Friday, February 6, 2009

God Playing God, Part 3

When a person is accused of acting like God, the implication is that they act according to their own set of morals, and typically treat people as disposable tools as opposed to people. They wield their power solely in their own interests without regard to the consequences to others. It's funny how such a negative connotation is derived from a Being that is supposedly the epitome Holiness; God.

In Part 1 of the story, Joseph goes from prisoner to second in command, with a mission to gather and distribute provisions for a seven-year-long famine that God had in His plans. At the conclusion of Part 1, the severe, worldwide famine had begun.

In Part 2 of the story, we find out that God can and does use evil to conduct His plans. We also get confirmation that the worldwide famine that God brought was so severe that it was only through God through Joseph was a remnant of humanity to be saved.

The trouble is that we still have not discovered a reason for this famine brought on by God. Did God have a plan for the famine besides the famine itself? We answer that question in this final part of the study.

God Playing God, Part 3
We are jumping to Genesis 47:13-31 as we conclude this study. To catch you up to speed, what followed Part 2 at the end of Genesis 45 continuing through to Genesis 47:12 was that Joseph's brothers returned home to tell their father of Joseph's status and to bring all of their family back to Egypt to live there per Joseph's request. The family arrives in Egypt, and Joseph tells them to tell Pharaoh that they are shepherds so that they can settle in Goshen, because shepherds are an abomination to Egyptians. They do tell Pharaoh that they are shepherds, and they happily settle in Goshen.

The severe, worldwide famine continued. There was no food in the entire region of Egypt and Canaan except what was in Pharaoh's reserve. In Genesis 47:13-17, we read how “all Egypt” claimed they were out of money, so Joseph has them exchange their livestock, “their horses, their sheep and goats, their cattle and donkeys”, for food that year.

This section reveals the story for what it is: fiction. For what is the likelihood that all Egypt ran out of money for grain at the same time? Are we to believe that Joseph individually scaled the cost of grain according to each family's wealth? Then there is the livestock. How probable is it that all the people of Egypt owned livestock, especially if (reportedly) shepherds were an abomination to the Egyptians?

After the livestock-for-food year had passed, the famine still continued. In Genesis 47:18-19, the people, poor and desperate, return to Joseph in unison and offer their land and their enslavement to Pharaoh in order to have food. In Genesis 47:20-22, we see:
So Joseph bought all the land in Egypt for Pharaoh. The Egyptians, one and all, sold their fields, because the famine was too severe for them. The land became Pharaoh's, and Joseph reduced the people to servitude, from one end of Egypt to the other. However, he did not buy the land of the priests, because they received a regular allotment from Pharaoh and had food enough from the allotment Pharaoh gave them. That is why they did not sell their land. NIV
There it is!!! The reason God brought about this horrible, worldwide famine that killed untold numbers which could not make it to Egypt to sell everything they had for food! Unfortunately, God doesn't spell it out for you in His Word all in one place. You've got to go back to a prophesy revealed to Abraham by God in Genesis 15:13-16 for the divine reason:
Then the LORD said to him, "Know for certain that your descendants will be strangers in a country not their own, and they will be enslaved and mistreated four hundred years. But I will punish the nation they serve as slaves, and afterward they will come out with great possessions. You, however, will go to your fathers in peace and be buried at a good old age. In the fourth generation your descendants will come back here, for the sin of the Amorites has not yet reached its full measure." NIV
All of the suffering was for a purpose. God's purpose. God's purpose of fulfilling His prophesy through any means necessary. God brought about this deadly famine to the whole world so that Abraham's descendants would be sold into slavery to Pharaoh so that prophesy would be true. God didn't care about the consequences to the rest of the world, as long as His prophesy got fulfilled.

The original source of this story is quite possibly based on the legendary Imhotep, who served under the Pharaoh Djoser in the Egyptian Third Dynasty. He supposedly was instrumental in helping Egypt to recover from a seven year famine, and that's just one of the many similarities.

Some claim that Joseph was actually the source of the Egyptian story for Imhotep. There are issues with that theory, such as the fact that Imhotep was remembered for several significant achievements which are not associated with Joseph, like being the founder of Egyptian medicine. Plus, it would seem that if God, through Joseph, had brought Egypt through the seven year famine, the impact of God's involvement probably would have made the Egyptians completely rethink their established deities and polytheism. There probably would have been converts from the top down, forever changing the face of Egyptian religion. Instead, we find that Imhotep got deified posthumously.


  1. I loved this series. It was a great walk through a classic Bible story from a skeptic perspective.

    Its funny to think that God orchestrated all of this just so that he could prove himself once again before the Egyptians through plagues and, even then, his people reject him and are forced to wander in the desert. This brings me to another point:

    I think God likes dry climates. Famines caused by drought and heat, his chosen people take a 40 year extended vacation in the desert, Jesus takes a mini one, Jesus walks on water instead of swimming in it, God parts the sea so Israel can stay dry. Heck, he even made Noah build a boat to the survivors could stay dry during the flood too. Heh.

  2. Thanks Nate! These classic stories have been very interesting to me because they are referred to quite often in sermons, but with very selective focus. Reading the entire story really gives me a different perspective!

    Yes, God does like seem to like those dry spots. Those, and fire. He likes fire a lot too, especially if there is flesh burning in it. ;-) I guess they go hand-in-hand.

  3. This story, in the "Book of Jasher" is even more disturbing.Joseph made an absolute fortune off the famine that bankrupted [or starved] the rest of humanity.a true role model! for corporate america. this is a great site/great insight. thanks for the wise foolery.

  4. Thanks false prophet! I'm trying to keep the posts God-centered, so I didn't speak much about Joseph, but you're right. He's a horrible role model. I've often wondered if these bad Biblical role models played a large part in developing the negative stereotypical behaviors which are associated with the Jews. Taking people's food the first 7 years only to sell it back to them the next 7 to the point of enslavement is sick.

  5. First two minor quibbles:

    1) "For what is the likelihood that all Egypt ran out of money for grain at the same time? Are we to believe that Joseph individually scaled the cost of grain according to each family's wealth?"

    I think you're taking this verse too strictly. The people, *by and large*, ran out of money, *by and large*. Was every single person broke? No, but most were. Was every last deben of silver gone? No, but the vast majority of their wealth was gone, rendering them unable (or soon to be unable) to buy food and survive.

    2) "How probable is it that all the people of Egypt owned livestock, especially if (reportedly) shepherds were an abomination to the Egyptians?"

    Cattle were extremely important to ancient Egyptians. They were an invaluable source of food, and a symbol of Egyptian power. In some ways cattle were to the Egyptians what automobiles are to Americans. Did all Egyptians have cattle? Certainly not, but any Egyptian who had enough wealth to buy cattle did. As for sheep: the Egyptians hated shepherds not because shepherds tended sheep, but because of the Hyksos--nomadic shepherds who had oppressed them for many years. Egyptians actually *worshiped* sheep.

    But enough quibbling. The problematic verse in this story is Gen. 41:32, which states, "And as regards the double repetition of the dream to Pharaoh, it is that the thing is established by God, and God will hasten to do it." Countless famines have occurred throughout human history. This one, it appears, has been timed to coincide with these particular events, and that's what's appalling to you. The 1830 famine in Cape Verde, which killed over 40% of the population, is not what you chose to write about, because God didn't use it for his purposes. But because he used *this* particular famine for a purpose, we have a problem. Would this famine have not occurred at all if God hadn't been involved? We have no way of knowing, but I don't think so. Would it have occurred, but at a different time or place? Quite possibly. Would another natural catastrophe, or man-made catastrophe such as war or enslavement, have taken its place? Very possibly. The human experience back then was one of suffering and frequently an early death--children often never made it to adulthood, women often died in childbirth, and diseases frequently killed people of all ages suddenly and very quickly. Famines were bad news, of course, but by no stretch of the imagination can it be said that they interrupted an otherwise happy and trouble-free existence. If it wasn't a famine that was causing problems, it was something else.

  6. Your quibbling is not unjustified, as this may be a bit of hyper-literalism which too often plagues Bible critiques, including mine from time to time. However, there is some Biblical support for it in this cases:

    1) Gen 47:14 explicitly says “Joseph collected all the money that was to be found in Egypt and Canaan...” That does not easily lend itself to a “by and large” interpretation.

    2) Undoubtedly cattle where important, and, as you admit, it is unlikely that everyone had cattle in their possession, contrary to the way Gen 47:15-17 reads. It appears to me that "shepherd" was used in a more-general sense, pertaining to someone who looked after any grazing livestock, as verses like Gen 46:32 suggest, as opposed to just sheep herders. Gen 46:34 states that "all shepherds" were detestable to Egyptians, as opposed to specifying a particular group (Hyksos), which would have been easy to do if that was truly the case, no?

    1) & 2) With just a slight change of the wording, I would have no grounds for quibbling. If the text had just said something like what follows, then there were be no invitation to such critique:

    [People paid for the grain until they ran out of money. Those who had livestock then traded their livestock for grain. But in time, as they ran out of money and livestock, each person exchanged their servitude for grain.]

    If the events described actually happened, and your take is accurate, then I believe a statement like the one above is more true than what is recorded. Should you care how true your truth is?

    On to your main points now.

    With Gen 41:32 ending with a phrase meaning that God will make it happen quickly, there is incontrovertible evidence that this famine is more that just the timed coincidence you suggest. God is clearly making this happen.

    We could talk about the Cape Verde famine with its 40% loss, but who is to say that 40% or more of the entire world's population did not die from this Biblical famine? Gen 45:7 states that because Joseph was in Egypt working for Pharaoh, a "remnant" would be saved from death in this world-wide famine. Using the term "remnant" inherently suggests that more than 50% of the entire world population died. Unfortunately, the Bible does not provide body count for comparison.

    Correct me if I am wrong, but you seem to be making the case that life was miserable back then, so what is the big deal if God made it even more miserable to fulfill His purpose? And you are not sure why anyone would have a problem reconciling this concept with a God of perfect mercy, love, and justice? Is that right?

  7. Regarding what you would call a lack of sufficient detail in the text, I would say two things: First, the Bible--and indeed all ancient documents with which I'm familiar--was not written in the manner that we associate today with lawyers or engineers. Read the license for iTunes sometime. It's about 100 pages of text that basically says just a few things, but in excruciating detail so that no one could possibly misunderstand any part of it. It's designed to hold up in a court of law. If the Bible were written this way, it would be a thousand times bigger than it is, and nearly impossible for the average person to read. In addition, the language used for most of it (ancient Hebrew) was not capable of describing such detail, as most modern languages are. And further, it was not the author's intent to include details not deemed relevant to the story. Second, you and I are not held to such a standard in our own speech. I mean, if I told you that I couldn't go out to dinner because I was out of money, would you think that I didn't have a penny to my name? What about retirement money, or equity in my house? Perhaps it means that I have enough on my person to buy a burger, but not enough for fries and a drink to go with it? To be technical, what that statement really means is that I don't have enough immediately available cash to buy the meal that I would like to eat. And I think that's all that's being said about the Egyptians--as a whole, they ran out of enough immediately available money to be able to buy the food required to keep them alive. And so they panicked.

    If you knew that a tornado was going to hit my house in five minutes, and you had the power to stop it but chose not to, couldn't you say that you were going to "make it happen?" God doesn't enter time in order to make things occur--they have been established since before time began. So I think it might be inaccurate to say that God caused this event to happen out of nothing. It's quite possible that it would have occurred anyway.

    But all this is, again, mostly quibbling and can be ignored. Your last paragraph is what's most important. How could a God of perfect mercy, love, and justice allow "innocent" bystanders to suffer through a famine--whether it's a natural occurrence timed for a specific purpose or divinely created out of thin air. This is where it's evident that your concepts of mercy, love, and justice differ from God's. God is merciful, and so he will forgive ANY person of ANY amount of ANY wrongdoing, if he/she asks for it. But to you mercy means forgiving even those who refuse to accept him as their God. God is loving, so he has created a place where there will be no suffering. But to you love means preventing pain even here on Earth. God is just, and so he cannot allow wrongdoing to go unpunished. But in your view God cannot hold us accountable for the things we do, because you believe he created us as sinful creatures who had no choice but to do evil. At least I *think* I'm correctly representing your beliefs here. Please correct me if I'm wrong.

  8. @Ollie Wallflower
    Regarding what you would call a lack of sufficient detail in the text...
    Um, I think you stepped off on a tangent here. I summarized seven verses (Gen 47:13-19) in three sentences, and (according to your view of what happened) did so more accurately. I never said anything about lacking detail, other than lacking a body count which was said only to demonstrate that it was difficult to determine if the 1830 famine you mention was somehow worse than this Biblical event in terms of scope, with the exception of the word "remnant" being somewhat of an indicator. So what are you making an argument about?

    If you knew that a tornado was going to hit my house in five minutes, and you had the power to stop it but chose not to, couldn't you say that you were going to "make it happen?"
    Technically speaking, it depends on origination. If a ball is rolling down a bowling alley with precise aim and enough power to strike down all of the pins and I was standing on the alley in front of the pins such that I had the power to kick the ball off course or stop the ball, would it be accurate for me to say that I can make the ball knock down all of the pins? No, of course not. All I can do is let it happen. However, if I am the bowler who throws the ball with that precision and power, then I can indeed make it happen.

    It appears that you are trying to put God in position of a man standing on a bowling alley, simply in a position with the ability to change the outcome of events which were set in motion by some outside force; the weather in this case. Yet the weather can not be truly autonomous from God's control if His Biblical qualities are accurate, because before our existence was set in motion at the most primitive level, God would have realized how slight tweaks could affect the interaction of weather and future history. And thus, it does not matter if you believe God intervened with the weather at the Gen 41 stage or had simply designed it that way from the beginning, clearly God made the famine. God is the bowler. God is the author of this tragedy and is thus responsible for all human deaths and misery which were born from this disaster. As this also implies, the same could be said of any "natural" disaster by the same logic. (After all, who is to say that a world could not have been designed without such disasters.) However, in my Biblical analysis, I was trying to stay focused on what was explicitly ascribed to God

    Please correct me if I'm wrong.
    Don't I always try to do so? ;-) In this case, mercy, love, and justice are all kind of intermingled, and the concept of perfection must come into view, so it may be best to think about parenthood. This plague comes on without a reason, other than to fulfill prophesy apparently. If this was an act of discipline, where was the explanation, for what good parent would punish their child without letting them know why? If this was not discipline, what good parent deliberately makes other children suffer just to achieve His goal of promoting His own children? In either case, why is one particular geographic location preserved out of the whole world? What good parent would sentence His children (and others around) to servitude for four generations? A good parent is just (equally fair with all of His children), loving (does not cause unexplained pain to His children, but instead reserves it for explicit discipline, does everything He can to make His children feel loved), and merciful (understanding of His children's misunderstanding). No, I don't believe everyone should get a free pass to behave badly.

    God is just, and so he cannot allow wrongdoing to go unpunished.
    Yet He does, and that's the problem. And rather than nip it in the bud, it goes on to a point where wiping the slate clean (via flood or famine) seems like a good option to Him. Timing and proportion is everything in discipline.

  9. What I meant (but obviously failed) to convey by the "lack of sufficient detail" comments was that the exact details of the Egyptians' wealth were not given. One might argue that "all the money" means every last coin, but the ancient Egyptians had no coins. Their economy was based on reciprocity. They set prices of things using units of value that referred to commodities. So when the text says that they were out of money, this just means that most of the goods that they typically used for bartering purposes was gone. I do not believe that every last Egyptian was entirely without possessions--naked and homeless--i.e., they *did* still possess some amount of wealth.

    So God is the bowler? Do you believe that he creates storms in the middle of the ocean that no one ever knows about?

    Taking the "perfect parent" analogy to its logical extreme, what good parent would intentionally create a child with painful, impacted molars? Or could that be a natural part of evolution that God allows? Is God *making* the Egyptians suffer, as a punishment, or is he *allowing* this suffering, much as he allows painful illnesses?

    The "nip it in the bud" method that you have explained elsewhere, even if possible, would do nothing to fix the root of the problem, which is that people *want* to do bad things. God wasn't looking for a way to restrain evil just enough so that everybody could live a relatively happy, relatively painless 72 years of debauchery and then die. He desired a *perfect* solution to the problem of evil.

  10. PS -- I don't know why I didn't mention this earlier, because it's a very important point: The story here isn't, "There was a famine in the land and thousands died because there was nothing they could do." It was, "There was a famine in the land but the people were SAVED because God had foretold the event to Joseph!" They lost all their wealth, yes, but they had food to eat when the fields were barren.

  11. @Ollie Wallflower
    So God is the bowler? Do you believe that he creates storms in the middle of the ocean that no one ever knows about?
    No, because I do not believe in God. However, the Bible is quite clear that the answer should be yes. God controls the weather in general and in specific cases. It is your view, the view that God simply lets weather happen, which is inconsistent with the Bible here. But I do give you kudos for favoring a scientific view. ;-) This is pretty critical to understanding the real situation, so let us clear this up before we move on. Please let me know if you still prefer your non-Biblical view after considering the following :

    Job 5:10
    He provides rain for the earth; he sends water on the countryside. NIV

    Job 38:25-27
    Who cuts a channel for the torrents of rain, and a path for the thunderstorm, to water a land where no one lives, an uninhabited desert, to satisfy a desolate wasteland and make it sprout with grass? NIV

    Psalm 135:7
    He makes clouds rise from the ends of the earth; he sends lightning with the rain and brings out the wind from his storehouses. NIV

    Psalm 147:8
    He covers the sky with clouds; he supplies the earth with rain and makes grass grow on the hills. NIV

    Isaiah 5:6
    I will make it a wasteland, neither pruned nor cultivated, and briers and thorns will grow there. I will command the clouds not to rain on it.” NIV

    Jeremiah 5:24
    They do not say to themselves, ‘Let us fear the LORD our God, who gives autumn and spring rains in season, who assures us of the regular weeks of harvest.’ NIV

    Jeremiah 10:13
    When he thunders, the waters in the heavens roar; he makes clouds rise from the ends of the earth. He sends lightning with the rain and brings out the wind from his storehouses. NIV

    Jeremiah 14:22
    Do any of the worthless idols of the nations bring rain? Do the skies themselves send down showers? No, it is you, LORD our God. Therefore our hope is in you, for you are the one who does all this. NIV

    Joel 2:23
    Be glad, people of Zion, rejoice in the LORD your God, for He has given you the autumn rains because He is faithful. He sends you abundant showers, both autumn and spring rains, as before. NIV

    Amos 4:7
    I also withheld rain from you when the harvest was still three months away. I sent rain on one town, but withheld it from another. One field had rain; another had none and dried up. NIV

    Zechariah 10:1
    Ask the LORD for rain in the springtime; it is the LORD who sends the thunderstorms. He gives showers of rain to all people, and plants of the field to everyone. NIV

    Zechariah 14:17
    If any of the peoples of the earth do not go up to Jerusalem to worship the King, the LORD Almighty, they will have no rain. NIV

    Matthew 5:45
    that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. NIV

    Acts 14:17
    Yet he has not left himself without testimony: He has shown kindness by giving you rain from heaven and crops in their seasons; he provides you with plenty of food and fills your hearts with joy.” NIV

    Also see the following, where * represents general control and without * represents specific control:

    Genesis 2:5*, Genesis 4:4, Exodus 9:23, Leviticus 26:4*, Deuteronomy 11:14*, Deuteronomy 11:17*, Deuteronomy 28:12*, Deuteronomy 28:24*, 1 Samuel 12:17-18, 2 Samuel 22:12, 1 Kings 8:35-36, 1 Kings 17:14, 1 Kings 18:1, 2 Chronicles 6:26-27, 2 Chronicles 7:13, Job 5:10*, Job 28:25-27*, Job 36:27-32*, Job 38:22-30*, Psalm 105:32, Psalm 135:7, Psalm 147:8*, Isaiah 5:6, Isaiah 30:23, Jeremiah 3:1-3, Jeremiah 5:24*, Jeremiah 10:13*, Jeremiah 14:22*, Jeremiah 51:16*, Ezekiel 13:13, Joel 2:23*, Amos 4:7, Zechariah 10:1*, Zechariah 14:17, Zechariah 14:18, Matthew 5:45*, Acts 14:17*, James 5:18, Revelation 11:6

  12. @Ollie Wallflower
    PS - :-)
    It was, "God caused a prolonged famine in the entire world(!) but a remnant of people were saved (who were geographically close enough and brave enough to take the risk to travel to Egypt) because God had foretold the event to Joseph. And by saved, we mean survived into the gift of 400 years of being mistreated in slavery."

    Forgive me if I have trouble putting God on an ivory pedestal for this one. God saved a few people from a disaster He created, leaving them in a worse status than they were before, at least for several generations.

  13. Ha, yes. . . it's absurd to ask an atheist if he believes that God did this or did that, of course. What I need to say in the future is, "Do you believe that the Bible portrays God as doing [whatever]?" Correction noted.

    The verses you quoted indicate two things: 1) that God is the one who created weather, and is ultimately in control of it; and 2) that God, in those days, directly manipulated the weather on some occasions. I don't believe that God created that slight drop in barometric pressure over the Atlantic Ocean last week. Even thought that's technically *weather* (indeed that's how hurricanes start), it's not, in my view, an example of something that God is directly and actively controlling. And yet it makes sense for Christians to give thanks for the weather, because God is the one who created it all in the beginning.

    It was Joseph, not God, who talked about the remnant that would be preserved. This does not indicate, as you seem to suggest, that all or most or even a large number of non-Israelites would die in the famine. Joseph was merely reckoning that God had sent him there to save his people. (As it happened, he saved others as well.)

    But I'll be the first to point out that in those times, God claimed that he *could* send a famine to afflict unfaithful nations (see Ezekiel 14:13). In your view, people are, generally speaking, innocent and undeserving of punishment. *That* is an irreconcilable difference of opinion, and one that will cause you to look unfavorable upon nearly chapter of the Bible. Which is, of course, what you've done on this blog.

    When you think about it, maybe *I* am the fool for attempting to do the impossible--defend the actions of a God whose views are fundamentally in conflict with yours. But it *has* been fun and interesting. :-)

  14. @Ollie Wallflower
    Jeremiah 14:22
    Do any of the worthless idols of the nations bring rain? Do the skies themselves send down showers? No, it is you, LORD our God. Therefore our hope is in you, for you are the one who does all this. NIV

    Joel 2:23
    Be glad, people of Zion, rejoice in the LORD your God, for he has given you the autumn rains because he is faithful. He sends you abundant showers, both autumn and spring rains, as before. NIV

    Matthew 5:45
    that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. NIV

    …[the weather] in my view, [is not] an example of something that God is directly and actively controlling.
    Forgive me for not letting this go just yet. I will make this final plead and speak no more of it, until the next time it comes up. ;-) After this plea, I will work on some of your other points. You are welcome to defend this position and get the rare opportunity of having the last word on it, if you so choose.

    I copied these three verses above for reference. The purpose of the first verse is obvious: God states that the rain does not work on its own, but requires Him.

    For Joel and Matthew, I would prod you to examine the language used, particularly the tense and meaning of the verbs. I suspect you will find that the most typical and obvious translations indicate God actively causing rain to happen. I didn't pick these specifically for their verbs, as my skills in Hebrew and Greek are practically non-existent beyond the help of a lexicon. So I could be wrong here, but I suspect that there are other verses highlighted earlier which would make my claim true.

    I am going to make another bold speculation: I am fairly certain all of early Christianity believed that God actively controlled the weather.

    And finally, if you have a Biblical foundation believing that God does not actively control the weather today, well, by all means, offer it up.

    In your view, people are, generally speaking, innocent and undeserving of punishment.
    That is a misconception you have of my position, which really does not have much to do with people being innocent or undeserving of punishment. It does seem that you have a view to the effect of being polar opposite with that statement; that people are, generally speaking, guilty and deserving of punishment, and because of this view you have no problem with God painting His wrath in broad strokes. I oppose your view in the sense of justice, not from a false claim of pure innocence (although I could easily argue that innocent children were affected by such divine wrath). This is probably a bigger topic to flesh out than for a comment section. Perhaps I will make a post of it on the other blog.

  15. [I apologize for taking a full week to get back to you on this. My wife was hit by a car last week, rendering her unable to walk for 2 1/2 months (broken tibia). In addition to caring for her, I've had to take on all the jobs and responsibilities that she had before the accident. It's been exhausting, to say the least. But of course I'm thankful that she wasn't hurt much worse.]

    I understand why you continue to defend your position regarding God's control of the weather. As you've demonstrated, there are scores, if not hundreds, of verses that appear to indicate that God controls the weather. Taking this idea to its logical (and extreme) conclusion, God controls every raindrop, every drop in barometric pressure, the formation of every cloud, every slight movement of the air, etc. And you might even argue that he has some purpose for each of these. My explanation for these verses is quite simple. First, nearly all of them (including the one in Jeremiah which you accidentally attributed to God in your comments above) were written by *humans* thousands of years ago, at a time when humans had no understanding of meteorology. And second, as I see it, they were essentially affirming that God created weather and has the power to control it. Take Matthew 5:45, for example. The author believes that God causes the sun to rise each day. In a primitive sense, yes, he does, because he created the Sun in the first place, and could make it stop at any moment. But in a strictly scientific sense he doesn't, because technically the sun doesn't even move, relative to the Earth (even though we still say even today, "the sun comes up," because, from our perspective, it does).

    *You* are the creator of this blog and you should have the last word on the matter. I just wanted to give my explanation of all the verses you've quoted.

    As for the "innocent vs. guilty and deserving of punishment" debate, I think it would be wise to save it for another post. This string of comments is already excessively long--and that's mostly *my* fault!

  16. Let me officially end our little debate this way: By just about any standard of judgment, you have won. The evidence is on your side. There are many, many verses that discuss God's control over the weather. I hope I have explained my view on the matter clearly enough for anyone interested in a different, less-than-literal perspective. But by all appearances, your argument looks far stronger than mine.

    You wrote to wish my wife a speedy recovery (thank you for that) and to explain that you'll be busier than usual for a while. It's becoming apparent that I will be, too. I had no idea that a broken leg could create as many problems as it has. So, if I don't hear from you until then, Happy Holidays! And thank you for your willingness to debate these issues as thoroughly as you have. Good-bye for now.

  17. I suspect that puts you in an odd place, Ollie Wallflower. On the one hand, you can see the misunderstandings about science written into the Bible. On the other hand, (I think) you would claim that what is written about God (and Jesus) in the Bible is accurate and reliable.

    Thanks for taking the time for debate, and I'll post something on the "innocent vs. guilty and deserving of punishment" topic soon.