Wednesday, February 3, 2010

151: Backfire & Esther: In Review

Esther 6-10
That night the king could not sleep; so he ordered the book of the chronicles - Esther 6:1

King Xerxes can't sleep. So he orders the book of the chronicles be brought to him (not the book of Chronicles, though that would have probably helped him sleep). As he's reading a history of his own life (I guess that's what the book of the chronicles is) he remembers that Mordecai saved his life. He asks one of his servants what he did for Mordecai to pay him back. His servant tells him that he hasn't done anything to pay him back yet.

The king asks Haman what he should do for someone that he wants to honor. Haman thinks that the king is going to honor him so he tells him to give the person being honored robes the king has worn, and a horse the king has ridden. He goes on to say that one of the noble princes should ride the honoree through the streets proclaiming "This is what is done for the man the king delights to honor!"

The king thinks this is a great idea and appoints Haman as the prince that will ride Mordecai through the streets. Instead of doing what the king tells him to do, Haman robs Mordecai. Shortly thereafter the king's eunuchs arrive to take Haman to the banquet.

The king again asks Esther what she wants from him, and this time she tells him. She asks him to spare her life, and the lives of all of the Israelites. She also tells him that Haman is the mastermind behind the plot to kill all of the Israelites (as if he didn't already know that). The king leaves in a rage and Esther is left with Haman.

Haman, seeing that he's screwed, decides to beg for his life to the queen. Haman flops himself on the couch Esther is sitting on just as the king walks back in. The king is so enraged at Haman for "molesting" his wife that he has Haman hung from the very gallows that Haman was planning to hang Mordecai from.

The king sends around another order, stopping the killing of the Israelites. Mordecai is also promoted to the king's second in command. The Israelites go ahead and kill the sons of Haman for good measure. Then, after they are dead, they are hanged from the gallows. Hanging dead people seems moderately unproductive.

Esther: In Review
I think we have the first (only?) instance of a book in the bible that does not mention God (ie "God" and "Lord" are nowhere to be found in this book) once. And there were so many good opportunities. The Israelites defeated their enemies, upon running into seemingly "too good to be coincidental" good luck. Yet, nobody attributes this good luck to God? Are these people a bunch of rabid atheists?

Unsurprisingly, I have very little criticism for the book of Esther. It was a moderately fun story (the greatest story of all time in comparison to every other book so far), and no extremely over the top violence (again, in comparison to the other books). The "good guys" won, the "bad guys" lost, good (if a little badly written) short story. Oh wait, I mean this is all totally real and doesn't seem contrived.

It's always fun to find some classic arguments against atheism. Especially these terrifying "new atheists". I think this article applies to the bible today, because we've just proven that all of the characters (read: people) in Esther were rabid atheists (joke, by the way).

You know an article is going to be good when it starts like this:
The 'new atheism' is not about equality of belief but "destroying religious faith", according to a leading professor and apologist
Oh, a leading apologist said that did he? Well then it must be true! I'll take the definition off Wikipedia (which has far more street cred than a random apologist):
Atheism, defined most narrowly, is the position that there are no deities.
Not, "there are no deities" + "I hate your religion, you're stupid, I hate you too". Just "there are no deities". The article continues:
Secularism feels it holds the default position in society, and new atheists are about destroying religious faith. It has been stated that 'scientists should do everything that can be done to weaken the hold of religion'.
In exactly what way is secularism not the default position? Do babies come out of the womb praying to Allah 5 times a day? Do they instinctively know about Jesus? I'm not sure why that sentence closed out with "and atheists are about destroying religious faith".

As for scientists wanting to weaken the hold of religion. I guess. Generally religion goes in the exact opposite direction of science. So if standing by their tested hypotheses scientist are "weakening religion" then I guess they are.

There's some more classic arguments (Stalin was an atheist, therefore atheists kill people too; there is plenty of evidence for religion, but of course they don't give it, blah blah, etc etc). Then they get to morality, which I generally can't help but comment on:
"Can science deliver morality? Every man or woman is created a moral being, made in the image of God. Yet Europe is in moral drift because no-one wants to raise the God question. Where is the new atheists' moral authority?"

He warned that Dawkins' views on a morality based on genetics were highly dangerous: "No good or evil – 'we dance to dna's music'. No blame. This is very serious – and many of our young people are being taught this. 'If God does not exist, everything is permitted'."
These people seem to be forgetting a large part of society, namely, the law. If God doesn't exist we can suddenly go around killing people? I don't think so. How exactly is Europe in a "moral drift"? Are they feeling any ill effects of this moral drift? Is Europe in a constant state of war? I don't think so.

But I guess if people are truly being taught that "If God does not exist, everything is permitted" that's a pretty big problem. Strangely, I only seem to hear religious people saying that.

(via Inspire Magazine)

1 comment:

  1. I'm going to preface my comment with the old, "ya can't get an ought from an is", but:

    According to TED, there are some possible avenues opening up for science delivering morality. Not in the 'should' sense, or 'absolute' sense. But there is some surprising new info around neurology that suggests empathy might be biological, or biochemical.

    A morality constructed from observation and testing is quite possible. The hand of god is not the instrument of morality (as is noted by some books of the bible, since you're into Job now, right...)



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