I live in Switzerland and I volunteered 2 times with Sar-el. I am 65 years old and I love Israelis because of their openess. I am a Christian, and I love Israel because of your God who became my God and gave my life sense. And I am ashamed of Christian anti-Semitism.
How do you manage with your feelings in the situation of war in Israel? You protect your country and your people. I believe it is difficult to be in war and wanting peace which is not possible with terrorists threatening you from all sides.
Israel was chosen by God to be a blessing for all the nations, and they are in many kinds. How do you feel with almost all the nations accusing Israeli Army to be cruel?
When you consider all the suffering of Jewish people through History, can you still believe in a loving God?
Of course, striving for peace and going to war seem irreconcilable, but there is a difference between actively wishing for your enemies demise and defending your country when it is threatened. I hope that peace is achieved between Israelis and Palestinians because I believe that our two peoples simply cannot sustain this conflict forever. At the end of the day, a great majority of Israelis and Palestinians simply want to provide for their families and enjoy the simple pleasures of life. However, extremists on both sides prohibit the realization of this scenario by complicating the security and political realities on the ground. In the end, I will always wish for peace for Israelis and the neighbors that surround us, but that doesn’t mean I will simply stand by idly while violence is perpetrated against us. I will never shy away from defending Israel because I believe our right to exist and what we stand for is both just and sound.
Accusations leveled against the Israeli military are often quite biased in nature and don’t seem to consider the far more dismal operational records of many other militaries in the world. This sense of hypocrisy is palpable for us Israelis but seems to go unacknowledged many times in the international community, and virtually always go ignored by anti-Israel activists. The truth is that the IDF operates by a strict moral and ethical code of conduct, and while we are not perfect, we do not strive to harm civilians intentionally. Other nations should reflect on their own military records before they cast Israel in such an unfavorable light.
I personally do not believe in a theist God, or God in the traditional religious sense, although I do believe there is some sort of force that created the basic laws of physics which allowed life to flourish, which could be labeled as “God.” However, I don’t believe that God intervenes in the natural world or human affairs, therefore I do not believe we can necessarily ascribe the atrocities of the afflictions of the Jewish people to God’s lack of interference in these matters. However, I respect individuals of all faiths and believe that people can follow many different paths to achieving a rewarding relationship with God.
Health and Happiness in 2011,
Here we enter in the real subject I wanted to share with you, and if you agree, I would appreciate to go deeper into the question concerning an existing or a not existing God. I mean in connection to the History of the Jewish people – because – what would Israel be without the Jewish people? If you are not interested, just stop here. If we continue sharing, I wanted we can bring each other some fruitful and interesting sharing.
To start with better understanding, I describe my religious background:
I grew up in a catholic family. At this time there was no Bible in teaching, but rather confusing things. However I believed in God’s existence. When I was 16 I could not bear any longer all this religious rules and praying statues did not bring anything.
One evening I assisted to a hypnosis demonstration and I was so enthusiastic about that I decided I wanted to be one day a medium. I started apprentice and very soon I heard that my chef (he became later my husband) had been in younger years a hypnotist. Very soon I searched for more spiritual experience and after we got married, I run from one occult experience to the other (I could better explain in German or French). I was fascinated by all what I could find in occult practices. Of course I believed in reincarnation and I was trying very hard in meditation to reach a higher level of spiritual life.
Each time I thought I approached the goal, something was missing, and the bigger became problems in life. Although I experienced a supernaturally healing (my husband was very talented in magnetism and telepathy, and we practised Reiki, Quadrinity, Yoga and many other kinds of other things), I fell in a chronically depression because of a nonsense in my life, and I had finally psychiatric disturbance in such a high degree that I made two attempts of suicide. All my life crashed and was broken.
As two times I wanted to end with life and could not, I was in fear to try again, and I thought I could possibly make a new start by my own and open a healing center (I had the diplomas I needed). For this project I needed a medium. I asked a young girl at work to come with me on a hill and to make a spiritual experience. She answered she found answer to her life questions in reading the Bible. If she had spoken about going to church I would have cut discussion, but she spoke about reading the Bible.
The Bible??? I looked for one and started to read…….
If I choose you, it is because of the description what you enjoy in your free time:
Long distance running (I like riding a bicycle and Nordic walking)
International politics (I am interested also in this topic, but with Islam taking over more and more power in Europe, I study Islam actually)
Engaging in endless debates on science, religion and philosophy (this made it very attractive for me to contact you, I could not find this with another contacts on the site)
Here where I live: In La Chaux-de-Fonds which is in the French part of Switzerland, near the border of France
I appreciate such a long, dedicated response. It sounds like you have been through some powerful, life-changing experiences during your journey for spiritual satisfaction and serenity. I am happy that you were able to find Solace from the Bible, a book that has, and undoubtedly will, continue to influence many generations to come.
I too have read the Bible and was even fairly religious at one point in my life, attending Yeshiva, or a Jewish religious learning school. However, the experience I had propelled me in the opposite direction than yours. I felt a palpable disconnect between logic, reason and science and many of the concepts that I was being taught in Yeshiva. Eventually, I concluded that religious life was not something that was important for me personally, and I’ve learned to find great meaning and peace without having to believe in a personal God. As human beings, we are blessed with an enormous intellect that has given us the ability to analyze the meaning of our own existence, whether that meaning is actually real or imagined. However, I want you to understand that I respect individuals of all faith and backgrounds, and am very happy to hear that you’ve managed to find a path that has provided you with a reason to appreciate life and be satisfied with this incredible journey we call life.
Please be in touch and have a wonderful week. All the best from Israel.
When I read my Bible and think about you, the Jewish people, I feel so unhappy of what Christians did to you and I ask myself how it is that Christians can read the Scriptures and be anti-Semites. One day, if you want, we can analyze the question on the basis of historical facts.
I first heard about the Shoah soon after starting to read the Bible. – I understood from the Bible God had a plan for the entire world through the Jewish people, and we would be blessed if we bless you (Genesis 12:3).
I was very excited about that. So I asked God (in 1990) where are the Jews today??? I never realized we had a Synagogue in our city, and I even did not know what a Synagogue was. By then I was 45 years old. All this life focusing on occult sciences brought my husband and me in a total isolation with only little concern to reality in life. Even our eating was part of religion (in spiritual Yoga) and a step to Paradise with strict rules what to eat and how to eat. (It is no comparison with eating casher; I mean the biblical casher food, not what the orthodox Jews claim. For example, the Bible says in Exodus 23:19 “Do not cook a young sheep or goat in its mother’s milk” and the orthodox families need to separate the dishes and not use the same plate for meet and any product of milk. If this was what God wanted, Abraham would have been the first to break the law, because he served the three heavenly guests meat and milk together!!! (Genesis 18.8). You may respond that Abraham lived long before the Law was given. Okay, if Abraham had an excuse, the three guests would not have, because it is said concerning them: “The LORD appeared to Abraham at the sacred trees of Mamre” (Genesis 18:1).
Very soon, God answered my question concerning the Jews living today, and I got in touch with a Survivor who told me what happened in Auschwitz. I felt so shocked that for one week I could not pray, and only repeated “Why? Why did God not stop this horror???” – It is twenty years by now, and I still cannot understand the Shoah (who can?) Yet I believe God did not forget you and did never give up His plan with you.
The second shock about God being silent was in an evening program in Sar-el. The Madricha told us what happened in Beaufort, near the Litani River in the 1982 Lebanon War. I cried and could not stop crying. When I was back at home, I read about the Israel wars, realizing the suffering of the chosen people, God brought back in their land according to Ezekiel 11:17. I felt so depressed, saying “God, why did You not protect these young soldiers, why must your people suffer so much?” And still I believe God did not forget you and did never give up His plan with you.
Yes, the God of Israel is a God who speaks to us, the same He spoke to your people in biblical time, when we search Him with our heart. You told me you do not believe in wonders, do you? I answer: “Aren’t you a wonder yourself, Avi? You were so many times at the front line and confronted with terror attacks; who else than God could protect you? And isn’t it a wonder the Jewish people is back to the land and Israel’s existence? The Jewish people went through so many genocides starting with the Pharaoh who commanded to drown the Jewish baby boys, and all the Hamas and Hitlers through History wanting to destroy you. In spite of all these efforts to extinguish the Jews, you are a living. If we think that Israel, one day after declaring independence and in the Six Day War, being almost without war material, was heavily attacked by the Arab nations equipped with weapons, tanks and bombers (probably also U-boats) – wasn’t it a wonder that they survived and reconquered the Golan heights, Jerusalem and the Westbank? There was no rest for them, and today, Israel is a modern democratic State … what can it be else if not a wonderful testimony that your God is faithful?
Would you mind give me some examples of what does not connect with the Bible and science and logic reasons? I do not refer to the Talmud, but to the Tanakh. (I believe the Talmud is wisdom from man and the Bible is wisdom from God).
Yes, you are right: Man is so intelligent that he invented nuclear weapons to blow up the whole planet and himself. And he is so intelligent that he finds a way to extend life of old people, but he also helps aborting babies. He has a big knowledge about healthy food and the need of vitamins and mineral salts, but he cannot control pollution that brings more and more diseases. Man can do incredible things, but he cannot create life.
But we do not want to forget all these wonderful people, and you are part of them, who give their life to save life.
I do not blame what you say intellectual gifts of human being, I refer to what I experienced in my own life. As our lives end with dead, no matter if we are good or bad people (Do you believe there is a day coming God will judge the world?), this must is the problem of all of us: Without an existing God who interferes in our personal life, life is just absurd. After 6000 years of man’s History, the world crying for peace, there is in modern time more war than ever. 50’000 people were killed in Second World War, and man still learns nothing from History. And – without an explanation on the spiritual impact – how can it be that man is so “intelligent” that the whole world thinks that if tiny Israel is giving his already restricted land to the Palestinians (who are an artificial people intended to cheat the world and occupy your land) there will be peace, at least in Middle East. How can an intelligent man like Obama have such a failure in his brain to believe he can be a friend of Islam who has the goal to take control over America? If he does not understand the 11th September and the cruel persecution of Christians in Islamic states, what does it need to make him understand?
Yourself are surely intelligent on a high level and the Jewish People is gifted more than any other people (At least 181 Jews and people of half- or three-quarters-Jewish ancestry have been awarded the Nobel Prize), and yet I believe you cannot find peace and rest in your soul without your God.
that has given us the ability to analyze the meaning of our own existence, whether that meaning is actually real or imagined.
Would you mind telling me which is the result of your conclusion concerning the meaning of your own existence?
And what does it bring to you that your conviction (real or imagined) has no impact on your everyday life and no answers to the question what is the purpose of your life?
There are some existential questions we need an answer; if not we can easily fall into a black hole of nonsense in life leading to all kind of crises in some bad conditions of our life.
Shakespeare said « To be, or not to be: that is the question ». And: “As flies to wanton boys, are we to the gods; they kill us for their sport.”
In Ancient Greece there was a story about a man called Sisyphe (an absurd reasoning, the absurd man, an absurd creation).
King Solomon, the wisest man all over the world, said in Ecclesiastes 1.14: “I have seen everything done in this world, and I tell you, it is all useless. It is like chasing the wind.”
I do not want to penetrate into your private and intimate space, please feel free not to answer some questions if it hurts you.
I fully believe what you say, Avi, and I find it amazing that after all this suffering and danger, almost the whole world standing against Israel, you can still have such a respect for other people.
What means “life” for you?
Your knowledge of the Bible is indeed very impressive, and it is apparent that it has had an incredible impact on your life. I should be clear in my views: I am not a theist, or one who believes in a personal God that answers prayers or interferes with the established laws of nature to impose his will. If anything, I am a deist, or someone who believes that there is some sort of entity or of (currently) unimaginable power that may have put the relatively simple laws of nature into motion, which allowed the existence of our universe to be possible and function as it does. However, I don’t believe that this being is associated whatsoever with revealed religion or religious text.
Religion and science, specifically canonical religion and science, clash on several levels. For the sake of brevity, I will just list some of them here: Old Earth-Young Earth/Evolution vs. Creationism, Reason vs. Faith, the irreconcilable problem of diversity of religion and universal truth claims, the idea of subjective/objective morality, Naturalism vs Supernaturalism and human sexuality. These are more or less some of the main areas of conflict between the two fields. On many levels, they are not reconcilable, at least in my own eyes.
It is important to stress that I never claimed that I don’t believe in the wonders of God. In fact, I believe the laws of science and our existence clearly indicate the existence of some type of power or being that cannot be described which individuals like you and me label as God. The fact that our universe even exists is unimaginably improbable and equally wondrous in this respect. However, I believe there is little to no convincing evidence of a personal God that answers prayers, performs miracles, or operates outside of the laws of physics, biology and astronomy, and I would challenge anyone to prove this otherwise. Objective research into the claims of miracles have always proven supposed miracles to be false after proper investigation.
The tragic examples you’ve provided that are inexplicable on so many levels, such as the Shoah and other horrific events that have happened to the Jews and others, can also be used to produce an alternative perspective on God. Indeed, two of the most common (and equally terrifying) theories proposed about why the Holocaust occurred was A.) because the Jewish people had assimilated and been punished by God for their transgressions, which is impossible to fathom in the context of any moral action by God, or B.) That the Jews suffered in Europe in order to be given the right to return to the Israel…AKA our brothers were sacrificed so we could return to this land. Why did 6 million of my ancestors have to die in order for us to return to a land where our existence has been consistently and relentlessly threatened by a sea of enemies in a state about the size of Maryland? We’ve seen extremely bloody wars in our history and we will surely face many more. This surmounts to Justice for the Jewish people in the eyes of God? I have an extremely difficult time believing that to be true or moral in any sense of those words.
Many other people in Africa, the Middle East, Asia, Europe and South America suffered extensive programs, genocide and tragedies befallen on them and received no state, no recognition, no political rights or freedoms. Are we to believe that the Jews deserved this redemption any more than they did? Is that truly moral if we believe in objective morality, or morality that is more or less universally agreed upon?
Unfortunately, we do possess amazing intellect, but humans are not fully rational beings. We are impulsive, emotional, and brought up in different religions, cultures and societal values that allow us to view the world with differing, non-linear, perspective. The examples you gave of individuals believing strongly in controversial ideas that you personally don’t believe in affirm this truth. Individuals who look at the Israeli-Palestinian conflict with Israel as the guilty party ostensibly believe in the idea of universal human rights and the right of self-determination for the Palestinian people. However, they may not understand how complex the process of establishing two viable states that have extremely different ideological, political, religious and economic and social outlooks on life. However, for the benefit of both peoples, I believe the two-state solution is the most viable option for establishing a comprehensive peace with the Palestinian people.
Simply put, I do not believe in a day of judgment. In my opinion, the Bible makes a universal truth claim that it is the word of God. That proposal is either true or false. I believe that there is a substantial amount of scientific and historical evidence that proves it to be a beautifully written work of ancient religious leaders. However, these individuals searched for a way to explain the fascinating phenomenon around us, and religious explanation was the most suitable and reliable form to explain the unknown. However, today we have made discoveries that have refuted many religious claims, such that as the Earth is the center of the universe, or the world is flat.
You ask me about what I believe is the meaning of life? The fact that we are even alive is a wondrous achievement that may be beyond our own comprehension on how life came into being. However, I believe that just because religion provides somebody comfort and happiness doesn’t necessarily mean that it is true. In fact, there is an overwhelming amount of evidence that suggests that religion is indeed a man-made phenomenon. The fact that life may have no meaning in the religious sense is actually a powerful motivator for me to appreciate every unlikely, inconceivable moment we have on this planet.
Hopefully this has given you some insight into my own insights on the topic of religion and the Bible. I’ll look forward to receiving your response.
You are just incredible! In a flash of time you write about so many subjects that it seems to me I needed a week and more full day job to touch only some of them. Thank you that you let me know in your letter a bit more about your faith and convictions.
Thank you for your compliment; I do not know how good my Bible knowledge is, I need a Concordance to find the verses, but it is true I have the Scriptures in my heart and I know who is God for me. In the Bible I find the answers to my questions of life, and – I say it with the words of Job in chapter 19:25 – “I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand on the earth.” For me, it sounds like this: … and in the end He will stand over my life. Yes, God changed my heart and gave me a new start in life. Before, I had violence and hatred in my heart. If someone did wrong to me, I hit back two times wrong and I called it justice. I aborted my babies saying I can decide over their life. Of course, I was not a criminal in the eyes of man, I did also good deeds. With God’s light shining into my heart I realized that the good I did, I did it for me. Sure, I loved my husband and his two children I adopted. He was so talented I made out an idol of him (yes, he was a god for me). As he could not respond to this standard, in some way I hated him, I blamed him for not being able to satisfy my expectations, although he was the only man I loved. I finally realized that the person I most hated was myself, and what I did good for others I did it basically in my own interest. What a mess! After I cried to God, my life changed radically. First of all I needed forgiveness. Before my husband died, I asked him for forgiveness and I had peace in my heart because I knew God had forgiven me. Then started the big adventure in my life: I discovered what love is and I experienced that it is possible to give love to others without expecting a return. Of course I do not speak about sex here. If I had to make a diagnostic of what my biggest problem was, I would say: rejection. Feeling rejected, I rejected to protect myself. In despair in my negative world, I could no longer appreciate life, even worse: I could no longer afford life. If God would not have had mercy on me; if, reading the Bible, I would not understand He accepts me for who I am in my being, I would surely have definitely killed myself. Of course I needed deliverance from feelings of guilt, and step by step the Lord brought me out of my spoilt life. In these occult practices, if you do not reach the level they promise, there is only one possible explanation: it is your own fault. So you are taken deeper and deeper in the trap of dependence of spirits. I knew there was no issue in this, but I was like a fly captured in a spider’s web; the more I struggled to get out, the more I was taken in. Only God could give me healing and a new life. This does not mean I have no problem in my life today. But I know there is a loving God helping me to overcome and to take victory on my problems. And if it is too heavy burden, He takes it on His shoulders and I am free. This is not an unrealistic spiritual experience; it is daily practical experience. There is nothing better than to navigate life hand in hand with a Father God. I believe God is so great that He can enter into my little world the same as He can rule the universe.
Telling you this, I think we should one day speak about demoniac influence in the world and in man’s life.
Coming back to our sharing: I am blessed if you accept to touch the depth of the human soul, and we certainly agree that there is no issue out of the existence and concern of God. I experienced psychology and psychiatry – they are able and capable to show us our problem, and that is precious, but they cannot give us the end of our problem. So they try to teach us how to live with our problem, or how to move the problem.
You are a Jew and I am a Goyim. I have the Bible and the Prophets from the Jewish people. The B’rit Hadasha is also a Jewish book and says: “As a matter of fact, the Gentiles have an obligation to help the Jews. Since the Jews shared their spiritual blessings with the Gentiles, the Gentiles ought to use their material blessings to help the Jews.” (!!!) Some Christian organizations do, for example Israelwerke Schweiz, Christian Friends of Israel etc.
As a Christian I believe Jesus is the One the prophets announced, but of course I believe in only ONE God. Anyway, I have to make the point that my Savior is a Jew. I can read in the B’rit Hadasha what Jesus said himself: “It is from the Jews that salvation comes”. What does this mean for the three monotheist religions?
Concerning the Arabs: Let us read what the Bible says: The Lord said to Hagar: “Your son will live like a wild donkey; he will be against everyone, and everyone will be against him.” Genesis 16:12
God said to Abraham: “Your wife Sarah will bear you a son and you will name him Isaac. I will keep my covenant with him and with his descendants forever. It is an everlasting covenant. I have heard your request about Ishmael, so I will bless him … and I will make a great nation of his descendants. But I will keep my covenant with your son Isaac.” Genesis 17.19-21
My comment: God always keeps his promises. The Arabs are blessed with Petrol, but all they can think about is to use the money to make war against Israel. They cannot trust themselves, but when it is question to attack Israel, they are one soul and one spirit.
Concerning the Christians: Let us see what the B’rit Hadasha says: “They (the Jews) are God’s people; he made them his children and revealed his glory to them; he made his covenants with them…. God has not rejected his people, whom he chose from the beginning… Some of the branches of the cultivated olive tree (Israel) have been broken off, and a branch of a wild olive tree (the Goyim trusting in the God of Israel) has been joined to it. You Gentiles are like that wild olive tree, and now you share the strong spiritual life of the Jews. So then, you must not despise those who were broken off like branches. How can you be proud? You are just a branch; you do not support the roots – the roots support you…. God did not spare the Jews, who are like natural branches; do you think he will spare you? If the Jews abandon their unbelief, they will be put back in the place where they were; for God is able to do that… And this is how all Israel will be saved: (Isaiah 59.20 : “The Lord will clothe himself with the strong desire to set things right and to punish and avenge the wrongs that people suffer. He will punish his enemies according to what they have done, even those who live in distant lands. The Lord says to his people (Israel) “A Redeemer will come to Zion, and unto them that turn from transgression in Jacob”
My comment: According to the Bible, God leads His plan for the world through Israel, and even if Israel failed, God has no second plan; He goes on with you until the end. All your prophets speak about the time when salvation comes out of Zion’s hills. The Gentiles have always been part of God’s plan, but they will never be a substitute for the call God had for you. Nevertheless this is taught in Christian Bible schools and institutes (called “Replacement Theology”), and it is a big lie, such as it is a big lie Israel belongs to the Palestinians.
This opens a window on three sides of your suffering.
– You are God’s chosen people, and the world hates you because the world hates God.
– Arabs and Christians are fighting against you because of jealousy according to what the Bible says.
– You are suffering for me and all the Goyim who will trust in your God, because we can read in the B’rit Hadasha: “It is that the stubbornness of the people of Israel is not permanent, but will last only until the complete number of Gentiles comes to God.”
I am not a theist, or one who believes in a personal God that answers prayers or interferes with the established laws of nature to impose his will.
This could make relationship difficult between us, if you came to the conclusion I wanted to “convert” you. The word “convert” can lead to a terrible misunderstanding. It has a different meaning for Jews and Gentiles. It was a crime when the Catholic Church converted Jews by force to accept the catholic religion; if not they were tortured. A Jew is always a Jew whatever he believes. This is not the same with a Christian, according to what the Bible says. A Gentile has to convert from paganism – not to Judaism, but to the God of Israel. It makes it very confusing that the Catholic and Protestant churches baptize babies to make them to be Christians. This is a nonsense, and yet most of the Christians believe it!
To make it short: I respect you whatever you believe and I try to understand, might it be in contradiction to what says the Bible. Also I invite you to criticize what I write.
A God who wants to impose his will:
The Bible starts with “God created the universe”. There is no explanation Who God is, no introduction, but the affirmation GOD IS. Very soon after God created man, He gave a law, allowing man to eat from any tree except from one, if not he would die. (There were thousands of trees with good fruit, only one was forbidden).
Suppose we both arrive at a road junction at the same moment; you are running and I am riding on my bike. Each one of us wants to be emancipated enough to feel free of law and not care about the traffic lights. What happens? We cross on red light and crash is perfect. I believe God gave the commandments to protect us, and the curse if we do not keep them is that we do harm to ourselves and to others when we brake God’s good laws. Consider what happens today in Europe. We do not want any more God’s good commandments, and there is pedophilia, violence and rape in schools and all over.
Now let’s see in what kind of God you believe.
You are right, saying “an unimaginable power”. The Bible says God is Spirit. I also agree that through His power God created the world and makes it function as it does. There is no other possibility. If even a matter, let’s say a car, needs an engineer, how much more creation of nature. It is a miracle in every detail, an incredible beauty and an amazing power in what God created.
Religion. Wikipedia gives this explanation which seems to be correct: Religion is a cultural system that establishes symbols that relate humanity to spirituality and moral values. Many religions have narratives, symbols, traditions and sacred histories that are intended to give meaning to life or to explain the origin of life or the universe. They tend to derive morality, ethics, religious laws or a preferred lifestyle from their ideas about the cosmos and human nature.
Religion is also in my understanding a cultural system man created. I believe God has nothing to do with religion, because “God created man to His image and He breathed life-giving breath into his nostrils and the man began to live”. Before man, God created the nature, the animals and a beautiful garden (called the Paradise) with all what man needed to live, and He gave man authority over the creation.
You say it so nice, in such distinguish words. Creation is something we cannot exhaust in our limited possibilities compared to what nature is. How much more we cannot exhaust who God is. I am excited to hear more how you describe what you think or feel He is.
The only ONE who can face your challenge is God Himself. Only He can prove to you that He is a loving God and that He wanted to enter into your life. He will never impose His will to you, never.
I believe God created man to share the beauty of creation and to love each other. The more I have true love, the more I want to give of myself and make happy the person I love. Sterile love is not real love; love needs to give away our heart for what is precious to us.
So – as the Bible says God is LOVE, He has to prove you He gives away His heart for you.
I want to tell you a little story. Perhaps you heard it already. A Christian is sitting on a bench with his open Bible on his knees. Suddenly he stands up and lifts his hands to praise God. At this very moment an Atheist comes nearby and asks what the Christian was so excited about? The man answers: “Can you imagine! God is so great, He opened the sea to bring the Hebrew people out of Egypt, and they went through the water without getting wet!” – “There is nothing easier” responded the Atheist; the water was only 20 cm deep at this place. The Christian was embarrassed and the Atheist went his way very satisfied of what he said. Suddenly he heard the Christian worshipping again. He ran back and asked “What is it now?” – The Christian was overjoyed and shouted: “Look, God is even greater than I thought – if not, how could he drown all the army of Pharaoh in only 20 cm deep of water?”
Again, I can only speak of what I experienced in my life. There are two kinds of judgment. One is that God wants people to repent and to turn away from evil things. This is the biblical meaning of “conversion” = coming back to God and accept His commandments.
Throughout the biblical story of your people, they always turned away from God and they followed the pagan gods. God sent them judgment which is – in this case – trying to make them understand that running away from His caring Love, they will experience suffering. This kind of judgment will not destroy them but bring them back home, to their God. I believe you do the same in education of your child. It he does not listen to your many warnings, you let him go into trouble so that he may experience what it is to disobey his father’s good advice.
Judgment for justice
If God would not judge the world at a fixed date, He would be an unjust God and I would nothing have to do anymore with such a God. Do you believe the Deluge happened? Let us see what says the Bible about in Genesis 6: “When the Lord saw how wicked everyone on earth was and how evil their thoughts were all the time, he was sorry that he had ever made them and put them on the earth. He was so filled with regret that he said, “I will wipe out these people I have created, and also the animals and the birds, because I am sorry that I made any of them.” But the Lord was pleased with Noah. Noah was the only good man of his time. He lived in fellowship with God, but everyone else was evil in God’s sight, and violence had spread everywhere. God looked at the world and saw that it was evil, for the people were all living evil lives.”
In Joel 3:1-2 we read: The Lord says, “At that time (we have no precision about the date, but we are surely in an apocalyptic time, so it might be soon) I will restore the prosperity of Judah and Jerusalem. I will gather all the nations and bring them to the Valley of Judgment (The Valley of Jezreel or plain of Meggido). There I will judge them for all they have done to my people. They have scattered the Israelites in foreign countries and divides up Israel, my land.*
God Himself claims being the owner of your land. Therefore, in a logical way, all the harm people do to you they do it to God.
I have no theological answer to the question what the Bible is, I say it with the words of King David in Psalm 119:105 : “Your word is a lamp to guide me and a light for my path.” The biggest objection against the Bible being God’s Word might be that the Bible is written by men and that it comes from Israel and not from Heaven.
That is true, but what is the difference between the Bible and any other book written by men? No other book transformed the world in such a radical way; no other book has survived to so many attacks trying to destroy it, no other book changed so many lives. If I count the writers of the Tanakh, I find more than 30 different authors. They were from many different lineage and education in many different times, so that one could not tell the other what they were writing, to make out of the Bible a united book. Then the Bible is a book of prophecies. The best test if it is from God (inspired to men) or from man (religious leaders writing down his philosophies) is to check if the prophecies have been exactly fulfilled or not. You could certainly give me some good teaching concerning this point.
I can find two examples concerning Israel:
Moses said in Deut. 30:3-4 : The Lord your God will bring you back from the nations where he has scattered you, and he will make you prosperous again. Even if you are scattered to the farthest corners of the earth, the Lord your God will gather you together and bring you back, so that you may again take possession of the land where your ancestors once lived.
Only three years after the Shoah the State of Israel was proclaimed; so this prophecy is fulfilled after two thousand years of scattering after the Temple was destroyed.
In Genesis 15:13-14 the Lord said to Abraham: Your descendants will be strangers in a foreign land; they will be slaves there and will be treated cruelly for four hundred years. But I will punish the nation that enslaves them, and when they leave that foreign land, they will take great wealth with them.
This is what happened, when God brought you out of Egypt.
Yes, you are right. But can you find discoveries that have refuted the authenticity of the Bible? Christians say there is an original Isaiah scroll of Qumran in the library of the University of Jerusalem and it is the same text as we have in our Bible. (As I have an English Bible in currant language for better understanding, it is of course a difference in translation but not in the meaning. The basic text is in the Hebrew Bible).
Wait a moment … Yes, we should appreciate all the valuable things in life. But what do you think is coming after death?
You believe in God but – if I understand right – not in a God who wants to establish personal relationship with you.
So what about Moses on Mount Sinai? What about Abraham, and what about the Prophets? And last but not least what about Kind David who had a very intimate relationship with God? Please read again Psalm 23.
Should God not be the same today and speak to you and me also? I remember, it is said in Jeremy 29:13 : “You will seek me, and you will find me because you will seek me with all your heart.” It’s up to us to accept the challenge.
Thank you for the thoughtful response. For the sake of time and brevity, however, I will only be able to respond to the points you raised against my letter.
Firstly, I do not believe you are trying to convert me. As certain as you are in your beliefs, I am equally as certain in mine. This can make a debate very interesting, even complicated, which is why it is important to keep in open mind. I certainly am always open to new ideas.
The design argument you use to highlight the complexity of life, such as the car needs and engineer, has been thoroughly challenged with the staggering amount of evidence for Darwinian Evolution through Natural Selection. Also known as the “blind watchmaker,” evolution through natural selection completely shatters the need for any designer and in fact provides us with innumerable examples where objects in nature have evolved in ways that illustrates how imperfect and inefficient all living things are. Evolution shows that we were not designed, but evolved from much more simpler beginnings, confirmed by the human genome project that shows we share DNA with every single organism on this planet. It is simply fascinating.
Furthermore, God gave us an enormous amount of evidence to prove that evolution is true, why would he put so much effort to deceive us? To make us struggle to prove our faith in him? Does that really sound moral to you?
There are many commandments that God commands us to keep in the Bible which indeed go unadhered in modern times and would appear explicitly immoral if performed today, such as stoning woman for adultery and the killing of homosexuals for engaging in their natural, genetic sexual desires. God also orders the genocide of several populations in the Bible for supposed reasons of immorality, and charges the Hebrews to kill every man and child but “keep the women who are untouched for themselves” (Numbers 31:18). Does that sound moral? The Bible sanctions slavery and murder in an odd number of cases, It postulates to stone disobedient children (Deut 21, 18-21), Subjugates women to servitude to men (1 Corinthians 11:9), and purports ultimate, eternal punishment to individuals who don’t believe in a specific set of religious beliefs, even when thousands of religions have come into existence, each making universal, and contradictory, truth claims. The last object sounds to me to be, perhaps, the most immoral thing I could ever imagine.
If you’d like an extremely thorough understanding of where the Bible contradicts with science, or supports what I believe to be immoral behavior, I suggest you read an excellent analysis provided by the American Humanist Organization, found here. There are so many contradictions that it would personally take me ages to write them, and this organization does an excellent job outlining the major areas of contradiction.
The story you outline of the Christian and the atheist highlights what I believe to be one of the most dangerous aspects of fundamental religious faith: an acceptance of purportedly divine concepts even with when evidence or reason provides us with massive proof that proves a story to be untrue. This sort of blind faith can be dangerous, and pushes peoples to not only reject logical inquiry and the reasoning skills that a personal God presumably bestowed upon us, but to continue to believe illogical faith-based dogmas even after claims are proven to be dubious or completely untrue. I think this can be very dangerous and harmful to the progression of the human race. Why would we believe in something in which our human senses and knowledge (supposedly bestowed by God) lead us to the realization that such an outcome is impossible? The contradiction is worth noting.
You cite what is going on in Europe (even though the same actions are found in every other country) as evidence of immorality, but the argument seems to me to be illogical. There have been rape, violence and pedophilia for many thousands of years, ubiquitously, and even sanctioned in other religions that existed before the canonical religions. They existed within the confines of religion and also without it. These actions occurred in the past, present, and undoubtedly in the future. The simple fact is that even without religion, athiests can be completely rational and moral individuals without any exposure to canonical religion. More specifically, we can find completely moral individuals who don’t believe in God or have even heard of the Bible. There are also many commandments that appear to advocate actions that are, in my eyes, highly immoral (i.e. stoning of children, selling daughters into slavery, etc) and contradictory to human survival and instinct (turn the other cheek mentality, which is distinctly at odds with the idea of the survival of the fittest). I see way to many contradictions in these areas that prohibit me from taking any literal interpretation of the Bible seriously.
Why is there no other possibility that the universe came along without some sort of God-like figure? Because our limited minds are unable to process the absolute nature of the universe and existence, at least at the moment? I simply can’t accept that argument. It’s like saying “because we can’t explain something, let’s attribute that unknown to something called ‘God.’” That seems to be the ultimate cop-out, something that religious leaders in ancient times did to explain events and phenomena that science has now explained. Perhaps we will one day discover that there is indeed a perfectly rational, indeed probable, explanation for how the universe came about. Many hardworking physicists are working tirelessly right now to determine exactly how such an event occurred. Just because we don’t know now doesn’t mean we should label that lack of understanding “God.”
I personally don’t need to ponder about the nature of God, since I believe that no matter how our universe’s humble beginnings exploded into existence, it is was the result of something that is currently way beyond any human comprehension or understanding. I am unable to believe that any other individual can successfully provide me with a suitable, evidence-based explanation for how we came into existence. This is exactly my point: I don’t know the truth and religious believers don’t really know the truth, but usually religious believers attempt to persuade individuals that their truth is absolute although it is based on on supposed revelations and anecdotal evidence, not through quantitative measurements. Their faith allows them to believe they know the truth. I find this notion very disturbing.
You ask the question of what I believe happens when we die: I do not know, and I don’t believe anyone else knows, either. We know one thing absolutely: our bodies eventually rot away and become one with the soil. If you believe in an everlasting soul, than perhaps there is an afterlife. However, there is not a single piece of objective, verifiable evidence to support the idea that such a belief is true. Perhaps it gives us comfort, but again, that says nothing about the veracity of the claim. It may simply be wishful thinking.
Your citation of Genesis 6 also brings up a questionable premise: An omniscient, omnipotent, omnipresent figure that creates imperfect beings with which he becomes unhappy, even angry and regretful, of his decision. There is a powerful contradiction here: isn’t God inerrant? Why does God display such unmistakably human emotions (regret, jealousy, envy, anger, happiness), shouldn’t he be immune to such things? These are very difficult questions to answer in a substantive manner if you believe in a personal God.
My main point here is it is much more difficult to justify a personal God within the framework of objective morality than a non-personal being: something that created the basic principles of the world but does not influence or judge its outcome. That seems much more easily to rationalize than a personal God.
Nearly every generation since the death of Jesus has trumpeted the apparent truth that they were living in an apocalyptic time, and our generation is no different. After thousands of years of so many failed attempts, including Harold Camping’s recent failed prediction, don’t you think it’s time to take a step back and observe our surroundings with a sense of healthy skepticism?
The Bible has indeed influenced individuals on a global scale, but so have many different books, especially those within the fields of philosophy, mathematics and the sciences. Individuals such as Confucius, Aristotle, Plato, Galileo, Shakespeare, Einstein, Newton and Homer have also created masterpieces in these fields that have been spread the world over, and many times it was the Bible-believing community that worked diligently to suppress or destroy these teachings because they contradicted the teachings of the Bible.
You state that God has brought the Jewish people back to Israel as was promised. However, the majority of the Jewish people still reside outside of the State of Israel. The current State of Israel does not resemble, in size or shape, Biblical Israel, which was several times larger than the current state.
The Jewish exodus out of Egypt has been thoroughly disputed by many leading archeologists, I would suggest you investigate the subject yourself to find out what their positions are, it is quite fascinating.
You claim that God asks us to seek him, because in the eyes of the believer, God is the ultimate truth. He has given us an extensive set of tools to research the universe around us and which had led us to discover a new set of evidence for a truth that comes into conflict with the claims made in the Bible. Reconciling faith and religion based on this reality has proven to be quite difficult.
The story of the Jewish people is one of collective memory. Even if every single story in the Bible were proven to be completely false, the Tanakh is the embodiment of our culture and nationality. I haven’t shed my Jewish identity just because I don’t personally believe in every single allegory in the Bible, I still celebrate Jewish holidays, speak the language, live in Israel – the homeland of the Jewish people, and will raise my children in the Jewish tradition. It is part of my identity, one that I am willing to defend by serving my country with the willingness of giving my life to protect its. I am able to see the value and beauty of this without having to factor in a personal God.
As for peace negotiations, you are correct; the State of Israel is faced with unique and enormous challenges that threaten its existence, which is why we must garner support from the international community and remain vigilant in the right to defend ourselves from our enemies. Right now public sympathy seems to reside with the Palestinians, and their plight of living under Israeli rule is completely legitimate. It is a problem that must be solved quickly and effectively. The status quo simply cannot continue, which is why Israelis and Palestinians must engage in direct and honest dialogue to attempt to solve the underlying issues that have plagued our region for decades. You believe that God is watching over us here in Israel, so what do you suppose he is doing as the Palestinians struggle for their right to self-determination in ways that mirror our own struggle for independence back in the 1940’s?
I am impressed by the dedication you possess towards your faith, and I am honored that you consider me in your prayers. I hope that your faith will continue to provide happiness and satisfaction to your life, and look forward to speaking with you gain in the future.