Saturday, July 23, 2011

These are the kinds of question that bother me, too

Jerry makes several points here, but the one I want to pick up on is this:

Now Rabbi Yoffie is a Jew, so he doesn’t accept the New Testament.  So what kind of morality can he get from the Old Testament? Well, here are a few of the things that Yahweh approves or sanctions in that book:

  • slavery
  • genocide, including women and children
  • the killing of adulterers
  • the killing of homosexuals
  • the stoning to death of nonvirgin bride

That stuff was okay by God.  Is it not okay by Rabbi Yoffie? If not, why not?  Was it okay back then, but not now? Or if it was never okay, then why doesn’t the Rabbi approve of this stuff? Could it be that Yoffie picks and chooses his Biblical morality based on secular considerations?  Maybe he should read Plato’s Euthyphro.

Why indeed?  It’s such a transparently obvious question that I can’t believe all these ‘sophisticated theologians’ we keep hearing about haven’t thought about it.  But instead, they seem to blithely pretend it doesn’t exist.

Yoni has a stab at the question in Jerry’s comments at the above link.  He begins by entirely missing the point, then just throws out what he calls ‘nuance’, but is in fact just using deeper-sounding words: ‘natural morality’ instead of ‘secular reasoning’.  Even if we accept that ‘natural morality’ has a meaning distinct from a changing zeitgeist or whatever else we might wish to call it, we still face the problem of where that comes from, why it’s there and why it differs so much from scripture.

And MWalton mentions the man who was stoned to death for gathering sticks on the Sabbath (Numbers 14:33) and hilariously wonders whether gathering the stones shouldn’t also carry the offense of stoning…

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