Monday, November 16, 2009

72: God is Inefficient and Moses was High

Joshua 9-11
The Gibeonites see that Israel is killing everyone and decide to make a treaty with them. However, they also hear that God has commanded Moses to kill everyone, no treaties. So they have to get a little inventive. They come to the Israelites with worn out clothes, and say they are from a far away land. Since they are from a "far away land" the Israelites don't see any problem with making an oath not to kill them. And voila, the Gibeonites are safe from destruction. Wait a minute, did someone just get rewarded for lying? God seems to have no problem with this, in fact, he doesn't seem to be around in Joshua 9.

Chapter 10 is called "The Sun Stands Still". The other countries around Gilgal (a Gibeonite city) see that the Gibeonites have made peace with the Israelites. They decide that they need to attack the Gibeonites. Why would you attack your neighbor because they made a treaty with someone out of fear? Why not attack your real enemy? Anyway, that's not the biggest problem with this chapter by a long shot. The Israelites and the countries around Gibeon battle at Gilgal. Apparently it's to the advantage of the Israelites to have more daylight, so God stops the sun. Say what now?

First of all, "stopping the sun" would do you no good if you were trying to make the day longer. The correct term, of course, would be to say "stop the earth's rotation". But these ancient people didn't know that yet. God must not have figured it out yet either. The bible also says that the moon stops. This whole system is suspended for a full day.

Allow me to apply my elementary physics knowledge to this situation. The earth is spinning at over 1000 miles per hour, so God would also have to stop the atmosphere from spinning as well. Otherwise nobody would be alive (1000 mile per hour wind tends to be bad for life). Now we have to stop the moon. The moon moves due to earth's rotation, and it's rotation around the earth, so we still need to stop the moon's orbit. The moon is moving at about 2000 miles per hour around the earth, so again, the laws of physics have to be suspended for awhile, while the moon comes to a crushing halt. But now we have another problem, the moon is falling in toward earth. God has now stopped the earth spinning, and the moon moving, and now has to hold up the moon for a full day. After the day he has to propel them back into motion (an equally difficult task). For what? A God with this sort of power could instantly vaporize the opponents of Israel at a fraction of the energy expenditure.

In fact, a God with this sort of power could lift the city off the bedrock, turn it upside down, and shake Israels enemies out (then vaporize them). I can think of much more flamboyant impressive things for God to do with all of that power, instead of the rather interpretable "stopping the sun", but we wouldn't want to be too sure of his existence. I guess God reserves the right to choose the most inefficient way to moderately impress someone.

Wait a second, I'm going to be accused of not taking the bible literally. I think we have to stop the sun also. The sun is moving around the center of the galaxy at almost 500,000 miles per hour, and the sun is over 300,000 times the mass of the earth. But wait, our galaxy is also moving through the universe at over a million miles per hour, so God has to stop that too. I give up. All of this so that a few tiny humans could fight for an extra few blinks of a galactic eye?

The Israelites win, of course, God isn't going to do all of that for nothing. Joshua captures the five kings of the opposing army and personally executes them. He then hangs them on trees. God must be missing the "love your enemy" part (in his own book). What did these people do to deserve being completely destroyed?

The rest of chapter 10 talks about Israel moving through cities, slaughtering anyone who stands in their way (or doesn't stand in their way for that matter). It's never explained how these random people so offended God. I think we can safely assume that in cities of thousands of people that there were at least a few newborns. I'm not sure how a newborn baby can deserve to be ruthlessly slaughtered. What could the baby have possibly done?

Chapter 11 continues the slaughter, but this time we have to throw a little animal cruelty into the mix. God commands Joshua to "hamstring" their enemies horses. After a little googling, I found out that hamstringing a horse turns out to mean cutting the tendons in the back of it's legs, making it unable to walk. This would likely cause an agonizing death from dehydration or starvation. All of the humans in the city are "exterminated" (bible's word not mine) by Joshua. On the bright side, at least they weren't mutilated and left to starve (the bright side isn't too bright).

We have God hardening hearts again. This is always the most disturbing part for me, these people wanted to make a treaty with Israel, but God would not allow it. This is apparently because God wanted to have these people "completely exterminated". Then why not do his own dirty work? I can't imagine that all of the Israelites were happily slaughtering babies and maiming animals. So God was presumably causing suffering among the Israelites because of his bigotry. How is killing someone who was completely willing to surrender not murder? How is God not violating his own commandments?

At the end of chapter 11, the land finally has a rest from war (I guess everyone else is dead).

*News*
A study finds that Moses was probably high when he saw the "burning bush". This apparently comes from an Israeli researcher. I guess acceptance is the first step to recovery. This researcher apparently has first hand knowledge of the effects of the drug in question (ayahuasca). This caused him to "See music" and he "experienced visions that had spiritual-religious connotations".

An explanation with no supernatural connotations? This can't be right.

You can read the full article here.

1 comment:

  1. So much for God saying that he would spare Sodom if they could find 10 good people Couldn't they find 10 good people in any of these cities were God had them slaughter everyone? It's not like these were sodomites. Even the babies were evil? I guess he was just humoring Abraham.

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