The Bible is pretty unclear on whether it’s good to be wise or not. But suppose you do want to be wise. What’s the first thing you need to do? The Bible claims multiple times that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom and knowledge.Continue reading What is the beginning of wisdom?
God makes a deal with the devil
One day, Satan went up to see God, and they talked about a man named Job,1 who God said was the most righteous and godly person in the world. Satan was of the opinion that Job only seemed so good to God because God was so good to Job. He said if God would curse Job, then Job would curse God. The all-knowing God wanted to find out if Satan was right, so he gave Satan permission to do whatever he wanted to Job, as long as he didn’t physically harm him.
So Satan sent raiders to steal Job’s 500 donkeys, 1000 oxen, and 3000 camels. God helped him by sending fire from heaven to burn up Job’s 7000 sheep. Satan also sent a strong wind to knock down a house and kill Job’s ten children, and he got most of Job’s many servants killed too. Then God made everyone else Job knew shun him. Job responded by tearing his clothes off and worshiping God. Righteous Job didn’t think God had done anything wrong by letting Satan murder his children.
When Satan came to see God again, God pointed out that Job still loved him, even after Satan had convinced God to destroy nearly everything Job had for no reason. Satan explained that Job was too selfish to care about his children and servants dying. But if God attacked Job personally, that would be enough to make him curse God. The all-good God decided to see if Satan was right, so he gave Satan permission to do whatever he wanted to Job, as long as he didn’t kill him.
So Satan covered Job with painful sores. God helped him by giving Job horrible nightmares, and sending wicked people to beat him up, spit at him, and laugh at him. Job got a fever, and his skin started changing color and peeling off. His wife advised him to curse God for ruining his life, so God would put him out of his misery. Job admitted that God was the cause of his trouble, but he didn’t see why his all-good God should be expected to do only good things all the time.Continue reading The Story of the Torture of Job
The Truth About God
In 1 Kings, the Bible says Solomon hired a skilled craftsman named Huram to make a bunch of bronze stuff for the temple. It says Huram’s father (who was also a skilled craftsman) was from the Phoenician city of Tyre, and his mother was from the Israelite tribe of Naphtali.Continue reading Which tribe was Huram’s mother from?
Faith is commonly regarded as a virtue. But is it really a good thing? What exactly is faith, anyway? Let’s look as some definitions.
Faith: Complete trust or confidence in something. Believing something without question. Firm belief in something for which there is no proof. Faith can also mean an obligation of loyalty, and if we’re still talking about beliefs, that would mean being devoted to sticking to a particular belief (which goes along with believing something firmly and without question).
“Faith means making a virtue out of not thinking.” —Bill Maher
So then, faith means you decide to believe a particular idea even though there’s no evidence for it, and then you completely refuse to ever question it or consider changing your mind about it, disregarding all evidence to the contrary. Faith means being gullible regarding some ideas, and closed-minded to others. Faith means abandoning reason, willfully ignoring the evidence, breaking the connection between your beliefs and reality.
“There is no virtue in accepting something on faith, since it may very well be false, and it is clearly not virtuous to believe the false.” —Charlotte Schnook
Clearly this is an unbelievably bad way to form your beliefs. Considering what faith actually is, I don’t see how anyone could possibly think it was a good thing. There’s absolutely nothing good or reasonable about it. Having faith is just like having a delusion, except you’re doing it on purpose. If you want to have true beliefs and avoid having false beliefs, having faith is probably the most counterproductive thing you could possibly do.
Unlike reason and evidence, faith provides no way to determine which things you should believe. Any belief can be “justified” by faith just as well as any other. If you have faith in one religion, why not have faith in another religion? Why not believe that you are a six-legged zebra from the planet Japan? Why not accept on faith that you should give me all your money right now?
You can probably think of some reasons not to accept those things, but why do you suddenly think you need to have reasons for what you believe? If I tell you that Ahura Mazda is the real God, or that you are a six-legged zebra from the planet Japan, or that you need to give me all your money, why do you question it? You don’t need a reason to believe; you just need to have faith, right?
“If something can be used as a justification for everything, then it shouldn’t be used as a justification for anything.” —Matt Dillahunty
When the inherent irrationality of faith is pointed out, religious people will sometimes protest that their faith is based on evidence. Well, if you’re trying to base your beliefs on reason and evidence, that’s great. You’re more reasonable than some religious people. But letting evidence shape your beliefs is not what faith is, and it’s not what the Bible tells you to do. The unreasonable way of thinking I described above is exactly the kind of thinking that the Bible encourages, and describes as faith.
The Bible on faithContinue reading Faith is not reasonable
The Bible says if someone is confirmed to have a serious skin disease that turns their skin and hair white, that person is not to be isolated. Why? Because the person is “already unclean”. It says people who might be diseased need to be isolated, but people who are either definitely healthy or definitely diseased don’t have to be isolated. Don’t ask me what good that’s supposed to do.Continue reading Should diseased people be isolated?
When Noah’s flood had reduced the world population to 8, and while the population was recovering for a while after that, everyone in the world spoke the same language. People who had moved to the East started to build a great, unifying city with a huge tower that would reach to the heavens.Continue reading The Story of the Tower of Babel
Babble Babble Babble
Several times in the Bible, Jesus is called the first person to rise from the dead. But he wasn’t. Not even close. According to the Bible, lots of people rose from the dead before Jesus did.Continue reading Was Jesus the first to rise from the dead?
For a supposedly error-free book supposedly written under the influence of a supposedly perfect God who supposedly wants everyone to know the truth, the Bible sure contradicts itself a lot.
When the Bible contradicts what we know about reality, Bible believers have the option of denying those inconvenient facts. But when the Bible contradicts itself, the only thing that can be wrong is the Bible.
And the Bible does contradict itself, constantly. On this blog, I plan to write about hundreds of biblical contradictions,1 many of which you won’t find documented anywhere else.
Here are all the biblical contradictions (questions that the Bible answers in multiple incompatible ways) that I’ve written about so far. I will be adding a new one every two weeks.Continue reading Contradictions in the Bible
People should be wise.
Those who are foolish need to become wise. Kings should be wise, and people should listen to their kings so they can become wise too. Speaking with wisdom is what righteous people do; foolish talk is inappropriate. So get wisdom and understanding, even if it costs everything you have, and don’t let them out of you sight. Foolishness may be more fun, but you need understanding to keep you on the right track. Even ants possess wisdom; you could learn a few things from them.
Wisdom is better than strength, and much more valuable than silver and gold and rubies. Those who find wisdom are blessed with happiness and prosperity. Wisdom will keep you safe from wicked men and women, and enable you to live longer and save other people’s lives. Wisdom makes you inclined to do good deeds. Only wise people will be rewarded with everlasting life in the kingdom of heaven. Wisdom even makes you look nicer.
Wisdom is better than folly in every way. Wisdom brings honor, but foolishness brings shame. If you are wise, your parents will be happy with you, but if you are foolish, they will be disappointed in you. Wisdom brings rewards, but foolishness brings punishment and suffering. Even the companions of fools are in danger of harm, so you should hang out with wise people instead. Listen to the constructive criticism of the wise, not the mindless songs and shouts of fools.
Fools deserve to be beaten, because they are not upright. Fools will come to ruin; they will be cursed and die, because they are envious and resentful, and because they just don’t have the sense to preserve their own lives. It’s better to be poor than foolish.
Paul wanted his followers to live wisely and not be foolish. He asked God to fill them with wisdom and understanding so they would be better able to please God. He encouraged them to instruct each other with wisdom and to deal with outsiders wisely. He thought it was shameful that there seemed to be no one in the Corinthian church wise enough to judge their own disputes.
God wants his people to obey his laws in order to show the world how wise and understanding they are. God is disappointed to see that his people don’t have the sense to obey him, and he wishes they were wiser. Fools give God no pleasure.
God gives people wisdom, knowledge, and understanding. He wouldn’t do that if it wasn’t good for people to be wise, would he? Anyone who lacks wisdom should ask God for it, and they will receive it. God offered to give Solomon whatever he asked for, and when Solomon chose to be given wisdom and knowledge, God was so pleased that he gave him bonus gifts as well. God is also incredibly wise himself. We should follow his perfect example and seek to be wise like him.
People should be foolish.
Wisdom is nothing to boast about. Not relying on wisdom is what’s worth boasting about. Wisdom and knowledge will lead you astray. Wisdom inevitably leads people to reject God, and he will punish them for it. The king of Tyre was full of wisdom and understanding, and he knew it, which led to his ruin.
Solomon wisely advises us2 not to rely on our own understanding and not to think too deeply. He had more wisdom and knowledge than anyone else, but that only made him more miserable. If you want to be happy (which you should!), you’ll have to abandon wisdom. Being foolish and senseless can bring you great joy!
God clearly doesn’t want people to be wise. He thinks human wisdom is foolishness. When God created humans, the first thing he told them they must not do was to eat fruit from the tree of knowledge, which would give them wisdom. When people become wise and learned, God makes fools of them. God wouldn’t do that if it wasn’t good for people to be foolish, would he?
Wisdom is scarce among Christians because God prefers to choose the foolish of the world to put the wise to shame. The gospel has no power to save people unless it’s preached in a foolish way, without wisdom.Continue reading Should people be wise or foolish?
More than 1500 years after the perfect God created his perfect world, he realized that creating humans had been a bad idea, because humans are evil. To correct his mistake, God decided to kill all the humans, and all the animals too, for some reason. But there was one righteous man in the world who God didn’t want to kill, and his name was Noah.Continue reading The Story of Noah’s Ark
The One Where God Decides to Kill Everybody