25 April, 2008

Can We Be Good Without God? Finale

All One in Christ Jesus

Humanists adhere to ethical values which belong to a tradition which they claim to have discarded. A good example of this is the modern notion that all ethnic groups are 'equal', therefore it is wrong to discriminate against members of racial minorities, to denigrate or abuse them verbally. Most reasonable people would agree with this principle. Even so it is worth asking exactly on what basis racial discrimination is morally wrong — who laid down this principle? To this, the Bible gives a clear and unambiguous answer. From earliest times God's people were commanded to show compassion for the 'alien' (i.e. the immigrant) who, with the orphan and the widow, was to be protected from exploitation:
He (the Lord) defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow, and loves the alien, giving him food and clothing. And you are to love those who are aliens, for you yourselves were aliens in Egypt (Deuteronomy 10:18,19).
God had shown compassion towards His people when they were strangers in another land, therefore they must show the same compassion towards members of other races who lived among them. As always, it is the character of God which determines human conduct. The Bible proclaims a vision of human unity based upon the fact that all nations and races are the creation of a God who has a purpose for mankind:
"From one man He (God) made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth, and He determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live" (Acts 17:26).
Therefore, for members of one racial or cultural group to despise members of another group is contrary to the will of God.

The Apostle Paul describes the Christian ideal of a community of men and women sharing a unity in Christ and a status before God in which all distinctions of race and gender are transcended. He writes:
"There is neither few nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for van arc all one in Christ Jesus" (Galatians 3:28).
This is surely the ideal after which humanists are striving, but which they can never attain despite all their talk of equality. freedom and rights. The Apostle Paul does not predict that these ideals can be attained through parliamentary legislation, or social reform. They can be attained only by those who are united under the fatherhood of God and the lordship of Jesus Christ.

It was in part this biblical view that all men have value in the sight of God that inspired the great reformers of the past to abolish slavery and serfdom and improve the conditions in factories and prisons. It inspired them to denounce as immoral anything which violated the dignity which Christianity attributed to mankind. While rejecting this Christian vision, liberal humanism still affirms the wrongness of discrimination, and often pursues the crusade against it with great dogmatism. Yet in the absence of the original Christian ideal, the justification for this goal is no longer clear.

If we are not in fact the creation of a wise and loving God, then we are left with a purely naturalistic explanation for our existence. A Darwinian account of human origins sees life as a struggle, in which we have evolved according to the principle of the survival of the fittest and strongest. The strong must eliminate the weak in order to survive. It was an interpretation of Darwinism which gave us racism in the original sense of the term, i.e. the belief that some races of mankind are further up the evolutionary scale than others, and are therefore have a greater capacity for civilisation.

The study of nature does not teach the equality of the races nor do the laws of nature teach us that conflict and exploitation are immoral. On its own nature is neither good nor evil. Humanism, however, does not always take its own beliefs to their logical conclusion.

As in so many issues, liberal humanism has borrowed certain ideas, principles and phrases from Christianity — human dignity, brotherhood of man. tolerance, freedom, equality — setting them up as though they were basic laws of our being. But detached from the context which once gave them meaning, they appear increasingly arbitrary and lacking any real authority.
“Humanism as a doctrine tends to be somewhat vague, powerless and lacking in the power to stir the imagination. Like streams which flow into the desert and disappear in the sand, it tends to ebb away and leave a religions vacuum.” (Lloyd Geering, Faith's New Age, p.165).
Accident of Nature or Divine Creation?

Our answer to such questions as—Where have we come from?—and—What is the purpose of our existence?—will inevitably influence the way we conduct ourselves. If we believe that the world was created by a wise and loving God, who desires our eternal welfare, then we will tend to conduct ourself in a way that is consistent with that interpretation of human life. If we believe that our existence is no more than an accident of nature, then we will tend towards attitudes and behaviour quite different. It is a bit like children who inevitably develop in different ways depending on whether or not they were brought up by parents who love and trust them.

However, there are many voices in the modern world who assure us that God has no part at all in our origin or in our ultimate destiny. He makes no moral demands upon us. He does not even exist. We are nothing more than an accidental offshoot of the processes of nature, an intelligent species of animal which, by a caprice of the evolutionary process has developed a larger brain than the other.

If such an atheistic explanation for our origins is true however, then we are no longer potential children of our heavenly Father, made for eternal fellowship with Him. Therefore we have no destiny. The individual will die and that is the end of him forever. Eventually the whole human race will become extinct. Human life is a "tale told by an idiot". Much of modern culture, its art, films and literature reflects this moral and spiritual emptiness—reflects it and influences it: life without the hope and the vision which faith in God once provided.
“That man is the product of causes which had no prevision of the end they were achieving; that his origin, his growth, his hopes and fears, his loves and his beliefs arc but the outcome of the accidental collocations of atoms; that no fire, no heroism, no intensity of thought and feeling, can preserve an individual life beyond the grave; that all the labour of the ages, all the devotion, all the inspiration, all the noonday brightness of human genius, arc destined to extinction in the vast death of the solar system, and that the whole temple of man’s achievement must inevitably be buried beneath the debris of a universe in ruins—all these things, if not quite beyond dispute, arc yet so nearly certain, that no philosophy which rejects them can hope to stand. Only within the scaffolding of these truths, only on the firm foundation of unyielding despair, can the soul's habitation henceforth be safely built (Bertrand Russell, Mysticism and Logic, p.47).
"Not by Bread alone ..."

Modern society has many benefits, technology has provided the means to travel, to communicate, to cure disease. As a result people enjoy better health, they live longer, they have more money and time, they can fill their houses with electronic gadgets. At the same time many feel that there is something profoundly wrong at the very heart of modern society and that for all the technical progress around us, we have lost something and that our humanity is debased when we live without that spiritual dimension.

"Man shall not live by bread alone", said Jesus, "but by every word which comes from God" (Matthew 4:4). He meant that people cannot live only on a material level. They need a spiritual dimension also. It is surely this need which has inspired a reaction against what many see as the dehumanising influence of science and its purely materialistic explanation for human life. Many have turned to alternative forms of spirituality offered by a proliferation of cults and pseudo-religions: astrology, the worship of Gaia, New Age philosophy, the occult, witchcraft. All these are surely expressions of a deep-rooted desire to believe in something. They are a reminder also that human nature needs a hope, a vision to live by. G. K. Chesterton is reported to have remarked: "When men cease to believe in God they do not then believe in nothing, they believe in anything'". It could be said that there is a 'god-shaped hole" in the human heart. If traditional forms of religion are seen as inadequate and the Biblical God is denied, then people will find a new object of worship, a new vision and a new hope.
“If redemption is to come, it has to come from outside the things that science and contemporary politics have to offer. It has to come from outside us altogether, from a recognition that our efforts on their own arc not enough. We have to see ourselves as part of a larger process, whose end is not just that human beings should breed and swarm, but that is addressed to higher ends. We exist neither to serve nature's blind reproductive ends, nor to manipulate nature for our own purposes.” (After Progress - Finding the Old Way Forward, Anthony O’Hear, p.248)
Failed Utopias

There have been many attempts to bring about a new social order by revolution, by legislation, by economic means. They have all failed simply because it is impossible to impose the high ideals of humanism on a population by force or legislation. The ideals of Marxism were not evil. A society where each individual works for the common good was a noble ideal. But how can people be persuaded to treat their neighbours as brothers, to seek the interests of others before their own, to make selfless contributions to the common good? It simply does not work. Every attempt to impose moral improvement on people by government decree has failed, because government decrees are external to human nature.

Throughout the twentieth century the optimism about human capacity for self-improvement was repeatedly exposed as hollow. When the thin veneer of civilisation was removed and darker forces came to the surface, then the world was shown the barbarism of which human nature is still capable. War against civilians, tyranny, genocide and ethnic cleansing have repeatedly given the lie to the prophecies of unending progress so common at the turn of the 20th century.

The reason why man cannot achieve a perfect society is that the root cause of wars, injustice and tyranny are due to dark forces deep within the human psyche. Tanks and guns do not cause wars, secret police and prison camps do not erect tyrannies. Greed, pride, mistrust, folly, lust for power do. If the earth is polluted by the effluent of civilisation it is because the heart of man is polluted by greed. And the solution is not ideology, legislation or technology but a radical change of heart.
"What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you" (James 4:1).
The words of James describe the root cause of all conflict, whether it be on a personal level or between nations.

A New Heart

For much of his life H.G. Wells proclaimed a Gospel of progress by technology and optimism. In time man could transform the world and inaugurate a new order based upon rational principles. By the end of his life, however, and during the Second World War, he wrote his final book, appropriately entitled Mind at the End of its Tether, in which he acknowledges that technical progress had not led to greater wisdom or maturity:
“The writer sees the world as a jaded world devoid of recuperative power. In the past he has liked to think that Man will pull out of his entanglements and start a new creative phase of human living. In the face of our universal inadequacy, that optimism has given place to a stoical cynicism. The old men behave for the most part meanly and disgustingly, and the young are spasmodic, foolish and all too easily misled. Man must go steeply up or down and the odds seem to be all in favour of his going down and out. If he goes up, then so great is the adaptation demanded of him that that he must cease to be a man. Ordinary man is at the end of his tether” (H.G. Wells, Mind at the End of its Tether p.30).
So writes one of the prophets of humanism. It is significant that Wells blames the nature of man for his inability to make progress, and that such progress can come only if man makes an adaptation to his basic nature. It is precisely this need for a change to man's basic nature that the Christian Gospel demands of those who accept it.

The Gospel of Jesus is radically different from all the Utopian dreams which have been promoted as offering the salvation of the world. His followers did not hear from him the political slogans of the freedom fighter nor the high ideals of the social reformer. A programme to put the world right or to strive for a more just society does not enter into his teaching nor did he urge his followers to undertake such a programme. Instead, he began the work of transformation where it was most needed —in the hearts of responsive individuals. His Gospel was given to remove from their hearts those things which stand as a barrier between them and God.

He looked forward to a future transformation of the whole world, urging his disciples to pray: "Your kingdom come, your will be done in earth as it is in heaven'" (Matthew 6:10). Significantly, he never described the economic, political or social arrangements of this future new order. He described only the qualities of character that must be shown by those who hoped to enter it. The citizens of God's Kingdom he taught, were "the poor in spirit", "the meek", "those who hunger and thirst for righteousness"—"Anyone who will not receive the Kingdom of God like a little child will not enter it" (Mark 10:15).

He taught that one day he will return in glory to judge the world and gather his disciples to himself. With this in mind, he urged his followers to view this world as a temporary sojourn; its wealth and pleasures, its loyalties and power struggles are not worth the allegiance or affection of those who have embarked upon this pilgrimage towards the Kingdom of God. Neither their security nor their true wealth are rooted in this passing life.

How then do we qualify for a place in that Kingdom? Jesus gave the answer: "Unless a man is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God" (John 3:3). To be "born again" means to be baptised, to be immersed in water. This symbolism of going into water and coming out again is a very important part of the Christian life. It means symbolically to die with Christ, that is, to put to death the selfish side of our nature, so that we can rise with him to newness of life (read Romans 6:1-19). In this way we turn from the darkness of this life with all its selfishness and futility and set ourselves instead to face the light of a new life derived from him.

A Transforming Influence

The Apostle Paul provides a good example of this transformation. He began his career as an implacable enemy of the Christian Gospel, persecuting it as subversive of everything which he believed. Yet he was not wicked or irreligious. On the contrary, he strained every nerve to obey the law of Moses, to irradicate the badness within his heart. Despite this, he found that his efforts to obey the law were unsuccessful. This was because his own lower nature, what he called his 'flesh'. prevented him from achieving the moral perfection which the law demanded. (See Romans 7:7-25). But when he discovered that Jesus had returned from the dead then Paul found a new way to achieve moral goodness:
“I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me (Galatians 2:20).
Notice in these words how closely the Apostle Paul identifies himself with the life of Christ, All that Paul had once been, the proud, self-righteous Pharisee, the intolerant persecutor had died in the waters of baptism. In another sense he lived on, yet not him, but Christ in him, as an influence and a power which came from beyond himself.

To return then to the question with which we began—can we be good without God? The answer is Yes, we can—but only up to a point. We can obey the law, pay our dues and live in peace with our fellow men. Nevertheless, we cannot achieve the standard of perfection which alone is pleasing to God. Only in Christ can we, like the Apostle Paul, find a new influence, a new power whose source lies outside ourselves and which can transform us in our innermost being and strengthen us to do what is right. In this way Christ's victory over sin can be a reality and a transforming influence in our lives. What Christ transforms us into is not something contrary to our nature, but what God intended all along that we should be. When we put His will before our own, then we find our true selves.

This is not to suggest that when we are joined to Christ we can expect to attain moral perfection within this life, or that all trace of sin and self-will is irradicated. That would be quite unrealistic. One who has been baptised is still very much subject to the weaknesses of human nature and to the temptations common to all men. Only on the other side of the resurrection of the dead will we attain perfection. But until then, we have the assurance that when we fail God will forgive us, strengthen us against temptation and enable us to move forward.

Jesus was the perfect man and only by his influence can we grow into that maturity for which God made us and fulfil the purpose and goal of our creation. "Then-fore, if anyone is in Christ be is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has conic!" (2 Corinthians 5:17).

But the fruit of the Spirit is lore, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. Since we lire by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-25).

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37 Comments:

Blogger Stan, the Half-Truth Teller said...

It was an interpretation of Darwinism which gave us racism in the original sense of the term

Whoa, there, Custer. Racism as a term may have been coined and defined after, and even as a result of, Darwin's theory of evolution, but to assert that racism as a practice stems from evolution is a bald-faced lie.

True, you can say that if we admit the fact of evolution, then everything in history is a result of evolution, but this is a pointless endeavor.

First, it is identical to my claim that if we accept that god created the universe as depicted in the bible, then everything in history is a result of him. Tit for tat, as it were.

Second, it removes responsibility from the individual and places it on an impersonal process. This is effectively the same as my first point, but the subtle difference is in the fact that under your version of creation, we could just as easily do exactly the same, making both the results and the responsibility of history lie with god -- not the humans who we both should agree are the actual perpetrators (for good or ill).

Now, if all you meant was that racism as a term was coined and defined following the theory of evolution, then you should explicitly state that, because the implication of your statement is precisely the meaning I have drawn.

As to what evolution actually says regarding racism, it says that all current species (read: not just human "races") are equally evolved. Some of us have more recent common ancestors, but all of us have evolved from the same source, lo those eons ago.

Technically speaking, then, the discovery of the theory of evolution should be considered the end of the practice of racism, or at least the foremost proponent of the abolition of such.

Of course, you mention some biblical verses which support the fair treatment of "aliens" (in your translation -- which does not necessarily imply racial differences), but you ignore the implicit acceptance of slavery (the most pronounced form of racism I can think of), and the various verses which support bigotry, based on cultural differences, if not actual differences in race.

More puzzling to me is the following completely fallacious statement:

It was in part this biblical view that all men have value in the sight of God that inspired the great reformers of the past to abolish slavery and serfdom

You're kidding, right?

The decline of slavery didn't begin in force until ~100 years ago, and the decline of serfdom began ~400 years ago, yet you assert the existence of these biblical morals for a minimum of 1600 years before this, and have the audacity to claim that the abolition of these two evils was due to your "moral" code?

I'll have what you're having.

The truth is that slavery and serfdom are both condoned, explicitly as well as implicitly, throughout the bible. If you insist, I can find specific biblical sources, but I'm sure that in your studies you've encountered them a-plenty. If the biblical ideals were truly against slavery and serfdom, then neither should ever have occurred in any "Christian" nation -- yet both occurred in every "Christian" nation (not to be left out of the fun, virtually every culture, theocracy or otherwise, has held slavery and serfdom to be legal institutions at some point in their history).

If these evils were counter to the biblical "ideals", then why did it take so long for anyone to notice? Why didn't Jesus say "Caesar is a totalitarian tyrant, cast off your roles as serfs in his kingdom and govern yourselves", rather than, "Give unto Caesar what is Caesar's..."? Why didn't god say, "Take not another man as thy slave", rather than, "If a man beats his male or female slave with a rod and the slave dies as a direct result, he must be punished, but he is not to be punished if the slave gets up after a day or two, since the slave is his property"?

In point of fact, the bible actually denotes a difference between slaves and aliens in Exodus 23:12, and if we allow "alien" to denote "persons of a different human race", then we can deduce that the bible here has implicitly condoned both racism and slavery in one fell swoop. If we instead take "alien" to only denote "persons of a different cultural background", we can still see the implicit acceptance of both bigotry and slavery.

In fact, since the two terms are listed separately, it can be argued that one is considered with even less regard than the other -- e.g. an alien isn't even worthy of the considerations given to slaves.

The rest of your post seems spattered with quotes which actually hurt your cause (Bertrand Russell's), with assertions that "astrology, the worship of Gaia, New Age philosophy, the occult, witchcraft" are "pseudo-religions", without the recognition that Christianity (or Christadelphianism, if you prefer) most certainly fits into that same group. In fact, contrary to your implication, many of those "pseudo-religions" are in fact older than Christianity, or even the Judaism from which it spawned.

I couldn't help but laugh at the following statement:

The ideals of Marxism were not evil. A society where each individual works for the common good was a noble ideal. But how can people be persuaded to treat their neighbours as brothers, to seek the interests of others before their own, to make selfless contributions to the common good? It simply does not work.

You're absolutely right. Curious that these are the very ideals which you claim are of biblical origin. Even the many governments which have claimed to be "Christian" in nature have utterly failed to achieve these noble ideals. At least Communist countries claimed these as their ideals, whereas "Christian" countries have done no such thing.

Later, you make the following equally hilarious claim:

War against civilians, tyranny, genocide and ethnic cleansing have repeatedly given the lie to the prophecies of unending progress so common at the turn of the 20th century.

Of course, I can very easily restate that as follows:

War against civilians, tyranny, genocide and ethnic cleansing have repeatedly given the lie to the prophecies of unending progress so common in the fifth millennium BCE

The 20th century, at least, didn't have god as the prominent supporter of these atrocities. Imagine how much more violent the biblical version of history would be if those primitives had access to something as chemically and mechanically simple as a belt-fed machine gun.

Your conclusion, after all of this, is the most absurd.

You seem to recognize that we can be "good", but you immediately redact that claim such that we can only be "this" good. You make this assertion without the slightest in the way of argument, and you imply that there are certain "good" things that only a Christian can do.

If "good" is a quality, then surely it is an attainable quality for any human being. You suggest that "we cannot achieve the standard of perfection which alone is pleasing to [g]od", but without any sort of standard against which we can measure, this statement is baseless.

If "good" is a series of actions, however, then there is clearly no limiting factor -- any human can attain any level of "goodness" by these actions.

All your post (and no, I haven't read the other twelve parts) has done is convict the biblical morality of being racist and bigoted, and of condoning slavery. You have mistakenly claimed that the theory of evolution (or its discovery, whichever the case may be) is responsible for racism, despite the fact that this is clearly false (again, unless we accept the pointless truth that everything is a result of evolution, and at the same time abdicating humankind of any responsibility for its actions).

Further, you have implied that in the wake of the humanist movement, people are flocking toward "psuedo-religions", despite the fact that these "pseudo-religions" have existed far longer, in most cases, than Christianity. You thought this to prove that people "need" religion, which is possible, but you continued with the non sequitur that Christianity is the religion they need.

I also feel it necessary to point out, as I did on your more recent post concerning Dr. Collins' reasons for belief, that not once in any post I've read on this site, or any post of yours I've read anywhere else, do you address the question of why your version of god should be considered more reasonable than any other version of god. You seemed to think that Dr. Collins' statement was a help to your cause, but since it so clearly contradicts your version of Christianity on such a fundamental level, you necessarily either deny his authority on the subject matter or you deny your own doctrine.

Can we be good without god? I don't know. I can be good, but I cannot speak for the whole of humanity. If pressed for an answer, I would say that so long as we are educated, fastidiously eschew ignorance, and so long as we communicate with one another, then it should be possible.

I'd also answer the converse of that question in the negative:

Can we be good with god?

Since every religious doctrine I've yet encountered has actively and/or passively promoted ignorance, bigotry, and exclusivism, and since none have proven to be without their contradictions and paradoxes, they have all also bred the very evils we each seek to eliminate.

--
Stan

April 26, 2008 6:15 PM  
Blogger Jason said...

Stan said: Whoa, there, Custer. Racism as a term may have been coined and defined after, and even as a result of, Darwin's theory of evolution, but to assert that racism as a practice stems from evolution is a bald-faced lie.

The article simply states that racism was defined as a “term” by Darwinism, not a practice.

Of course, you mention some biblical verses which support the fair treatment of "aliens" (in your translation -- which does not necessarily imply racial differences), but you ignore the implicit acceptance of slavery (the most pronounced form of racism I can think of), and the various verses which support bigotry, based on cultural differences, if not actual differences in race.

Slavery as it existed under the Mosaic law has no modern parallel. The word "slave" isn't even found in the original text. Instead it's translated 'servant', a word that has much gentler connotations. Biblically speaking, not historically speaking, laws were put in place to ensure servants had rights and were looked after. Consider that the law of Moses restricted anyone from returning a runaway servant - this servant was free to settle wherever he pleased. Anyone who stole someone for the purpose of servitude was to be put to death. Masters were warned not to oppress their servants. Relatives could buy a servant's freedom. And so on.

The circumstances under which a Hebrew might be reduced to servitude were poverty, the commission of theft, and the exercise of paternal authority. I don't see anything inherently evil in these. The servitude of an Israelite could also be terminated in six ways: By the satisfaction or the remission of all claims against him, by the recurrence of the year of jubilee, by the expiration of six years from the time that his servitude commenced, by injury, by indifference by the master, or by direct commandment from God. How many of these rules existed, or were enforced, during the slaves trades of the 18th and 19th centuries?

You'd be hard pressed to prove that the lives of these servants, under the old law, resembled, in any way, the lives of the slaves we read about in our history books.

The decline of slavery didn't begin in force until ~100 years ago, and the decline of serfdom began ~400 years ago, yet you assert the existence of these biblical morals for a minimum of 1600 years before this, and have the audacity to claim that the abolition of these two evils was due to your "moral" code?

The moral code of the Bible, correct.

In point of fact, the bible actually denotes a difference between slaves and aliens in Exodus 23:12, and if we allow "alien" to denote "persons of a different human race", then we can deduce that the bible here has implicitly condoned both racism and slavery in one fell swoop.

The OT denotes a difference between Israelite and non-Israelite, same as the NT denotes a difference between Jew and Gentile. I don’t see how this condones ‘racism’ or slavery

If we instead take "alien" to only denote "persons of a different cultural background", we can still see the implicit acceptance of both bigotry and slavery.

Why? The OT is a history of the Jews. It’s only natural there would be reference to non-Israelite people.

In fact, since the two terms are listed separately, it can be argued that one is considered with even less regard than the other -- e.g. an alien isn't even worthy of the considerations given to slaves.

I’m not sure what you’re arguing here.

Even the many governments which have claimed to be "Christian" in nature have utterly failed to achieve these noble ideals. At least Communist countries claimed these as their ideals, whereas "Christian" countries have done no such thing.

And the rest of the article goes on to explain why these governments have failed in their endeavours.

Of course, I can very easily restate that as follows: War against civilians, tyranny, genocide and ethnic cleansing have repeatedly given the lie to the prophecies of unending progress so common in the fifth millennium BCE

Restating doesn’t prove or disprove. What’s your argument?

The 20th century, at least, didn't have god as the prominent supporter of these atrocities. Imagine how much more violent the biblical version of history would be if those primitives had access to something as chemically and mechanically simple as a belt-fed machine gun.

Is there a point here?

You seem to recognize that we can be "good", but you immediately redact that claim such that we can only be "this" good. You make this assertion without the slightest in the way of argument, and you imply that there are certain "good" things that only a Christian can do.

The argument, as would be well known to Christians and Bible students, is that man sins. I can provide verses if necessary. Please keep in mind that the article is written to Christians, not atheists. For the purposes of the article therefore, “good” is specific to the former, not the latter.

If "good" is a quality, then surely it is an attainable quality for any human being. You suggest that "we cannot achieve the standard of perfection which alone is pleasing to [g]od", but without any sort of standard against which we can measure, this statement is baseless.

The standard is easily measured by any reader of Scripture.

You have mistakenly claimed that the theory of evolution is...responsible for racism.

No such claim was ever made. Please read the article more carefully.

Further, you have implied that in the wake of the humanist movement, people are flocking toward "psuedo-religions", despite the fact that these "pseudo-religions" have existed far longer, in most cases, than Christianity.

Irrelevant. The argument wasn’t whether or not pseudo-religions have existed for any period of time, only that people are flocking towards said religions in the wake of the humanist movement. I believe the article is clear regarding this.

You thought this to prove that people "need" religion, which is possible, but you continued with the non sequitur that Christianity is the religion they need.

Quote please.

...but since it so clearly contradicts your version of Christianity on such a fundamental level, you necessarily either deny his authority on the subject matter or you deny your own doctrine.

Why does it contradict “my” version of Christianity? I see nothing in Dr Collin’s article that refutes Christ.

Can we be good with god?

Matthew 19:17

April 26, 2008 7:59 PM  
Blogger Stan, the Half-Truth Teller said...

Jason! No need to resort to dishonesty!

I was only being polite by offering an explanation of your original statement, but what you in fact said was the following:

It was an interpretation of Darwinism which gave us racism in the original sense of the term, i.e. the belief that some races of mankind are further up the evolutionary scale than others, and are (sic) therefore have a greater capacity for civilisation.

As I said, I was being polite, and offering you a way out. Rather than accept it, however, you accused me of misreading. Let me now show you how you would have phrased that if you had intended what you say:

It was an interpretation of Darwinism which gave us the term racism in its original sense, i.e. the belief that some races of mankind are further up the evolutionary scale than others, and therefore have a greater capacity for civilisation.

The restatement is abundantly clear what is meant, whereas the original is not too subtly implying that racism is a direct result of the acceptance of Darwinian evolution. You can deny it if you want, but I shall think less of you if you do.

Anyway, regarding slavery, you say:

Slavery as it existed under the Mosaic law has no modern parallel.

You seem willing to ignore the rules set out in Exodus 21:20-21. Sounds an awful lot like what I read about in fifth grade U.S. History.

The word "slave" isn't even found in the original text. Instead it's translated 'servant', a word that has much gentler connotations.

See my previous response. Being a "servant" who is beaten half to death sounds much more pleasant than being a "slave" beaten in the same manner. Anyway, your assertion is fallacious. Just as the word "slave" isn't found in the original text, neither is the word "helicopter". The text was in ancient Hebrew, not modern English (but you knew that). Owning a person is slavery.

Accepting as non-punishable a slave-owner who beats his slave so severely that the slave doesn't "get up" until a day later is hardly defensible as a moral position of any value.

Gentler connotations, my ass.

Masters were warned not to oppress their servants.

Yes, as we've seen. Kill them, and receive unspecified "punishment". Knock them unconscious, break a few ribs, collapse a lung -- it's all okay if they can walk two days later.

Slaves can eat of the Passover feast only after forcibly cutting off their foreskins.

You'd be hard pressed to prove that the lives of these servants, under the old law, resembled, in any way, the lives of the slaves we read about in our history books.

You mean apart from the fact that they were bought and sold as commodities, with no inherent rights of their own, beaten at their master's whim, stolen from their homelands as spoils of war, raped and taken as an extra wife or concubine, and considered as property which can be willed to one's children?

Well, then, yes, I agree. Of course, we don't have personal testimonies of slaves from Mosaic times, as opposed to those we do have from the 19th century. My guess is that slaves of Mosaic Israelites were either wholly illiterate or at the least illiterate with regard to Hebrew, and that the 19th century slaves were only a little better off in that department.

The servitude of an Israelite could also be terminated in six ways...

How many of these rules existed, or were enforced, during the slaves trades of the 18th and 19th centuries?

Yes, there were rules regarding Israelite slaves, but no such rules existed for non-Israelite slaves. In fact, I'd be willing to concede that Israelite slaves were the "servants" you so gently described, if you will concede that non-Israelite slaves were abused property.

Anyway, Leviticus 25:44-45 clearly says that slaves should come from neighboring countries, and are even willable assets -- slavery until death.

I suppose if whites kept white slaves, then we could argue whether the rules set down regarding Israelites keeping Israelite slaves were "fairer" than the slave trades you referenced.

As to the rest of your response, I have neither the time nor the inclination to itemize each statement and discredit it.

Suffice it to say that you're daft.

You seem to think that slavery, bigotry, and I'd bet sexism are not condoned in the bible, despite the multitude of direct references explicitly endorsing each, in both the OT and NT.

No, I'm not going to give you the sources -- it's your bible, and you know it's in there. I've given you enough in the above response(s).

You supply the pithy reply that the "moral code of the bible" is catalyst behind the declines of slavery beginning in the 19th century, and of serfdom beginning in the 17th. You ignored completely the implication that this supposedly superior moral code had absolutely no impact on global slavery or serfdom for 1600 to 7000 years, depending on when you want to start counting.

Listen, you can make some claims regarding moral values taught in the bible, but you cannot claim that it advocates the abolition of slavery or of serfdom. It does not.

The moral values it does mention, which are worth considering today, by no means originated in the bible.

Murder, theft, bearing false witness, rape -- all of these were universally rejected by every civilization, not just the Israelites, and not just Christians.

No, I won't provide direct references to these, either. Do your own homework.

Seriously, I can see why no one reads your blog, and I can see why Loftus censors so many of your posts.

You're daft.

--
Stan

April 26, 2008 10:42 PM  
Blogger Jason said...

Stan,

The topic of this site is "Bible Discussions" and considering your unwillingness to provide Biblical references to support your points, I don't for a minute regard you as taking this discussion seriously. Your posts here seem to have simply been made for the purpose of being antagonistic. Your lack of personal Bible knowledge, your poor argumentation, your aggressive tone and deliberately provocative statements, all convey the impression that you came here to make a point, although it's been a very poor one at that.

I'll be happy to continue this discussion again when you're ready to discuss the text in a mature and intelligent manner.

April 27, 2008 8:48 PM  
Blogger Stan, the Half-Truth Teller said...

I'll tell you what.

Let's let the other readers of your blog decide whether I have valid points or not, or if I've supplied ample biblical evidence of the explicit endorsement of slave ownership, and of the biblical stand that slaves are property, and of the refusal to punish those who beat their slaves nearly to death.

Your "serious" discussion is asserting that slavery was abolished because the bible said it was a bad thing.

That is a lie.

Your "serious" discussion is tantamount to me starting a "serious" discussion about why the Holocaust never existed.

Your position, on this point at least, is so stupid as to warrant open ridicule, which I have attempted (unsuccessfully, at the end) to avoid. I have provided plenty of biblical references, but you ignore them, and instead suggest that I make a poor point.

Why not show that the point is poor by arguing it?

Better yet, introduce a poll, and ask your blog's readership if I make a valid point or not.

--
Stan

April 30, 2008 2:33 PM  
Blogger Jason said...

Stan,

You claim you've provided 'plenty of Biblical references" when in reality you've managed a grand total of two. You're clearly more interested in picking a fight then discussion as is apparent by your inability to quote anything other then Exodus 21:19-21 and Leviticus 25:44-45 to support whatever argument it is you're desperately trying to defend.

I'll be happy to continue this discussion again when you're ready to discuss the Bible in a mature and intelligent manner.

Good day.

April 30, 2008 5:29 PM  
Blogger Stan, the Half-Truth Teller said...

I'm quite sure I don't understand your willful ignorance of the biblical evidence I've offered.

Does the bible say that slaves are property or doesn't it?

Does the bible say that slaves can be willed to one's heirs or doesn't it?

Do these 164 passages which reference the word "slave" appear in the bible or don't they?

Is the bible, at least in many of these examples, explicitly or implicitly endorsing slavery or isn't it?

You scoffed at my "two" references, when in fact I cited the following:

Exodus 23:12 (cited in my first comment)

Exodus 21:20-21

Exodus 12:43-45

Leviticus 25:43-45

That's four, and those are only the ones most relevant to the discussion. You deceive yourself if you think I'm the one "desperately trying to defend" my position -- it is you.

I suppose it's difficult to see the splinter in my eye, though, with that plank in your own.

Anyway, even if I have only two direct references, one explicitly endorsing the mistreatment of slaves, and the other explicitly defining slaves as property willable to one's heirs, does this make them less valid?

Does the bible say it is acceptable to beat one's slave with a rod if he gets up after two days or doesn't it?

Does the bible say that slaves are property and can be willed to one's heirs or doesn't it?

Exactly how do you answer these at all truthfully and continue at the same time to claim the absurdity that the decline of slavery was due to biblical morals?

If you want to tell me I'm picking a fight, and ignore this, that's your prerogative, but you're a self-deluding liar if you do so.

Call my argument immature and unintelligent if it helps you sleep, but unless you deny that the bible says what I've quoted it as saying, and unless we're looking at two very different bibles, you still have to answer those questions in the affirmative.

If the bible is inerrant, then even one explicitly or implicitly endorsed immoral act necessarily means that your god is not the perfect being you claim.

I said 'Good day'!

--
Stan

April 30, 2008 9:54 PM  
Blogger Jason said...

Stan,

You’re offering all of this ‘evidence’ (four references) without explaining what's inherently wrong with them.

1. Does the bible say that slaves are property or doesn't it?

Yes - only non-Israelites servants fell into this category. The question is, what’s inherently evil about this? It certainly rubs us the wrong way but the law is clear, the master does not have absolute control over a foreign-born servant. The ‘eye for an eye’ law still applied in this case and should a foreign-born servant flee his master, no one was obligated to return him.

2. Does the bible say that slaves can be willed to one's heirs or doesn't it?

Same as above. However, unless this implies servants are beaten and abused, I fail to see the relevance.

3. Do these 164 passages which reference the word "slave" appear in the bible or don't they?

Depends on the version of Bible you're using. This particular Hebrew word is used 800 times, 744 times where it’s translated as ‘servant’ in the KJV.

4. Is the bible, at least in many of these examples, explicitly or implicitly endorsing slavery or isn't it?

Not in the modern sense of the word, no.

You scoffed at my "two" references, when in fact I cited the following:

lol My apologies then. Your ‘plenty of Biblical references’ consisted of four references.

Anyway, even if I have only two direct references, one explicitly endorsing the mistreatment of slaves, and the other explicitly defining slaves as property willable to one's heirs, does this make them less valid?

It most certainly does when you misunderstand and misuse the only two explicit references you’re relying on to prove your point.

5. Does the bible say it is acceptable to beat one's slave with a rod if he gets up after two days or doesn't it?

No.

6. Does the bible say that slaves are property and can be willed to one's heirs or doesn't it?

Yes.

Exactly how do you answer these at all truthfully and continue at the same time to claim the absurdity that the decline of slavery was due to biblical morals?

Because under the Old Law, the master had obligations to his servants and the servant had rights and freedoms.

Here's a refresher course. A slave could go free under any one of following nine circumstances:

1. By lapse of time.
• After serving six years or other contractual period
• Upon the approach of the Jubilee year.

2. By death of the master without heirs.

3. By an act of the master.
• Voluntary manumission
• Indifference
• Maiming servant.

4. By act of the servant.
• Redemption
• Restitution
• Escape

5. By act of a third party.
• Redemption

A slave also had rights:

1. Guaranteed Freedom
2. Good Treatment
3. Access to Justice
4. Access to Family
5. Voluntary Slavery
6. The right to hold money or property.
7. A chance to rise in status and position
10. Gifts

Historically, which non-Biblical slave system offered the same rights and freedoms?

May 01, 2008 10:21 AM  
Blogger Stan, the Half-Truth Teller said...

You. Are. A. Liar.

I asked:

Is the bible, at least in many of these examples, explicitly or implicitly endorsing slavery or isn't it?

To which you responded dishonestly:

Not in the modern sense of the word, no.

You said this despite the "modern sense of the word" slavery being defined by Merriam-Webster online as follows:

1: drudgery, toil
2: submission to a dominating influence
3 a: the state of a person who is a chattel of another; b: the practice of slaveholding


In your convenient redefining of slavery, which of these modern senses fails to fit the description listed in the bible?

Considering my earlier response regarding your claim that servants under the Old Law were so different from American slaves of the 17th and 18th centuries, in which I said:

You mean apart from the fact that they were bought and sold as commodities, with no inherent rights of their own, beaten at their master's whim, stolen from their homelands as spoils of war, raped and taken as an extra wife or concubine, and considered as property which can be willed to one's children?

You have yet to have offered an answer to these other than outright lies regarding the explicitly endorsed treatments of foreign slaves. Which of these similarities differs from the biblical account, and how?

I also asked quite pointedly:

Does the bible say it is acceptable to beat one's slave with a rod if he gets up after two days or doesn't it?

To which you outright lied in replying:

No.

Despite the undisputed fact that the bible says, in the passage you so clearly wish did not exist:

NIV: If a man beats his male or female slave with a rod and the slave dies as a direct result, he must be punished, but he is not to be punished if the slave gets up after a day or two, since the slave is his property.

KJB: And if a man smite his servant, or his maid, with a rod, and he die under his hand; he shall be surely punished. Notwithstanding, if he continue a day or two, he shall not be punished: for he is his money.

Reconcile now your claim that beating one's slave is not explicitly endorsed. Did I take this out of context? Do I misunderstand the point?

If your made-up version of the biblical morals were the true reason for the decline of slavery, it would still exist, but the slaves would be less mistreated. We would routinely purchase Canadians and Mexicans as slaves -- of course, this is not far from the truth; we tacitly allow illegal immigrants from Central America to perform a great many menial tasks, which could easily be argued as fitting your definition of biblically endorsed slavery...

Anyway, here's a refresher course for you:

The rights you outlined regarding slaves were all defined with respect to Israelite slaves -- not foreign slaves.

You would again scoff at the Leviticus account, but did you not read the whole passage?

Lev. 25:46 (NIV): You can will them to your children as inherited property and can make them slaves for life...

KJV: And ye shall take them as an inheritance for your children after you, to inherit them for a possession; they shall be your bondmen for ever...

Do "for life" or "for ever" mean only "until the next Jubilee"? Why, then, does the next sentence, and the next set of verses, explicitly state that Israelite slaves are to be freed at Jubilee?

SO WHAT if these are the only references to this type of slaveholding -- they exist in your bible and they are quite explicit.

Your continuance in claiming these so-called "rights" of slaves is evidence of willful dishonesty. You must either throw out these verses, and claim them as false, or you must retract your statement.

The references to the Jubilee, and to not oppressing one's slaves -- all of these follow Leviticus 25:46, and all of them explicitly reference only Israelite slaves, who I already conceded were the "servants" you described.

Considering your snickering, "lol My apologies then. Your ‘plenty of Biblical references’ consisted of four references," exactly how many biblical references must I find in order to support a biblical claim?

I will happily concede that two explicit biblical references are insufficient as evidence if you will also concede the same. Of course, you cannot do this, for you hold the bible to be the inerrant, inspired word of god, and further it would render "insufficient as evidence" vast sections of the bible -- whatever topics are only mentioned twice (or fewer).

I truly wish we had the input of someone who might attempt to agree with you on this, as I cannot imagine there being two of you so obtuse as to claim that slavery was either "gentle" or "morally sound". I should think it obvious that even a supporter of your doctrines would recognize that non-Israelite slaves were free to be beaten, and that they (and their families, according to the Leviticus reference) were indeed slaves for life.

In fact, your statement that a runaway slave becomes free brings up another point: if this were true, and slaves were afforded such freedoms as you suggest, then wouldn't it be expected that these slaves were in fact restrained somehow? Otherwise, wouldn't they all run away?

Forget it. Don't worry about that question -- you'll likely just dismiss it as baseless assertion anyway, and it holds absolutely no bearing on the explicit biblical claims -- even if there are only two of them -- regarding the modern sense of slavery.

Instead, tell me how I'm misreading Exodus 21:20-21, and Leviticus 25:43-46. Tell me what the 'correct interpretation' is of these quite explicit passages. Tell me why I should ignore them and why they can be considered invalid scriptural laws.

Quit lying to yourself, and certainly quit lying to me. Don't you have even a single friendly blog reader who could mediate here? I want to see a third-party response.

--
Stan

May 01, 2008 1:33 PM  
Blogger Jason said...

Stan, I answered your question. Does the Bible endorse the modern version of slavery in which slaves are beaten, have no rights, work to the death, and are nothing but servile trash? Absolutely not. If you’re arguing the dictionary definition of slavery then anyone who works for someone is a slave. Is there anything evil about submitting to a dominating influence? No.

In your convenient redefining of slavery, which of these modern senses fails to fit the description listed in the bible?

Which are you arguing: That the Bible endorses slavery as defined by the dictionary or slavery as defined in the past few centuries?

You have yet to have offered an answer to these other than outright lies regarding the explicitly endorsed treatments of foreign slaves. Which of these similarities differs from the biblical account, and how?

Go back and read my posts. I’ve answered your questions already.

Despite the undisputed fact that the bible says, in the passage you so clearly wish did not exist:

Where does this verse undisputedly say it’s “acceptable” to beat one’s slave with a rod?

Reconcile now your claim that beating one's slave is not explicitly endorsed. Did I take this out of context? Do I misunderstand the point?

You certainly did misunderstand the point. Nothing in this verse “explicitly endorses” beating a slave. In the two verses prior, do you think the law “explicitly endorses” Israelites beating each other with stones and fists?

The rights you outlined regarding slaves were all defined with respect to Israelite slaves -- not foreign slaves.

So you don’t have a problem with the Israelite-on-Israelite system of slavery – it’s only the treatment of non-Israelite slaves that’s got you all upset. You’ll sleep soundly tonight then knowing that the rights of slaves still applied. If they ran away, they were free. They weren’t to be killed. They weren’t to be oppressed. They didn’t work on the Sabbath. They could partake of the festivals. Gosh, sounds a lot better then being killed, doesn’t it.

Do "for life" or "for ever" mean only "until the next Jubilee"? Why, then, does the next sentence, and the next set of verses, explicitly state that Israelite slaves are to be freed at Jubilee?

Who cares? You’re trying to unsuccessfully prove that serving someone for life and having your children doing the same is somehow repugnant. A master had an obligation to his slave, Israelite and non-Israelite, to treat them well.

SO WHAT if these are the only references to this type of slaveholding -- they exist in your bible and they are quite explicit.

What exactly do you think is explicit, Stan? That masters were to treat their slaves well? That slaves had rights and freedoms?

Your continuance in claiming these so-called "rights" of slaves is evidence of willful dishonesty. You must either throw out these verses, and claim them as false, or you must retract your statement.

Willful dishonesty? You must be blind. They HAD to be set free if they were maimed. They could NOT be killed. They COULD run away. What aren't you getting?

The references to the Jubilee, and to not oppressing one's slaves -- all of these follow Leviticus 25:46, and all of them explicitly reference only Israelite slaves, who I already conceded were the "servants" you described.

The only law that’s explicit regarding non-Israelite slaves was that they could be kept via inheritance. The Hebrew word for servant is used indiscriminately between Israelite and non-Israelite slaves. A law that applied to a servant, applied to every servant.

Your ‘plenty of Biblical references’ consisted of four references," exactly how many biblical references must I find in order to support a biblical claim?

That depends, if a Christian was trying to prove a point and he said there were “plenty” of Biblical references and he gave you four, two of which weren't clear, would you be satisfied?

I should think it obvious that even a supporter of your doctrines would recognize that non-Israelite slaves were free to be beaten, and that they (and their families, according to the Leviticus reference) were indeed slaves for life.

If you’d like, I can provide numerous references that list the rights and freedoms of a slave under the Mosaic Law. Let me know if you’d like to see them.

Forget it. Don't worry about that question -- you'll likely just dismiss it as baseless assertion anyway, and it holds absolutely no bearing on the explicit biblical claims -- even if there are only two of them -- regarding the modern sense of slavery.

Now you’re just being childish. Unless you have evidence, it is a baseless assertion (hence, the definition of the word).

Instead, tell me how I'm misreading Exodus 21:20-21, and Leviticus 25:43-46. Tell me what the 'correct interpretation' is of these quite explicit passages. Tell me why I should ignore them and why they can be considered invalid scriptural laws.

See above.

May 01, 2008 3:39 PM  
Blogger Stan, the Half-Truth Teller said...

Willful dishonesty? You must be blind. They HAD to be set free if they were maimed. They could NOT be killed. They COULD run away. What aren't you getting?

What I'm not getting is how you can be so stupid as to argue that foreign slaves in Mosaic times were not beaten regularly.

Your intentional stupidity is nauseating.

Where does this verse undisputedly say it’s “acceptable” to beat one’s slave with a rod?

Can you even read? Do you even attempt to think, or do you just have the Christadelphian answers dictated directly to you from whatever passes as your canon?

The verse explicitly, unequivocally, and undisputedly says that slave owners are not to be punished if, two days after a beating with a rod, a slave gets up.

If that's not endorsing the [non-lethal] beating of one's slaves, then I don't know what is.

You certainly did misunderstand the point. Nothing in this verse “explicitly endorses” beating a slave. In the two verses prior, do you think the law “explicitly endorses” Israelites beating each other with stones and fists?

Yes. It is implied that men will fight, and that blows will be thrown, and it is explicit that so long as there is no killing, or if injuries, so long as the injured party can walk with a crutch the next day, that fighting is acceptable.

Just like, in the verse I cite, it says that beating a slave to death is punishable, but beating a slave nearly to death, such that he gets up within two days of the beating, is not punishable, specifically because the slave is the man's property -- except in this verse everything is explicitly stated.

Again, yes. Fisticuffs is acceptable, though not necessarily a desirable, and slave-beating is also acceptable, though not necessarily desirable.

I will not accept a defense on your part that you thought I meant that slave-beating was required, for there can be no such misunderstanding unless you truly are an illiterate dolt.

You continue to lie and cheat your way around the fact of the matter, which is that the bible does indeed explicitly say that non-lethal slave-beating is not punishable.

When I asked how many biblical references I needed, you answered:

That depends, if a Christian was trying to prove a point and he said there were “plenty” of Biblical references and he gave you four, two of which weren't clear, would you be satisfied?

But you already know the answer to this (more intellectual dishonesty -- I'm noticing a trend here):

I don't believe the bible to be the inerrant, inspired word of god. If a Christian provided biblical references in support of a point, it wouldn't phase me in the slightest, unless I was somehow arguing that those references didn't exist, in which case I would admit my error.

In your case, however, you do believe that the bible is the inerrant, inspired word of god, and as such any mistake, contradiction, or explicitly endorsed immoral act must countermand that claim of inerrancy -- yet even in the face of these you refuse to admit your error.

Thus, your question is fallacious, but if you like, it could read as follows, in which case it would apply equally well to each of us:

Would even one verifiable source of countermanding evidence from a document alleged to be inerrant cause you to reconsider your position?

If you answer 'no', then you lie to yourself intentionally. If you answer 'yes', then we are on equal rhetorical footing.

I have supplied evidence from within your own "inerrant" text of how non-lethal slave-beating is explicitly described as non-punishable.

Do you deny the evidence? Do you reconsider your position? Or do you pretend I don't know what I'm talking about?

Oh, and don't think I didn't notice how you ignored my offer to deny those biblical statements which are not elsewhere corroborated in the bible -- that offer still stands.

So sticking to the slave-beating, you have three choices:

1. You can deny the inerrancy of at least this portion of the bible -- a slippery slope at best.

2. You can claim that this verse is meant metaphorically rather than literally -- don't worry about justifying that claim; you don't justify the same claim when any other aspect of the bible's literal v. metaphorical sense is debated.

3. You can claim that non-lethal slave-beating, because the bible says it is not punishable, is therefore acceptable, and that owning slaves for life is also acceptable for the same reason.

Well? Which is it?

Come on, tell me more about the "rights and freedoms" of these life-long slaves.

Better yet, show me a verse which says that non-lethal slave-beating is indeed punishable -- but then we'd have a bona fide biblical contradiction, wouldn't we?

You can do it! Tell me more about how an "eye for an eye" applies to slaves, even though immediately following the "eye for an eye" passage the message is changed to "a slave's eye for a slave's freedom".

Yes! Tell me! Show me how the "rights and freedoms" of slaves provide justice when they are non-lethally beaten!

Do you now support slavery? Do you think it acceptable for me, an American, to drive north to Ontario to find you, a Canadian, and force you into slavery?

Were I to successfully do this, should I be punished if I beat you so severely with a rod that you don't get up until two days later?

Tell me, oh enlightened one, how I should properly read this verse. Tell me how this is not morally repugnant.

Or will you instead claim that you've already answered this by ignoring it? Will you instead laugh that I haven't found enough sources from your inerrant text?

Look, Jason. Cut the bullshit. You can believe in god all you want, and be a Christian, or Christadelphian, or whatever you want to call yourself, but when you claim that the bible is inerrant, and then claim that it doesn't say what it most certainly does say, well, then you sound like an illiterate tool.

Your willingness to give yourself a figurative lobotomy is no more clear than in such statements as:

Where does this verse undisputedly say it’s “acceptable” to beat one’s slave with a rod?

If you dispute the fact that the verse in question says that non-lethal slave-beating is not punishable, then you're an idiot.

If you accept that it says non-lethal slave-beating is not punishable, then you also accept non-lethal slave-beating.

If you accept one yet deny the other, you are a liar and a coward.

--
Stan

May 01, 2008 8:29 PM  
Blogger Jason said...

What I'm not getting is how you can be so stupid as to argue that foreign slaves in Mosaic times were not beaten regularly.

Well, let’s see. How about because the law doesn’t say “beat your foreign slaves regularly”…? Just a thought.

If that's not endorsing the [non-lethal] beating of one's slaves, then I don't know what is.

Does or does not the verse say “beating your foreign slave with a rod is acceptable”?

Yes. It is implied that men will fight, and that blows will be thrown, and it is explicit that so long as there is no killing, or if injuries, so long as the injured party can walk with a crutch the next day, that fighting is acceptable.

You’re kidding, right? Fighting is acceptable as long as there are no injuries??? What a joke. So do the fighting parties shake hands before a fight and promise not to hit the face or groin? What a laugh! Regardless, I’m not asking whether or not there will be a punishment. I’m asking you if the verses “explicitly endorse” Israelites beating each other with stones and fists?

Just like, in the verse I cite, it says that beating a slave to death is punishable, but beating a slave nearly to death, such that he gets up within two days of the beating, is not punishable, specifically because the slave is the man's property -- except in this verse everything is explicitly stated.

Why do you think it was non-punishable?

Again, yes. Fisticuffs is acceptable, though not necessarily a desirable, and slave-beating is also acceptable, though not necessarily desirable.

Wrong. Do the verses say “beating each other with fists and stones is acceptable”? These verses only deal with specific outcomes IF a specific action occurs. The laws here don't deal with the acceptability of the actions themselves.

You continue to lie and cheat your way around the fact of the matter, which is that the bible does indeed explicitly say that non-lethal slave-beating is not punishable.

No, I haven’t said that at all. I agree that the law says that if a master beats his servant so that the servant gets back up again, the master isn’t to be punished. This is what the law states. We're not arguing this. What we're discussing is if this omission of punishment somehow endorses the behaviour, of which I'm claiming it doesn't. If a slave was regularly beaten, he could get up and run away and that was the end of it. There was no benefit for a master to beat his servants since it was in his best interest to keep them around.

Well? Which is it?

Already answered. Numerous times.

Better yet, show me a verse which says that non-lethal slave-beating is indeed punishable -- but then we'd have a bona fide biblical contradiction, wouldn't we?

No problem. Exodus 21:26-27 And if a man smite the eye of his servant, or the eye of his maid, that it perish; he shall let him go free for his eye's sake. And if he smite out his manservant's tooth, or his maidservant's tooth; he shall let him go free for his tooth's sake.

Yes! Tell me! Show me how the "rights and freedoms" of slaves provide justice when they are non-lethally beaten!

Already answered.

Finally, clean up the language or stop posting here. It’s your choice.

May 02, 2008 9:41 AM  
Blogger Stan, the Half-Truth Teller said...

Dude, you lie like a rug.

If an action is listed as specifically being unpunishable, does that not mean that the same action is allowable?

Saying "thank you" after receiving a gift is unpunishable.

Wearing a blue robe is unpunishable.

Non-lethally beating a slave is unpunishable.

The bible doesn't say that non-lethal slave-beating is criminal, and it doesn't say that it is unacceptable.

It explicitly endorses the action, without saying whether the action is preferred or not. We can accept the implication that the action is in fact shunned, but it is clearly acceptable, else it would be punishable.

You are struggling so mightily to make this passage say something other than what it does, that surely you must be in pain from the process.

Take an aspirin.

As to your limp offering of a verse claiming punishment for slave-beating, nice try.

No, the passage you provided instead gives us another set of limits on the severity of the beatings one can put to a slave. In this case, the rod is not specified, and instead we're told that the loss of an eye or tooth is punishable not by retribution or anything similar, but instead by loss of the slave.

You in fact noted this, when you said that it was in the master's "best interest" to keep the slave around.

Of course, this implicitly endorses the whole practice of slavery, which you have yet to have addressed at all, other than to say that the Mosaic version was a 'kindler, gentler' slavery.

Is slavery a moral or immoral practice?

Is non-lethal slave-beating a moral or immoral practice?

If an action is explicitly listed as nonpunishable, how do you twist the meaning to say that it is also unacceptable?

Are explicitly nonpunishable acts not therefore acceptable?

I'll clean up my language when you clean up your reading skills. You cannot possibly be so dense as to think that your argument here has any merit whatsoever.

Ask your Christadelphian pen-pals whether they think the bible explicitly endorses non-lethal slave-beating.

Since you insist that this passage doesn't endorse non-lethal slave-beating, then is it acceptable to practice homosexuality (sodomy)? After all, the bible doesn't directly say not to have anal sex. Leviticus 18:22 is inconclusive -- women have vaginas, men don't, so it is not possible to "lie with a man as one lies with a woman" (unless male-on-female anal sex was commonplace). It is at least as ambiguous in denying male-on-male anal sex as the Exodus passage is on denying non-lethal slave-beating...

Shall we play the game of "What the bible doesn't say"?

No, of course not.

Instead, why don't you simply admit that your point regarding racism, slavery, and serfdom, was wrong. It doesn't need to be a central point to your thesis that we are good only because of god (if I may restate it as such).

In fact, why are you so stubborn on this count? Are you not able to humble yourself and admit your error? I suppose it has become more and more difficult to admit as you continue to defend the position, but stop denying it long enough to see that the simplest way out is to admit your error: the bible does indeed accept non-lethal slave-beating.

You are the one who chose to argue this point, and you are the one who is so fond of asking "What does the plain reading of the text say?"

I guess the shoe fits differently when on the other foot.

If you want an olive branch to help drag you from this quicksand, why not argue this by saying that the practice was acceptable then, but it is not acceptable now? You argue instead that slavery was 'better' then, but you ignore the question of whether or not slavery, your 'gentler' version or not, is morally acceptable?

Sack up and admit your error. Accept the loss of the point and change tactics. Your stubborn disregard of the facts undermines every point you've ever argued, and you make yourself out to be a fool.

I guess it's a good thing for you that I'm the only one here to read it. It's too bad you didn't have other readers who could weigh in on this.

Take your head out of the sand, dust it off, and move on.

I've tried answering the fool according to his folly, so as to avoid letting you think youself wise, but it isn't working.

I suppose I'll instead avoid answering the fool according to his folly, so as to avoid being as foolish as you are.

Not that there's an inherent contradiction there, and not that this debate isn't fun -- it's just pointless, as you're either a complete imbecile, a liar, or both.

--
Stan

May 02, 2008 1:29 PM  
Blogger Jason said...

I’ve addressed only those comments that are applicable to this discussion of slavery. I’ve ignored your irrelevant fluff at the end.

If an action is listed as specifically being unpunishable, does that not mean that the same action is allowable?

For the umpteenth time, the laws aren’t dealing with the specific action, they’re dealing with the outcome IF said action occurs. If a master beat a servant and his eye fell out, the servant was set free. If a master beat his servant, and he died, the master died. If a master beat his servant, and the servant ran away, the master was now without a slave. If a master beat his servant and the servant was out of commission for a few days, he lost the use of a worker.

Nonetheless, the point is that the law is discussing in both cases (whether for a freeman, in verse 19, or slave, in verse 20) whether or not there was intention to kill, not whether or not the beating was laudatory. You seem unable, or unwilling to acknowledge this.

The bible doesn't say that non-lethal slave-beating is criminal, and it doesn't say that it is unacceptable.

And it doesn’t say it’s acceptable. You’re beating a dead horse, Stan. The law quite clearly ensured a well-treated slave had it good. Food, board, lodging, safety, a well-treated slave had it made. The laws in Exodus 21:19-21 had to do with intent to kill – they weren’t addressing the legality or fighting or beating. The fact remains, if a slave was regularly beaten, he could get up and run away and that was the end of it. There was no benefit for a master to beat his servants since it was in his best interest to keep them around.

It explicitly endorses the action, without saying whether the action is preferred or not. We can accept the implication that the action is in fact shunned, but it is clearly acceptable, else it would be punishable.

Now you’re admitting it’s shunned AND acceptable? What's going on?

You are struggling so mightily to make this passage say something other than what it does, that surely you must be in pain from the process.

Er, you’re the one who said the verse “undisputedly” and “explicitly endorses” masters beating their slaves. I’ve asked you a number of times now – where does the verse say it’s acceptable for a master to beat his servant? Either it explicitly says this or it doesn’t – it’s time you pick one.

No, the passage you provided instead gives us another set of limits on the severity of the beatings one can put to a slave. In this case, the rod is not specified, and instead we're told that the loss of an eye or tooth is punishable not by retribution or anything similar, but instead by loss of the slave.

You’re all over the place here, Stan. You asked for a “verse which says that non-lethal slave-beating is indeed punishable”. I gave you one. Now you’re not happy because a “rod” isn’t specified! You’re also not happy that the master's punishment is the slave going free. What else do you want?

You in fact noted this, when you said that it was in the master's "best interest" to keep the slave around.

Er, yes. It was in his best interests. I don’t see what the issue is.

Of course, this implicitly endorses the whole practice of slavery, which you have yet to have addressed at all, other than to say that the Mosaic version was a 'kindler, gentler' slavery.

I have addressed it. Go back and read the posts. Specifically the part where you concede an Israelite slave wasn’t really a slave at all - he was a servant. They must not have been your preferred brand of slaves.

Is slavery a moral or immoral practice?

Under the dictionary definition you provided, no. Under the Old Law, no. Under the 18th century slave trade, yes.

Is non-lethal slave-beating a moral or immoral practice?

In this case, neither. Getting into a fight isn't moral or immoral. Beating your servant isn't moral or immoral. It's simply wrong.

If an action is explicitly listed as nonpunishable, how do you twist the meaning to say that it is also unacceptable?

The punishment’s right there – you’re just looking at this through rose-coloured cultural glasses.

Do me a favour, Stan. Define “slavery”. Not the dictionary version, since we’re all slaves by definition, but the definition you claim is morally wrong. Is it plantation slavery? Child labour? What is it exactly?

Ironically, you don’t have an issue with Israelite-on-Israelite “slavery”, whom you now prefer to call “servants”. Your issue is with foreign slaves (even though the same word is used) but only in instances where a master beats his slave (albeit without killing him or maiming him).

Is it fair to say then that if a master doesn’t beat his foreign born slaves and affords him precisely the same treatment he gives his non-Israelite slave, you don’t have a problem with the Biblical system of slavery? Why or why not?

May 02, 2008 11:25 PM  
Blogger Stan, the Half-Truth Teller said...

Why I bother is beyond me.

For the umpteenth time, the laws aren’t dealing with the specific action, they’re dealing with the outcome IF said action occurs.

What?!

Is the specific action listed, and defined as non-punishable?

How is this not dealing with a specific action?

If a master beat his servant, and he died, the master died.

This is an unsupported assertion which you only hope to be true. The punishment described in verse 20 is not specified, but because in verse 22 we are told that punishment will be according to a court (as a fine, typically), and later in verse 32 a slave's life is deemed to be worth 30 shekels, we can pretty clearly see that a slave-holder who beats his slave to death will not also be put to death.

Your continued reference to verse 26 is further proof of this, as the slave-holder's punishment is the loss of the slave, and evidently nothing further.

None of this has any bearing on the fact that slave-beating is explicitly listed as unpunishable (which is, despite all your attempts to prove otherwise, equivalent to that same practice being acceptable). The "punishment" is, as you so ignorantly suggest, the temporary loss of production from that particular slave.

The "eye for an eye" passage clearly exempts slave-holders from reciprocal punishment when considering damaging one's slave, but you ignore this, too.

The law quite clearly ensured a well-treated slave had it good. Food, board, lodging, safety, a well-treated slave had it made.

Yes, I'm sure being a slave was wonderful. What an ignorant and reprehensible statement. Do you now endorse slavery? Your 'gentle' Mosaic Israelite-on-Israelite slavery?

That one merits an apology to all slaves, current or former.

Now you’re admitting it’s shunned AND acceptable?

No, it doesn't say it is shunned, but I allowed that we can take that as an implication. Perhaps I was being too generous. The implication to which I referred was based off the fact that a slave-beating slave-holder would lose production from his slave when beating one, so therefore the practice would likely be shunned. Of course, a wealthy Israelite who had a plethora of slaves would likely not suffer to great a loss from this, so perhaps such an offer of this implication was unnecessary.

It doesn't matter -- many practices are both shunned and acceptable, yet there is no inherent contradiction. Since slave-beating is an immoral act, I should think it to be both shunned and unacceptable, but only the former is possible by virtue of verses 20-21.

I’ve asked you a number of times now – where does the verse say it’s acceptable for a master to beat his servant?

And I've told you, every time I've quoted it. You've seen it, every time you've read it.

It's a translation, remember? I'll list several for you, in case you've forgotten:

Exodus 21:20-21:

NIV: If a man beats his male or female slave with a rod and the slave dies as a direct result, he must be punished, but he is not to be punished if the slave gets up after a day or two, since the slave is his property.

NASB: If a man strikes his male or female slave with a rod and he dies at his hand, he shall be punished. If, however, he survives a day or two, no vengeance shall be taken; for he is his property.

KJV: And if a man smite his servant, or his maid, with a rod, and he die under his hand; he shall be surely punished. Notwithstanding, if he continue a day or two, he shall not be punished: for he is his money.

CEV: Death is the punishment for beating to death any of your slaves. However, if the slave lives a few days after the beating, you are not to be punished. After all, you have already lost the services of that slave who was your property.

YLT: And when a man smiteth his man-servant or his handmaid, with a rod, and he hath died under his hand -- he is certainly avenged; only if he remain a day, or two days, he is not avenged, for he [is] his money

ME: Lethally beating one's slave is criminal, but non-lethal slave-beating is acceptable, since slaves are objects.

Note that I even included a translation which took the liberty of defining the otherwise unspecified "punishment" in verse 20.

You asked for a “verse which says that non-lethal slave-beating is indeed punishable”. I gave you one. Now you’re not happy because a “rod” isn’t specified! You’re also not happy that the master's punishment is the slave going free. What else do you want?

You're right. I should've been more clear in my request, and specifically asked that an example of non-lethal, non-maiming slave-beating be listed as somehow punishable. My apologies.

In any event, no, the rod isn't mentioned, so the implication is that beating with a rod can include some maiming, but not beating with the hand (or fist).

Once again, however, it doesn't matter -- the owner is not punished. The "punishment", as you have so happily and repeatedly noted, is merely the loss of the slave. Such a wonderful example of justice, indeed. This is your source of moral values?

I don’t see what the issue is.

Yes, so I've noticed. You, apparently, think slavery was a grand institution.

I have addressed [the implicit endorsement of the whole practice of slavery]. Go back and read the posts. Specifically the part where you concede an Israelite slave wasn’t really a slave at all - he was a servant. They must not have been your preferred brand of slaves.

You're right there: I detest all brands of slaves, and consider any endorsement of slavery, in any form, to be completely immoral, criminal, and repugnant. I also readily admit that had I existed two centuries ago, I'd likely have whistled a different tune -- based on the teachings of the bible.

I conceded only that Israelite-on-Israelite slavery was stricter, and therefore not the brand of slavery we are arguing, yet you continue to conflate the treatment of Israelite slaves with the treatment of non-Israelite slaves, both ignoring the fact that this conflation is a lie, and ignoring the fact that slavery in any form is immoral.

Is slavery a moral or immoral practice?

Under the dictionary definition you provided, no. Under the Old Law, no. Under the 18th century slave trade, yes.


Sick.

First, the dictionary definition was not pared, for completeness, but the specific definition involved here, as you well know, is this one:

3a: the state of a person who is a chattel of another b: the practice of slaveholding

This is immoral, as is slavery under the Old Law, as is the 18th century slave trade.

Another apology is in order to any current or past slaves.

Beating your servant isn't moral or immoral. It's simply wrong.

Right, just like it isn't acceptable, it's simply not punishable. Explain the difference.

If an action is explicitly listed as nonpunishable, how do you twist the meaning to say that it is also unacceptable?

The punishment’s right there – you’re just looking at this through rose-coloured cultural glasses.


And now you're adding words to the bible, which explicitly says that non-lethal slave-beating is not punishable. Which is it? I'm sure that "punishment" was a real deterrant, and I'm amazed at the clear level of justice in that system...

Define “slavery”

Besides the definition I gave a moment ago (with which I completely agree)? Sure, how about this:

Slavery (n): the practice of owning persons as property; specifically, of owning persons as forced laborers.

Now, it's your turn to provide me with the definition of slavery you feel is so morally acceptable.

Ironically, you don’t have an issue with Israelite-on-Israelite “slavery”, whom you now prefer to call “servants”.

Wrong. You are the one who chooses to distinguish between "slaves" and "servants". I merely ignored this distinction. I do indeed have a problem with slavery in all its forms (as I have said already in this reply), which I would have thought to be a universally held position.

Your issue is with foreign slaves but only in instances where a master beats his slave.

Wrong again. You confuse my issue with the biblical endorsement of slavery and of non-lethal slave-beating with my issue with slavery at-large. All forms of slavery (as I have defined) are deplorable. It clearly follows from this position that any action toward a slave as a slaveholder is also deplorable.

Is it fair to say then that if a master doesn’t beat his foreign born slaves and affords him precisely the same treatment he gives his non-Israelite slave, you don’t have a problem with the Biblical system of slavery? Why or why not?

No, I do have a problem with slavery, the biblical form or any other, as I continue to say.

Why? What a stupid question.

People are not property, under any circumstance, despite the explicit statements to the contrary to be found in your "inerrant" bible. No one has the right to claim ownership of any other, just as all humans are free beings.

Your turn again -- why do you not have a problem with the biblical version of slavery (including your fantasy version where slaves "had it made")? Is it simply because it is explicitly endorsed in the bible, and since the bible is "wholly given by inspiration of [g]od... and [is] consequuently without error"?

If that is the reason, or if that factors into the reason, or if that position continues to be held, then you must admit that slavery is explicitly endorsed by the bible -- not admonished -- and that the abolition of slavery by developed, industrialized countries therefore had nothing to do with the "biblical morals".

Also, if slavery is immoral, then the bible endorses an immoral act. How do you reconcile that?

Are we really, finally, getting somewhere here?

--
Stan

May 03, 2008 1:12 AM  
Blogger Jason said...

You’re missing the plot. The laws in Exodus 21:18-23 have to do with murder. If a man gets in a fight with another man and one dies, the other is punished. If a master strikes his servant and the servant dies, the master is punished. If two people are fighting and one hurts a pregnant woman and she miscarries, the man is punished. See the trend? None of these laws deal with the action, only the outcome in instances of violence between two people (and later, animals). In all three examples, the law isn’t approving of the action, it’s only outlining and differentiating the punishment in cases of personal injury or death.

Your continued reference to verse 26 is further proof of this, as the slave-holder's punishment is the loss of the slave, and evidently nothing further.

That’s because this IS the punishment. If a master beat his slave so he couldn’t work for a few days, the slave obviously wasn’t forced into working during this time and instead the master was left to deal with a bed-ridden slave who couldn’t work. Once the servant was better, he could take off and not be forced to return.

The "punishment" is, as you so ignorantly suggest, the temporary loss of production from that particular slave.

And, potentially, the eventual loss of that slave (and others).

The "eye for an eye" passage clearly exempts slave-holders from reciprocal punishment when considering damaging one's slave, but you ignore this, too.

If a master beat his servant so his eye fell out, the servant was set free. What do you have a problem with? You're not suggesting it would have been more important from the slave’s point of view to have his master’s eye taken out in return instead of being given freedom, are you...?

What you’re also overlooking is that a freeman was only compensated for his eye or tooth, but a slave was to be released for a similar injury. The master is, in effect, fined by the entire cost of the slave. Therefore the fine for harming the foreign slave is much larger than for similarly injuring a free Hebrew. Surely you must be pleased by this.

Yes, I'm sure being a slave was wonderful. What an ignorant and reprehensible statement. Do you now endorse slavery? Your 'gentle' Mosaic Israelite-on-Israelite slavery?

You don’t have a problem with Israelite-on-Israelite servitude so stop being so dramatic.

No, it doesn't say it is shunned, but I allowed that we can take that as an implication. Perhaps I was being too generous. The implication to which I referred was based off the fact that a slave-beating slave-holder would lose production from his slave when beating one, so therefore the practice would likely be shunned...

There we have it: Beating a foreign slave was “likely” shunned. Duly noted.

And I've told you, every time I've quoted it. You've seen it, every time you've read it.

Do you see the words “it’s acceptable for a master to beat his servant”: Yes or no? And didn’t you just finish saying this kind of behaviour was “likely shunned”…?

You're right. I should've been more clear in my request, and specifically asked that an example of non-lethal, non-maiming slave-beating be listed as somehow punishable. My apologies.

You’re all over the place, Stan. Please define your arguments a little better.

In any event, no, the rod isn't mentioned, so the implication is that beating with a rod can include some maiming, but not beating with the hand (or fist).

Are you serious? In the verses prior, since ‘cow skull’ isn’t mentioned, is the implication it’s okay to beat someone with a cow skull? This is a ridiculous ad hominem. You’re going to need to do a lot better then that.

Once again, however, it doesn't matter -- the owner is not punished.

It either matters or it doesn’t. If it doesn’t, stop carrying on as if it does.

The "punishment", as you have so happily and repeatedly noted, is merely the loss of the slave. Such a wonderful example of justice, indeed. This is your source of moral values?

It is what it is. If you’re not happy with the punishment, so be it. If a master wanted to beat every single one of his servants senseless and then lose everything single one of them the following week because they ran away, as far as I’m concerned, justice has been served. Did this law exist in any other slave system?

You're right there: I detest all brands of slaves, and consider any endorsement of slavery, in any form, to be completely immoral, criminal, and repugnant. I also readily admit that had I existed two centuries ago, I'd likely have whistled a different tune -- based on the teachings of the bible.

Relax. If you have a boss, by definition you’re a slave. Do you find this immoral, criminal and repugnant?

I conceded only that Israelite-on-Israelite slavery was stricter, and therefore not the brand of slavery we are arguing, yet you continue to conflate the treatment of Israelite slaves with the treatment of non-Israelite slaves, both ignoring the fact that this conflation is a lie, and ignoring the fact that slavery in any form is immoral.

Since you’ve never clarified it, what do exactly you find morally reprehensible about Israelite-on-Israelite servitude (not slavery, as you’ve already noted)?

First, the dictionary definition was not pared, for completeness, but the specific definition involved here, as you well know, is this one:

Again, you’re doing a poor job of defining your argument and in fact seem to be making things up as you go. You're picking ONE definition of three from the word you hate so much and are ignoring the other two as if they're somehow acceptable. Bizarre.

3a: the state of a person who is a chattel of another b: the practice of slaveholding. This is immoral, as is slavery under the Old Law, as is the 18th century slave trade.

To confirm then, you don’t have an issue with Israelite-on-Israelite slavery since they were explicitly told they weren’t each other’s “property”. Is this correct? Secondly, what exactly makes a person being chattel “immoral”? If they were looked after, had rights, and were integrated into society, what's the inherent evil in this?

Right, just like it isn't acceptable, it's simply not punishable. Explain the difference.

We’ve been over this already. Beating your servant isn't any more moral or immoral then getting into a fist-fight with another guy. We’ve also been over the punishment. If a master beat his servant, he lost the use of the servant while he healed and then on top of that he ran the risk of losing this servant, and any other servant, due to the abusive environment. You can argue against this all you want but once again, it was bad business to beat a slave.

And now you're adding words to the bible, which explicitly says that non-lethal slave-beating is not punishable.

Are you reading the posts?? I’ve already provided a verse that details punishment for non-lethal injuries.

Besides the definition I gave a moment ago (with which I completely agree)? Sure, how about this: Slavery (n): the practice of owning persons as property; specifically, of owning persons as forced laborers.

So you must accept that the Israelite-on-Israelite system of “slavery” isn’t “slavery”.

Now, it's your turn to provide me with the definition of slavery you feel is so morally acceptable.

Sure – servants with rights and privileges.

Wrong. You are the one who chooses to distinguish between "slaves" and "servants". I merely ignored this distinction.

Of course you ignored it. My point, if you’d actually spend time reading my posts, is that there IS no distinction. It’s the SAME Hebrew word for both servant and slave. You were the one who conceded “servants” aren’t “slaves” once you discovered the Israelite version didn’t fit your morally repugnant version of slavery. Go figure.

I do indeed have a problem with slavery in all its forms (as I have said already in this reply), which I would have thought to be a universally held position.

Gosh, the world must not share your same opinion then. I mean, people are submissive to dominating influences all the time. In the workplace, in front of a judge, being arrested by cops… Are you not submissive to these influences?

Wrong again. You confuse my issue with the biblical endorsement of slavery and of non-lethal slave-beating with my issue with slavery at-large. All forms of slavery (as I have defined) are deplorable. It clearly follows from this position that any action toward a slave as a slaveholder is also deplorable.

So…you DO have a problem with Israelite-on-Israelite servitude…?

People are not property, under any circumstance, despite the explicit statements to the contrary to be found in your "inerrant" bible. No one has the right to claim ownership of any other, just as all humans are free beings.

So…you DON’T have a problem with Israelite-on-Israelite servitude…?

Your turn again -- why do you not have a problem with the biblical version of slavery (including your fantasy version where slaves "had it made")? Is it simply because it is explicitly endorsed in the bible, and since the bible is "wholly given by inspiration of [g]od... and [is] consequuently without error"?

I don’t have a problem with it because I fail to see the “problem”. Servants had guaranteed rights, freedoms, and privileges. Works for me.

Also, if slavery is immoral, then the bible endorses an immoral act. How do you reconcile that?

The Bible doesn’t endorse an immoral act. It endorses a fair system of servitude, not the immoral system of abuse we see in the 18th century slave trade.

Are we really, finally, getting somewhere here?

We sure are. You’re slowly starting to accept that much of the ‘slave system’ in the Bible, specifically that of Israelite-on-Israelite servitude, isn’t immoral because it doesn’t fit your definition of morally repugnant slavery or images of plantation slaves. You've also conceded that the law implied that hitting a foreign slave was "shunned".

May 03, 2008 6:11 PM  
Blogger Stan, the Half-Truth Teller said...

Who the hell do you think you are, anyway?

You say that beating a slave is its own punishment to the man giving the beating. Such justice.

You say that slaves who are beaten can run away -- not if they are bound. Just as the bible may not say slaves are always bound, it doesn't say they are never bound either, and if you think that people were so happy to become slaves that they simply accepted it, then you are indeed a tool.

Slaves can only run away if they have means, motive, and opportunity. Being that they are slaves, means would be difficult to come by. Motive should be easy, especially for those slaves whose masters beat them, but opportunity is another potential problem, unless you also assert that slaves were in no way shackled.

Of course, physically binding a slave in the bronze age may not have even been necessary -- where could a slave go? If he runs away, he is more likely to die of thirst or starvation before he is able to enjoy his newfound "freedom" -- and what if he steals food or livestock from his master in the process?

You say that it's okay for the "eye for an eye" passage to apply only to freemen, and that slaves who are maimed get freedom, instead of any sort of reciprocal punishment upon the slaveholder who so maimed his slave. Sure, I want the slave to go free, but then, I find slavery to be immoral. I also want people to receive ample punishment for beating other people -- slave or freeman -- and I don't appreciate any difference with regard to the eventual punishment.

You say that it's both unacceptable and shunned for slaveholders to non-leathally beat their slaves, yet you maintain that this practice is also not to go unpunished.

You lie to yourself and to me, and to any imaginary other readers of this blog, when you say that non-lethal slave-beating is unacceptable according to the bible.

No, the current translations do not use the phrase non-lethal slave-beating is "acceptable"; instead, they say exactly the same thing by saying non-lethal slave-beating is "not to be punished". You would artificially create a difference where there is NONE. Are you so unfamiliar with English?

You claim that shunning a practice is the same as rendering it unacceptable, yet this is another of your lies:

Wearing casual clothes, with visible wear, to a job interview is shunned, but it is perfectly acceptable.

(Note that this example also contains an analogous "punishment" to your immobilized slave)

Riding a motorcycle without a helmet (in the state of Colorado) is shunned, but it is perfectly acceptable.

(Again, analogous punishment)

Having unprotected sex with a prostitute (in the state of Nevada outside the County of Las Vegas) is shunned, but it is perfectly acceptable.

(A trend with the punishment?)

Shall I go on?

Clearly, a great many actions in any given society are both shunned and acceptable, and this disputed passage makes it explicitly clear that non-lethal slave-beating is at the very least acceptable.

As you are so fond of noting, with such dry nonchalance, is the fact that the implied "punishment" in question is merely the loss of the services of the slave, with what you also assert is the increased likelihood that the beaten slave, as well as possible others, may now run free.

I have two simple questions at this point:

1. Is it better to be a slave or a freeman?

2. If it is better to be a freeman, and slaves are liable to be beaten and/or maimed (even if they are later freed as a result), and if slaves can run away at their leisure and thereby become freemen, then wouldn't all reasonably intelligent slaves run away?

You tell me to "stop being dramatic" because I recognize that slavery is not a status in which one "has it made", which you had the arrogant audacity to assert. This makes you a liar and and asshole.

How dare you suggest that slaves "had it made", when the only "punishment" their masters would incur following a non-lethal beating would be the loss of the slave's services. The fact that this is morally bankrupt, yet still defensible to you, is reprehensible. Apologize.

You claim that the Mosaic system of slavery you so fondly admire was unique regarding its rules concerning escaped slaves -- have you never heard of the "Underground Railroad"? Apparently not. You'll be shocked to learn that through this system -- which was in fact illegal in its time -- runaway slaves were sent to states in which slavery itself was illegal. What an interesting concept... slavery being illegal...

The whole notion of runaway slaves becoming freemen is fallacious anyway. First, since these slaves were predominantly foreigners, if one were found, he'd simply be taken as a slave under new ownership. Second, a biblical decree describing an escaped slave as a freeman is redundant -- if he successfully escapes, then he has regained his rightful freedom (or do you maintain that freedom is not an inherent right?).

You say I should relax because by your definition we are all slaves. True, anyone who submits to a dominant force exhibits symptoms of slavery in a sense, but you know full well precisely what I mean by slavery, which I had explicitly defined twice in my last reply. Either you didn't read the post before you started replying, or you again engage in ad hominem and outright deception.

Of course, this is also a straw man -- my boss is punished when he beats me both by a loss of my services and by legal prosecution. Indeed, I can at any time choose to withhold my services, and I can retain the use of my eye in the process.

And yes, I do find the claim that one human can "own" another human to be immoral, criminal, and repugnant. Do you not?

You say that I'm doing a poor job of making an argument, and accuse me of making things up as I go along, because I believe slavery is immoral. That's rich.

You cannot claim ignorance on the meaning of the term in question, unless you admit to being an idiot. I will accept the admission if that is your choice.

Again, you show that you are unfamiliar with the English language (or any, I would have to guess), as words very frequently have multiple meanings, and many times these meanings are in fact completely different. Where similar, the differences are typically due to connotation, which is precisely the case with the term "slavery".

You, sir, are making things up. Are you seriously suggesting that you meant only "submission to a dominant force" this whole time? Lie to me some more.

In the verses prior, since ‘cow skull’ isn’t mentioned, is the implication it’s okay to beat someone with a cow skull? This is a ridiculous ad hominem. You’re going to need to do a lot better then that.

Okay, that's funny. First of all, if it is a fallacy, it is a red herring, not ad hominem. Secondly, it is neither. Strange that you continue to show that you understand the text, but that you still ignore its meaning.

Since "cow skulls" aren't mentioned as being slave-beating tools, what we can deduce is that rod-beating was commonplace. Acceptable. As I was saying, since a rod-beating is expected to be more severe than a fist-beating, the breaking of a rib or two, the breaking of a leg, scarring, etc. must all also have been "not punishable", so long as they were due to a rod-beating. I submit that the destruction of a slave's eye by virtue of a rod-beating was "not punishable", if the slave regained consciousness after a couple days, but as I have said, this aspect is irrelevant to my case -- it merely further illustrates the rampant injustice and endorsement of clearly immoral acts that we find in the bible, especially the OT.

You say elsewhere that beating a slave is neither moral nor immoral, yet you also say that "it's just wrong". When I asked you to explain the difference, you said it was no different than two men getting into a fistfight.

What bullshit.

Now fighting is neither moral nor immoral?

Two freemen, equally able to defend themselves, is analogous to a slave being beating with a rod by his master?

Beating a slave is wrong but not immoral?

Who is making things up as they go on?

You say that the Hebrew word used for both "servant" and "slave" is the same word, and that this therefore means that the connotations are the same, yet how then can you explain that the two terms are separately used? Do you really think that Hebrew words each had but one specific definition? Do you not think that when describing an Israelite, the term denoted something akin to a temporary bondservant, whereas when applied to a foreigner, it meant property?

You also accuse me of making a concession based on a new discovery -- that Israelite slaves were treated differently than non-Israelite slaves. This is yet another lie.

I conceded the difference because the difference is explicit. I was well aware of the fact that Israelite slaves were handled differently, and no, this is not as morally repugnant as the explicit acceptance of non-lethal slave-beating also listed, but yes, it is still immoral at its core. Modern servants are employees, who serve at their, and their employer's, mutual leisure. They work only the hours they agree upon, and perform only the tasks they agree upon. Israelite slaves were not afforded nearly these sorts of courtesies. They were just slaves of a different caste.

Slavery is immoral.

I think your last bit of nonsense actually had some truth to it:

We sure are. You’re slowly starting to accept that much of the ‘slave system’ in the Bible, specifically that of Israelite-on-Israelite servitude, isn’t immoral because it doesn’t fit your definition of morally repugnant slavery or images of plantation slaves. You've also conceded that the law implied that hitting a foreign slave was "shunned".

I'm not "slowly" accepting Israelite-on-Israelite slavery as immoral -- I still maintain that it is, but I've always recognized the explicit differences in how Israelite slaves were treated as compared to non-Israelite slaves. Nor am I the one to have conceded that non-lethal slave-beating was "shunned" -- I actually introduced that statement. I accept as a likelihood that non-lethal slave-beating was shunned, but I also note that this is an assertion with no supporting evidence. You, however, have latched onto that statement as somehow being incompatible with my recognition that the bible explicitly states that non-lethal slave-beating is acceptable. I have shown quite easily that many actions are both shunned and acceptable.

All that said, the biggest truth to be gleaned from your last paragraph is the following:

You’re slowly starting to accept that much of the ‘slave system’ in the Bible... isn’t immoral

And you, by this statement, have evidently accepted that some of the slave system in the bible is immoral.

And now you must either retract that statement, or admit that your "inerrant" bible endorses an immoral act.

Lastly, so that I may be perfectly clear, since you are so obviously unable to understand English unless things are so directly spelled out:

1. Slavery, that is, the practice of owning persons, is immoral.

2. Any action by a slaveholder toward a slave is therefore also immoral (aside from admitting that the slave is indeed free).

3. The bible explicitly endorses both the act of slavery, specifically as a forced condition, and various actions of slaveholders toward slaves.

You may continue to argue that non-lethal slave-beating is "unacceptable" all you want, but it is not punishable, which holds exactly the same meaning in English or any other language.

You may also continue to argue that the slave system outlined in the bible is neither moral nor immoral, but then you fall down the slippery slope of undefining all acts as moral or immoral.

You may further continue to assert that slaves "had it made" in the Mosaic system, but this is arrogant and ignorant, and is insulting and disingenuous beyond that.

Good luck with that.

--
Stan

P.S. -- I'm sure you've noticed I've been plugging your blog, trying to drum up some readers for you, but sadly it's not working.

P.P.S. -- If I may be so bold, I should also like to request a favor of you; I am a fan of Canada, you see, and my current Canada hat is fading and worn, and I am in need of a replacement.

If an amicable arrangement can be made, would you be willing to procure a replacement hat for me? We could utilize paypal for the transaction, and I would provide a shipping address.

I know it seems silly and a lot to ask, but I rather enjoy promoting Canada -- seriously. I have worn my Canada hat in two different U.S. courtrooms (once as a potential juror, once as a traffic court defendant), on the grounds that doing so was an exercise of my freedom of religious expression.

Let me know if this is something you'd be at all willing to consider.

May 03, 2008 10:17 PM  
Blogger Rachel said...

Hi Jason and Stan,

I followed Stan's link over here and have been reading this thread. While I would have argued some things a bit differently than Jason, overall he has a good grasp of the "slavery" described and regulated in the OT.

I just wanted to toss out a couple of points of consideration that I haven't seen mentioned yet that Stan apparently doesn't realize. First, the VAST majority of OT servitude was voluntary. Not only is this noted by the verses which say such, but it is further substantiated by the fact that a servant could leave whenever they wanted and could not be forced back (or they could be redeemed by relatives, or they could buy their own freedom [since we know that servants throughout the ANE could own property], and of course there's the every-7th-year freeing of all Hebrew servants). Additionally, Ex. 21:16 prohibits people from capturing someone and selling them into slavery. Since one of Stan's main objections to "slavery" seems to be the "forced" nature of it, the fact that OT servitude was NOT forced but rather voluntary causes his objection to OT servitude to be significantly diminished.

Second, the OT has 2 extraordinary passages that have not been brought up yet. Lev. 19:34 and Deut. 10:19 indicate that the people of Israel were to love all non-Israelites who lived in Israel, even as they loved themselves. So God has set up an environment of sorts, a boundary, that no one, slave or free, alien or native, was to be treated in a way that could not be reconciled with love. Clearly then, we see an overarching principle that would show "non-lethal beating" (at least, to the extent Stan is speaking of, more on that later) to be unacceptable. Beyond this, the facts Jason has already pointed out, about the automatic freedom granted to a servant who loses an eye or even just a tooth at the hand of his master, set up even more so that arbitrary, malicious, harmful beatings were NOT acceptable.

Third, the actions toward the servant in Exodus 21 that are under discussion here (as "non-lethal slave beating") seem to be identical to that of a free person (taking us even further away from the typical view of "slavery" that we think of). Ex. 21:18-19 present an almost identical situation to that of vv. 20-21. 18-19 have a free man getting hurt but not to the point of death, the perpetrator must pay for loss of time and make sure the victim gets better. Vv. 20-21 have a servant getting hurt but not to the point of death, the perpetrator pays for loss of time (through the servant being unable to work) and since the owner is already taking care of the servant in general, he obviously will be making sure he gets better (especially for his own interests). Additionally, some "non-lethal beating" was indeed perfectly acceptable as discipline even for free men. Deut. 25:1-3, 2 Sam. 7:14, Prov. 13:24, et al. all indicate that "non-lethal beating" was acceptable for disciplinary measures. This was practically universal in the ANE, other cultures had sayings such as, "the student's back is his ear" and "you beat my back, your teaching entered my ear".

So sure, I'll acknowledge that these verses imply that there was a measure of "non-lethal beating" that was acceptable. This was true for all people, slave or free. But when you factor in the overarching principle of love shown to all, as well as the significant limitations put upon such "beating" such that slaves and free men were treated equally in that regard, plus the fact that a slave could go free in a number of ways including leaving at any time, there is no reason at all to conclude that mercilessly beating a slave within an inch of his life (literally) was in any way "acceptable" in OT law. In fact, the evidence leads us to conclude just the opposite: that slaves were people too and had rights just like free men, and they should be treated accordingly.


P.S. Stan, I'll be responding to you on the Of Trees and Men thread at DC tomorrow.

May 04, 2008 12:19 AM  
Blogger Jason said...

Stan,

Let’s recap things thus far because you’re getting a little emotional and carried away. Your definition of slavery is as follows: the state of a person who is a chattel of another b: the practice of slaveholding

Fine.

First, I’ve detailed the rights and privileges Israelite servants had. I’m expecting you to admit there was nothing ‘immoral’ about this particular slave system considering no other slave system in history afforded the same freedoms to its slaves.

Secondly, after all is said and done, your only real issue with the entire Biblical system of slavery seems to be limited to whether or not the master was ‘free to strike his slave’. If the master wasn’t punished, you claim the entire system (incl. Israelite-on-Israelite servitude) is disgusting and immoral. However, in the same breath, you also admit there were laws that guaranteed a slave’s freedom should he lose an eye or tooth. This means your issue can’t be with a master simply beating his slave, it’s with beating a slave assuming the slave isn’t maimed in the process.

Instead of wasting time going through the same information over and over again, let’s add a little more depth and insight into things.

According to Exodus 21, if two people fight but no one dies, the aggressor is punished by having to 'retributively' pay (out of his own money) for the victim's lost economic time and medical expenses. If it is a person's slave and the same occurs, there is no economic payment to a second party – the lost productivity and medical expenses of the wounded servant are (economic) loss alone. There was no other punishment for the actual damage done to the freeman in verse 18-19, and the slave seems to be treated in the same fashion. Thus, the 'property' attribute doesn't suggest any difference in ethical treatment of injury against a servant.

A few more points:

1. The “rod” used by masters was a ‘disciplinary’ rod. The insinuation then is that any kind of striking was to be done only in instances of discipline. In other words, the masters weren’t simply free to beat their slaves whenever they felt like it – there had to be just cause. See Deut 25:1-3, 2 Sam 7:14, Prov 13:24.

2. This Exodus passage places slaves (both Hebrew and foreign) on a legal-protection par with full, free citizens. It no more 'authorizes' a master to abuse a slave, as you’re desperately trying to claim, than it 'authorizes' an Israelite to bash another’s head in with a rock, knocking him unconscious for a day or so.

A Jewish commentary sheds some additional light on the situation:

"The second case involved a master striking his slave, male or female. Since the slave did not die immediately as a result of this act of using the rod (not a lethal weapon, however) but tarried for "a day or two" (v. 21), the master was given the benefit of the doubt; he was judged to have struck the slave with disciplinary and not homicidal intentions. This law is unprecedented in the ancient world where a master could treat his slave as he pleased. When this law is considered alongside the law in vv. 26-27, which acted to control brutality against slaves at the point where it hurt the master, viz., his pocketbook, a whole new statement of the value and worth of the personhood of the slave is introduced. Thus if the master struck a slave severely enough only to injure one of his members, he lost his total investment immediately in that the slave won total freedom; or if he struck severely enough to kill the slave immediately, he was tried for capital punishment (vv. 18-19). The aim of this law was not to place the slave at the master's mercy but to restrict the master's power over him (cf. similar laws in the Code of Hammurabi 196-97, 200). [EBCOT]

Thus, we can conclude:

1. This passage is unparalleled in its humanitarian considerations for ‘slaves’
2. This passage is anti-abuse, in the strongest sense of the term.
3. This passage is parallel to the case of the freeman, under discipline by the community.
4. This passage is parallel to the case of the fistfight between Israelites:
5. It applies primarily to the foreigner.
6. The "because he is his property" is NOT about 'property', but about how the punitive payment was made (economic 'silver'--lost output, increased medical expense)
7. It is an assertion of human rights over property rights.

“If a slave has taken refuge with you, do not hand him over to his master. Let him live among you wherever he likes and in whatever town he chooses. Do not oppress him.” (Deut 23:15-16)

May 04, 2008 10:09 PM  
Blogger Stan, the Half-Truth Teller said...

Unbelievable.

You two would go to any effort to prove that the earth was flat, if the bible explicitly said that, wouldn't you?

This reminds me of a Star Trek: Next Generation episode, in which Piccard was captured by a Cardassian, and subjected to torture if he didn't claim that the four visible lights in fact counted 'five'.

There...are...four...lights!

You two seem peas in a pod in your evident support of slavery, and although you are both quick to redefine slavery in terms of voluntary, well-treated service to a Hebrew, the plain facts in no way support this audacious claim.

First, the treatment of Hebrew slaves versus the treatment of non-Hebrew slaves has already been discussed and acknowledged -- this supports my claim rather than yours, incidentally.

Jason's insistence that the terms we today describe as "servants" and "slaves" are the same in the original Hebrew has also been discussed, but again, this also supports my claim rather than yours -- else, why does the KJV take such great care to translate them differently?

Rachel, in fact, has made a point to mention that Hebrew terms, like those of any other human language, frequently have multiple definitions, with multiple connotations.

So why does the KJV treat the terms differently, if there is no inherent difference in the treatment of the persons so described?

You two are so glued to the notion that a slave could just walk away, that you ignore the opposite truth! If slavery was so damned voluntary, then why would anyone "choose" to become a slave? Rachel's late entry is no different than any of Jason's in this regard, as she effectively restates Jason's bold assertion that slaves "had it made".

Yet despite the rhetoric claiming such a peaceful existence for slaves, the fact is that the bible makes it quite clear that slaves did not have it made, and that in fact being a slave was clearly a negative. The distinction between the "servants" and the "slaves" is clear -- the servants have some freedoms that the slaves do not, and being a slave is not voluntary by any stretch of the imagination:

Slaves are seized -- they do not volunteer.

...but freemen can bargain themselves away as slaves.

Of course, the Hebrews were well aware of how slaves were treated.

...so they forcibly removed the foreskins of their own slaves (or do you assert voluntary circumcision here?).

...which shouldn't surprise us, as slaves are worth a mere 30 shekels (note also that the law is clear that the penalty is different for a son or daughter than it is for a slave).

Though Hebrew slaves are treated differently; they are not to be ruled over "ruthlessly". Also in this passage, further distinction is made regarding Hebrews and non-Hebrews: non-Hebrews, even temporary residents, can be bought and willed as inherited property-for-life, and the implication is that over them (the non-Hebrews), the Israelites could rule ruthlessly.

Odd how even the Hebrew "servants" must be "set free", if their service is so voluntary...

Here, the bible explicitly endorses forcing captive women to become concubines, though not specifically slaves -- how morally superior.

Of course, slaves who successfully run away are allowed safe haven, but this contradicts other scriptural evidence as we shall see later...

...but not much later. Here, slaves who have run off are recaptured by their owner -- so much for letting them go free... (and yes, I know that the owner in this story was killed that same day, but his punishment was for another crime entirely -- had he not been confined to Jerusalem the recapture of his slaves would have been completely above-board.)

Again we have evidence that becoming a slave is involuntary -- "conscription" defies choice.

Here, poor Hebrews are decrying the fact that their daughters are becoming enslaved by other Hebrews, and that they are powerless to prevent it. I thought slavery was voluntary...?

In this passage, as Job curses the date of his birth, he makes my point when he says that "the slave is freed from his master" -- he doesn't say that "the slave frees himself from his master", and the tense and voice in question are clear: the slave cannot free himself.

"As the eyes of slaves look to the hand of their master" -- the look of the fear of being beaten -- "...[S]o our eyes look to the [lord] our [g]od, till he shows us mercy" -- the eyes in question have not yet seen mercy. Does not the absence of mercy imply the presence of ruthlessness? Why should a slave fear the hand of his master?

In this example, Hebrew slaves are clearly being held against their will, for after being freed (again, freed not by their own decree but by their masters'), they are re-enslaved. In the second section, Jeremiah makes it clear that this re-enslavement is in fact forced. Sure, they were supposed to set their Hebrew slaves free, but you claim they could have been free at any time -- this is clearly untrue.

A NT example of the connotations of slavery and of being freed, the Jews in question were aware that they could not be set free unless they were slaves. But I thought they could just walk away and be free?

Another NT example, in which a clairvoyant slave girl's "earnings" all went to her owners. If she had the freedom you claim, she could easily have run away and made a fortune by her own rights. Amusingly, later in the chapter Paul and Silas reprimanded their captors for publicly beating Roman citizens without a trial -- implying that otherwise the beating would have been legally acceptable.

"[I]f you can gain your freedom, do so." (emphasis added) Not "since you can gain your freedom", and not "when you can gain your freedom". IF.

Such clear contradictions here... Slave trading is "contrary to the sound doctrine", but slave holding and slave purchasing is elsewhere explicitly endorsed -- which is it?

Finally, Peter tells us quite clearly that not all slaves "have it made". In fact, he goes further by recommending that slaves -- abused or not -- refrain from escaping (or relinquishing their voluntary status, if you still insist that to be true), but that they should instead continue to endure the suffering.

Each of you seems perfectly satisfied with the bible's endorsement of forced slavery (read: my definition, M-W's 3a), and each of you seems equally satisfied that forced labor, the buying and selling of human beings, and the beating of the same (whether "justified" or not -- I daresay there were no courts or juries involved in deciding whether a slave "deserved" a beating), are all fine and dandy.

You each also sound like you would be all the happier if the practice of slavery -- even your wonderfully blissful version -- were to resurface.

Jason has weighed in a-plenty on this subject, and is quite obviously perfectly willing to lie to himself and anyone who will listen regarding the nature of slavery in the bible, but Rachel has only just begun.

Will she, too, twist the bible's words and meaning to suit her notions of morally acceptable behavior?

Does she find slavery to be morally acceptable?

Does she agree that no 'further' punishment should befall a slave-owner who non-lethally beats his slave(s)?

Is the loss of that slave's services a reasonable "punishment"?

Do you both fail to note the implications of the word "escape" with regard to one's status as a slave?

Nice try, you two, but your bible is a far cry from being the morally superior guidebook you'd like it to be.

--
Stan

May 04, 2008 11:51 PM  
Blogger Stan, the Half-Truth Teller said...

(Jason, please confine your references to those directly from scripture, or to your own thoughts, not those of another, if you please)

The passage is not the parallel between the fighting Hebrew freemen -- unless you wish to say that the slave was free to fight back against his master.

The point I've made regarding Exodus 21 is that the practice of non-lethal slave-beating is indeed acceptable -- as in, there is no punishment -- and that this is both unjust and an explicit endorsement of an immoral act.

In the case of the fighting freemen, we are not told who is the "aggressor" and who is the "victim", as you nonchalantly assert, but instead we are told that the "winner" will be required to recompense the "loser" for his lost time.

You also assert, and attempt to support through cherry-picked third-party reference, that the beating in question was a justified punishment. There is no reason whatsoever to conclude that this is the case, especially in the light of the set of verses I showed in my previous reply -- which describe "harsh" masters, Hebrews "forced" into slavery by other Hebrews, and the fact that slaves in general did not "have it made". What? You don't think I could just as easily pull up some third-party references that support my position?

As you're so fond of saying, stick to the bible.

Just because the two actions are close to one another in the scripture, and they both describe how to handle an out-of-commission human being, doesn't mean that slaves are suddenly being treated "on a legal-protection par" with freemen.

As to your absurd conclusions:

1. This passage is unparalleled in its humanitarian considerations for ‘slaves’

You can lose the quotes around the term "slaves" -- slaves they were. I should think that an omnimax deity might be able to do better, in humanitarian considerations, than "if your slave gets up after a solid beating, no harm done". Pretty sure.

2. This passage is anti-abuse, in the strongest sense of the term.

Really? Try this: Don't own slaves, and don't beat people. Isn't that a little stronger in its sense of anti-abuse? If I concede that this passage is at all anti-abuse (and I do not), it would be in the weakest sense of the term.

3. This passage is parallel to the case of the freeman, under discipline by the community.

So is the case of a bull prone to goring. Thus I've also proved that bulls are as highly esteemed as freemen. All discipline was administered by the community, except the discipline of slaves. Oops!

4. This passage is parallel to the case of the fistfight between Israelites:

Except that the fighting freemen can fight back, the freemen are not property, and in the case in question, the "fight" is implied to be the fault of both parties involved (or, if fault is to be had, then other laws regarding assault would presumably overrule this one).

5. It applies primarily to the foreigner.

No, it applies specifically to the non-lethal slave-beating by the slave-holder. Anyway, this would make it more acceptable how?

6. The "because he is his property" is NOT about 'property', but about how the punitive payment was made (economic 'silver'--lost output, increased medical expense)

Such a shuffling of the terms does not negate the meaning. The slave-holder was not to be punished for the same reason we don't punish television-owners for breaking their televisions. The "punishment", as you again so arrogantly note, is the loss of productivity and/or replacement cost -- nothing retributative or even remotely resembling actual justice (which is strange for the OT, don't you think?).

7. It is an assertion of human rights over property rights.

What rights? Oh, I understand now, your statement is an assertion... Oh, yeah, the "right to go free if your master claws out your eye"? Is that all it takes to go free? An assertion of human rights might better have been made by actually providing some human rights, and abolishing slavery completely.

Again, nice try.

--
Stan

May 05, 2008 12:26 AM  
Blogger Jason said...

Stan, last time I checked, this was my blog. If I want to quote a valid [Jewish] commentary to show you I’m not the only one who has this opinion about Biblical slavery and for additional insight, then I will do so.

The commentary did a fair and logical job of explaining how the master was punished when his servant was bedridden. However, because this punishment doesn’t fit your idea of justice, you don’t accept it. Unfortunately, this doesn’t make it wrong.

The commentary also explained about the intent to murder, which I’ve been explaining all along. Simply disagreeing with it doesn’t make this wrong either.

I’d also like to note that the only thing you offered in your last post by way of rebuttals and reinforcement of your claims were basic, general disagreements void of counter-evidence. You disagree the laws in Exodus 21 are parallels, yet they quite clearly are – the subject being restitution for personal injury. "This law-the protection of slaves from maltreatment by their masters-is found nowhere else in the entire existing corpus of ancient Near Eastern legislation. It represents a qualitative transformation in social and human values and expresses itself once again in the provisions of verses 26-27. The underlying issue, as before, is the determination of intent on the part of the assailant at the time the act was committed.” (The JPS Torah Commentary)

You're also arguing about who the aggressor was and that perhaps the slaves were somehow restrained to prevent them from running away but I’m still waiting for evidence to support either.

The fact also remains the “rod” the servant was struck with was most likely a rod of discipline. I’ve provided adequate references to support this while you chose to respond with a mishmash of references that describe 'harsh' masters. Unfortunately, this doesn’t have anything to do with the rod. A servant was hit for disciplinary purposes – whether or not his master was “harsh” isn’t the subject nor the context in Exodus 21.

Making arguments that object to striking a slave also isn’t an argument against slavery. It’s an argument against hitting someone – this isn’t the topic.

You also continue to resort to arguments from ignorance, making claims that because the Bible doesn’t say A, B must be true. This is a fallacy and isn’t accepted as a valid argument.

The fact still remains: servants, both foreign and Israelite, were given rights and freedoms that were never found or mimicked in any other slave system since then. “The treatment of chattel slaves indicates that these slaves are considered human beings… The slave's personal dignity is also evident in the prescriptions concerning personal injury (Ex 21.20-27), since the punishments for mistreatment are meant to restrain the abuse of slaves…Clearly, the personal rights of slaves override their master's property rights over them." (Dictionary of the Old Testament Pentateuch, T. Desmond Alexander and David W. Baker (eds). IVP:2003)

"However, throughout the entire history of Israel and Judah as well as of all other countries of the ANE, slave labor did not play a decisive role in agriculture and it was used to a very limited extent compared to the labor provided by small landholders. As the Bible indicates, the artisan trades were also in the hands of free persons (1 Chr 4:14, 23; Jer 37:21; Neh 3:8). For this reason, there existed no artisan workshops based on slave labor and the decisive role in the handicraft industries was played by free labor, especially in the area of manufacture depending upon skills. Thus, there was no predominance of slave labor in any branch of economy, and it was used primarily for household tasks requiring neither skill nor extensive supervision, i.e., in jobs where slaves could be employed all the year round, not those which were seasonal in character." (Anchor Bible Dictionary, David Noel Freedman (main ed.), DoubleDay:1992)

“Although Hebrew servants are mis-called 'property' in one verse (Ex 21.21), Israel's notion of 'property' in the law was severely restricted to economic output only--NOT 'ownership of a disposable good'…As a 'managed, but not owned' human resource, servants were NOT thereby rendered 'disposable, non-human goods'. They were still legal agents in the culture and their masters were legally accountable for how they were treated.” (christian-thinktank.com)

Finally, you’ve been ignoring this for quite some time now - I’ve detailed the rights and privileges Israelite servants had. I’m expecting you to admit there was nothing ‘immoral’ about this particular setup. Please do so so we can put this particular issue to rest.

“He is to be treated as a man hired from year to year; you must see to it that his owner does not rule over him ruthlessly.” (Lev 25:530

I’d also like to know which other slave system in the history of mankind afforded slaves the same rights and privileges the servants under the Mosaic Law enjoyed.

"Although slaves were viewed as the property of heads of households, the latter were not free to brutalize or abuse even non-Israelite members of the household. On the contrary, explicit prohibitions of the oppression/exploitation of slaves appear repeatedly in the Mosaic legislation. In two most remarkable texts, Leviticus 19:34 and Deuteronomy 10:19, Yahweh charges all Israelites to love ('aheb) aliens (gerim) who reside in their midst, that is, .the foreign members of their households, like they do themselves and to treat these outsiders with the same respect they show their ethnic countrymen. Like Exodus 22:20 (Eng. 21), in both texts Israel's memory of her own experience as slaves in Egypt should have provided motivation for compassionate treatment of her slaves. But Deuteronomy 10:18 adds that the Israelites were to look to Yahweh himself as the paradigm for treating the economically and socially vulnerable persons in their communities.” (Marriage and Family in the Biblical World. Ken Campbell (ed). IVP:2003)

May 05, 2008 3:42 PM  
Blogger Stan, the Half-Truth Teller said...

Jason,

The topic of this site is "Bible Discussions" and considering your unwillingness to provide Biblical references to support your points, I don't for a minute regard you as taking this discussion seriously. Your posts here seem to have simply been made for the purpose of being antagonistic. Your lack of personal Bible knowledge, your poor argumentation, your aggressive tone and deliberately provocative statements, all convey the impression that you came here to make a point, although it's been a very poor one at that.

--
Stan

May 05, 2008 5:46 PM  
Blogger Jason said...

Stan,

I see you're out of brilliant ideas on how to prove the Bible condones an abusive system of slavery.

I’ve detailed the rights and privileges Israelite servants had. I’m expecting you to admit there was nothing ‘immoral’ about this particular setup. Please do so so we can put this particular issue to rest.

I’d also like to know which other slave system in the history of mankind afforded slaves the same rights and privileges the servants under the Mosaic Law enjoyed.

May 05, 2008 10:20 PM  
Blogger Stan, the Half-Truth Teller said...

Hang on, I haven't forgotten. That requote was just too much to pass up.
I've got a few things more important than answering your blog, so have a little patience.

The short version is that you're still wrong, and you still haven't addressed whether or not owning a person is morally acceptable. You also continue to ask what other culture had such nice rules set up for their slave population, as though it matters.

Sure, the Hebrew law was the best in show for treatment of slaves, but we're comparing Hitler's Germany with Mussolini's Italy -- fascism is bad, whether one is better than the other or not. Congratulations, the Hebrews are Mussolini (I tried to work it so the Hebrews could be Hitler, just for the irony, but it doesn't fit).

More tomorrow.

--
Stan

May 05, 2008 11:15 PM  
Blogger Jason said...

"...you still haven't addressed whether or not owning a person is morally acceptable."

Actually, I've been waiting for you explain how owning someone is morally wrong since this was your original claim.

Sure, the Hebrew law was the best in show for treatment of slaves...

That's all I wanted to hear.

The final issue then is re: Israelite servants. I’m expecting you to admit there was nothing ‘immoral’ about this particular setup. Please do so so we can put this particular issue to rest.

May 06, 2008 8:54 AM  
Blogger Stan, the Half-Truth Teller said...

Don't be so dense, Jason.

Yes, I admitted that the Hebrew system was the "best" system of slavery we know of at the time.

Our current version, of slavery being illegal, is a bit better, I'd say.

You actually want to take credit for the fact that the bible endorses slavery? You think it helps your cause for the biblical system to have been "better" than the existing systems of slavery?

Dunce.

No, it doesn't help. As I said, the commonplace slavery of the time was Hitler, and your Hebrew version was Mussolini. Pick your poison -- slavery is still immoral.

I've been waiting for you explain how owning someone is morally wrong since this was your original claim.

Are you serious?

If I actually have to explain to you how it is immoral to own a person under any circumstances, though especially for life, including that person's children, then we have nothing further to discuss.

How many slaves do you own, Jason? If zero, is that only because it is illegal?

Do you actually maintain that owning a person is not immoral? Sure, you'll say that as long as you treat them well, there is no problem, but that is not an answer: is it moral or immoral to own a person, especially for life, and especially when their status as slaves is forced?

I will not concede that Hebrew-on-Hebrew slavery was moral, for a couple reasons. First, it is still slavery, and even its "gentle" descriptions are those of forced servitude. Second, the "concessions" you claim that I have made were all conditional, hinging on your concessions, which you have completely ignored or denied.

If you will concede nothing, then why should I?

One last time: I'll happily concede that the biblical version of Hebrew-on-Hebrew slavery was "not immoral", if you will likewise concede that the biblical version of Hebrew-on-non-Hebrew slavery was both explicitly endorsed and immoral.

If you will not admit that forced servitude, forced concubines, and ownership of persons are immoral, well, then I guess you support each of these.

Which is it?

--
Stan

May 06, 2008 4:47 PM  
Blogger Jason said...

If I actually have to explain to you how it is immoral to own a person under any circumstances, though especially for life, including that person's children, then we have nothing further to discuss.

In other words, you’re unable to explain why owning someone is immoral.

How many slaves do you own, Jason? If zero, is that only because it is illegal?

Ah, it’s zero because I don’t need them. The relevance of your question?

Do you actually maintain that owning a person is not immoral?

Actually Stan, I've been asking youwhy owning someone is immoral. You keep sidestepping around the issue, almost as if you’re avoiding it...?

Sure, you'll say that as long as you treat them well, there is no problem, but that is not an answer: is it moral or immoral to own a person, especially for life, and especially when their status as slaves is forced?

See above. I’ve been asking you this question from the very beginning yet you continue to ignore it: Explain to me WHY owning someone is immoral if this person is well-treated?

I will not concede that Hebrew-on-Hebrew slavery was moral, for a couple reasons. First, it is still slavery, and even its "gentle" descriptions are those of forced servitude.

Oops. Forced enslavement of Hebrews was punishable by death:

"Anyone who kidnaps another and either sells him or still has him when he is caught must be put to death. " (Ex 21.16)

If a man is caught kidnapping one of his brother Israelites and treats him as a slave or sells him, the kidnapper must die. You must purge the evil from among you. (Deut 24.7;

So unless you can explain these away, forced servitude under the Mosaic Law for fellow Israelites was ‘illegal’. In fact, the vast majority of cases would have been voluntary, with the person himself initiating the transaction - it is ALWAYS stated in the terms of 'selling oneself' (Lev 25:39, 25:47, Deut 15:12, etc.)

Second, the "concessions" you claim that I have made were all conditional, hinging on your concessions, which you have completely ignored or denied. If you will concede nothing, then why should I?

Admit it, Stan: “Slavery”, as it existed between Israelites doesn’t fit your definition of ‘chattel’. Therefore, it’s not slavery. Simply as that.

One last time: I'll happily concede that the biblical version of Hebrew-on-Hebrew slavery was "not immoral", if you will likewise concede that the biblical version of Hebrew-on-non-Hebrew slavery was both explicitly endorsed and immoral.

Hold on a second. Not only did you just finish saying All forms of slavery (as I have defined) are deplorable”, but by your definition of slavery, since Israelites couldn’t “own” one another, it can’t be considered slavery. What’s going on here?

If you will not admit that forced servitude, forced concubines, and ownership of persons are immoral, well, then I guess you support each of these.

Forced concubines? Oh, I don’t think so…

May 06, 2008 6:26 PM  
Blogger Stan, the Half-Truth Teller said...

What the hell, man?

I'm sidestepping the question of whether or not owning a person is moral?

You're retarded, aren't you?

People are not property. "Owning" another person necessarily infringes upon that person's inalienable rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

Those rights were not merely asserted by the so-called founding fathers of America; they were recognized by them. People are not objects to be bartered, assets to be sold, or mules to be whipped. They are PEOPLE.

That you require of me to spell this out to you is unacceptable.

Now, then, it is your turn to explain to me exactly how owning a person is, in your fantasy world, a moral action.

Slavery, especially of non-Hebrews, was not voluntary in all cases, and forced servitude is slavery, and it is immoral. Forcing women to become concubines is tantamount to rape, and it is explicitly endorsed by your bible.

Do you even read the biblical passages I provide as evidence supporting my claims?

How about this passage in Jeremiah, which I already provided, but which you again shrugged off. In it, Jeremiah describes the forced enslavement of Hebrews by Hebrews -- note the poor parents complaining that there was nothing they could do about their daughters' forced enslavement -- and they were required to be "freed".

Despite all of your rhetoric, you have ignored the implication of this, in that if these "servants" who were so well treated wished not to be enslaved by their fellow Hebrews, then why was it necessary for them to be "freed", rather than simply walking away themselves?

Were these cases of slavery voluntary? Were these Hebrews "put to death"?

Seriously, Jason, quit lying about this issue, and admit that slavery is immoral -- the Hebrew-on-Hebrew "gentle" version included, but certainly the Hebrew-on-non-Hebrew version -- and that owning a person is also immoral, and that your bible endorses both types of behavior.

Quit lying and/or avoiding the question when you state that you don't have slaves "because [you] don't need them." The truth is that slavery is both illegal and immoral. The relevance of the question is that you seem perfectly willing to endorse slavery yourself, but you're too stupid to see it that way.

Why is it, I wonder, that I'm always the first one to offer a concession, or to cater to your bullshit repeated questions, yet you continuously ignore mine?

I've been asking you since the onset what is so morally correct about slavery, with the understandable belief that any decent person in today's modern world would recognize that slavery is immoral, yet you have the audacity to mock me for not answering why it is immoral.

Well, jackass, I have answered your asinine question, now explain your moral superiority while simultaneously defending the ownership by one person of another, on moral grounds.

Your apparent standards of morality would make it acceptable to place a fellow human being in a modern zoocage -- you know, the ones that don't look like cages at all -- so long as they were fed, clothed, and allowed some room to roam. Not only this, but the "zookeeper" could force this caged human to provide labor, and for the caged human's children, for the rest of his (and their) lives, so long as the zookeeper has heirs.

Bitch all you want about my emotional outbursts, and inclusion of expletives, but it's not nearly as insulting to any decent person as your expressed endorsement of forced servitude (read: slavery).

Q. Does the bible endorse forced slavery of non-Hebrews by Hebrews?

A. Yes. Unequivocally.

Q. Does the bible endorse forcing captive women to become wives or concubines?

A. Yes. Unequivocally.

Q. Are either of these endorsed practices morally vituous in any way?

A. No. Unequivocally.


Remember, if you alter any of these answers, you deny scripture, making you not only a liar and a bigot, but a heretic as well.

--
Stan

May 06, 2008 8:21 PM  
Blogger Stan, the Half-Truth Teller said...

Edit: the verse attributed to Jeremiah was actually from Nehemiah. My bad. The Jeremiah passage was this one, which is even more damning, which also explains why you ignored it the first time I posted it.

--
Stan

May 06, 2008 11:13 PM  
Blogger Jason said...

People are not property. "Owning" another person necessarily infringes upon that person's inalienable rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

If this was actually the case, then prisons are immoral, terrorists should be allowed to walk free, parents should give their kids freedom to drive and drive and the age of consensual sex removed. After all, pursuing happiness and exercising rights to liberty trump everything.

The reality is, these “rights” you so gallantly listed are infringed all the time all over the place in a vast number of different ways without anyone ever offering a peep about morals.

Ignoring that for a moment, in regards to people being property, can real chattel property have "rights"? Does a piece of land have "rights". Does a lawnmower have "rights". No. Therefore, since slaves had rights under the law, they can't be considered real chattel property. And even then, Israel's notion of 'property' in the law was severely restricted to economic output only - NOT 'ownership of a disposable good'. Masters were held accountable to God for treatment of their property, both land and people. In the case of the land, there were numerous rules and regulations; in the case of servants, there were likewise guidelines and limitations upon practice.

Consider: "A better criterion for a legal definition of slavery is its property aspect, since persons were recognized as a category of property that might be owned by private individuals. A slave was therefore a person to whom the law of property applied rather than family or contract law. Even this definition is not wholly exclusive, since family and contract law occasionally intruded upon the rules of ownership. Furthermore, the relationship between master and salve was subject to legal restrictions based on the humanity of the slave and concerns of social justice." (A History of Ancient Near Eastern Law (2 vols). Raymond Westbrook (ed). Brill:2003.)

"The slave's personal dignity is also evident in the prescriptions concerning personal injury (Ex 21.20-27)., since the punishments for mistreatment are meant to restrain the abuse of slaves…Clearly, the personal rights of slaves override their master's property rights over them." (Dictionary of the Old Testament Pentateuch, T. Desmond Alexander and David W. Baker (eds). IVP:2003.)

Those rights were not merely asserted by the so-called founding fathers of America; they were recognized by them. People are not objects to be bartered, assets to be sold, or mules to be whipped. They are PEOPLE.

And as stated above, as a 'managed, but not owned' human resource, servants were NOT thereby rendered 'disposable, non-human goods'

Now, then, it is your turn to explain to me exactly how owning a person is, in your fantasy world, a moral action.

Much like a fistfight or an ox goring another person, I’m not suggesting owning someone is moral. I’m saying it’s not immoral. The rest of my answer has already been stated above.

Slavery, especially of non-Hebrews, was not voluntary in all cases, and forced servitude is slavery, and it is immoral.

Absolutely incorrect. Firstly, the vast majority of 'slavery' was indeed voluntary as a quick read through the law shows. As Rachel correctly pointed out “Additionally, Ex. 21:16 prohibits people from capturing someone and selling them into slavery. Since one of Stan's main objections to "slavery" seems to be the "forced" nature of it, the fact that OT servitude was NOT forced but rather voluntary causes his objection to OT servitude to be significantly diminished.”

Secondly, foreign slaves would have had to come from outside of Canaan. However, since the Israelites were not allowed by God to seek land outside its borders (Deut 2, 20:15), the only time these towns and cities could be attacked were in instances of a foreign invader moving into the Promised Land. Adding to this, in the laws regarding so-called ‘forced servitude’, if a city surrendered, it became a vassal state to Israel, with the population becoming serfs (Heb. 'mas'), not slaves (Heb 'ebed'). There’s a marked difference between the two as I’m sure you’re willing to admit.

"The nations subjected by the Israelites were considered slaves. They were, however, not slaves in the proper meaning of the term, although they were obliged to pay royal taxes and perform public works." (Anchor Bible Dictionary, David Noel Freedman (main ed.), DoubleDay:1992)

Forcing women to become concubines is tantamount to rape, and it is explicitly endorsed by your bible. - Do you even read the biblical passages I provide as evidence supporting my claims?

I sure did. Did you notice the word “concubine” isn’t used?

How about this passage in Jeremiah, which I already provided, but which you again shrugged off. In it, Jeremiah describes the forced enslavement of Hebrews by Hebrews -- note the poor parents complaining that there was nothing they could do about their daughters' forced enslavement -- and they were required to be "freed".

What a joke. I guess you missed the part when God tells the people that forcing Israelites into slavery was wrong: 13"This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: I made a covenant with your forefathers when I brought them out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. I said, 14 'Every seventh year each of you must free any fellow Hebrew who has sold himself to you. After he has served you six years, you must let him go free.' Your fathers, however, did not listen to me or pay attention to me.

Despite all of your rhetoric, you have ignored the implication of this, in that if these "servants" who were so well treated wished not to be enslaved by their fellow Hebrews, then why was it necessary for them to be "freed", rather than simply walking away themselves?

Your implication is based on a flawed understanding of the verses you quoted. First of all, you’re quoting a verse from Jeremiah, not the Mosaic Law. Secondly, when someone voluntarily signed on to become a servant, they were obliged to serve that person for six years. After that, they were free to go. What aren’t you comprehending?

Were these cases of slavery voluntary? Were these Hebrews "put to death"?

It wasn’t voluntary which is WHY they were put to death!! 17 "Therefore, this is what the LORD says: You have not obeyed me; you have not proclaimed freedom for your fellow countrymen. So I now proclaim 'freedom' for you, declares the LORD -'freedom' to fall by the sword, plague and famine. I will make you abhorrent to all the kingdoms of the earth.”

Your ignorance is awfully telling.

Q. Does the bible endorse forced slavery of non-Hebrews by Hebrews? A. Yes. Unequivocally.

Untrue. See above.

Q. Does the bible endorse forcing captive women to become wives or concubines? A. Yes. Unequivocally.

I thought we were discussing slavery.

Q. Are either of these endorsed practices morally vituous in any way? A. No. Unequivocally.

Then it’s a good thing you’re wrong on both accounts.

Remember, if you alter any of these answers, you deny scripture, making you not only a liar and a bigot, but a heretic as well.

Lol Sure thing, Mr Atheist Man.

You would do well to read this: "Scholars do not agree on a definition of "slavery." The term has been used at various times for a wide range of institutions, including plantation slavery, forced labor, the drudgery of factories and sweatshops, child labor, semivoluntary prostitution, bride-price marriage, child adoption for payment, and paid-for surrogate motherhood. Somewhere within this range, the literal meaning of "slavery" shifts into metaphorical meaning, but it is not entirely clear at what point. A similar problem arises when we look at other cultures. The reason is that the term "Slavery" is evocative rather than analytical, calling to mind a loose bundle of diagnostic features. These features are mainly derived from the most recent direct Western experience with slavery, that of the southern United States, the Caribbean, and Latin America. The present Western image of slavery has been haphazardly constructed out of the representations of that experience in nineteenth-century abolitionist literature, and later novels, textbooks, and films...From a global cross-cultural and historical perspective, however, New World slavery was a unique conjunction of features...In brief, most varieties of slavery did not exhibit the three elements that were dominant in the New World: slaves as property and commodities; their use exclusively as labor; and their lack of freedom..." (Encyclopedia of Cultural Anthropology (4 vols), David Levinson and Melvin Ember (eds), HenryHolt:1996.)

May 07, 2008 11:41 AM  
Blogger Stan, the Half-Truth Teller said...

Who do you think you are kidding? Do even you believe your bullshit?

People are not property. "Owning" another person necessarily infringes upon that person's inalienable rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

If this was actually the case, then prisons are immoral, terrorists should be allowed to walk free, parents should give their kids freedom to drive and drive and the age of consensual sex removed. After all, pursuing happiness and exercising rights to liberty trump everything.


???

I'm not even sure what to call you after such an ignorant statement. Every person has a right to life, liberty and the puruit of happiness. This means, and I'm ashamed of you for pretending not to know this, that my pursuit of happiness cannot infringe upon your liberty. That is why all of these straw men of yours are illegal. It is also why owning a person is immoral.

You chose to laugh at your own ignorance regarding the rights to personal freedom, and then willfully ignore the point, so that you could further undermine your central point:

[I]f a city surrendered, it became a vassal state to Israel, with the population becoming serfs (Heb. 'mas'), not slaves (Heb 'ebed'). There’s a marked difference between the two as I’m sure you’re willing to admit.

If I accept your assertion (where is the biblical evidence?), and this one appears reasonable enough that I'll allow it for the moment, then how, exactly, do you maintain that the declines of serfdom and slavery were due to the biblical moral code?

Slavery, especially of non-Hebrews, was not voluntary in all cases, and forced servitude is slavery, and it is immoral.

Absolutely incorrect. Firstly, the vast majority of 'slavery' was indeed voluntary...


Which part is absolutely incorrect? That forced servitude is slavery? That it is also immoral?

I didn't say that all slavery was involuntary, I said all slavery was not voluntary, that is, some slavery was involuntary, which you immediately conceded. Forced servitude is indeed endorsed, even if it isn't always the case, and it is indeed immoral.

Tell the truth.

You say that owning a person is neither moral nor immoral -- is it wrong? You asserted earlier at one point that beating a slave was also neither moral nor immoral, but that it was simply "wrong". Does this assertion also apply to your feelings on human ownership of humans?

So to this point you have a) admitted that serfdom was a common theme in the Old Law -- whenever a city surrendered its citizens became Hebrew 'serfs', and b) that some slavery was forced.

Congratulations! The first step to recovery is admitting you have a problem.

Now, you simply need to admit that owning a person is immoral, or at least wrong, and I think we'll have settled this issue for good.

As to the rest of your post:

Q. Does the bible endorse forced slavery of non-Hebrews by Hebrews?

A. Yes. Unequivocally.


Untrue. See above.


Yes, I looked "above", and nowhere did you suggest it says in the bible that slaves are "managed, not owned". Instead, it says that slaves can be willed to one's heirs, and that they can be made slaves for life.

Are you now trying to argue that the meaning is that these slaves are not "owned", but "managed", and that "managed" assets can be willed to one's heirs, or "managed" for the life of the asset, and that this is not the same as "owning"?

Tell the truth.

Q. Does the bible endorse forcing captive women to become wives or concubines?

A. Yes. Unequivocally.


I thought we were discussing slavery.


We are, and if you don't think that forcibly taking a woman to be one's concubine (or wife -- but the passage is clear that the latter is by no means required, and it doesn't undo the damage done by forcing it) is the equivalent of forcing a person to servitude, well, you need to learn to read.

The passage doesn't explicitly say "concubine", I admit, but what does it say? That an attractive captive woman can be forcibly separated from her parents, taken into one's house, shaved, test-driven for a month, and if she is found lacking at any point, she is to be released.

Anyway, dodge the question some more -- is it immoral to force a captive woman into one's household either as a wife or as a concubine? Is that not tantamount to rape? Do you now support certain forms of rape?

Q. Are either of these endorsed practices morally vituous in any way?

A. No. Unequivocally.


Then it’s a good thing you’re wrong on both accounts.


Actually, it's a sad thing that you're a liar on both counts.

Look, Jason, making an error in your reading is perfectly understandable, and defending that error once or twice is innocent enough, but when that error has been shown in its entirety, then continuing to defend it becomes intentional dishonesty. You are as a stubborn child, who will deny his wrongdoing at all cost, no matter the evidence to the contrary.

Tell the truth.

As to the 'Jeremiah' passage, I'm not sure what happened there, and I apologize for the confusion (including my own). I thought I had accidentally linked to a Nehemiah verse, and corrected it, but unless you corrected the link on my behalf, I'm not sure if I intended to link to Nehemiah or not, but here is the Nehemiah passage which describes Hebrews being forcibly enslaved by Hebrews, and the Jeremiah passage, as you aptly noted, indicates that the Hebrew slave-holders were 'freed' to be punished, but as you read it again, note that they were not punished for forcibly enslaving Hebrews -- they were punished for re-enslaving Hebrews forcibly.

The fellow Jews were clearly held "in bondage", and this was not a problem until Jeremiah's god-given decree at the onset of the passage.

The question I had posed regarding the punishment for these Hebrew-on-Hebrew forced slave-holders was meant for the Nehemiah verse, in which no such death-penalty was given. In fact, neither was such a penalty given for the slave-holders found in Jeremiah -- the law makes it "clear", according to you, that offenders are to be put to death, not for them to be given the "'freedom' to fall by the sword, plague, and famine". They were to be put to death directly.

Again, I apologize for the confusion resulting from my apparently two-part error, but this does nothing to negate the fact that Hebrews were forced into servitude at least occasionally, and this was not denounced as a violation of the law, in each of these two cases.

If Hebrews, whose slavery you would make analogous to six years in Disneyland, were in fact forced into slavery, and held in bondage, then what sort of treatment do you think non-Hebrews received? Do you think either of these examples is morally acceptable?

Tell the truth.

Lastly, regarding your third-party links and citations:

Blah, blah, blah.

You have denied my own third-party citations at DC, and those of others as well, and you even lambasted me for my "unwillingness to provide Biblical references to support your points", yet I'm the only one doing so.

If you want me to accept as valid your third-party references, then I expect you to do the same for any third-party references I bring out -- and I assure you that I can find plenty which deny your assertions of slavery being a day in Wonderland Canada.

Quid pro quo.

I suppose, however, that it doesn't matter much at this point, since you have now admitted that both forced slavery and serfdom are endorsed in the bible. It doesn't seem to follow, then, that their decline was due in any way to the biblical moral code.

As I said, the only thing remaining for your recovery to be complete, is for you to admit that forcing a person into slavery, and/or owning a person, are both immoral -- or at least both are "wrong" -- and that because the bible endorses both, it is not the moral guidebook you claim it to be.

As ashamed of you as I am for your misunderstanding of so many things, for your wanton ignorance and blatant bigotry, I am proud that you have come so far.

--
Stan

May 07, 2008 2:30 PM  
Blogger Jason said...

Stan,

This is your last warning about cursing. Future posts with this kind of language will be removed.

Every person has a right to life, liberty and the puruit of happiness. This means, and I'm ashamed of you for pretending not to know this, that my pursuit of happiness cannot infringe upon your liberty. That is why all of these straw men of yours are illegal. It is also why owning a person is immoral.

You ignored the point I was making. If it’s so vital that everyone has a right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, why do we have laws restricting them? This seems counter-productive. If these inalienable rights somehow held universal sway, people would be chastised for murdering but not locked up, children could get married and have sex, drinking and driving would be allowed, and doctor-assisted suicide would be socially and legally acceptable. Without turning this in an invitation to talk about universal morals, here’s your reasoning: Since slavery is wrong, and the bible doesn’t condemn it, then the bible is wrong on that issue and could be wrong on others. The question I’m asking is – who said that slavery is wrong? Slavery was not considered to be morally wrong in the Law of Moses, rather there are laws regulating it. At the time the New Testament was written most people’s opinion of slavery had not changed. Nowadays, most people would say that they feel slavery is wrong, but what makes their opinion any more right than those living two thousand years ago? What makes destroying the environment, killing animals, or human cloning right or wrong? What about breaking the law? Smoking pot is a criminal offence in Canada, but in Holland it is acceptable. Is smoking pot any worse because you are doing it in Canada? A little bit of a tangent but I'm sure you get my point.

If I accept your assertion (where is the biblical evidence?), and this one appears reasonable enough that I'll allow it for the moment, then how, exactly, do you maintain that the declines of serfdom and slavery were due to the biblical moral code?

Biblical evidence: Deut 20:11. But I’m not sure what your question is…?

Which part is absolutely incorrect? That forced servitude is slavery? That it is also immoral?

I had two parts to my comment. Please read both.

I didn't say that all slavery was involuntary, I said all slavery was not voluntary, that is, some slavery was involuntary, which you immediately conceded. Forced servitude is indeed endorsed, even if it isn't always the case, and it is indeed immoral.

The ‘forced servitude’ you’re referring to occurred in the instance above where I quoted Deut 20:11.

You say that owning a person is neither moral nor immoral -- is it wrong?

No, it’s not wrong – I’ve already stated why.

You asserted earlier at one point that beating a slave was also neither moral nor immoral, but that it was simply "wrong". Does this assertion also apply to your feelings on human ownership of humans?

I don’t understand the question.

So to this point you have a) admitted that serfdom was a common theme in the Old Law -- whenever a city surrendered its citizens became Hebrew 'serfs', and b) that some slavery was forced.

The only so-called example of ‘forced slavery’ allowed under the law was the example of a city surrendering and its inhabitants becoming serfs. Read: Biblical serfs, not 18th century slaves.

Yes, I looked "above", and nowhere did you suggest it says in the bible that slaves are "managed, not owned". Instead, it says that slaves can be willed to one's heirs, and that they can be made slaves for life.

The question was whether or not the Bible endorses the forced slavery of non-Hebrews. I’ve answered it already. Your comment above has nothing to do with this. Please read through the laws regarding ownership of property, specifically: “…Israel's notion of 'property' in the law was severely restricted to economic output only - NOT 'ownership of a disposable good'…As a 'managed, but not owned' human resource, servants were NOT thereby rendered 'disposable, non-human goods'. They were still legal agents in the culture and their masters were legally accountable for how they were treated.” No where does it say anything about a slave being “owned” since ultimate ownership was God’s.

Are you now trying to argue that the meaning is that these slaves are not "owned", but "managed", and that "managed" assets can be willed to one's heirs, or "managed" for the life of the asset, and that this is not the same as "owning"?

Correct.

We are, and if you don't think that forcibly taking a woman to be one's concubine (or wife -- but the passage is clear that the latter is by no means required, and it doesn't undo the damage done by forcing it) is the equivalent of forcing a person to servitude, well, you need to learn to read.

Unless you can prove a wife is a slave, this is off topic.

The passage doesn't explicitly say "concubine", I admit, but what does it say?

“Wife”.

That an attractive captive woman can be forcibly separated from her parents, taken into one's house, shaved, test-driven for a month, and if she is found lacking at any point, she is to be released.

What does this have to do with slavery?

Anyway, dodge the question some more -- is it immoral to force a captive woman into one's household either as a wife or as a concubine? Is that not tantamount to rape? Do you now support certain forms of rape?

First, she wasn’t made a concubine. Second, where do you see anything about rape? Third, a Hebrew wife was afforded security, a higher social status, and an escape from poverty. I see nothing inherently evil about this.

Look, Jason, making an error in your reading is perfectly understandable, and defending that error once or twice is innocent enough, but when that error has been shown in its entirety, then continuing to defend it becomes intentional dishonesty. You are as a stubborn child, who will deny his wrongdoing at all cost, no matter the evidence to the contrary.

The feeling’s mutual ☺

…but here is the Nehemiah passage which describes Hebrews being forcibly enslaved by Hebrews, and the Jeremiah passage, as you aptly noted, indicates that the Hebrew slave-holders were 'freed' to be punished, but as you read it again, note that they were not punished for forcibly enslaving Hebrews -- they were punished for re-enslaving Hebrews forcibly.

Nehemiah 5:5 says nothing about it being acceptable for Hebrews to enslave one another. As for Jeremiah, their ‘forefathers’ refused to release their Hebrew servants in the seventh year in accordance with the law. I don’t know what the confusion is about.

The fellow Jews were clearly held "in bondage", and this was not a problem until Jeremiah's god-given decree at the onset of the passage.

Of course it wasn’t a problem. The law allowed Hebrews to be servants for other Hebrews. I thought we had already established this.

The question I had posed regarding the punishment for these Hebrew-on-Hebrew forced slave-holders was meant for the Nehemiah verse, in which no such death-penalty was given.

Nehemiah doesn’t talk about forced slavery. Verse 5: “…we have to subject our sons and daughters to slavery.” This was a completely voluntary act on behalf of the parents in order to pay the usury some of the Israelites were exacting.

In fact, neither was such a penalty given for the slave-holders found in Jeremiah -- the law makes it "clear", according to you, that offenders are to be put to death, not for them to be given the "'freedom' to fall by the sword, plague, and famine". They were to be put to death directly.

They were put to death – namely by the sword, plague and famine.

Again, I apologize for the confusion resulting from my apparently two-part error, but this does nothing to negate the fact that Hebrews were forced into servitude at least occasionally, and this was not denounced as a violation of the law, in each of these two cases.

It was denounced. The reaction of both Nehemiah and God clearly show displeasure, not acceptance:

First Nehemiah: “When I heard their outcry and these charges, I was very angry.”

Now God: “You have not obeyed me; you have not proclaimed freedom for your fellow countrymen.”

If Hebrews, whose slavery you would make analogous to six years in Disneyland, were in fact forced into slavery, and held in bondage, then what sort of treatment do you think non-Hebrews received? Do you think either of these examples is morally acceptable?

Irrelevant. You’re arguing a point I haven’t made. Whether or not Israelites, at any point in their history, ever forced anyone into slavery isn’t the discussion. The discussion is about the rules and regulations established in the Law dealing with slavery. The law clearly says forced slavery is wrong and the law clearly states slaves had numerous rights and freedoms. I’m not sure how else you want me to explain it to you.

You have denied my own third-party citations at DC, and those of others as well, and you even lambasted me for my "unwillingness to provide Biblical references to support your points", yet I'm the only one doing so.

You’re the only one doing so…? Really? I haven’t provided any Bible references to support my points…? Tell the truth now. We can count, if you’d like. Just let me know.

About third-party citations, this is my blog, this isn’t DC. If I think a valid Bible- or historically-based commentary will provide added insight into a discussion, I will reference it. I’ve also done so to show you there are many, many others who share my same view of slavery and that the arguments presented to support this view are logical and reasonable.

If you want me to accept as valid your third-party references, then I expect you to do the same for any third-party references I bring out -- and I assure you that I can find plenty which deny your assertions of slavery being a day in Wonderland Canada.

I don’t care if you accept them or not. Instead of attacking the use of commentaries, attack the points they bring up. I’m sure you’ll be able to knock down their arguments with ease.

May 07, 2008 10:06 PM  
Blogger Stan, the Half-Truth Teller said...

This is your last warning about cursing. Future posts with this kind of language will be removed.

This from the guy who advocates slavery.

Every person has a right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. This means, and I'm ashamed of you for pretending not to know this, that my pursuit of happiness cannot infringe upon your liberty. That is why all of these straw men of yours are illegal. It is also why owning a person is immoral.

You ignored the point I was making. If it’s so vital that everyone has a right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, why do we have laws restricting them?


No, you ignored the shamefully obvious, which I even spelled out for you. The inalienable rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness apply universally. The restrictions come when one person's exercise of these rights infringes on another person's exercise of them. Hence, laws. The justice system is hardly relevant to the discussion, but if you insist on erecting these straw men, you make the point yourself: pot-smoking is [effectively] criminal in Canada (not so much in BC, in my experience), but perfectly legal in Amsterdam. The laws are subjective, and there is a significant body of the electorate which seeks to overturn laws such as these because the "crime" doesn't infringe upon anyone else's rights (according to the law's opponents).

You are the one who believes in absolute morality (not that I necessarily disagree -- I have yet to have fully formulated an opinion on the subject, and I am not as informed as I should need to be to do so), and the question is not what humans think of the infringement of another person's inalienable rights, but what your dogma thinks of it. In the case of the bible, the deliberate infringement of another person's rights to liberty and to the pursuit of happiness are endorsed in the form of slavery.

This peg is square, but the hole into which you'd thrust it is round.

For what it's worth, though, this is the first point you've attempted to make in quite a while that even remotely resembles original thinking on your part. It is appreciated.

As to what makes things right or wrong, as you noted, we should avoid turning this into a discussion of absolute morality, but for my part, I admit that I don't know whether an action is absolutely right or wrong, and I don't take someone else's word for it either -- I subject the matter to a vote, but if the vote goes against my personal feelings, I may well break that particular law. Of course, this is only because I was born and live in the U.S. (Canada certainly qualifies, and, as I've mentioned, I'm a fan) -- depending on where else I may have been born and/or lived, my beliefs would almost certainly have turned out differently... but I do not wish to broach that subject here either.

No, slavery is wrong. Owning a person is wrong. They may have been acceptable at one time, but there are a great many things which once were legal, yet which are now illegal (mileage varies by country/municipality), and vice-versa. If, however, a given action is indeed morally wrong, then the societal acceptance of it shouldn't change its status one way or another. If, again, an institution such as the biblical moral code endorses an action, and regulates it, but that action falls into what we now recognize as morally wrong, then that institution is fallible.

If I may, for a moment, I'd actually like to explore a minor aspect of this a bit further; the bible goes to great lengths to regulate morally questionable actions -- including slavery, forcing women to be concubines, and other topics we've discussed here or elsewhere. It would be far easier for your case if the bible hadn't regulated these actions.

By regulating them, you gain a field goal (more like a PAT) for having the only such regulations in place in their time, but you also give up at least a touchdown (if not two or three) if you also claim that the bible is morally perfect. If the existence of slavery was a given, and went unregulated, then an [admittedly weak] argument could be made that the bible was in fact against it, and you would not have to perform "mental gymnastics", as I've seen them described, to attempt to justify slavery. We could both agree right now that slavery was indeed immoral.

Instead, the bible indeed does regulate slavery, and this allows only me to agree that slavery is immoral. You are forced into somehow justifying slavery, but this is something with which you are clearly uncomfortable, and it is exceedingly difficult. You must grasp onto asserted notions of "well-treated slaves", or that "owning a person is not inherently immoral", or that "slavery was more a form of serfdom", or that "they weren't slaves, they were servants", ad infinitum.

I feel for you in this, but surely you can see that slavery is indeed morally wrong, and that this needn't destroy the biblical precepts completely -- it is only a single chink in its inerrant armor. If you can bring yourself to admitting the endorsement of immoral actions by the bible, then you may be able to transform your philosophy into something which can still embrace it, but which denies these particular endorsements... but you have to give up inerrancy to do so.

Anyway, back to our regularly scheduled programming:

If I accept your assertion (where is the biblical evidence?), and this one appears reasonable enough that I'll allow it for the moment, then how, exactly, do you maintain that the declines of serfdom and slavery were due to the biblical moral code?

Biblical evidence: Deut 20:11. But I’m not sure what your question is…?


First, it amuses me that you cite this passage as supportive of your cause:

Verse 14: As for the women, the children, the livestock and everything else in the city, you may take these as plunder for yourselves. And you may use the plunder the LORD your God gives you from your enemies.

So again we have, in one fell swoop, direct endorsement of both serfdom and slavery. My question, pertaining to my original reply, was regarding your claim that serfdom and slavery were abolished because of the biblical moral code. The question is, how can the decline and/or abolition of either of these practices be attributed to the bible, when both are so clearly endorsed, and never denied?

Re: I had two parts to my comment. Please read both.

I don't understand. You said my statement was "absolutely incorrect". I showed how at the very least one aspect of it was indeed correct. Would you prefer to amend your comment to say "partially incorrect"? That would make more sense, since you apparently admit that my response was at least partially accurate.

Anyway, you did, indeed, concede that "the vast majority of 'slavery' was indeed voluntary as a quick read through the law shows." (emphasis in original)

So can we put to rest the fact that there were in fact elements of slavery and/or serfdom which were involuntary? Excellent. Moving on.

The ‘forced servitude’ you’re referring to occurred in the instance above where I quoted Deut 20:11.

No, it's referring to the instance in Deut 20:14, as but one example. Anyway, you've already conceded that forced servitude existed, so now you're merely splitting hairs as to whether it was bona fide slavery, or just serfdom.

You say that owning a person is neither moral nor immoral -- is it wrong?

No, it’s not wrong – I’ve already stated why.


You asserted earlier at one point that beating a slave was also neither moral nor immoral, but that it was simply "wrong". Does this assertion also apply to your feelings on human ownership of humans?

I don’t understand the question.


Well, this was a bit of a trap, I admit, but I provided fair warning. You did indeed assert that "[b]eating your servant isn't moral or immoral. It's simply wrong." Yet now you say that owning a person, while also neither moral nor immoral, is nonetheless "not wrong". Is it right? Is there a gray area about which I am unaware?

You are not being consistent with your apparently arbitrary labeling of an action as moral, immoral, right, or wrong. You deny that either of these specific events is immoral (which you are compelled to do, since they are endorsed in the bible), yet for only one of them will you say that it is "wrong" -- the other gets special treatment, and I'd like to know why.

As to this passage:

“…Israel's notion of 'property' in the law was severely restricted to economic output only - NOT 'ownership of a disposable good'…As a 'managed, but not owned' human resource, servants were NOT thereby rendered 'disposable, non-human goods'. They were still legal agents in the culture and their masters were legally accountable for how they were treated.”

I searched and searched, but couldn't find this passage in any English translation of the bible to which I have access. Do you have some new translation?

You immediately followed this scripture with:

No where does it say anything about a slave being “owned”

Really? Then how do you account for their purchase, or for the ability to inherit them?

Unless you can prove a wife is a slave, this is off topic.

So you can see a parallel between the treatment of a man who beats his defenseless slave [nearly] to death and two freemen engaging in an otherwise blameless bout of fisticuffs, but you cannot see a parallel between a human being forced to become a laborer and a human being forced to become a wife? Remember, the man who takes this woman doesn't have to keep her as a wife -- he can let her go after a month if he finds her displeasing. If you wish to insist that this woman is a bona fide wife, and that this has no parallel to forced servitude, that is your prerogative, but it is clearly on-topic, and clearly supports the notion that forcing humans into various roles -- as slaves, concubines, serfs, or whatever -- was both commonplace and acceptable. It was regulated, and endorsed, and it is immoral.

The feeling’s mutual

I'm sure it is, but I haven't asserted that there exists an inerrant book which endorses certain actions which are today universally accepted as immoral, while claiming that they are indeed not actually immoral, and that this book is therefore not fallible. Your bible endorses slavery, it endorses serfdom -- forced, in at least some cases of each -- and it endorses forcing women to become "temporary wives" (with an option for permanence). None of these is morally "right", and yet you continue to argue that they are.

(And forcing a woman to become your wife is rape, even if you eventually make her status as a wife permanent. Not only is it rape, but it is kidnapping. Gosh, the bible sure endorses a great many immoral acts, doesn't it?)

The Jeremiah passage was, again, the wrong link. It weakly supports my point, considering the Hebrews in question were "held in bondage", but I admit that this could mean either "held in accordance with their bond" or "held in a bound state", but it is unclear as to which. It also weakly supported my point in that it was evidently commonplace for Hebrews to be forcibly enslaved, especially when it says that they were forced to become slaves "again". The translation is unclear as to whether "again" refers to the nature of the forcing or to the status as slaves. In support of my take on the "bondage" concept, I'd say that these Hebrew slaves must have been well aware of the coming and going of Jubilee, so they should have been able to walk away, if they were not bound somehow. I maintain that binding one's slaves was in fact commonplace, and indeed expected, but ironically, since this aspect of slave-holding is not regulated, in the absence of explicit evidence of slave-binding, we are left to speculate.

The Nehemiah passage -- the originally intended passage -- was much clearer regarding the forced nature of even Hebrew-on-Hebrew slavery:

Nehemiah doesn’t talk about forced slavery. Verse 5: “…we have to subject our sons and daughters to slavery.” (emphasis yours) This was a completely voluntary act on behalf of the parents in order to pay the usury some of the Israelites were exacting.

Yes, verse 5 was the cited passage, but that's not all of it:

Although we are of the same flesh and blood as our countrymen and though our sons are as good as theirs, yet we have to subject our sons and daughters to slavery. Some of our daughters have already been enslaved, but we are powerless, because our fields and our vineyards belong to others.

You chose to emphasize "we" and "our", and you claim this as support of your assertion that the actions of these destitute parents was voluntary, yet you ignore both the implicit lack of choice in the verb "have", and the explicit lack of choice in the adjective "powerless". It doesn't say "we choose to subject...", it says "we have to subject".

Also, suggesting the notion of subjecting one's children into slavery is somehow laudable because it is voluntary (which I have shown it was not) in no way removes the fact that this slavery was indeed involuntary with respect to the child in question. The fact that these parents said they were powerless further illustrates the fact that they preferred not to subject their children to slavery, but that the decision was forced upon them.

If the parents themselves were agreeing to become slaves to pay these debts, then you'd have somewhat of a case (I'd still object, but you'd have a much more valid point), but this is not the case.

Furthermore, Nehemiah was very angry -- we are given no indication of god's anger -- and it was not denounced as a violation of the law. If anything, Nehemiah is more virtuous than you appear to be, if we assume he is angry that humans are enslaved. In neither case, Nehemiah nor Jeremiah, are the perpetrators punished in accordance with the law. In the case of Jeremiah, there is no punishment whatsoever, except for a doom-filled prophecy. The law was not upheld.

In the case of Nehemiah specifically, the law was again not upheld, as there was not even a doom-filled prophecy -- just an angry prophet. Not once was a word uttered denouncing the decision of the parents to agree to this enslavement of their children. I say the children's slavery was forced upon the parents, but if we momentarily entertain your notion that the children's slavery was at their parents' bidding, then they are guilty of forcibly enslaving their own children.

If Hebrews, whose slavery you would make analogous to six years in Disneyland, were in fact forced into slavery, and held in bondage, then what sort of treatment do you think non-Hebrews received? Do you think either of these examples is morally acceptable?

Irrelevant. You’re arguing a point I haven’t made. Whether or not Israelites, at any point in their history, ever forced anyone into slavery isn’t the discussion. The discussion is about the rules and regulations established in the Law dealing with slavery. The law clearly says forced slavery is wrong and the law clearly states slaves had numerous rights and freedoms.


Yes, it's a point you haven't made. It's a point I've made, and that's why I'm arguing it. You've consistently ignored it. The point you're so fond of making is that Hebrew-on-Hebrew slavery was so wonderful, all the while ignoring the implication that Hebrew-on-non-Hebrew slavery was not wonderful at all, and further still ignoring that there are indeed examples of forced slavery -- Hebrew and non-Hebrew alike -- endorsed in the bible.

The law clearly says that forcing Hebrews into slavey is wrong, but it still happened, and we have explicit examples of the law not being enforced. The law also very clearly regulates the occasions during which non-Hebrews can be enslaved -- some of them being forcible enslavements. The question here that you choose to ignore has to do with the implications of these clear statements.

If forcing Hebrews into slavery is wrong, is it also therefore immoral? Yet forcing non-Hebrews into slavery is regulated and explicitly endorsed. Is it therefore right and moral?

Yes, I am the only one consistently providing biblical references in this argument. You have provided very few, and practically none recently. Those few which you have offered, have quickly proven to rather support my claims rather than your own. At this point in the debate, you have submitted a few cherry-picked third-party references, at the use of which you would have cried foul if this debate were taking place at DC (or anywhere else you didn't control, I'd guess). Arguing from authority now or just more special pleading?

I've never argued that there are not a great many people who share your views -- if there were not, then I'd have deconverted a great many more Christians than I can currently claim (approximately 20). Many Christians remain oblivious to the bible's treatment and regulation of slavery, especially with the PC translations as "servant", which even you try to pass off as genuine. But contrary to your wishes, just because you have found supporters does not in any way mean that your argument is all-of-a-sudden both logical and reasonable. It is consistent, in that it must be if the bible is to remain inerrant, but it is neither logical nor reasonable.

Since third-party references are now fair game, I figured I'd offer a few of my own, some of which come from your camp:

However much we may want to find a Biblical case for the abolition of slavery, it is simply not there, not even in the Epistle to Philemon. This guy neatly destroys your assertion that the biblical moral code was in any way responsible for the abolition of slavery -- unless you want to say that a misinterpretation of the biblical moral code qualifies. He also describes how the imposition of PC morality has caused translations to use "servant" instead of "slave", among other things (in the section immediately preceding the 1 Cor 7:21 examination). He's on your side of the Jesus fence, by the way.

You won't like this site, but if you ignore the urge to resort to ad hominem, or to Genetic Fallacy, then you may see that we were both somewhat misinformed regarding the verses we have been arguing. Misinformed as in too kind to the biblical description:

If you buy a Hebrew slave, he is to serve for only six years. Set him free in the seventh year, and he will owe you nothing for his freedom. If he was single when he became your slave and then married afterward, only he will go free in the seventh year. But if he was married before he became a slave, then his wife will be freed with him. If his master gave him a wife while he was a slave, and they had sons or daughters, then the man will be free in the seventh year, but his wife and children will still belong to his master. (Exodus 21:2-6 NLT -- quoted from the site linked above)

It seems that you overlooked this fact when describing the wonderful treatment of Hebrew slaves, and I missed pouncing on it. I wonder what else I'll find if I keep digging up third-party references, and let other people argue the case on my behalf?

This link lists various OT references to the regulations regarding slavery, without directly rendering any judgment. It doesn't necessarily offer anything new to our discussion, but its objective commentary preceding each outlined passage makes for a pleasant enough break from the biased commentary found elsewhere. They take the literal interpretation further even than I do, however, by noting the implicit sexual coersion rampant amongst slaveholders.

Then there's this gem -- the source of all your power.

WTF?!

I have revealed the great and powerful wizard of Oz, and he is nothing more than a plagiarist. You and Rachel both directly quoted from this site and passed it off as your own original work. This is despicable, and discredits the entirety of your arguments. Since you are both guilty of literary theft, and only one of you could conceivably have written it (if either of you is so bold as to claim as much in light of this discovery), then clearly at least one of you is at fault. Since that article's author is identified by a [fictional?] objector as "Glenn", and the content was edited by "glenn miller" according to the HTML, and since neither of you identify yourselves as either "Glenn" or "glenn miller", I must conclude that you are both guilty of plagiarism.

And here I am debating moral values with you. No wonder we can't get anywhere.

Nevertheless, I continue...

This short piece attempts to defend biblical slavery rather like you do -- by pretending it doesn't really exist, and by failing to expand any assertions. They are content with claiming that biblical slavery wasn't racist in nature, and by reminding the reader that social reform is not the point of the bible [it's just a really nasty blemish].

I think you'll do quite well if you take this quiz -- I scored a perfect 10/10 (must've been the research)!

This small group's site features two articles on slavery, and an anecdotal newsish article which is irrelevant. Of the two relevant articles, the first tries a new tact: it claims that god uses evil things to do good, but that this should not be considered tacit approval of evil things. It's a real cheap and easy way out, but if it were applied to other areas it would surely fail. An "A" for effort and originality, though (and for not being plagiarized). The second article ignores entirely the regulations regarding slavery in the OT, and only focuses on the NT. It basically argues what Glenn argued, without the OT references, and it is nowhere near as complete.

Here is a site which breezes through the history of slavery with respect to Judeo-Christian doctrine, and draws many of the same conclusions as I have drawn. I'm sure you'll enjoy it.

Anyway, Jason, I must say that I am apalled at your theft of content. I read Glenn's entire article, and was very quickly struck by the similarities between it and "your" arguments, and when I finally recognized a direct "quote", I knew the gig was up.

Not cool.

--
Stan

May 08, 2008 5:10 AM  
Blogger Jason said...

The laws are subjective, and there is a significant body of the electorate which seeks to overturn laws such as these because the "crime" doesn't infringe upon anyone else's rights (according to the law's opponents).

Likewise, the “crime” of servitude in the OT is also subjective. It wasn't a crime 400 years ago. Back to my question: who said slavery is wrong? Slavery was not considered to be morally wrong in the Law of Moses, rather there are laws regulating it. At the time the New Testament was written most people’s opinion of slavery had not changed. Nowadays, most people would say that they feel slavery is wrong, but what makes their opinion any more right than those living four thousand years ago?

In the case of the bible, the deliberate infringement of another person's rights to liberty and to the pursuit of happiness are endorsed in the form of slavery.

Is there historical evidence people felt this way 4000 years ago? If they didn’t, who are you to say it’s an infringement of rights?

No, slavery is wrong. Owning a person is wrong. They may have been acceptable at one time, but there are a great many things which once were legal, yet which are now illegal (mileage varies by country/municipality), and vice-versa.

I’m not disagreeing. But if owning a person was morally acceptable thousands of years ago, while we might argue it’s immoral today, this doesn’t alter what was socially acceptable back then.

If, however, a given action is indeed morally wrong, then the societal acceptance of it shouldn't change its status one way or another.

This is flawed logic. What makes the morals of the 21st trump the morals of yesterday?

If, again, an institution such as the biblical moral code endorses an action, and regulates it, but that action falls into what we now recognize as morally wrong, then that institution is fallible.

Again, flawed logic. I don’t see how you can prove, or claim, we’re a morally superior society compared to the people back in the day.

...including slavery, forcing women to be concubines, and other topics we've discussed here or elsewhere. It would be far easier for your case if the bible hadn't regulated these actions.

Where are women forced to be concubines?

We could both agree right now that slavery was indeed immoral.

Yes, because society says so. If society said it was completely acceptable, like, say, in ancient Canaan, we would agree it was moral.

Instead, the bible indeed does regulate slavery, and this allows only me to agree that slavery is immoral. You are forced into somehow justifying slavery, but this is something with which you are clearly uncomfortable, and it is exceedingly difficult.

I’m not following this logic. You’re using the term ‘slavery’ again as a blanket statement when quite clearly you shouldn’t. By your definition, that slavery is “owning someone”, the only part of the ‘slave system’ under the Old Law that you should actually be arguing is the owning foreign slaves bit and even in this instance, these people were more serfs then slaves. Any other form of servitude, such as Israelite-in-Israelite, that doesn't fit this definition is no longer relevant since it's not technically slavery.

First, it amuses me that you cite this passage as supportive of your cause: Verse 14: As for the women, the children, the livestock and everything else in the city, you may take these as plunder for yourselves. And you may use the plunder the LORD your God gives you from your enemies.

You asked for a Biblical reference regarding serfdom. I provided it. While we might cringe at verse 14, there’s no reference in it to slavery.

So again we have, in one fell swoop, direct endorsement of both serfdom and slavery.

Firstly, where’s the direct endorsement of slavery? Secondly, a slave was under direct ownership of the master while a serf was attached to the land and worked in exchange for protection. Therefore, using your definition of the word, serfdom isn’t slavery.

My question, pertaining to my original reply, was regarding your claim that serfdom and slavery were abolished because of the biblical moral code. The question is, how can the decline and/or abolition of either of these practices be attributed to the bible, when both are so clearly endorsed, and never denied?

Answered in the original article.

I don't understand. You said my statement was "absolutely incorrect". I showed how at the very least one aspect of it was indeed correct. Would you prefer to amend your comment to say "partially incorrect"? That would make more sense, since you apparently admit that my response was at least partially accurate.

Lol. Sure Stan, if it makes you feel better, I’ll amend my comment to read “partially incorrect”.

Anyway, you did, indeed, concede that "the vast majority of 'slavery' was indeed voluntary as a quick read through the law shows." (emphasis in original) So can we put to rest the fact that there were in fact elements of slavery and/or serfdom which were involuntary? Excellent. Moving on.

The ‘involuntary slavery’ is ‘serfdom’ but serfdom isn’t the discussion since it’s not included in your definition of slavery. Therefore, voluntary slavery is acceptable.

Anyway, you've already conceded that forced servitude existed, so now you're merely splitting hairs as to whether it was bona fide slavery, or just serfdom.

As already stated, Deut 20:14 doesn’t say anything about forced servitude. And it’s quite the hair to split. Serfs weren’t chattel, slaves were. Your argument revolves around the latter, not the former.

You did indeed assert that "[b]eating your servant isn't moral or immoral. It's simply wrong." Yet now you say that owning a person, while also neither moral nor immoral, is nonetheless "not wrong". Is it right? Is there a gray area about which I am unaware?

Sorry but I don’t know what you’re getting at.

You deny that either of these specific events is immoral (which you are compelled to do, since they are endorsed in the bible), yet for only one of them will you say that it is "wrong" -- the other gets special treatment, and I'd like to know why.

Again, I apologize, but I don’t understand the question or the relevance to (forced) slavery.

I searched and searched, but couldn't find this passage in any English translation of the bible to which I have access. Do you have some new translation?

It’s not a passage in the Bible - hence my reference to the source.

Really? Then how do you account for their purchase, or for the ability to inherit them?

I don’t need to account for them. Everything in the Promised Land was ultimately God’s. Nothing was owned by the Israelites. "The land must not be sold permanently, because the land is mine and you are but aliens and my tenants.” (Lev 25.23) “For unto me the children of Israel are servants; they are my servants whom I brought forth out of the land of Egypt” (Lev 25:55) This is why servants, both under God and under a master, had rights – they weren’t a disposable good like a piece of bread or lumber.

So you can see a parallel between the treatment of a man who beats his defenseless slave [nearly] to death and two freemen engaging in an otherwise blameless bout of fisticuffs, but you cannot see a parallel between a human being forced to become a laborer and a human being forced to become a wife?

Correct. A wife isn’t a slave – she’s a wife. Socially, she’s leaps and bounds above a slave.

Remember, the man who takes this woman doesn't have to keep her as a wife -- he can let her go after a month if he finds her displeasing.

No different for every Israelite marriage as well.

Your bible endorses slavery, it endorses serfdom -- forced, in at least some cases of each -- and it endorses forcing women to become "temporary wives" (with an option for permanence). None of these is morally "right", and yet you continue to argue that they are.

Serfdom isn't slavery so it's irrelevant to this discussion. And I also don’t see these things as being morally wrong considering the age and circumstances they were being carried out it. I don't recall reading anything about the ancient Egyptians or Persians crying about the immorality of slavery, do you?

You chose to emphasize "we" and "our", and you claim this as support of your assertion that the actions of these destitute parents was voluntary, yet you ignore both the implicit lack of choice in the verb "have", and the explicit lack of choice in the adjective "powerless". It doesn't say "we choose to subject...", it says "we have to subject".

Irrelevant. The PARENTS were sending THEIR children to be slaves to pay off the usury THEY were being charged. This is exactly why Nehemiah was so upset – under the law, no usury should have been charged precisely because of the situation many of the Israelites found themselves in. The point is, forced slavery wasn’t acceptable or allowable. I don’t see how you can get anything else out of this.

Also, suggesting the notion of subjecting one's children into slavery is somehow laudable because it is voluntary (which I have shown it was not) in no way removes the fact that this slavery was indeed involuntary with respect to the child in question. The fact that these parents said they were powerless further illustrates the fact that they preferred not to subject their children to slavery, but that the decision was forced upon them.

Which is precisely why the law forbade Israelites to charge usury!!!!

If the parents themselves were agreeing to become slaves to pay these debts, then you'd have somewhat of a case (I'd still object, but you'd have a much more valid point), but this is not the case.

And what exactly do you think the parents were doing – sitting back at home, watching TV and smoking cigars? Get with the program, Stan. The family had to work to make ends meet and sending the sons and daughters off to work off a debt would have meant less people to help the parents till and work the fields. This kind of thing happens all the time today – a family can’t provide for themselves so every member of the family has to work just to bring in enough money.

Furthermore, Nehemiah was very angry -- we are given no indication of god's anger -- and it was not denounced as a violation of the law.

Nehemiah was a prophet of God. His judgment was God’s judgment. Whether or not it was denounced as a violation of the law is an argument from ignorance - the law clearly states Israelites weren’t to charge each other usury. You’re looking for an argument where none exists.

If anything, Nehemiah is more virtuous than you appear to be, if we assume he is angry that humans are enslaved. In neither case, Nehemiah nor Jeremiah, are the perpetrators punished in accordance with the law. In the case of Jeremiah, there is no punishment whatsoever, except for a doom-filled prophecy. The law was not upheld.

Firstly, what’s the punishment for charging usury under the law? Secondly, God told the offenders in Jeremiah they were going to die by sword, plague and famine. This was their punishment. End of story.

If Hebrews, whose slavery you would make analogous to six years in Disneyland, were in fact forced into slavery, and held in bondage, then what sort of treatment do you think non-Hebrews received? Do you think either of these examples is morally acceptable?

Forced slavery was unacceptable under the law. I’m not going to say it again. Voluntary slavery is acceptable using your definition of the word.

The point you're so fond of making is that Hebrew-on-Hebrew slavery was so wonderful, all the while ignoring the implication that Hebrew-on-non-Hebrew slavery was not wonderful at all, and further still ignoring that there are indeed examples of forced slavery -- Hebrew and non-Hebrew alike -- endorsed in the bible.

Examples of forced slavery didn’t mean it was acceptable under the old law any more then examples of idolatry meant this was acceptable under the law. You’re more intelligent then this.

The law clearly says that forcing Hebrews into slavey is wrong, but it still happened, and we have explicit examples of the law not being enforced.

Then we agree the law said forcing Hebrews into slavery is wrong. Noted.

The law also very clearly regulates the occasions during which non-Hebrews can be enslaved -- some of them being forcible enslavements. The question here that you choose to ignore has to do with the implications of these clear statements.

Serfdom = not chattel = not slavery.

If forcing Hebrews into slavery is wrong, is it also therefore immoral? Yet forcing non-Hebrews into slavery is regulated and explicitly endorsed. Is it therefore right and moral?

Where does the law state foreigners are, and were, forced into slavery?

Yes, I am the only one consistently providing biblical references in this argument. You have provided very few, and practically none recently.

Because we’re going over the same ground over and over again. The laws I quoted regarding slavery are few and they are what they are. Would you prefer I continue to quote them in response to your objections? I can certainly do so if you’d like.

It seems that you overlooked this fact when describing the wonderful treatment of Hebrew slaves, and I missed pouncing on it. I wonder what else I'll find if I keep digging up third-party references, and let other people argue the case on my behalf?

Gosh, a slave going free – how novel! Bad slavery, BAD!! Nonetheless, Israelite-on-Israelite servitude wasn't slavery since it was voluntary and the servant wasn't chattel.

I have revealed the great and powerful wizard of Oz, and he is nothing more than a plagiarist. You and Rachel both directly quoted from this site and passed it off as your own original work. This is despicable, and discredits the entirety of your arguments.

Cry me a river. The arguments aren't any less valid and I'm not writing a novel.

...I must conclude that you are both guilty of plagiarism.

You sound like my mother. This kind of thing happens all the time – stop lecturing and deal with the argument instead of the source of the argument. I happily referenced this site earlier on. If I want to take ideas and concepts from it, then I’ll do so. If you want to do the same, then do it. I don’t really care. The arguments are what they are – the source is irrelevant.

Anyway, Jason, I must say that I am apalled at your theft of content. I read Glenn's entire article, and was very quickly struck by the similarities between it and "your" arguments, and when I finally recognized a direct "quote", I knew the gig was up. Not cool.

"Similarities" and a "direct quote". Was that it or is there something more...?

May 08, 2008 12:33 PM  
Blogger Stan, the Half-Truth Teller said...

Listen to you!

First, slavery and serfdom are alleged by you to have been abolished by virtue of biblical morals.

Now, not only are slavery and serfdom both endorsed and regulated in the bible, but you also claim that the endorsement of serfdom is irrelevant to the topic!

Beyond that, you have gone from suggesting that slavery and serfdom are wrong (implied in your original article -- else why would the biblical moral code be useful in refuting either?), to now openly advocating the ownership of one person by another, and of forcible serfdom.

As if that weren't enough in and of itself, you now advocate open plagiarism, and your defense of it is merely, "You sound like my mother.".

And you sound like my child. If I choose to deal with the arguments another has made, then I'll deal with them directly -- I will not address their arguments as though they are your own.

Grow a pair, boy, and think for yourself. It is one thing entirely to cite an article in support of a claim, but another thing entirely to let it sound like your own work. Your pithy defense of this behavior makes it all the more vile.

As to Glenn's arguments, I have dealt with them, but you refuse to admit it. You continuously claim ignorance when parallel points are made ("I don't understand the question") as though you have suddenly had a drop in IQ from 80 to 40 (and I'm being generous at that), and you deny the explicit text of the bible, hiding behind current English translations.

Servant = Slave = Ownership of a person = Immoral

Buying and selling things you do not own is either fencing, fraud, or thievery, or a combination of the three. If people are not actually "owned", as you claim, then how are they bought and sold?

The plain truth is that they are bought and sold, and this is clearly done without the slave's consent. That makes it forced, even if the slave originally "volunteered" for slavery.

If you now think it is morally acceptable for parents to force their children into slavery, then we are done. I hope for their sake that you have no children. I wish for your sake that your parents had forced you into slavery -- perhaps you'd whistle a different tune.

Your claim that the parents sold their children to exact more work from them for the sake of the family is outright fallacy bordering on being a direct lie. If your claim were true, then the family would benefit more by not having the child leave to become enslaved by another. They'd have another mouth to feed, but surely one pair of child hands can feed more than a single child's mouth?

You know what, Jason?

You're nothing more than a liar, a cheater, a plagiarist, and an idiot. If you refuse to admit that plagiarism was an error, then I must recognize that there is no way in hell that you'll admit that anything else you've said or done is an error either.

The hell with you.

If you want to make an argument on your own merit at some point, without plagiarizing another, and if you'll enter the argument with a willingness to make concessions as appropriate, then we can try again, but certainly not here.

Here, there's no one else to call you on your bullshit, so you can more easily deny the evidence laid out against you. Here, you have the undeserved sense of authority because it is "your blog".

If you want to try arguing on your own, you'll find me at DC, or possibly elsewhere (I peruse AiD, but I haven't been compelled to intervene at this point), but your blatant plagiarism, and your refusal to admit that plagiarism is a problem, coupled with your ability to read only with blinders on, which allow you to redefine "slavery", "serfdom", "forced", "voluntary", "concubine", "rape", and other terms as you see fit, makes this a complete waste of my time.

At least on DC or at AiD any possible conversation we might have would actually be read by other people, so even if there is no value in speaking to you, there is value in having the speech actually heard.

Ba-bye.

--
Stan

May 08, 2008 2:56 PM  
Blogger Jason said...

First, slavery and serfdom are alleged by you to have been abolished by virtue of biblical morals.

No, it’s never been alleged Biblical morals alone abolished slavery and serfdom. From the original article: “It was in part this biblical view that all men have value in the sight of God that inspired the great reformers of the past to abolish slavery and serfdom and improve the conditions in factories and prisons…”

Beyond that, you have gone from suggesting that slavery and serfdom are wrong (implied in your original article -- else why would the biblical moral code be useful in refuting either?), to now openly advocating the ownership of one person by another, and of forcible serfdom.

Slavery isn’t the issue here, Stan. ‘Forced’ slavery is what you’ve been saying you have a problem with. Why you continue to lump the two together is inexplicable. You need to distinguish between the two.

Also, as stated in my early comments, “slavery as it existed under the Mosaic law has no modern parallel”. There’s no point comparing or relating the 18th century slave trade to the system of servitude in Scripture seeing they’re on opposite ends of the spectrum.

If I choose to deal with the arguments another has made, then I'll deal with them directly -- I will not address their arguments as though they are your own.

I share precisely the same opinions as the commentaries I’ve been quoting. If you would rather I reword the arguments so they sound like my own, I’d be more then happy to do that if it makes you feel better.

As to Glenn's arguments, I have dealt with them, but you refuse to admit it.

What have you dealt with, Stan? That the vast majority of slaves took their position voluntarily or that the rod referred to in Exodus 21 was used strictly for disciplinary purposes or that foreign slaves were on legal par with Hebrew citizens?

You continuously claim ignorance when parallel points are made ("I don't understand the question") as though you have suddenly had a drop in IQ from 80 to 40 (and I'm being generous at that), and you deny the explicit text of the bible, hiding behind current English translations.

Then simply reword your arguments so they’re easier to understand and I’ll happily answer them.

Servant = Slave = Ownership of a person = Immoral

In other words, anyone could have slaves as long as they weren’t “owned”. Do your fellow atheists agree with this…?

Buying and selling things you do not own is either fencing, fraud, or thievery, or a combination of the three. If people are not actually "owned", as you claim, then how are they bought and sold?

Buying and selling people doesn’t indicate ownership – if it did, the law wouldn’t give slaves rights to protect them from an abusive master and it wouldn’t allow slaves to retain their freedom if they escaped from their owner. Leviticus 25 also doesn’t equate “buying” or “selling” with ownership since a servant could be ‘bought back’ by his family.

The plain truth is that they are bought and sold, and this is clearly done without the slave's consent. That makes it forced, even if the slave originally "volunteered" for slavery.

“Buy”, not “take”. This brings up an important question: who is doing the actual “selling”?

If you now think it is morally acceptable for parents to force their children into slavery, then we are done. I hope for their sake that you have no children. I wish for your sake that your parents had forced you into slavery -- perhaps you'd whistle a different tune.

I don’t think it’s acceptable. And neither did Nehemiah.

Your claim that the parents sold their children to exact more work from them for the sake of the family is outright fallacy bordering on being a direct lie. If your claim were true, then the family would benefit more by not having the child leave to become enslaved by another. They'd have another mouth to feed, but surely one pair of child hands can feed more than a single child's mouth?

How can you not be getting this? The verses explain themselves. Read this slowly: Israelites were being charged usury by other Israelites – a direct violation of the law. The only way their parents could hope to pay off the usury was by having their sons and daughters work for the people charging them usury. Full stop. Now, what don’t you get?

A few questions you didn't answer:

1. Nowadays, most people would say that they feel slavery is wrong, but what makes their opinion any more right than those living four thousand years ago?

2. Is there historical evidence people felt slavery was infringing on ones inalienable rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness 4000 years ago?

May 09, 2008 12:13 PM  

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