads her to conclude that Your bible betrays your claims of a good and benevolent god.

In many ways, I think her earlier points were better ones than this one, as I think the answer here is pretty obvious, and I’m surprised she didn’t see it.

What’s she talking about?

So, when ClubSchadenFreude refers to “god’s magic box,” what’s she talking about?

She’s derisively referring to the Ark of the Covenant. Of course, calling the Ark of the Covenant “god’s magic box” is insulting to Jewish people and Christians alike — and possibly to Muslims, too. I’m going to refer to to the Ark of the Covenant as the Ark when I don’t use it’s full name.

The incident to which ClubSchadenFreude refers is recorded in two places: 2 Samuel 6: 1 – 12 and in 1 Chronicles 13: 1 – 14 and 1 Chronicles 15: 11 – 26. The passages in Chronicles have, I feel, a more complete account, but I’m using both as references. Here’s a Reader’s Digest version of the event.

What happened

David decided to bring the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem. Previously, it resided in Kiriath-jearim, where it had been since it was stolen by the Philistines. (1 Samuel 6: 1 – 1 Samuel 7:2)

Bunny Trail

Actually, I’m a little surprised ClubSchadenFreude didn’t mention this incident, too. When the Ark was first made, there were restrictions on it. It was supposed to be carried, and no one — not even a priest from the line of Levi — was supposed to look at the things in the Ark except the sons of Aaron. (Numbers 4:17 – 20). When the Philistines return the Ark because God struck the Philistines (again 1 Samuel 6: 1 – 1 Samuel 7:2), some of the men of Beth-shemesh decide to take a peek inside it. God strikes fifty-thousand seventy men (50,070) to death because they satisfied their curiosity.

To the believer, this makes perfect sense. It wasn’t like God hadn’t warned them! But to the unbeliever, this seems like overkill. It’s certainly very different from the grace and mercy we receive through Jesus Christ, isn’t it? But then, that’s why God send his Son — so we could receive mercy.

But back to David

David had the Ark put on a cart, and if you were paying attention to what I said earlier, you can see he’s already got a problem: the ark was supposed to be carried. Uzza was walking beside the Ark while the oxen pulled the cart. The Ark was nearly upset. Uzza reaches out his hand to balance the Ark, and God strikes him dead. In 2 Samuel 6:7, it says it was because of “his irreverence.”

David becomes frightened and decides to leave the Ark of the Covenant where it is, only bringing it to Jerusalem later when he realizes that he had ignored God’s commands that the Ark should be carried. (2 Chronicles 15: 13)

The point

The point here is that, for the unbeliever, the punishment doesn’t fit the crime. All Uzza did was try to keep the Ark from falling! This isn’t a crime punishable by death.

But to the believer, we realize more was happening. God sees the hearts of man. If Uzza’s actions had truly been actions of faith and reverence, he would have survived. Instead, because there was a fundamental lack of reverence in him for the holy things of God, he died — not for touching the Ark — but for his irreverence.

IS that a problem?

If you aren’t a believer, this story (and my defense of it) might give you pause. You might worry about Christians establishing some kind of theocracy in which irreverent behavior is given the death penalty, but in the Judaeo-Christian west — and because of that Judaeo-Christian understanding — this is recognized as wrong. Christians are under a new covenant, in which grace, mercy, and forgiveness is offered to everyone freely and without conditions through faith in Jesus. Christians believe that Jesus died for everyone, and we know that under the New Covenant, each man and woman has a choice.

Uzza did not receive mercy for his irreverence. He disdained a holy God and paid the ultimate price for it.

But that doesn’t have to be your end or mine. Forgiveness is offered. The choice is ours.

6 thoughts on “Answering the Unanswerable (Part IV and final)

  1. This has been an interesting read. Again, there is no evidence that any self-proclaimed Christian knows what this god is like since again, you all disagree on what you want your god to be. One would hope that if I presented my argument against a person who did all of these things that your god supposedly did, you’d be horrified at such a person. But since you think your god does them, we end up back with the morality of might equals right as the basis of your Chrisitanity.

    To be clear, would you find a human who did the following to be evil?

    that kills a child for the actions of its parents,
    That requires a man to make a choice between freedom and his family
    that kills a people who are ruled by a king and who can’t do anything about him
    that kills a man who simply tried to keep this person’s property safe

    I’ve yet to see a direct answer.

    You claim that the answer is obvious aka easy to see or understand. The ark of the covenant is a box that is claimed to be magical. It supposedly has broken stone tablets, a jar of manna and Aaron’s staff. Calling the ark what it is, is not “insulting”. Christians don’t care about it since they don’t follow the laws within it. Jews know it is a magic box. So, the pearl clutching doesn’t work here.
    The incident to which ClubSchadenFreude refers is recorded in two places: 2 Samuel 6: 1 – 12 and in 1 Chronicles 13: 1 – 14 and 1 Chronicles 15: 11 – 26. The passages in Chronicles have, I feel, a more complete account, but I’m using both as references. Here’s a Reader’s Digest version of the event.

    Unsurprisingly, we have our author trying to claim that there are extenuating circumstances to allow his god to murder a man who did nothing but try to keep the box upright.

    The story presented is quite a strange one since this is the ark of the covenant here, that this god claimed would kill anyone touching it. But for some mysterious reason, people can steal it repeatedly. I already know all that our author knows about the supposed ark, thanks to being still a Christian when I watch Raiders of the Lost Ark and wanting to know more about it. So, I know that claims that people can steal it are rather ridiculous.

    This poor little god is so defensive about broken tablets, a jar of food and a rod, it has to murder over 50,000 people. Now, it’s rather hilarious to think about all of these guys wandering past the ark. Assuming that each took 10 seconds to move and look, it would take nearly 6 days to do this. And this god wasn’t around to stop it?

    I do like the stories of stone gods bowing and the philistines offering golden hemorrhoids as an offering. No evidence for this has ever been shown.
    “To the believer, this makes perfect sense. It wasn’t like God hadn’t warned them! But to the unbeliever, this seems like overkill. It’s certainly very different from the grace and mercy we receive through Jesus Christ, isn’t it? But then, that’s why God send his Son — so we could receive mercy.”

    Well, to some believers, they have no problem in making excuses for why a god can kill children, so why should it be surprising that they excuse more killing? Again, no evidence of the deaths of 50K plus men anywhere in the middle east. Where are the bodies, author? There is no difference from this vicious god and the god in the NT which says that everyone deserves death but its followers which were made to be followers and everyone else was damned by this god’s prior choice (Romans 9). Add to this that this god murders all non-christians and then allows Satan to corrupt the Christians that are left and again, this god has no mercy at all.
    But back to David…. Again, we have our author making excuses for his vicious god by blaming everyone else. One has to wonder what would have happened if this box over turned and then everyone got to look at what was in it since it had no means of being sealed. Would this god have killed everyone for that? This god is quite incompetent with its inability to control collateral damage. Being omniscient, it knows what will happen and has no problem killing people for a bump in the road.

    We also have a problem with our author’s claim about 2 Chronicles 15:13. It doesn’t say anything about the ark or David “13 Whoever would not seek the LORD, the God of Israel, should be put to death, whether young or old, man or woman. 14 They took an oath to the LORD with a loud voice, and with shouting, and with trumpets, and with horns. 15 All Judah rejoiced over the oath; for they had sworn with all their heart, and had sought him with their whole desire, and he was found by them, and the LORD gave them rest all around.” But it does show that this god is vicious.

    I think he means probably 1 Chronicles but who knows? We also have more problems with the ark. If it can only be carried by Levites then exactly how do the Philistines get it, open it and put things in it (1 Samuel 6)? Why did the Levites have no problem at all with the ark on a cart (1 Samuel 6)? And again, what fault of Uzzah’s it is that David did something? Where is the justness and fairness that our author claims this god has? And why is that ark on a cart when David was dancing in front of it, being accosted by a woman, and then this god cursing this woman (2 Samuel 6)? Where is this god’s indignation then?

    Again, the author relies on blaming the victim to excuse his god. We also have the problem that no where does the bible say that Uzzah was irreverent. Neither in 2 Samuel 6 or in 1 Chronicles 13 does it say that Uzzah was irreverent. It does say that he made an error, and that the act of touching was an irreverant act. It does not say that Uzzah was a fundamentally irreverent man or intended this act. This is how words can be twisted to excuse a god.
    If you are a believer, of course there is no problem since you believe that anything that this god does is acceptable because of what it is. We know that Christians have repeatedly have had theocracies where irreverent behavior was punished by death. Either our author is lying or is terribly ignorant about this. Christians are not under any “new covenant”, that is a false claim since Jesus himself supposedly said that *all* of the laws of his father, with not one exception mentioned, are to be followed. There is no Judeo-Christianity, they are two completely different religions, each saying that the other is wrong. This Christ says that those who aren’t Christians deserve death and per Revelation kills them all. So much for mercy and justice. We know that Jesus didn’t die for everyone per the bible itself (Romans 9).
    It is so pathetic when a Christian tries to claim that their god requires no “conditions” for this supposed mercy, grace and forgiveness is offered. Shall we list the conditions required?

    Being allowed to accept christ as savior there being no choice (romans 9)
    Accepting Christ as savior
    Following all of the laws of this god (Matthew 5)
    Being baptized in the “right” way (still unagreed upon by Christians)
    Following the morals this god wants (still unagreed upon by Christians)

    That our author and no other self-proclaimed Christian can show that they are the true version, there is no reason to believe any of this nonsense.

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  2. Hi, again, Vel:

    I mulled over a bit how to respond. I rather feel our conversations go in a circle. You say a lot in your comments. I respond to “a” and you call God “vicious”, me a “sycophant” and “inhumane”, and then ask what about “b”, “c”, and “d?” We could do this til the proverbial cows come home!

    I am not sure how best to help you. (Not that you feel you need help!) You explained to me that Clubschadenfreude means ““the experience of pleasure, joy, or self-satisfaction that comes from learning of or witnessing the troubles, failures, or humiliation of another.” I wasn’t sure what to make of that when I first read it, and I’m not sure what to make of that now. I have never taken pleasure in someone else’s troubles. Perhaps you feel that you are humiliating me, and this gives you pleasure or satisfaction. I looked at your blog, and felt that many of your titles alone were so full of contempt that I could not bring myself to read what you wrote. I have experienced that contempt first hand in your comments to me. At least, that’s how it feels on this end.

    A lot has gone into making you who you are. You’ve alluded to some things in your comments, and I can feel the pain in them. But I don’t know how to help you. I wish I did. Being who I am and where I’ve come from, I can’t help but feel that, in rejecting God, you have rejected the very being who can help you. All I can say is this: God is real. You can judge him as you want, but his nature is love and forgiveness. This is what I’ve experienced. You can mock my experience, or dismiss it because you believe “Christians can’t agree on what God is like,” but it is a real experience. God has intervened in my life so often that I no longer doubt him. I’ve said before that some of those interventions have been miraculous. You dismissed that assertion out of hand.

    And if there are also hard things — and I agree there are — it is because holiness and justice are also part of his nature. If you are I see something “wrong” that God has done, I would submit to you that it is you or me who lacks wisdom and not God.

    I understand from some of the things you’ve said that you were raised with a Calvinist interpretation of the scriptures, particularly Romans 9. I had a similar view of Romans 9 until (I believe) God opened my mind to understand it better. And I currently attend a church that would agree with the Calvinist interpretation. But I believe that you and I have choices to make, and choosing faith is one of them.

    At this point, you and I will probably never meet, unless God arranges it by chance. I say this because when my family heard about some of the things you said about me, they asked me not to meet with you. Well, you had already discounted that possibility anyway. Vel, I don’t think you are dangerous or violent, but my oldest son said, “Dad, you don’t really know. She could be anyone!” And, sadly, there is so much violence in our culture that what could I say in response?

    I have another post coming tomorrow that you will probably feel needs comment. Some that follow are on less controversial topics, which will give you (and me!) a break. 🙂 I wish you and I could have a more peaceable and respectful relationship, but it is what it is. And so, Vel, have a nice day.

    CultureClayBlog

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    1. So author, again, why do you choose to not reply to me directly and make a new comment instead?

      You have decided to make false claims about circular conversations. I’ve asked questions and you choose to ignore them. Why do you choose to do that?

      I address your responses so your intentional attempt to try to claim that I only ask further questions that have nothing to do with “A”, is a deliberate falsehood. Again, I ask, why do you choose to do that?
      Yes, you do try to claim I need help. I don’t. What I’m asking for is answers, and you choose to try to claim that I need help and refuse to answer.

      Again, you try to lie about me and what I sad about why I named my blog Club Schadenfreude, that I take pleasure from people who cause their own troubles. You’ve evidently again chosen to do this rather than addressing what I actually said. I suspect you have indeed felt schadenfreude when you have seen something like those “funny” videos that so many Americans love to watch, where someone makes a mistake and suffers for it. Now you want to falsely make claims that I am enjoying “humiliating” you when I have not done that. My titles are full of contempt for the lies and harm so many Christians cause. I have no cause to be ashamed of being contemptuous of people who do that.

      Many Christians try the clutching their pearls nonsense when they want to remain willfully ignorant. Oh mercy, I’m going to faint when someone dares show they don’t agree with me and why. Your behavior deserves contempt, author, as does the behavior of your fellow Christians. I do dare not to respect your nonsense and most Christians can’t believe that someone would dare do this since they have had centuries where no one pointed out that their emperor has no clothes.

      Yep, a lot has gone into making me who I am. Your claims of “feeling” my pain is just your delusion since I have no pain. You have to convince yourself I must be in pain and less than you to cling to your religion and the need for a god. You can’t imagine someone happy when you don’t want them to be.

      I reject the false claims of a being that does something for people since there is no evidence for it. I could mawkishly claim that “Being who I am and where I’ve come from, I can’t help but feel that, in rejecting Allah, you have rejected the very being who can help you. All I can say is this: Allah is real. You can judge him as you want, but his nature is love and forgiveness.” And this nonsense is just the same as yours.

      I don’t to mock anything, author. I can point out where your claims factually fail. I can dismiss your experience because you dismiss the same claims from others. It is a fact that Christians can’t agree on what this god is like. You have to claim that some god has intervened for you since you have to feel special. You forget that this god evidently doesn’t intervene in the lives of those dying of starvation, from IEDs, from cancer, etc. They just aren’t as special as you, are they? I don’t dismiss your assertions out of hand. I dismiss them because you have no evidence for your claims just like those people who you claim are wrong because they don’t have evidence for their claims.

      Each theist claims their god is “holy”: “’’ exalted or worthy of complete devotion as one perfect in goodness and righteousness”, so again I’m not impressed by people who have no evidence for their claims. As for justice, it is not “just” in any sense of the word to kill people for the actions of others.

      You have to claim that we are mistaken, not your god to make an excuse for your god’s actions. That is nothing more than might equals right morality, author. In that, there is no good or evil, just who does an action. All you have is the “but but, maybe that action is required for a greater good”. If your god is limited to using evil, then you have a less than omnipotent being as a god.

      Yep, I was raised as a Calvinist. You want to pretend that your version of Christianity is the right one and better than the one I had. Of course this is with no evidence at all. You chose the version that made your god less of a petty brat, with less evidence for version than the Calvinists have, since they at least have repeatedly instances in the bible where there is no free will at all. You choose to ignore those parts. It’s bizaare that you choose to attend a Calvinist church. So are you just lying when you are there?

      So, if your god has to arrange things, then it isn’t by chance and again no free will. I’m sorry you are so frightened of me that you had to make up things to tell your family so they would be frightened too. So exactly how many atheist women have done anything violent, and how many conservative Christians have? That your have no trust in your god is evident. What loving caring god would allow someone to harm its chosen? That’s a direct question, author. Will you answer it? You could have said to your son any of these things from your bible: https://www.openbible.info/topics/protection

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  3. Vel:

    Well, I disagree with much of what you just said, both in the categorization of our conversation and its content, but I’ll answer your direct question by quoting: John 15: 18 – 21; Romans 8: 35 – 39; 1 Cor 4:9; Hebrews 5:7 – 8; Hebrews 13: 12 – 14; 1 Peter 1: 6 – 9; 1 Peter 4: 1 -2; 1 Peter 4: 12 – 14.

    Have a nice day, Vel.

    CultureClayBlog

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  4. Vel:

    Also, it isn’t “lies” I’ve told my children that make them afraid of you. It’s your own words. You’ve called me lots of names in your comments. Anyone who reads them will see them. When you call me “inhumane” — as you did — what are my children to think? That you have good thoughts about me? They wonder why you continue to care about responding, and why you leave posts like that. As I said, I don’t think you’re violent or dangerous, but the things you’ve said — not the things I’ve said — worry them.

    If I don’t respond to everything you write and respond to what you didn’t write, it’s I am attempting to get around the hostility that perceive in your words. I do feel that our conversations are circular. I don’t retract that.

    CultureClayBlog

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