Tag Archive: Isaiah 53:5 Project

The Isaiah 53:5 Project Shows Evidence for God by Quoting the Bible

evidence for god

Every day, without fail, I spend time reading numerous Evangelical Christian blogs and websites. Doing so allows me to stay informed about what goes on in the insane asylum. One such blog is the Isaiah 53:5 Project — a site I have used as blog fodder numerous times before. Today, a man by the name of James wrote a post titled, Not Enough Evidence God. (link no longer active) I thought, oh boy, this ought to be good.

James starts out by saying that this post is a repost of one of the blog’s most-read articles. He goes on to say “If you think there is no evidence to support Christianity, you may want to think again. I thought, okay, James is going to present evidence that supports the existence of the Christian God. Perhaps he is even going to present evidence to support a virgin having a baby, dead people coming back to life, and a man walking through walls. Sadly, James left me quite disappointed. No cigarette after reading this post.

James quotes 19th-century atheist Bertrand Russell’s response to the question, What will you say some day when God asks you, why didn’t you believe in me? Russell replied: “I would say, ‘Not enough evidence, God! Not enough evidence!’” Again, James raises the issue of evidence. I thought, here it comes. Finally, an Evangelical is going to give the evidences for the existence of the Evangelical version of the Christian God. Once again, James leaves me disappointed.

According to James, Russell’s answer is, and I quote, “loaded with problems.” I thought, okay, loaded with problems. James is now going to unpack his powerful arsenal of proofs and slay the mighty dragon of atheism. My body tingled with excitement as I pondered what was coming next. I thought, oh how I want to be a Christian again. Finally, someone is going to give me sufficient reasons to believe the Christian narrative. And, just like that, James, ever the tease, left me, yet again, disappointed.

After James’ coitus-like build-up, I was expecting a rousing defense of Christianity. Instead, James showed that he was a virgin and in but a few moments the deed was done. The only evidence James gave for the existence of the Christian God was the tired, worn out Evangelical trope, the Bible says __________. That’s right — for all his talk about evidence, James gives none. Lest you doubt that I am accurately reporting James’ magnum opus, here is exactly what he had to say:

Problem number one is what God Himself has to say. I don’t think He minces any words here. [emphasis added]

“For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities–his eternal power and divine nature–have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.”

– Romans 1:20

…without excuse

…without excuse

…without excuse

Let that sink in a minute then ask yourself if Russell is making the arrogant mistake of blaming his lack of belief on the failure of a divine being who can do no wrong and gave humanity no excuse.

Are you making the same mistake Russell did? If so, how do you think the conversation at judgment will go?

You: “Not enough evidence, God! Not enough evidence!”

God: “…without excuse.”

Seems fairly cut and dry to me.

“Do you see a man who is wise in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.”

– Proverbs 26:12

That’s it. According to James, the Bible says God reveals himself through creation, and that by looking at creation, humans know that God exists. Those who look at creation and do not see God are deliberately ignoring what is plain for all to see. Thus, those who refuse to acknowledge God are without excuse. As I read this, I thought, That’s it, James? Come on, surely you have more evidence for God than this?

I wonder if James has ever had someone actually challenge his beliefs? According to a comment he left on his post, James was, at one time, an atheist (a claim I would love to see him support). (Please read, Dear Christians: The Word “Atheist” is Not Shorthand for Your Lives Before Jesus and I Was an Atheist Like You Before I Found Jesus.) James’ one-point evidence for the existence of the Evangelical God can be easily and quickly refuted.

When someone uses Romans 1:18-21 as “proof” for the existence of God, I quickly grant them their assertion. Fine, I say. I accept your claim that creation reveals to everyone the existence of God. Usually, Evangelicals are taken aback when I do this, but they fail to see that what I am really doing is setting a trap.

After I admit that someone could look at creation and conclude God exists, I then ask, which God? The Evangelical usually quickly responds with, why the one true God, the Christian God. I then ask them, what is there in creation that tells anyone that the Christian God created everything? What proof is there for the God of the Christian Bible being the creator God? What is the bridge that gets us from creation revealing that there is A GOD to that God being THE GOD of Evangelical Christianity? There is nothing in the universe that shows the Evangelical God created everything. At best, creation testifies to there being some sort of deistic God. When I look at the stars at night, I can easily understand how someone might conclude that a deity of some sort created the universe. However, I see no evidence in the sky that tells that this God is the Evangelical God.

Eventually, Evangelicals will finally say, the Bible says ________________. And just like that we are right back to where we started. James’ non-evidence evidence falls flat on its face because the real issue is not what the universe tells us, but whether the Bible is what Evangelicals claim it is. I have long argued that the best way to disabuse Evangelicals of their Fundamentalists beliefs is to attack the foundation of those beliefs — the Bible. And not just the Bible, but their interpretation of the Biblical text. The goal should be to convince Evangelicals that the Bible is not what they think it is. Specifically, Evangelicals need to be shown that the Bible is NOT an inspired, inerrant, infallible text.

The biggest problem is that Evangelicals have been brainwashed into rejecting out of hand any claim that casts doubt on the veracity and authority of the Bible. When the mythical Satan tempted the mythical Adam and Eve in the mythical Garden of Eden, he said to them, Yea, hath God said (Yes, even Satan uses King James English)? Evangelicals see challenges to the accuracy and truthfulness of the Bible as modern-day equivalents of Yea, hath God said? Thus, it becomes very difficult to breach the inerrancy wall that surrounds Evangelical minds. Not impossible, but hard. This is why when Evangelicals attempt to argue with me about something I wrote, I ask them, have you ever read any of Dr. Bart Ehrman’s books? (Please check out our bookstore for a list of Ehrman’s books.) I have yet to have an Evangelical answer yes. Often, they will say they have read reviews of his books or Dr. so-and-so’s take-down of the agnostic Bart Ehrman’s books. When pressed to read several of Ehrman’s books, most Evangelicals reply, I don’t need to. I have the Bible. And therein lies the problem. Until Evangelicals are willing to at least entertain thoughts of the Bible not being what they claim it is, there is no hope for them. If Evangelicals are willing to honestly and studiously read Ehrman’s books, I am confident that they will be disabused of the notion that the Bible is an inspired, inerrant, infallible text. Until the Jameses of the world are willing to wrestle with the history, nature, and complexity of the Biblical text, there is little hope of delivering them from their Fundamentalist beliefs. While I think someone can remain a Christian after reading Ehrman’s books, it is impossible for them to remain an Evangelical. The evidence provided by Ehrman is so overwhelming that those saying they are still Evangelical after reading his books are living in a state of denial.

Abraham and Isaac: God Has a Right to Command You to Kill Your Child 

abraham sacrificing isaac

Recently, Petrus Klopper, a writer for the Isaiah 53:5 Project and Solid Rock Apologetics, attempted to answer the question, How Could God Command Abraham to Kill His Son? I say “attempted,” because Klopper miserably failed at his task, just as every other Christian apologist has failed when attempting to do the same. According to Klopper, God had every right to ask Abraham to sacrifice his son Isaac. Notice that I used the word “sacrifice,” not “kill,” as Klopper did in his title. God, in no uncertain terms, asked Abraham to put his only son Isaac on an altar and sacrifice him. Someone is sure to ask, “don’t the words sacrifice and kill mean the same thing?” Yes and no, and I will demonstrate in a moment Klopper’s sleight of hand by using the word sacrifice.

For those not schooled in the mystical stories of the Christian Bible, here’s the text, Genesis 22:1-13, that tells the story of God commanding Abraham to sacrifice his son Isaac:

And it came to pass after these things, that God did tempt Abraham, and said unto him, Abraham: and he said, Behold, here I am. And he said, Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of. And Abraham rose up early in the morning, and saddled his ass, and took two of his young men with him, and Isaac his son, and clave the wood for the burnt offering, and rose up, and went unto the place of which God had told him. Then on the third day Abraham lifted up his eyes, and saw the place afar off. And Abraham said unto his young men, Abide ye here with the ass; and I and the lad will go yonder and worship, and come again to you. And Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering, and laid it upon Isaac his son; and he took the fire in his hand, and a knife; and they went both of them together. And Isaac spake unto Abraham his father, and said, My father: and he said, Here am I, my son. And he said, Behold the fire and the wood: but where is the lamb for a burnt offering? And Abraham said, My son, God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering: so they went both of them together. And they came to the place which God had told him of; and Abraham built an altar there, and laid the wood in order, and bound Isaac his son, and laid him on the altar upon the wood. And Abraham stretched forth his hand, and took the knife to slay his son. And the angel of the Lord called unto him out of heaven, and said, Abraham, Abraham: and he said, Here am I. And he said, Lay not thine hand upon the lad, neither do thou any thing unto him: for now I know that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son from me. And Abraham lifted up his eyes, and looked, and behold behind him a ram caught in a thicket by his horns: and Abraham went and took the ram, and offered him up for a burnt offering in the stead of his son.

According to seventeenth century Baptist theologian John Gill, God commanded Abraham to:

… offer him (Isaac)  there for a burnt offering; this was dreadful work he was called to, and must be exceeding trying to him as a man, and much more as a parent, and a professor of the true religion, to commit such an action; for by this order he was to cut the throat of his son, then to rip him up, and cut up his quarters, and then to lay every piece in order upon the wood, and then burn all to ashes; and this he was to do as a religious action, with deliberation, seriousness, and devotion… (John Gill Commentary, E-Sword)

According to eighteenth century Anglican John Wesley, God wanted Abraham to not only kill his son, but also offer him as a burnt sacrifice. Wesley wrote:

…offer him (Isaac) for a burnt offering – He must not only kill his son, but kill him as a sacrifice, with all that sedateness and composedness of mind, with which he used to offer his burnt – offering. (John Wesley Commentary, E-Sword)

Eighteenth century theologian Matthew Henry, chiming in agreement with Gill and Wesley wrote:

 …offer him (Isaac) for a burnt-offering. He must not only kill his son, but kill him as a sacrifice, kill him devoutly, kill him by rule, kill him with all that pomp and ceremony, with all that sedateness and composure of mind, with which he used to offer his burnt-offerings. (Matthew Henry Commentary, E-Sword)

Nineteenth century Presbyterian theologian Albert Barnes called Abraham’s potential sacrifice of Isaac  a “human sacrifice.” Recognizing the moral issue raised by human sacrifice, Barnes writes:

The only solution of this, is what the ease itself actually presents; namely, the divine command. It is evident that the absolute Creator has by right entire control over his creatures. He is no doubt bound by his eternal rectitude to do no wrong to his moral creatures. But the creature in the present case has forfeited the life that was given, by sin. And, moreover, we cannot deny that the Almighty may, for a fit moral purpose, direct the sacrifice of a holy being, who should eventually receive a due recompense for such a degree of voluntary obedience. (Albert Barnes Commentary, E-Sword)

Based on the aforementioned references, we can conclude that God, as a test, commanded Abraham to take his only son Isaac to Mount Moriah, and kill him so he could be offered as a human burnt sacrifice to God.

Klopper makes clear in his post that there are three things God is NOT doing in this story:

  • God was not tempting Abraham
  • God was not instituting or condoning child sacrifice
  • God was not telling Abraham to do wrong

Christian apologists like Klopper will go to great lengths to justify God’s command to sacrifice Isaac. Klopper used the word kill in the post title because he doesn’t want readers to confuse what God is asking Abraham to do with human sacrifice. However, it is clear from the text that a human sacrifice of Isaac is EXACTLY what God is asking Abraham to do.

Is Isaac human? Yes. Does Abraham build an altar to be used for sacrifices? Yes? Did Abraham place Isaac on the altar, preparing to offering him as a human sacrifice to God? Yes. Does Abraham implicitly obey God’s command to sacrifice his son? Yes. Then, pray tell, how is what God commands Abraham to do NOT child sacrifice? Any fair and honest reading of the text shows that God clearly intended for Abraham to kill (murder) his son as a flesh and blood sacrifice.

Similar stories can be found in other tribal cultures, and Evangelicals are quick to label these stories as murderous and barbaric. Evidently, according to Evangelicals, there is some sort of difference between stories of human/child sacrifices to false Gods, and the God/Abraham/Isaac story. Try as I might, I can’t find the difference.

Klopper, perhaps realizing that his, this is not child sacrifice argument is intellectually vacuous and lame, goes on to say that God is not commanding Abraham to do wrong. Really? In what universe is child/human sacrifice not wrong? Every civilized society in the world condemns child/human sacrifice. Even atheists consider such murderous actions wrong. Yet, somehow, according to Klopper, God asking Abraham to slice, dice, and sauté his son is not, in any way, wrong.

Klopper makes one final argument which, according to his Fundamentalist-infused mind, should silence every critic. It is the one argument, next to faith, that Christians will turn to when no other argument will work: God is God and he has a right to do/command whatever he wants to. Klopper states his argument this way:

God has the right to take human life and could therefore authorize Abraham to do so in a particular case. Note that had Abraham decided of his own accord to sacrifice Isaac, he would have been wrong and his act would have been condemned by God (as were other human-initiated sacrifices).

According to Exodus 20, murder is a sin. Thou shalt not kill, right? But, according to Klopper, if God authorizes (commands) someone to commit a murder (human sacrifice) then it is okay. Hmm, so then, Christians who have, in the past, said that God commanded them to kill their children or spouse, these murderous behaviors are okay, right? I’m sure that Klopper will object to my line of inquiry, but is this not exactly what he is saying? Or is he making a distinction between murderous stories in the Bible and those found on page one of the newspaper? Evidently, if a God-sanctioned murder is recorded by an unknown author in a so-called divine religious text, that makes the slaying moral. However, if a devout twenty-first century Christian — a person we can see and talk to — says and does the same, it is not a God-approved murder. This makes “perfect” sense to me.

human sacrifice

Comic by Scott Maynard

Surely we can all agree that a God, ANY God, commanding someone to commit murder is wrong. It matters not whether it is Abraham or Victoria Soliz, a woman who tried to drown her 3-year-old son in a puddle because Jesus told her to do so.  While Evangelicals will attempt to make a distinction between God speaking to Abraham and God speaking to someone like Soliz, there is no difference between the two. Both are hearing voices in their heads that are telling them to murder their children. And hearing voices in one’s head commanding immoral, unethical, or dangerous acts is always a sure sign of mental distress or illness. Despite knowing this, Klopper is determined to present Abraham as a great man of faith who was willing to do whatever God commanded him to do.

It is too bad that Klopper is boxed in by his belief that the Bible is an inspired, inerrant text. Such a belief requires Klopper to accept the Abraham/Isaac/human-sacrifice story as factual history. While Klopper does make numerous spiritual applications from the Genesis 22 text in his post, he is hamstrung by the requirement to accept the text as history. Jews, on the other hand, treat this text as an allegory or a metaphor. They understand, along with everyone else except Evangelicals, that no one in his or her right mind should accept Abraham sacrificing Isaac as literal truth.

And here’s the thing, IF Abraham had actually murdered Isaac, twenty-first century Evangelical preachers would be preaching sermons about Abraham’s great faith and his willingness to explicitly obey God, even if it meant murdering his own son. Praise Jesus!! (And how is this any different from the Muslim who believes God is commanding him to kill in Allah’s name?)

Notes

Any God who demands his followers to murder as a test of obedience is not a deity worthy of our worship.