Socrates, Father of Liberalism and Other Disasters

Enough for now about Muslims. I am getting tired of Muslims, and I am sure they are getting tired of me (if any were reading). In this post, I return to my favorite subject, philosophy. I think that it is the most important subject in the world and in our personal lives. I have my own flavor and slant, of course, using philosophy to work toward a specific goal. But I think philosophy is the most powerful tool of the human mind; the software of the human computer….. and I hope that you will begin to agree with me, at least about that point. Then, we can expand the scope of the “software” to include metaphysical or spiritual entities, even God, but that is another topic. Here, my main topic is Socrates and his unfortunate influence on us today.

People tend to think that liberal philosophy is fairly new, in comparison to other trends of thought in history. Currently, liberals like to label themselves as Progressives, as if they are actually making any worthy progress with their warped thinking. But they are indeed making progress, toward some very unworthy goals. They are being led by liberal philosophers such as Socrates (469-399 BC), Immanuel Kant (1724-1804), Saul Alinsky (1909-1972) and John Rawls (1921-2002), who formed key liberal concepts that are very strong today, even though most liberals may not be aware of their influence. All four are dead, but their impressive legacy lives on. They were four of the wizards behind the curtain of liberalism. Alinsky was a dark wizard, who scoffed at traditional liberals as moralistic fools, and turned liberalism down a dark path of deception, lying, and abandoning all ethics to accomplish goals. Alinsky’s dark turn had great influence upon both Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. This is the true “progress” of progressives. And for those who are aware of the dark influence of Alinsky, it is their “dirty little secret” which they can never admit publicly. It is what separates them from traditional liberals, and what has enabled them to become the leaders of the liberal flock. But they are radical wolves in liberal sheepskins.

Most historical summaries whitewash Alinsky’s career, and gloss over his lack of ethics. But he clearly called for lying, character assassination, misdirection and deception in his infamous methods of “community organizing”. And he had a bizarre fixation on Satan and Hell. With a dedication page, he actually dedicated his most unethical book, “Rules for Radicals”, to Lucifer, the first rebel. Then, two months before his unexpected death by heart attack in 1972, he did an interview with Playboy magazine, with the following macabre exchange:

ALINSKY: … if there is an afterlife, and I have anything to say about it, I will unreservedly choose to go to hell.
PLAYBOY: Why?
ALINSKY: Hell would be heaven for me. All my life I’ve been with the have-nots. Over here, if you’re a have-not, you’re short of dough. If you’re a have-not in hell, you’re short of virtue. Once I get into hell, I’ll start organizing the have-nots over there.
PLAYBOY: Why them?
ALINSKY: They’re my kind of people.

I guess Alinsky was trying to be witty and funny here. To reciprocate, one can only hope that Alinsky got his wish, for he was very short of virtue, to say the least. He can collaborate with Socrates, rousing the rabble and have-nots of hell. But he would have little time for rabble-rousing, for in hell, there would be far more terrifying predators than the little agnostic Jew rebel, Saul Alinsky. They would not be his kind of people. He would be far out-classed, and there would be no audience for his wit and humor, nor for his little unethical schemes.

Nothing New Here….. Just Dumber and More Arrogant Than Before

With their elitist intolerance, masquerading as tolerance, both liberals and progressives are tearing down much wisdom of the ages. They think they are replacing the old with the new, but they are mistaken. Their arrogance, their foolishness, their errors go back just as far as conservatism. Stupidity masquerading as wisdom is nothing new….. in fact, logically the stupidity had to come first. Just read the Book of Proverbs in the Bible, with all it has to say about “fools” and their arrogance. You might read there about some people you know today….. and they are likely to be liberal.

The deeper we dig, the farther back in time we go, to find the historic roots of liberalism. Modern liberalism in America goes as far back as President Woodrow Wilson, with his strong pacifism and efforts for social reform. As we go further back, the trail becomes harder to see, but it is still there. Issues change, and labels become confusing. In England, the Liberal party started as the Whig party, trying to limit powers of the Crown and protect the rights of citizens in the mid-1700’s. Before that in Europe, liberalism shared common cause with the early Protestant struggles against the tyranny of the Catholic Church. We can grant liberalism a symbolic hand in the Magna Carta, and the following European struggles against unjust monarchy. The trail becomes faint as we go back through the Dark Ages of Europe. But then the faint trail gets stronger, and we can trace some of the key philosophical components of liberalism back to the birth of Western philosophy itself, in its homeland of Greece. And in doing so, we can begin to understand modern liberalism better than most liberals understand it themselves.

Socrates, The First Liberal

Liberalism had an agitated start with the philosophy of Socrates (469-399 BC), the master Greek philosopher, and the first wizard behind the curtain of liberalism. Socrates was a brilliant but controversial statesman, and served as a senior Senator of Athens. He reminds me of Bernie Sanders. His passion was for moral reform, and he would argue his convictions regardless of whom he offended, just like modern liberals. He constantly challenged accepted ideas and traditional values, just like modern liberals. He would engage prominent people in conversation, get his opponent to state some fact or opinion, and then cleverly demolish that fact or opinion, just to show that we are all ultimately ignorant fools who have no real knowledge.
Socrates I know nothing

Socrates was perhaps the very first ‘liberal’ thinker, as that political and social term is defined today. He was spawned by the first democracy, in Athens. But he turned on it, to condemn and criticize, to bite the hand that fed him. He questioned the values of his democratic society of Athens to such an extent, that he chose to die rather than forsake his own values. That was most admirable of him, and he is rightly honored for it (plus it got him out of the way, to do no further damage, a bonus in this case).

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Socrates blinded
My reaction to this quote….. was Socrates on some Greek drug???

Socrates was so busy telling us what we did not know, so busy contradicting popular opinions, that he devalued the seeking of knowledge, making it seem futile. After tearing down traditional morals and ideas, he had nothing better to offer in their place, other than empty platitudes about humility and pacifism, which he did not even follow himself.

Unfortunately, Socrates had a very naive idea of evil, which provided liberalism with a foundation for their wrong ideas concerning evil, persisting to the present day. Or rather, we could say, Socrates was simply the first to pronounce a common wrong idea concerning evil, that most liberals form in their own minds, whether they ever heard of Socrates or not. But Socrates certainly helped to formalize and institutionalize it. That common idea concerning evil has found followers in every society from Socrates’ Athens to modern America, and it has gained much strength. It is an essential part of the basic ideas and the world-view that compose the frame of mind that we call “liberal.” But it can clearly be traced back to Socrates through the history of philosophy.

Socrates do not return injjuty evil absurd

The above quote from Socrates is absurd, equating all injury (violence) with evil and injustice. But injury or violence is not inherently evil or unjust. Violence can certainly be good and justified, when it is destroying active predatory evil. This pacifist pronouncement of Socrates invalidates all our military and police forces. It also prevents us from defending ourselves from the predatory violence of criminals. Socrates would call this “returning an injury” and evil. Usually, in the real world, it takes justified violence to stop unjust violence. The above quote from Socrates is nonsensical moralistic fantasy, but it sounds just like what we hear from idealistic liberal pacifists today. It was partially reinforced by Jesus with his teachings of “love your enemy” and “turn the other cheek”, but it remains an idealistic pacifism, which Jesus himself did not follow when he violently drove the merchants out of the temple.

When Jesus did this, disrupting the business of many merchants, costing them money and possibly damaging their tables and such, possibly allowing their sacrifice animals to escape, possibly even attacking them bodily with a whip, he undoubtedly did what Socrates called “an injustice” and “returning an injury” and “doing evil”. I would disagree with Socrates, and I suspect that you would disagree, too. What Jesus did was justified violence, to stop an ongoing active injustice, the only way he could. He did not stop it for long, just a day or two, but he made his teaching point for the ages. Point well taken, and to be followed, I would say.

Turning to the basic definitions of good and evil, Socrates spun an even bigger fantasy. Socrates taught that no one does evil knowingly, but that they do evil only because they are ignorant of the good. Three key quotes attributed to him (by his student Plato) are:

“The only good is knowledge, and the only evil is ignorance.”
“To prefer evil to good is not in human nature.”
“No one errs voluntarily.”

Many years ago, I first read these pronouncements with utter disbelief and shock. Could any person really be this naïve?? Let alone one of the ‘greats’ of Greek philosophy? This goes beyond moral naiveté, and approaches sheer stupidity. The basic contradictions in Sorates’ pronouncements are monumental. Here he says the only good is knowledge. Elsewhere he said that he knows nothing. Therefore, by his own warped logic, Socrates was not good because he had no knowledge. He was ignorant, so he must have been evil, by his own reasoning.

Socrates could not have been more wrong about this basic issue. Goodness is a great deal more than knowledge, and evil is a great deal more than ignorance. The most horrifying crimes and atrocities in the world are committed by people who knowingly choose predatory evil as the best way to get what they want, who embrace it and use its natural advantages to control or destroy others. Modern psychology classifies these people as narcissists, psychopaths, and sociopaths. These evil people are extremely smart, using knowledge of many things to carry out their objectives. Socrates could not have been more wrong about the relationship of knowledge and morality.

But this position was symptomatic of his unsinkable optimism; his own persistent goodness; his deep faith in the basic goodness of humanity; that we are not evil but ignorant; which is commendable but sadly misplaced.

I maintain that humanity is not morally ignorant, that regardless of mental disabilities, we all have basic moral competence; moral autonomy; the ability to discern good and evil, and freely choose between them. This is a far cry from saying that all humans are basically good, but ignorant, which is what Socrates insisted. This remains the basic “liberal faith” today, which you will begin to recognize.

In the tradition of Socrates, whether they trace it back to him or not, many “modern” liberal philosophers and sociologists have tried to argue that there is no true evil, that bad behavior is caused by misunderstandings, difficult childhoods, lack of education or poverty. Atheistic science lends a hand, for if there is no soul or spirit possessed of free will, then we must find other reasons that people misbehave. Many scientists on the cutting edge of biological discovery try to blame misbehavior on genes, hormones, and “chemical imbalances” in the brain. But even this is a tired old argument, going back at least to Socrates in its basic form. For if, as Socrates taught, “ignorance is the only evil,” then science can busy itself with eliminating evil, by gaining new knowledge about the human body. But if evil is choice, then it can never be eliminated or excused, and science is wasting its time and resources trying to do so. By trying to argue that evil is not a choice, liberals try to destroy free will and moral responsibility.

And worse, if evil is a choice, then any other explanation simply assists evil in its mission to deceive and destroy. In the effort to define evil, the stakes are very high. If you get the definition of evil wrong, then you are part of the problem of evil, for you are helping it remain hidden.

Take President Obama, for example. He is definitely part of the problem of evil. He and his progressive comrades are trying to tell us that people are becoming Muslim terrorists for ISIS, because they are poor and oppressed and don’t have jobs. This has been countered as wrong. It is also sheer stupidity on the scale of Socrates, and indeed, it goes right back to the teachings of Socrates. Obama is agreeing with Socrates that “the only evil is ignorance” and “no one errs voluntarily”, so all we have to do is educate the young Muslim punks properly, give them good jobs, give them money, and they will see the liberal, progressive light. This sounds like something Socrates would do, if he were president.

And it will not work, because the basic premises are completely false. Evil has almost nothing to do with ignorance. Evil is moral choice, a choice to be a self-serving, abusive, destructive predator upon other humans. The young Muslim punks will take everything that stupid people like Obama will give them, and still cut your head off or blow you up, yelling “Allahu Akbar!” What a shame that Obama is so well protected, that he does not receive the direct results of his stupidity. Others are dying instead of him, because of his stupidity and wrong liberal philosophy.
The Downfall of Socrates

Socrates, on the other hand, unlike Obama, did receive the direct results of his stupidity. He professed loyalty to Athens and its gods, but not to any one man or social class within Athens. There were several class struggles and ethical debates during his career; he made enemies in all of them. His misconception of evil was his downfall. He did not understand the true nature of evil, but he aroused evil in his enemies, and they destroyed him. During the search for scapegoats after an Athenian revolt threw off the rule of Sparta, Socrates was charged with subverting the state religion and corrupting Athenian youth.

In the trial, both charges were successfully refuted by Socrates. But the real purpose of the trial was for Socrates’ enemies to humble him and check his abrasive and uncompromising expose’ of their community’s faults. They wanted to shut him up, not kill him. But in the trial, he held nothing back and attacked them with the pettiness and meanness of their true motives, and steadfastly refused to ease his assault of society’s faults. He said “…understand that I shall never alter my ways, not even if I have to die many times.” This was at the end of his scouring statement of his innocence, and the courtroom erupted in agitation at what they saw as Socrates’ supreme arrogance. The jurors condemned him to death (the democratic decision was 280 to 221 out of 501 jurors), but it was plain that the real “crime” being punished was egotistical arrogance, not the official charges. Socrates went to his death still refusing to see the true nature of evil, or anything else.

Throughout his career, Socrates acknowledged his own great ignorance, and sought to convince others of their great ignorance, so that together the human race could begin to truly seek knowledge, in humility and brotherhood. But this great mission of his was doomed from the start, because his basic premise was completely wrong. He was constantly frustrated in his mission by the fact that knowledge is morally neutral, that knowledge is necessary for both good and evil to be accomplished. Furthermore, most men and women are arrogantly convinced that they already possess knowledge….. all the knowledge they need. The sad fact is, nobody has all the knowledge they need, so they should proceed with caution and humility. But 99 percent of people act as if they do have all the knowledge they need, when much of their knowledge is faulty, and they will not accept any criticism of their faulty knowledge.

This is a tragic truth of human life: ignorance breeds arrogance, and arrogance breeds ignorance. And this truth is nothing new….. the Book of Proverbs taught much the same, thousands of years ago. Ignorance and arrogance feed upon each other. The greater a person’s ignorance, the more arrogant delusions they have of their great knowledge, which is actually severely limited. And the greater their arrogance, the more upset they were when Socrates challenged their limited knowledge.

Throughout his career, Socrates committed himself to a difficult and dangerous task. He had to convince people of their great ignorance, without turning them into his enemies. He failed at this task, without realizing he was failing, because in his own ignorant arrogance, he refused to acknowledge the existence of hostile, malicious evil. While he won his arguments, and the verbal agreement of his opponents, some of them must have silently cursed him and sought to defeat him another way. They eventually succeeded in having him tried and condemned.

socrates takes hemlock

Before Socrates drinks the hemlock

While Socrates awaited his death, his loyal friends bribed the jailors and planned to smuggle him out of the state. This is what the Athenian government would have preferred. But he refused his friends’ help, saying that since he had enjoyed the protection of Athenian law all his life, duty demanded that he abide by its decrees to the end. This was faulty logic, but it was the course he selected to demonstrate his convictions, that virtue is far more precious than physical life. So he drank the required cup of hemlock, and the buzzing ‘gadfly of truth’ was silenced, to leave the corrupt people of Athens in peace.

Socrates after drinking hemlock

After Socrates drinks the hemlock

Socrates was an ignorant fool (which he freely acknowledged, at least the ignorant part), but then he brazenly contradicted himself and acted like he knew something, and tried to teach us about good and evil, the most important subjects in the world. He was very wrong about good and evil, and it cost him his life. This may have been a good thing, because his wrong teachings about good and evil contributed greatly to evil, helping it to remain hidden. Those teachings needed to stop, and the angry juror-citizens of Athens succeeded in stopping them from getting any worse.

However, the presence of internet posters and classical art dedicated to Socrates, such as I present here, demonstrate that his self-professed ignorance and stupidity continues to find a following today.

But Socrates gave us something very good, by way of inspiration, to seek the knowledge that he said he did not possess. He inspired his student Plato, who became perhaps the most influential philosopher in history, with much more valid concepts than Socrates. Through Plato, he inspired Aristotle, another great philosopher and tutor to Alexander the Great. Aristotle was the greatest philosopher/scientist and the founder of the scientific method. Through these two followers, Socrates had a great beneficial effect on the history of the world. But the actual teachings of Socrates were a disaster, and some of Socrates’ bad ideas can be seen in political and social liberalism, and the so-called progressive thinking of today, which is actually regressive and oppressive.

Liberals think they are creating a new and better morality, but they are really destroying morality, and the roots of their error go back almost three thousand years, to the wrong thinking of Socrates. They need to leave the stupidity of Socrates behind, and move on to more correct moral philosophy.

Playing Whack-A-Mole With Socrates and Good and Evil

It seems that we could refute Socrates’ faulty definition of good and evil in a few paragraphs, as I have tried to do here, stamp a warning label on it, and banish it from the arguments of intelligent people. But even if we could accomplish this, it would spring anew from people who never heard of Socrates. Correct this error in one person, and it pops up in another. It is a common and basic philosophical error. It is very much alive in the cultural and political assault of modern liberals upon society. Many philosophers have modified this idea and used it to support other faulty ideas of morality. It is now a philosophical Frankenstein monster, spawned by Socrates but separated from Socrates, lumbering around on its own and attacking good philosophy.

The basic wrong assumption behind Socrates’ bold statements is that people always have good intentions, and never have evil intentions. In other words, people do not commit crimes because of evil intent, but because they are ignorant, or lacking knowledge in some way. Once we accept this faulty belief, the idea behind Socrates’ bold statement is that people are guided in their actions by what seems to be “good” to them at the time, but that they are missing crucial information, misinterpreting the actions of other people, or they are making faulty assumptions on partial data. When their bad behavior is finally stopped by others, and they are asked why they were so persistent in it, they can use those excuses familiar to every child: “I DIDN’T KNOW” or “I DIDN’T MEAN IT.”
They are probably lying, but to Socrates these would be perfectly valid excuses, which he would gladly accept.

That is the attraction of this faulty definition of good and evil; it gives everyone an excuse for bad behavior. This faulty definition even removes the basis for all individual moral responsibility. They end up doing evil primarily because of their ignorance. In modern times, Socrates’ “ignorance” has come to mean a lack of proper education, a lack of liberal philosophy, or a lack of scientific knowledge concerning hormones, genetics and the balance of various chemicals in the human brain. People are ignorant, but they do not know they are ignorant and take action on false knowledge or assumptions. This allows them to form a faulty idea of “goodness” (such as Muslims beating their wives, or killing us). So according to this basically Socratic view, everyone in the world runs around doing what they think is “good” for them, but because of their ignorance, their idea of “good” is mistaken, and is in conflict with everyone else’s idea of “good.” So all we can do to correct Muslims is to tell them that they are ignorant, that their idea of “good” from Allah is misinformed and uneducated. This Socratic idea is doomed from the start. This view is a philosopher’s recipe for moral confusion and failure and disaster, but many philosophers have fallen under its strong spell. So have large (liberal) segments of the world’s population. But liberals won’t even adhere to the Socratic idea of opposing ignorance. Instead, they bow to it and honor it. They provide public foot-washing facilities and prayer rooms for Muslims, and let them build mosques on any street corner, while in Muslim countries new Christian churches are forbidden. The modern liberal selective refusal to see evil is far worse than that of Socrates.

Evil is a complicated issue, but reduced to its defining core element, evil is a voluntary moral choice to be a predator upon other people, to “draw first blood” without just cause, and any other view that distracts us from that is contributing to evil in itself. One of the most effective views in distracting us from that is liberalism.

As I will later propose in another post, liberal morality combines the error of Socrates with the ancient errors of Eastern religious thought, concerning the nature of good and evil. Liberals have raised the philosophy of pacifism and unlimited tolerance to the level of an unreasoning faith or religion. With it, they are trying to dominate or destroy the traditional religions, starting with Christianity, while they give the most predatory religion, Islam, a pass. In doing so, they are giving evil a pass, in the irrational worship of tolerance.

Even worse, liberals have turned the Socratic misconception of evil into an obsessive denial and avoidance of evil at all costs. This was brilliantly illustrated by the liberal mayor of Philadelphia just the other day, as was well-reported by our own Nautikos in his blog “Naut’s View”. In Philadelphia, a Muslim shot a police officer sitting in his car. Afterwards, the Muslim gunman told police: “I follow Allah. I pledge my allegiance to the Islamic State, and that’s why I did what I did.” But the Philly fool of a mayor, Democrat Jim Kenney, said: “This is a criminal with a stolen gun who tried to kill one of our officers. It has nothing to do with being a Muslim or following the Islamic faith.” His own police chief was incredulous at his nonsensical statement. Nautikos called the mayor a liar, which he assuredly is. But that is not the central issue. The issue is WHY the mayor felt compelled to lie. The mayor’s ulterior motive was to blindly follow a moral philosophy he has freely chosen….. a wrong philosophy concerning good and evil started by Socrates, and turned into an obsessive fanaticism by modern liberals. Call it what you want….. attitude, bias, concept, conviction, dogma….. but I call it liberal pacifist philosophy. Regardless of the label, the stupid Philly mayor refuses to acknowledge the religious evil of a Muslim jihadist shooting a policeman, when it has already been confessed. The mayor has plenty of company in this errant philosophy of denial of Muslim evil, including liar-in-chief Obama and everyone who agrees with him.

So see there, even when I am consciously trying to avoid the issue of Muslims, they find their way back into my arguments, not because I am obsessed with them, but because they are such a great example of philosophical and moral extremes, and because they are now in the news every day. In discussions and debates, Muslims are an outstanding “whipping boy”. But in society and out on the streets, it is they who are whipping us, because they are basically predatory and we are basically pacifist.

Even more alarming and abhorrent to me, is the sweeping scope of the errors of liberal pacifist philosophy. If liberals are this wrong about such a basic, fundamental issue such as good and evil, how many more other errors are they making, in every area of concern? Such as the economy, military, immigration, healthcare, religion, raising children, gun control, climate control, etc.??

Too many to count, I fear. The “rose colored glasses” they wear distort everything they see. Their basic philosophy, the software of their human computer, is fatally flawed. What is that infamous IT acronym, GIGO….. garbage in, garbage out. Liberalism is turning our entire Western society into garbage. Our best chance to stop the decay is to address the basic philosophical issues, not each and every liberal error. But by all means, PLEASE DO continue to point them out. Every voice helps.

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The Cosmic Lessons of Pearl Harbor, And Its Lessons For Today

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PEARL HARBOR DAY,  December 7,  brings remembrance of the Japanese surprise attack on Pearl Harbor in Hawaii,  and for me it brings reflection upon its cosmic implications.  It takes us to some very interesting places in time,  thought,  and space:

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“All truth passes through three stages.  First,  it is ridiculed.  Second,  it is violently opposed.  Third,  it is accepted as being self-evident.”            Arthur Schopenhauer (1788-1860)

In the war against disease,  doctors are our defense,  but doctors reveal their weakness;  their limits;  by treating the symptoms of a disease,  such as pain,   rather than destroying the disease organism or condition itself,  to truly cure the patient.   In the war against Evil,  God is our defense,  but God reveals his limits;  by treating the symptoms of Evil,  rather than destroying the true sources of Evil,  in our world and in the spirit world,  to truly cure his Creation.                   —  Original to this work 

Evil is so pervasive,  so persistent,  so difficult to attack and destroy,  that some philosophers in history and in society today have surrendered to it,  by saying that we NEED evil present in the world,  in the universe,  as a balance,  as a challenge,  as a purifying fire to burn away our impurities,  as we go through the deadly conflicts that evil throws in our way.  So that is why God allows people to turn to evil and cause chaos and destruction in our world,  because somehow we NEED evil in the world,  because it somehow it is a benefit to us.  But this is insanity.  This is like saying we NEED weeds to choke out our gardens,  we NEED rotten food on our dinner plates,  we NEED disease ravishing our bodies,  we NEED to die of cancer,  we NEED rust in our steel,  we NEED scorpions in our beds,  we NEED misery in our lives,  we NEED to be robbed,  we NEED to be raped,  we NEED to be beaten or shot,  we NEED wars,  we NEED angry predatory people attacking us as if we were prey animals to tear apart and eat.  This is moral nonsense and philosophical fantasy.  Worse,  this is moral treason…..  it is giving aid and comfort to the enemies who seek to dominate us.  This idea is backwards.  We do not NEED evil,  but evil does NEED us,  as victims to prey on.  So,  all the better for evil predators,  if their foolish victims believe the lie that the predators,  who are preying on them,  are NEEDED…..  this idea is the predators’ clever propaganda for the prey….. so don’t fall for it.           —  Original to this work

When does violence become morally justified,  if ever?  That is a crucial question,  which has been debated for thousands of years,  and here is my answer,  in the form of a paradox…..  VIOLENCE BECOMES JUSTIFIED AGAINST THE VIOLENT.   When a person,  or a spirit,  or an angel,  becomes violent for any reason other than the basic need to survive…..  when a person becomes a dominating,  manipulative tyrant,  disrupting the lives of everyone around them…..  or when an angel in heaven became resentful of God and rebellious,  and could not be returned to reason…..  when destruction or domination or predation becomes the goal of any entity…..  when any such entity has the intent and power to commit unjust violence,  and begins that violence…..  THAT is the precise moment when violence becomes justified against the violent.  That is when the stopping of the destroyer becomes the imperative moral goal,  the duty,  the responsibility of anyone in contact with the destroyer,  and the destroyer must be opposed by all means,  for the common good.  The initiator of predatory violence brings a righteous violence upon himself.  This moral principle is more important than any of the Ten Commandments….. in the Bible,  it precedes the Ten Commandments  (see Genesis 9:6).  This is a natural moral imperative that must be obeyed,  or else evil and deception will rule…..  just as they have ruled for almost all of human history.  This is a law that has been broken,  ignored,  misfollowed,  misinterpreted and denounced for thousands of years,  to the great shame and disgrace of the human race.                —  Original to this work

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pearl-harbor-mem-day  In my philosophical / religious / historical research,  which is my lifetime hobby,  I recently found something very compelling.  Everyone knows,  or should know,  about the surprise Japanese attack on the American naval base at Pearl Harbor in Hawaii,  on December 7, 1941.  It is one of the most important events in history,  and Admiral Chester Nimitz had a front row seat of the analysis of that event.  He was assigned to replace Admiral Kimmel as the new Pacific Fleet Commander on December 16.  Admiral Nimitz arrived at Pearl Harbor on Christmas Day in 1941,  and this is what he was greeted with :

“I found the water covered with oil one-half inch thick from the sunken ships.  Many boats were hurrying back and forth between the wrecks and the Peninsula.  I was met by Rear Admiral Bellinger,  the Pacific Fleet Aviation Officer,  who informed me that the boats were picking up drowned sailors and marines from ships and taking their bodies to a central point on the Peninsula.”

fa_487_pearlharbor42_970pearl02 .

Admiral Nimitz then proceeded to rally the military forces of America in the Pacific,  and against tremendous obstacles and setbacks,  achieved a miracle in defeating the Japanese forces.  Nimitz would deny any miracle on his part,  but he did come to see the hand of God,  in the important errors that the Japanese made at Pearl Harbor.  Here is the insightful narrative about those errors given by Admiral Nimitz:

“The several errors made by the Japanese on December 7th, 1941,  helped very materially to shorten the war.  Their failure to come back a second day,  to destroy our repair facilities at the Navy Yard and to burn our four and one-half million barrels of fuel oil in surface tanks,  was a most serious error.  These tanks could have been destroyed by machine gunning them with 50-caliber incendiary machine gun bullets.

“Likewise,  the Japanese made an even more serious error on December 7th by leaving our submarine base on Quarry Point free from attack.  As a consequence,  no submarines or supporting equipment were damaged and submarines could proceed immediately to stations in the far western Pacific and start their long campaign of destruction of the Japanese merchant marine,  which was a primary factor in the defeat of Japan.  The submarines sank in excess of 75 percent of Japanese merchant marine shipping.

“At the time of the attack on December 7th,  there was under construction at Red Hill,  back of Pearl Harbor,  an underground bomb-proof storage for all petroleum products.  At that time in the Atlantic,  allied tankers were the principal targets of the German submarines and you need only check the figures for 1941 and 1942 of the Atlantic losses to see what might have happened had the Japanese destroyed the four and one-half million barrels of oil we had on the surface at Pearl Harbor.

“For me,  meantime,  after my arrival on Christmas morning of 1941,  I sweated blood until the underground bombproof storage was complete and our oil supply safely piped therein.  Had our oil supply been destroyed,   and considering the tremendous shortage of fuel and petroleum production,  generally,  in Europe,  it would have taken years to re-establish that supply,  and would have delayed our Pacific war accordingly.  Had our Pearl Harbor installations for repairs been destroyed,  our Fleet would have been forced back to the West Coast of the United States for support,  another item which would have prolonged the war.

“So in spite of the reverses we suffered on December 7th, 1941,  there were some spots on which we could congratulate ourselves on our luck.

“There was further cause for rejoicing in the fact that the Japanese had made the attack on our Fleet while it was inside Pearl Harbor.  Had the Fleet been at sea,  Admiral Kimmel would certainly have tried to force a battle to bring into play the powerful armament that our battleships carried.  However, these ships would have been limited to a maximum speed of about 18 knots,  while the Japanese Task Force had a fleet speed of 22 knots.  This difference in speed would have imposed on Admiral Kimmel a tremendous disadvantage.  He could not have forced a fleet engagement until the Japanese commander was ready for it.

“Furthermore,  the Japanese Task Force that came to Pearl Harbor that day had six aircraft carriers,  whereas Admiral Kimmel had none— the Lexington being far to the westward on another mission.  Imagine,  if you can,  what would have happened to our slower battleships in such an action,  with the aircraft of six carriers working on them and with our Fleet having no air cover at all.  Remember that on December 7th,  the Japanese destroyed all of the aviation strength of the Army, Navy, and Marine Corps on Oahu.  Instead of losing some 3,700 to 3,800 men as we did at Pearl Harbor,  we would have lost by drowning or capture almost 20,000 men had our fleet been in deep water.

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Five Star Admiral Chester Nimitz from Fredericksburg, Texas

 “By this time you will agree that the good Lord was looking out for us,  although it didn’t seem so at the time.  The men salvaged from the sunken ships in Pearl Harbor were used to form the nuclei of crews that manned the new ships that were coming down the ways in the United States.  Had our old fleet not been so completely destroyed,  there might have been difficulty in securing the funds to build the ships needed to match the more modern Japanese ships.

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“Finally,  the Japanese attack served to unify our country,  which was not at all sure it wanted to get mixed up in World War II.”

—  from NIMITZ: Reflections on Pearl Harbor by William H. Ewing

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And Now For The Cosmic Lessons…..

So Admiral Nimitz was convinced that God had a hand in the disaster at Pearl Harbor,  keeping it from becoming a much worse disaster,  keeping it from badly crippling us at the start of a long war.  And I completely agree with him.  God,  as the logical metaphysical champion of goodness in the universe,  must have had some important influence in the events surrounding Pearl Harbor.  The quotes from Nimitz I presented above have been used by Christian fundamentalists countless times,  I am sure,  to support their faith in the omnipotent God of the Bible.

The hand of an omnipotent God

The hand of an omnipotent God,  committed to action on Earth,  to support Goodness and defeat Evil.  This is NOT happening, except in weak and subtle ways.

But let us apply some logical reasoning to this chain of events.  For an omnipotent God,  his hand in these events was a decidedly weak hand.  If God determined that the Japanese needed to be opposed at all,  why would he so seriously limit his actions?  A stronger hand would have been able to stop the evil engineers of the Japanese attack (the imperial government leaders and military commanders),  when the full intent and the means to commit the surprise attack came into being.  This could have been done in several ways,  all with  “plausible deniability”  to conceal that God had done it,  if God were concerned about such things.  Let us say that a massive hurricane or a few giant rogue waves sunk the Japanese fleet,  in the middle of the ocean,  as it was steaming to Pearl Harbor…..  this should be a simple thing for an omnipotent God.  Storms have devastated naval fleets before,  even in the history of Japan.  Or let us say that the Japanese leaders who ordered the attack died suddenly,  from car wrecks or cancer or heart failure,  sometime before they ordered the attack.  If the attack was entirely prevented,  then all the “errors” of the Japanese commanders would not have been necessary to help us,  and 3,800 innocent men would not have been killed.

Better yet,  let us say that those Japanese leaders died years before,  after their plans for conquest and war solidified in their minds,  but before they spread their plan and infected the entire country,  before they shifted Japanese industry to war production.  If God knew their evil intent,  and knew when it became a solid plan working toward execution,  needing only time and means to happen,  that would be the time for an omnipotent God to stop the evil leaders.  If the Japanese war on their neighbors was entirely prevented,  then all the other battles in mainland Asia and the Pacific Ocean would not have been necessary to fight,  the atomic bombs would not have been dropped,  and millions of innocent men,  women and children would not have been killed.

If the Japanese leaders who planned conquest were disabled or dispatched by God before they started carrying out their plans,  then the devastating Pacific war would not have been necessary to have been fought at all.  If such leaders have already earned a  ‘ticket to Hell’,  as evil men,  then let’s just start their trip a few years earlier,  and save a few million innocent lives in the process. This would be a logical and morally responsible thing for an omnipotent God to do.

But this sort of thing does not happen on our planet.  Evil leaders planning conquest are allowed by God to attack and conquer to their hearts content,  with the current best example being the leaders of ISIS,  who even claim to be doing it in the name of God.  If any group ever deserved violent force from a God who is being mis-represented by them,  ISIS is it.  They are seeking out and killing all Christians,  Jews,  Shi’ite Muslims,  and anyone else who does not agree with their militant Sunni Muslim faith.  They kill in the most horrible ways,  such as beheading,  crucifying,  burying alive,  and burning alive.  They are destroying churches,  destroying religious and cultural relics that are thousands of years old.  Yet God allows them to thrive and expand.  We are barely able to slow them down,  by bombing the hell out of them.  To ISIS,  their smashing success is proof that they are right about God,  and that we are wrong about God.  Here is their latest press release to us infidels,  as of 14 March 2015 :

“We — with Allah’s help — want Paris, before Rome and Islamic Iberia and after we blow up the White House,  Big Ben,  and the Eiffel Tower before Paris,  and Rome,” he warned.” The Muslims will return to power,  to be the vanguard and lead in every place.” They will do this in the most oppressive,  brutal,  bloody way possible,  as these photos show :

Christian girl beheaded by ISIS

Christian girl beheaded by ISIS, like many other children.  These photos should make you want to destroy ISIS.  There is no co-existing,  no compromise with this kind of people.  They should not be allowed to exist anywhere on this planet.  “Not my problem”,  you say?  YES, IT IS!!! ….. If you think it is not your problem, then you are a big part of the problem, you are an enabler of evil,  you are giving evil permission to thrive anywhere that it does not touch you.  That is, giving evil permission to thrive in all of the world, except the tiny tiny portion of the world that directly affects you.  That is extremely selfish, and self-destructive, for soon, the evil that you permit in all the rest of the world will come for YOU.

ISIS bleeds woman like an animal

Naked woman being bled to death like an animal by ISIS monsters. Why is she naked, and why are they catching her blood?  This was a beautiful woman.  Much evil was done to her before and after this photo.  If this does not sicken your soul and make you fighting mad, you are lost.

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Here is a map that ISIS released,  showing the lands that they hope to have under their control in the year 2020,  and the bizarre Islamic names for those lands:

ISISprojects2020

These huge territorial gains are not likely,  but they are not impossible.  They are possible,  but only if every existing Muslim country in the region switched their allegiance to ISIS.  Given the deadly divisions in Islam,  such as Sunni versus Shi’ite,  this will not happen.  But this map serves another important purpose for ISIS,  for all devout Muslims,  who ISIS hopes to convert to their evil cause.  All educated Muslims should recognize that  this map is very close to the map of the Islamic empire at its peak in the late 1700’s,  with the addition of Spain  (Andalus),  a great prize that Islam stole earlier from Christianity in a long and brutal war,  and then lost because of the strong counter-attack by Christian forces.

The real point of this map is that by 2020,  ISIS is claiming that they will regain the Islamic empire of the past,  in countries where Islam is already strong,  and then they will continue their bloody Jihad to take over the entire world,  working from this historic imperial base.  This region is rich in oil and other natural resources,  that would all be used to support the global Jihad of ISIS.  If ISIS wins these lands by 2020,  then the peaceful Muslims who oppose ISIS will have been killed or converted,  and the Muslim religion,  in general,  will have become the greatest enemy of God,  goodness,  progress,  and humanity in the modern world,  with ISIS becoming the voice,  the face,  and the sword of all Muslims.  Peaceful Muslims in other countries will become heretics,  subject to be slaughtered along with all the infidels.  The black region in the map above represents a spreading black cloud of death.

So ISIS believes that God will help them  “lead in every place”,  which means that they will come to control the entire planet Earth,  and their black flag would fly in every state of every country.  They would be riding a wave of terrible destruction,  and the death toll would be in the billions,  as they kill everyone who opposes them or disagrees with them.  There would be a world shortage of wood crosses for crucifying,  steel cages for burning,  and sharp knives for beheading.  it is a vision of ultimate horror and evil in every way.  And not only God knows their evil plans….. they are broadcasting their evil plans and their murders to the entire world,  in gruesome detail,  and attributing their success to God.  Yet we see no answer,  no action from God to counter them.

We see no action from God,  despite the many promises in the Bible that God will protect his faithful  (of the Jewish and Christian varieties)  from harm,  and destroy their attackers.  I have presented those promises elsewhere,  in the last article about Jesus With a Whip.  ISIS may be the greatest threat in history to the Jews and Christians,  and yet we see no action from the God who promised to protect them from such attacks.

Instead,  it seems that the ominous promises of  “Allah”  from the Koran are being kept,  enabling ISIS to conquer cities,  and to kill all the unbelievers,  apostates,  and infidels in their reach. The brutal bloody success of ISIS is attracting thousands of like-minded people  (evil or incredibly stupid) in Western countries to join them,  to abandon their homes and families to travel to Syria and kill people with ISIS.  As an aside,  they often end up cleaning ISIS toilets instead of killing people,  LOL.  Everyone else on the planet,  billions of us,  know that ISIS is wrong and evil,  God knows they are wrong and evil,  and yet God does nothing significant to stop them,  despite desperate pleas and prayers from their victims and from decent people all over the world.  Why not?

The Wind God Fujin, with bag of winds on his shoulders

The Wind God Fujin, with bag of winds on his shoulders…. source of the KAMIKAZE divine wind

Imperial Japan had a religious component as well,  if not as obvious as ISIS.  It had roots in the Samurai,  a religious elite warrior class that held great power in medieval Japan.  The samurai followed a set of rules that came to be known as bushidō.  Their teachings can still be found today in both everyday life and in modern Japanese martial arts.  The Samurai followed a blend of Buddhism,  Zen,  Confucianism and Shinto religion.  They took the elements of those religions that supported discipline, honor,  elitism,  loyalty and armed service to one’s lord. Therefore,  if the lord was evil or corrupt,  his Samurai served evil.  Imperial Japan of the early 1900’s corrupted that blend of religion further,  and tailored it to support a policy of violence,  conquest and expansion,  much like ISIS is tailoring Islam to support their conquest today.  When the Japanese chose to resort to suicide pilots toward the end of the war,  they used a name with a religious meaning :  Kamikaze,  or  “divine wind”  (kami = god, spirit, divine,  kaze = wind).  The word Kamikaze originated as the name of major typhoons in 1274 and 1281, which destroyed Mongolian invasion fleets under Kublai Khan  ,  saving Japan from attack  (just the sort of typhoon needed to destroy the Japanese fleet steaming to Pearl Harbor).  Like ISIS today,  Imperial Japan abused and distorted religion to support conquest,  like a slap in the face to God.  Yet God did very little to rebuke the bad religion of Imperial Japan and oppose them,  and apparently did nothing to oppose them in China,  as we will soon see.  Why not?

One explanation is that God is simply not able to stop this sort of thing,  completely separated from any consideration of allowing us all to have our  “free will”,  completely separated from testing or teaching us with excruciating pain.  There is no morally valid benefit or teaching point resulting from the success of ISIS,  just as there was no morally valid benefit or teaching point in allowing the evil Imperial Japanese to attack their neighbors and conquer their lands.  The only lesson to learn is that evil people will band together and destroy you,  if you do not band together and resist them first,  answering force with force.  Who needs God to learn that lesson?  No one.  That lesson is learned easily on this planet,  in every generation throughout history,  with or without God.  It makes no logical sense for an omnipotent God to allow us to be conquered and killed by evil people,  to teach us any lesson,  and it could be considered immoral,  even cruel.  So the logical and moral evidence points to a seriously limited God,  who is not omnipotent.

As a counterpoint,  the Old Testament tells us that God became angry at the Hebrews a few times for disobeying him and following other religions,  that he then allowed Israel to be conquered by the Assyrians and the Babylonians.  This resulted in a faithful core of Hebrews,  led by prophets,  returning to the Hebrew faith.  This may be an exception to my arguments,  where allowing such conquering and killing did have some benefit.  But it was at the great cost of allowing many innocent people to be killed,  and the great cost of allowing evil pagan empires to expand their power,  influence and religion.  And these conquerings of the Hebrews did not require the omnipotence of God.  All God had to do,  was to withdraw any limited help or protection he had been providing to the Hebrews,  and let the aggression of their violent neighbors run its course.

But,  in earnest objection to that idea,  a moral omnipotent God should be opposed to ALL predatory aggression of nations.  He certainly should not be allowing it to succeed,  as he allowed the Japanese aggression to succeed at Pearl Harbor, and all over Asia and the the Pacific.  Nor should he use the predatory evil aggression of one nation against another.  This would be an outrageous neglect,  or an outrageous misuse of omnipotent unlimited power.

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The Book of Exodus,  Read With New Eyes

Moses in throne roomAnother interesting counterpoint,  earlier in Hebrew history,  would be God’s powerful actions to forcefully free the Hebrews from Egyptian slavery,  in the Book of Exodus.  God brought about plagues,  he killed the Egyptians’  first-born sons,  he parted the sea,  and drowned much of the Pharaoh’s army in the sea,  but in all these awesome displays of force,  God failed to deal with the biggest problem of all.…  the evil Pharaoh himself,  the evil Pharaohs before him,  and the evil leaders under the Pharaohs who kept the Hebrews enslaved,  in a centuries-long campaign of predatory evil against the Hebrews.  After centuries of evil,  God finally killed Pharaoh’s son and Pharaoh’s soldiers,  but he did not or could not kill Pharaoh himself,  who was the person most responsible for the slavery of the Hebrews.

The scriptures do not tell us why God let the slavery continue for centuries,  in fact they do not even clearly mention the time span of the slavery,  but that has been roughly determined in other ways,  to be anywhere from 430 years to 215 years.  I tend to go with the shorter period,  which is still centuries.  After Joseph served as the Egyptian prime minister and brought his family there,  the Hebrews lived in Egypt with freedom for a long time,  before they were turned into slaves for a long time.

Moses confronts Pharaoh again

Moses confronts Pharaoh again, but Pharaoh is being hardened…. by whom?

Curiously, the scriptures do tell us that God had a strange plan for dealing with the Pharaoh,  as God told Moses:  “….. I will harden Pharaoh’s heart,  and multiply my signs and my wonders in the land of Egypt.  But Pharaoh shall not hearken unto you,  that I may lay my hand upon Egypt…..  and the Egyptians shall know that I am the Lord,  when I stretch forth mine hand upon Egypt,  and bring out the children of Israel from among them.”  Exodus 7: 3-5.  So,  instead of disabling or killing the one person who already had most of the responsibility for keeping the Hebrews enslaved,  God hardened Pharaoh’s heart.  What does this mean?  It means that God took away Pharaoh’s free will,  prevented Pharaoh from doing what Moses asked him,  prevented Pharaoh from releasing the Hebrews from slavery.  Why did God do that?  So that God could  “multiply my signs and wonders in the land of Egypt…..  and the Egyptians shall know that I am the Lord”.  These scriptures tell us that God took away Pharaoh’s free will and brought the nation of Egypt to its knees,  killing many thousands of Egyptians in the process,  so that the surviving Egyptians would know and believe that the Hebrew god was more powerful that their  “gods”.

Pieces Of The Puzzle

This is a glaring counterpoint to the popularly sanctioned Christian doctrine of  “free will”.  Supposedly,  God loves us all so much,  that he grants us  “free will”  to follow him,  oppose him,  or ignore him and his teachings.  This is the theological explanation for the presence of so much evil,  crime,  and war in the world.  Yet here,  in a crucial conflict between God’s chosen people and the Egyptians,  God is taking  “free will”  away,  to force events in the direction God wants.  God took away Pharaoh’s free will in some mysterious untold way,  and he took away thousands of Egyptians’ free will,  simply by killing them.

So,  it would seem that God was using Moses and the Pharaoh and everyone else in this great drama as pawns…..  pawns in a much larger chess game that God was waging against larger metaphysical opponents,  above the earthly plane.  The  “gods”  of Egypt were created by metaphysical enemies of God;  inspired by Satan and his legion of fallen angels;  and God was doing battle with those enemies in the nation of Egypt.   One of God’s goals was to destroy or invalidate the popular ancient religion of Egypt with its many  “gods”,  while liberating the Hebrew people from wrongful slavery.

God’s plan was executed,  the drama played out,  the nation of Egypt was devastated,  and the Hebrew slaves escaped,  to go and carve out their own nation in the land of Canaan.  Their conquests in that land were bloody.  They were commanded by God to kill the existing inhabitants, every man,  woman,  and child,  presumably to wipe out their gene pool and their religion.  God gave this drastic command after devastating the nation of Egypt for worshiping other gods.  So in this time of history,  the Hebrews were used by God as tools in a long campaign,  to attack other cultures that had other rival religions,  to stop their evil and immorality,  to replace them with the higher moral standards that we find in the Bible,  in the Ten Commandments for example.  One of those commandments,  “thou shalt not kill”,  was effectively modified into  “thou shalt not kill,  except when God commands you to kill people of another religion”.  I wish we could know the actual spiritual success or failure of this campaign,  because it came with a high cost of lives and property.  This campaign,  in which God commanded the Hebrews to kill all of their enemies…..  man,  woman,  child…..  even including their livestock,  is equivalent to the destructive policies of  ISIS  today.  It is shockingly different from the soft,  loving,  forgiving image that most Christian preachers paint of God today.  In that earlier time,  God was waging war on people who rejected him,  waging war on rival spirits such as Satan,  and I hope that the gains were worth the cost.  If they were worth the cost,  then I wish God would do that again,  against enemies such as  ISIS,  who have become mass murderers and mass enslavers,  who can only be stopped by killing them.  Such predatory enemies are closing in on good people all over the world,  and we need God’s corrective justice more than ever,  more than in the time of the Exodus.

This entire saga about the conquest of Canaan speaks of God waging war,  God taking extreme measures,  which an omnipotent God should never be forced to do.  Massive killing,  such as God commanded the Hebrews to do at this time,  is only necessary when evil forces have been able to conquer and enslave large areas,  over a long period of time.  But this indicates a gross failure of good forces to prevent that conquering,  over a long period of time.  The forces of evil should never have been allowed to accumulate so much power and so many followers.  This would apply to any period of extreme evil,  such as the time before Noah’s flood,  such as the time we are living in now.  This is a vital point that we shall explore much more below.

Getting back to the war of the Hebrews versus Egypt,  when God hardened Pharaoh’s heart and therefore took away Pharaoh’s free will,  Pharaoh arrogantly rebuked God and mocked Moses,  time after time,  spurring God to bring another disaster to Egypt.  The Pharaoh’s death and the death of his evil henchmen would have ended the conflict,  but we are told that God wanted Pharaoh to stay very much alive and defiant,  as an evil adversary to God,  as an opposing pawn to justify a larger attack against a hostile nation.  God played out a grand drama,  argued and struggled with a constrained Pharaoh,  laying waste to an entire nation,  to punish its people.  He set up the Pharaoh as his punching bag,  his sparring partner,  who could not tap out from this fight with God.  If this is true,  the evil Pharaoh richly deserved it,  but disabling or killing him would have been more efficient and more understandable.

To summarize,  this rigged sparring exhibition with Pharaoh was God’s plan from the beginning,  which he told Moses from the beginning.  It was a rigged fight,  because Pharaoh was not a free agent.  He was constrained or restricted by God.  God supposedly used this constraint of Pharaoh for a good reason.  God kept punishing the people of Egypt,  who bore indirect responsibility for the slavery of the Hebrews,  instead of punishing the leader of Egypt,  who bore direct and personal responsibility for the slavery of the Hebrews.  But God was punishing Egypt for much more than enslaving the Hebrews.  It seems clear that God was punishing the people of Egypt for rejecting God for centuries,  for accepting the false gods of Satan,  even when the Hebrews were among them and worshiping God openly.  The Hebrews followed a different moral code,  that the Egyptians rejected.  So God punished the Egyptians for holding to their ancient gods and religion and morals,  that did not meet the standards of God.  To accomplish this,  God took away the free will of Pharaoh,  already an evil man,  making him essentially more evil,  making him challenge God,  instead of killing him,  even though God killed thousands of other Egyptians in this campaign.

Possible Solution To The Puzzle?

This is a puzzling way for God to handle the situation,  as if working within limitations,  as if figuring ways around obstacles,  with limited power. Very puzzling,  if God were omnipotent.  But I have a question,  that might solve the puzzle.  What if God was simply not capable of disabling or killing the Pharaoh,  even though God killed thousands of other Egyptians to make his point?  What unknown factors would explain such peculiar limits to God’s power?  Could the Pharaoh have been protected by some forces or entities that were acting in opposition to God?  Could it be that God was actually the one who was constrained or limited,  in his fight with the Pharaoh?  I am wondering whether God really did  “harden Pharaoh’s heart”,  or if Pharaoh hardened his own heart,  and God was somehow given credit for doing it,  by human writers,  because it never occurred to them that God may be limited.  This divine assault on Egypt was conducted in a limited way,  and achieved only limited success.

In God’s campaign against Egypt,  there were three proper moral goals…..  three goals that would be logical and desirable from a Godly moral standpoint…..  three goals that were stated or implied in the Bible…..  one,  liberate the Hebrew slaves who the Egyptians had oppressed for centuries;  two,  punish the Egyptians for their false religion and turn them from it;  and three,  neutralize and stop the tyranny of an evil Pharaoh.  But only one of these goals,  liberating the Hebrew slaves,  was completely accomplished.

The other goals,  turning the Egyptians from their false religion and neutralizing an evil Pharaoh,  were not met.  After the epic conflict,  the religion of Egypt did not change,  and God left an evil Pharaoh alive and in power to commit more predatory evil against his nation.  After the Hebrews left Egypt,  after the Pharaoh came limping back home from trying to destroy them at the Red Sea,  we can be sure that Pharaoh did not suddenly repent and become an ethical and compassionate leader of his people.  Pharaoh did not convert to worship the God who had just laid waste to his nation and decimated his army,  in order to release the Hebrew people who did worship God.  If the Pharaoh did so change,  or if the people of Egypt so changed,  their conversion would have been included as a grand ending to the Bible story.

The Harris Papyrus

The Harris Papyrus

Harris Papyrus- warsInstead,  Egypt remained a tyrannical regime that preyed on other people,  as illustrated by this historical report of the exploits of Ramses III:  “….. I laid low the Meshwesh,  the Libyans,  the Esbet,  the Keykesh,  the Shai,  the Hes and the Beken…..  I carried away those whom my sword had spared,  as numerous captives,  pinioned like birds before my horses,  their wives and their children by the ten-thousand,  their cattle in number like hundred-thousands…..”  the Harris Papyrus (circa 1100 BC).  This occurred after the Exodus,  which different scholars have placed at 1450 BC to 1250 BC.  Tyranny,  conquest and slavery continued in Egypt,  as did their God-denying religion.  Perhaps they were trying to rebuild their slave work force,  after they lost their Hebrew slaves.

There is a huge moral problem with this failure to kill or disable an evil Pharaoh of the Exodus,  and all the evil Pharaohs before him who enslaved the Hebrews,  that again points to serious limits to God’s abilities.

Possible Explanation?

It almost seems that when evil gains enough power in evil leaders,  it somehow gains a protection against attack by the powers of goodness.  We should ask if God really did  “harden Pharaoh’s heart”,  or if Pharaoh hardened his own heart,  and God simply could not disable or kill him,  because,  perhaps,  the evil Pharaoh was under metaphysical protection from another source,  acting as a rival to God?  Or,  what if Satan actually hardened Pharaoh’s heart,  as well as protecting him from being killed by God?  If this were the case,  the writers of the scriptures,  being committed to God’s omnipotence,  would certainly not want to believe it or report it.

God seems to have a difficult struggle or contest with rival forces of evil  (as we all do),  which was even described for us in the biblical Book of Job.  In the Book of Job,  the highly moral man Job,  who loved and worshiped God,  was allowed by God to be attacked and almost completely destroyed by Satan,  to see if Job would abandon God,  which Job did not do,  despite the horrible things Satan did to him.  Satan made a destructive challenge to God,  like making a gambler’s bet towards an uncertain outcome,  a bet which God accepted and allowed to go forward.

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The Book of Job,  Read With New Eyes

The Book of Job is widely dismissed,  even by ministers and priests,  as a parable or a myth.  It is regarded like a fairy tale with a moral message.  I think it tells us of a real clash between God and Satan,  and Job was a real person.  But whether Job was flesh and blood,  or a parable,  he has a lot to teach us about the limits of God.

This is the way the deadly contest started between God and Satan,  in  Job 2: 6-11:  “Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord,  and Satan came also among them.  And the Lord said unto Satan, whence comest thou?  Then Satan answered the Lord and said,  From going to and fro in the earth,  and from walking up and down in it.  And the Lord said unto Satan,  Hast thou considered my servant Job,  that there is none like him in the earth,  a perfect and an upright man,  one that feareth God,  and escheweth evil?  Then Satan answered the Lord and said,  Doth Job fear God for nought?  Hast not thou made an hedge about him,  and about his house,  and about all that he hath on every side?  Thou hast blessed the work of his hands,  and his substance is increased in the land.  But put forth thine hand now,  and touch all that he hath,  and he will curse thee to thy face.” 

Now,  this is quite a surprising and disturbing encounter.  God is allowing Satan to disrupt his meeting with his most trusted angels,  or perhaps God cannot stop Satan from disrupting this meeting.  Then,  curiously,  God brags to Satan about his best human follower Job.  God brought up the subject of Job,  not Satan,  and predictably Satan challenges the motives of Job,  and makes an ominous bet that puts Job and everyone around Job in great peril.  God took the awful bet,  but allowed Satan to do the destroying,  instead of himself,  saying:  “Behold,  all that he hath is in thy power;  only upon himself put not forth thine hand.”  Job 2: 12.  In the next few verses,  this turned out to be a death sentence for many people in Job’s family and businesses.  Satan had challenged God to do the destroying,  but at least God did not agree to that disastrous ploy.  Much blood would be shed in this game of power,  but the blood would not be directly on God’s hands.  Satan left the presence of God,  probably with evil delight,  to plan and launch a terrorist-like attack of great violence against Job’s family,  servants,  and vast possessions.

It was an utterly devastating campaign of destruction,  murder,  and mayhem.  It made modern mafia or gang wars look like child’s play.  Satan launched a seek-and-destroy mission like no other ever written about.  Every other evil mission in history has had potential opposition from forces of goodness,  but not this one.  Satan could seek out and destroy everything Job loved and possessed,  with demonic power,  with no risk to himself.  He could plan the perfect destruction,  like an engineer of evil,  with no one to challenge his plans.  Job was a lucrative target,  with seven sons and three daughters,  thousands of sheep and camels,  five hundred yoke of oxen,  and five hundred she-asses.  Job had amassed a vast and far-reaching benevolent empire of productive and profitable enterprises,  with the blessings and protection of God.  We are told that Job was  “the greatest of all the men of the east.”  With the protection of God removed,  Satan could not be harmed by men,  he could not be opposed by men,  so he risked nothing as he conducted a cowardly mission of absolute destruction,  with God’s permission.  Satan must have enjoyed it immensely.

The Killing of Job's Servants

The Killing of Job’s Servants

Satan must have made some unmentioned preparations,  moving forces into place,  getting ready to strike.  He used a combination of human and metaphysical resources.  When he was ready,  he launched a devastating coordinated attack on several fronts.  We are told that he did most of it in one single day,  employing bandits,  a foreign raiding party,  a windstorm,  and fire raining down from the sky to burn up thousands of sheep and their shepherds  (we are told that Job had seven thousand sheep,  which required a lot of shepherds).  Burning to death is a particularly painful and cruel method of killing,  and a very key method in this story.

But Satan was careful to spare one man,  one eye-witness,  from each slaughter.  These lone survivors must have thought that they were saved by God,  but no,  they were saved by Satan,  for an important purpose.  The single survivor of each disaster reached Job one right after the other,  from far-flung places,  to deliver the awful news. The messenger of the sheep said of the raining fire:  “the fire of God is fallen from heaven, and hath burned up the sheep, and the servants.”  Satan must have been especially happy to hear this report.  It was not the fire of God from heaven,  it was the fire of Satan,  but no one knew this.  The messenger’s report meant that Satan’s subterfuge was working perfectly.  God was being blamed for Satan’s murders and destruction.

The Grand Deception

This was not only an epic campaign of destruction,  it was also a grand campaign of deception.  Satan had urged God to do the destroying,  and God had wisely refused,  as mentioned above.  This is very significant.  If God had done the destroying as Satan had challenged him to do,  then God would have essentially become like Satan.  But Satan needed the destruction to appear to come from God,  so Satan had to fall back to deception.  Satan wanted Job and everyone else to think that God was doing these horrible things,  so he used fire raining down from the sky,  a God-like non-human weapon,  a terrifying weapon,  far superior to human weapons,  and the deception was a complete success.  Job was devastated,  with his family and vast empire destroyed in one day,  by multiple coordinated attacks,  including supernatural fire from the sky.  Job and all others were convinced that God had done this to him,  as Satan intended.  They had no idea that Satan was even capable of such a thing.  In their belief,  Satan was held to limits by the omnipotent power of God,  so in their minds,  the raining fire had to be from God.  Satan used their own religion against them,  to distort the beliefs of everyone in the country.  The extreme evil acts of Satan were being attributed to God.  Not only was Satan destroying Job,  God’s greatest follower,  he was also damaging the image and reputation of God in an entire region.  This was a masterpiece of deception by Satan,  with elements that most readers of Job have not even considered.

God allowed this deadly deception to proceed and succeed,  all along its murderous way,  from planning to execution,  when he could have exposed it at any time.  Allowing this deception was not mentioned as a condition of the bargain with Satan.  But Satan’s clever campaign of lies was safe…..  for he had deviously backed God into a corner of sorts.  After all of the killing and destruction,  done quickly in one day,  with everyone believing it to be done directly by God,  God would gain nothing by exposing his true involvement and complicity in this gross and grisly injustice.  If he spoke up now,  what could he say?…..  “I did not do these terrible evil things,  but Satan asked me do them,  so I let him do them”  is not a very noble Godly message.  “The devil made me do it”  or  “the devil talked me into it”  might be an acceptable excuse for humans,  but not for a God of love,  justice and omnipotence.

Of course,  an omnipotent God could have ended the evil assault with righteous justice at any time,  by exposing Satan’s deceptive campaign for all to see and then dealing out a severe punishment to Satan,  for all to see.  Or keep it hidden from us,  but like the Nike ad says,  just do it.  This could have turned Satan’s dark and dirty scheme into a great triumph of Goodness for the entire universe.  This was a chance to expose the evil lies and manipulations of Satan,  and then to end the evil rebellion of Satan for all time.  But God could not,  or would not,  take the appropriate action.

Instead,  through inaction,  through allowing the evil of Satan a free hand,  God’s image was suddenly in danger of going from bad to worse…..  going from a violent unjust God,  to a weakling of a God who can be manipulated and tricked by his great enemy Satan to be violent and unjust,  allowing many people to be murdered for no good reason.  It would seem that the conniving Satan had God in a tight spot,  with God’s image at great risk of a dark tarnish……  and incredibly the image of God now depended solely upon one human being….. Job.  God’s allowing of this great evil needed justification,  and that justification lied in the hands of Job,  the man whose life was being destroyed.

Instead of reading this story in the Bible,  with the outcome already known and written,  just imagine watching this drama as it played out,  as God and Satan made their moves and cast their bets on how Job would react to this incredibly evil,  unjust attack carried out by Satan and sanctioned by God.  After the vicious attacks and the deceptions,  the only uncertainty,  the only variable became the moral character of Job.  The outcome was not known,  not even to God,  who was putting his divine image at great risk.  The brightening or dimming of God’s image became linked to Job,  became highly dependent upon the integrity of one man…..  the strength or weakness of Job’s commitment to morality and goodness.  If Job’s will was broken,  and his spirit darkened and scarred,  Satan would win.

The Spectacular Risk

Now,   consider,  what would we be reading in the Bible if Job’s will was broken,  and he cursed God,  or committed suicide,  or just weakened and died with a broken spirit and broken heart,  after losing his family and his means of making a living?  Would God blame Job for failing to pass this evil test of horrors,  or would God have any remorse at all for allowing Satan to destroy his best follower on Earth?  Would the moral of the story be…..  “look what happened to Job,  who defied God and lost everything,  so don’t be like Job”…..?  This would be a clear case of the criminals blaming the victim,  with the criminals being Satan and God,  and the victim being Job and his murdered family and servants and livestock.  If God did not accept responsibility for allowing the murder of innocent people,  and if he did not punish Satan for those murders,  then God would no longer have any good moral standing with the human race.

God would have destroyed his best follower on Earth.  God would have destroyed all the good things that Job had built;  all the love and charity that Job had shown his fellow man.  Job had worshiped God diligently,  Job had been a bright sign pointing to the goodness of God,  and all that would be gone…..  lost in a foolish bet with Satan,  who would be gloating and touting his great victory over God.  Satan would be strengthened,  and God would be left with innocent blood on his hands,  and nothing but disaster to show for it.  This is the risk that God was taking,  in this whole evil affair.

There are basic moral principles that one must follow,  basic moral laws of behavior that one must not break,  if a person wants to be regarded as good rather than evil….. loving rather than hateful…..  helpful rather than hurtful…..  constructive rather than destructive.  God is no exception.  He is also subject to these principles and laws,  if he wants the love and respect of human beings,  as the Bible says he does.  In the story of Job,  God is violating these moral principles and laws,  at great risk.  If Job fails this test of horrors,  then God also fails the test.

On the other hand,  If Job’s will stayed strong,  and his spirit bright,  God would win.  Then God would win the bet,  Satan would lose,  and God would have the perfect opportunity to expose Satan’s lies and treachery,  and end Satan’s evil existence or at least end his freedom to attack humans,  for all time.  This goal was a good reason to let Satan continue his destruction and deception,  but only if God had the power to carry out the punishment.  Sadly,  both the goal and the power are lacking,  because we can look ahead in the Bible to the end of the story,  and see that nothing happened to Satan at all.  But let us return to the cosmic conflict in progress…..

Stepping Up to The Next Level Of Evil:  Satan Raises The Bet… God Calls

This incredible cosmic conflict progresses like a poker game.  But instead of poker chips,  the tokens are human lives,  and their blood and treasure.  God and Satan are like high-stakes gamblers,  sitting across the table from one another,  deciding the worth of humanity.  Job’s family and businesses are already sacrificed by God,  and his bet paid off.  Job is performing just as God hoped that he would.

So far,  Job is clinging to his faith in God.  When all the messengers had finished delivering their horrific news of the destruction of Job’s family,  servants,  and livestock,  “Then Job arose,  and rent his mantle,  and shaved his head,  and fell down upon the ground,  and worshipped,  and said, Naked came I out of my mother’s womb,  and naked shall I return thither:  the Lord gave,  and the Lord hath taken away;  blessed be the name of the Lord.  In all this Job sinned not,  nor charged God foolishly.”  Job 1:2-22. 

Then God informed Satan of Job’s steadfast faith:  “Still,  he holdeth fast his integrity,  although thou movedest me against him,  to destroy him without cause.”  Job 2:3. 

So God won the first round of this cosmic poker game.  Of course,  this was totally unacceptable to Satan,  and he had an answer ready:  “Skin for skin,  yea,  all that a man hath,  will he give for his life.  But put forth thine hand now,  and touch his bone and his flesh,  and he will curse thee to thy face.”  Job 2:4-5.

Satan raised the stakes of the poker game,  and God called Satan’s new bet:  “And the Lord said unto Satan,  Behold he is in thine hand;  but save his life”.

….. So instead of exposing Satan’s devious deceptions,  and stopping this  poker game from hell,  God let Satan continue with it.  So the deception continued and the risk increased,  when God consented to let Satan attack Job’s body,  Job’s health.  “So Satan went forth from the presence of the Lord,  and smote Job with sore boils from the sole of his foot unto his crown.”  Job 2:7.

In this cosmic poker game,  Satan raised the bet and God had to call  (even though,  oddly,  God did not collect the penalty from Satan at the end of the game).  Job’s agony and misery rose sharply,  with the attack becoming even more intimate and personal.  The emotional torture was joined by biological torture…..  the physical pain was constant and mind-numbing…..  contact of his skin with any surface made the boils burst with pus and erupt with pain.  The wearing of garments became intolerable.  Lying down to sleep was like lying down on a bed of fire.  Sleep was impossible,  except through sheer exhaustion.  There were boils on the soles of his feet,  so walking would have shredded his feet into a bloody pulp,  even with sandals.  If there were boils in his mouth,  then even eating or drinking would bring no pleasure,  no diversion from the pain that now tyrannized every minute of every day and night of Job’s ruined life.  The skin is the largest and most sensitive organ of the body,  and Satan turned Job’s skin into a source of excruciating,  unrelenting pain.  Now,  every aspect of Job’s entire life had become a source of misery.  Upon seeing the boils,  Job’s wife told him to  “curse God,  and die.”  Death was becoming more attractive,  as the only possible way to end the suffocating pain and destruction that Job’s life had become.  Death had to be on Job’s mind every day,  but he resisted the temptation to end his agony so easily.

Job with boils

Job homeless,  covered with boils,  friends waiting for him to speak

Then,  three of Job’s friends came  “to mourn with him and to comfort him”,  but this too turned into torture.  Their conversation with Job degenerated quickly into an argument,  putting Job on trial for sins that he must have committed against God,  to be so severely punished by God.  First,  the three friends arrived and tore their clothes in sadness and wept,  upon seeing his wretched condition.  Then they stayed with him for seven days and seven nights,  but did not speak,  “for they saw that his grief was very great”.  Presumably,  they silently helped him as they could,  and saw that he was provided with food and drink.  Then Job,  perhaps encouraged by the silent support of his friends,  gathered the energy and courage to speak,  cursing the day he was born,  lamenting the tragedy and misery heaped upon him,  cursing the day he was born…..  “Let the day perish wherein I was born,  and the night in which it was said,  There is a man child conceived.  Let that day be darkness;  let not God regard it from above,  neither let the light shine upon it…..  Why is light given to a man whose way is hid,  and whom God hath hedged in?”  Job 3:3-23.  Job cursed the day he was born,  but he did not curse God.

The Next Level of Deception:  Satan Corrupts Job’s Friends

Then his friend Eliphaz was the first to reply,  and his reply held no comfort.  He began the long rant,  to be reinforced by the other two friends,  that Job must have done or thought terrible sinful things against God,  and that he should admit guilt and repent of his awful sins.  They thought they were helping their friend face reality,  and get right in the eyes of God.  But they were unknowingly doing the opposite,  attacking Job unjustly,  being manipulated by Satan in his grand scheme of deception,  continuing the assault on Job to break his spirit and admit to sins that he had not committed,  or to curse God.

It was impossible for these friends to help Job,  because they did not know the true reason for what had happened to Job.  Satan succeeded in turning Job’s close friends against him,  while they thought they were helping Job.  He transformed the three friends of Job into the three stooges of Satan.  He sent them to Job as his Inquisitors,  using their own religion against them,  to conduct an epic questioning,  criticizing,  and condemning of Job,  using their friendship to torment Job,  after all the tortures of Satan he had already endured.  Satan had deceived everyone,  including Job,  about the murders and destruction,  and Job’s friends were fed even more lies by Satan,  to goad them even more to  ‘help’  their friend Job,  by condemning him.

You see,  the first friend to speak,  Eliphaz,  had already been prepared for this assault on Job,  by a visit from a spiritual agent,  most likely from Satan.  The spirit appeared to Eliphaz at night,  before his journey to help Job.  It is difficult to tell whether Eliphaz was asleep or wakened,  but the spirit was real,  and it was no bright shining angel,  full of glory,  as appears to men elsewhere in the Bible.  No,  it was a vague,  shadowy image,  that Eliphaz could not clearly see,  even when it stood still in front of him.  In Job 5:15-18,  in Eliphaz’s reply to Job,  we read this ominous message:  Then a spirit passed before my face;  the hair of my flesh stood up;  it stood still,  but I could not discern the form thereof…..  and I heard a voice saying,  Shall mortal man be more just than God?  Shall a man be more pure than his maker?  Behold,  he put no trust in his servants,  and his angels he charged with folly…..”  The spirit’s message continued on,  in dark and destructive tones,  about the insignificance and worthlessness of mankind.

The unwritten assumption is that the spirit visitor and his message were from God,  speaking truth to Eliphaz,  and that is what Eliphaz assumed,  or else he would not have used it to support his argument.  But does this sound like a message from the spirit of God?  Certainly not!!  God does put trust in his servants,  and God does not charge his angels with folly.  These are false and absurd assertions,  meant to attack God as well as Job.  These assertions only make sense from the viewpoint of Satan,  who long ago led a rebellion of angels in heaven against God.

This was a hateful message from Satan,  and Eliphaz was foolish to accept it as truth.  It should have triggered an alarm in his soul.  It was the next phase of Satan’s assault by lying and deception,  to turn Job’s friends against him.  Job’s friends fell for it,  and became the unwitting pawns,  the suckers of Satan.  Remember now,  Satan had absolute agreement from God to do anything against Job,  short of killing Job.  Satan had already killed Job’s family and servants,  and he could have easily killed Job’s friends,  to leave Job even more alone.  But Job’s friends were much more valuable to Satan alive rather than dead,  because they had influence with Job,  and they could continue the false narrative,  the devastating  lie,  that God had attacked Job because of Job’s sin,  and that Job must admit guilt and repent.

Job under assault and accusation

Job under assault and accusation

Job and all others continued to assume that God was punishing Job,  so they assumed that Job was guilty of something horrible and unforgivable.  Everyone but Job,  that is.  Job thought that God was doing it,  but Job refused to admit guilt of doing anything wrong.  Even when God later went  “all in”  with this deception,  delivering a lengthy rebuke to Job for no good reason,  Job refused to bow his head in guilt or shame.  He refused to give up,  he refused to die,  and his strong sense of justice kept him alive,  to see if somehow he would be vindicated.

It is disturbing to realize that God participated in this epic deception,  first by consent,  then by silence,  then later by rebuking Job after the attacks,  without mentioning his little bet with Satan.  By continuing the deception started by Satan,  God tested Job to such an extent,  beyond any limits,  it is amazing that Job did not simply lay down and die,  with his body and spirit broken.  But as I will soon explain,  God had faith in Job,  because both of them had faith in something greater.

The dark spirit that visited Eliphaz asked a crucial rhetorical question,  that touches on this issue of something greater.  The spirit asked  Shall mortal man be more just than God?  Shall a man be more pure than his maker?”  This was intended as a sharp criticism of Job,  that cut to the heart of the matter.  But it was cutting both ways.  With these questions,  the dark spirit was betraying his true concern.  For in this moment,  in this episode,  in this unjust test of horrors,  Job was indeed more just than God,  more pure than his maker.  And God was remaining silent at this point,  watching the test unfold,  with his reputation and divine image at stake in this cosmic bet,  now being slandered by a dark spirit accusing him of folly,  knowing that Job did have the potential to pass the test,  and trusting that Job would pass the test.  The dark spirit said that God  “put no trust in his servants”,  but that was a vicious lie,  being delivered to Eliphaz by an agent of Satan.  God had the ultimate trust in his servant Job,  as much as he had ever trusted any angel in his service,  for God could see the goodness,  purity and strength of Job’s spirit.

Indeed,  it was Satan who had enjoyed that same trust long ago,  and then betrayed it,  and Satan was trying to now turn his betrayal back on God,  saying that God had not trusted Satan.  Only from Satan’s viewpoint,  did God  ‘put no trust in his servants’,  with those servants being Satan and the angels he corrupted to follow him instead of God.  Of course God did not trust them,  and for good reason!  Only from Satan’s viewpoint,  did God  ‘charge his angels with folly’  when he charged them to oppose Satan’s rebellion long ago.  The source of these accusations is made plain,  by their destructive nature and their absolute falsity.

Only from Satan’s viewpoint,  is God committing folly today by continuing to oppose Satan.  Only from Satan’s viewpoint,  is God non-existent,  ‘dead’,  or irrelevant,  and must be purged from public society,  as atheistic and secular forces have been doing for decades.  They are Satan’s pawns,  just as much as Eliphaz was.  Only from Satan’s viewpoint,  must all references to God and the Bible be removed from public view or hearing.  This is a modern outgrowth today,  of the same destructive and false viewpoint that was expressed by the dark spirit visiting Eliphaz,  to turn him against Job.

Most readers of the Bible just glance at Job and pass it right by,  and most commentators dismiss it as a parable or myth,  that did not really happen.  But the elements of the story indicate that it likely did happen,  and that it has a great deal more significance than it is given by most.  It could be one of the most significant episodes in cosmic history.  The twists and turns of this little Book of Job are delightful,  when you begin to see all the implications,  and all the spiritual and moral forces and their heavy history,  and their changed future,  swirling around this one man standing alone,  under incredible assault by both sides of the moral spectrum.

If Job passed this test,  mankind would be proven as worthy and reliable moral entities in their own right,  true allies of God,  with or without the support of God.  No longer would humans be seen as weak and corruptible,  as they had been so easily corrupted by Satan in the Garden of Eden.  This could be viewed as a repudiation,  a reversal of the so-called  “original sin”  and  “fall of man”.  This was the coming of age of man,  as a reliable moral force for goodness,  even when under heavy attack from all sides,  standing alone with no allies,  no moral support.  This is what God wanted to be shown.

And so far,  Job was showing it,  after Satan’s worst attacks,  blamed on God.  No other human was attacked in such a way,  before or after Job.  The stakes were becoming higher for Satan,  with every passing day of this crucial test of Job,  with every passing day that Satan did not break Job’s spirit.

Satan must have been highly frustrated and angry.  The tables of fate,  and the winds of fortune,  were slowly being turned against Satan,  solely by the strength and goodness of Job’s spirit.  Job had not been broken by massive murder and destruction,  not by the loss of everything he held dear,  not by the loss of his vast possessions,  not by the loss of his means of making a living,  not by the inflicting of excruciating pain on Job’s body.  Could it be that this frail contemptible creature called Job,  would withstand everything that Satan could throw at him,  with it even being blamed on God?

This developing truth must have been a shock to Satan.  It was also such an incredible,  heretical idea for the orthodox followers of God,  that Satan thought he could use it to turn Job’s friends against him.  So he sent the denial of this idea to Eliphaz,  by way of a dark angel who asked Eliphaz:  Shall mortal man be more just than God?  Shall a man be more pure than his maker?”  The dark spirit was ridiculing Job for proclaiming innocence,  after receiving terrible punishment from God.  Would God punish an innocent man?  Would God be so unjust?  In truth,  God was being unjust,  attacking an innocent man,  but the orthodox answer was that God was justified in punishing Job,  and so Job was guilty.

How different their long speeches would have been,  if they  knew the truth about what had happened to Job,  if they knew that he was the victim of a cosmic bet between God and Satan,  if they knew that God was allowing Satan’s vicious attacks on an innocent man,  if they knew that their own lives were in peril of being snuffed out,  if Satan thought it might help to break Job’s spirit.  But,  because of their faulty religion of worshiping an omnipotent,  unchanging God,  and because of Satan’s masterful deception,  Job’s friends were more harmful to Job alive,  rather than dead.

So,  Job’s friends were Satan’s final weapon,  to try to break Job’s spirit and prove the worthlessness of man.  Satan urgently wanted Job to fail this unjust test of horrors,  not just to undermine the authority of God,  but to prove that mortal man did not have the spiritual strength to stand alone as a moral force,  under vicious attack,  without God to prop him up.  Satan was to fail in both areas,  for Job did remain standing alone,  on the strength of his own ethics and morality and philosophy,  even when he believed God was attacking him,  even after his three friends exhausted all their lengthy arguments to break him down to confess and repent…..  repent to sins that he did not commit.

Job fought back against his friends,  the pawns of Satan,  fought back even against God’s later rebuke,  and proved that the human spirit was very strong on its own and,  in some ways,  the moral equal of God and the moral superior of Satan.  Job himself won this fight against Satan,  with God standing on the sidelines.  We should be ever proud and ever grateful to Job,  for showing us,  and showing God,  what we all can be…..  a strong independent moral force for goodness in the cosmos.  But only if we remain true to what God has taught,  and to the universal moral principles of goodness.

In fact,  the triumph of Job may have triggered events even more important than the proof of man as a reliable independent moral force,  according to other writers.  I will address this in the section below,  titled Carl Jung’s  “Answer to Job”.

 

The Basic Moral Lessons of Job

In their conversation in heaven,  Satan also acknowledged for us that God had a  “hedge”  or protective barrier around Job and all that he had.  The barrier was there for good reason,  to keep Satan and his forces from destroying God’s most faithful and moral follower at the time.  There is no doubt that Job had long been one of Satan’s prime targets,  and that Satan had already probed the protective barrier,  with no success.  Job was not a random subject in a strange conversation,  he was the focal point of the conflict,  constantly on the minds of both God and Satan.  God needed to protect Job,  and he did,  as acknowledged by Satan.  So God did have the power to protect at least one man and his entire clan from Satan,  until Satan persuaded God to take down the barrier,  as part of a horrible bet.  As an aside,  one wonders why God did not have a hedge or protective barrier around the Garden of Eden,  where Satan attacked the first humans?  How was it that Satan even had the access,  to slither up to Eve in the form of a devious,  lying serpent?  Was that disaster the result of another cosmic bet?

But an omnipotent God of Love and Righteousness would not have been such a gambler,  and would not have allowed evil forces to play such an evil game like this with a good man like Job,  destroying everything that Job had rightfully produced with love and hard work,  even to the point of killing his family and most of his servants.

Here is the most important moral implication to draw from the story of Job:  It is morally inconceivable,  ethically unacceptable,  and a violation of all logic and common sense,  that an omnipotent God would have allowed such extreme evil to be done to an innocent man,  or would have given his greatest enemy the permission to do it.

You may ask,  how can I have the arrogance to say what God would or would not do in such a scenario?  If you ask me that,  then you must also ask,  how could Job have the arrogance to question God,  to demand answers from God?  Job essentially came to the the same conclusion as I have,  and Job was later justified by God.  Job was not arrogant,  he was desperate,  at his wit’s end,  asking for a glimmer of goodness and justice,  when he was surrounded and suffocated by unjust evil.  He knew that he was innocent,  and he knew that the supernatural disasters raining down upon him were immoral and unethical.

I can say it,  without arrogance,  because I,  and you,  and all of us,  are made in the image of God,  as he told us in Genesis.  This means that our highest thoughts,  our best values,  our noblest morals are seeking the mind of God.  Or rather,  our mind and God’s mind are both seeking an ideal morality,  a perfect system of ethical values and behavior,  a best balance of pure ideal values such as Love and Justice.  When God created humanity,  in his image,  he gave us his own capability of seeking these pure ideal values.  He then gives us guidance and instruction in many ways,  and once we have learned God’s ways,  we can partially chart our own course,  while still seeking the same results that God is seeking.

But we are seeking this ideal morality,  this best balance,  under great adversity and attack.  God has Satan as his great enemy and attacker,  who is seeking a far different result.  Human seekers of spirit have not only Satan and his minions attacking us,  but also have most of humanity seeking other goals in conflict,  with many humans turning into predators,  actively seeking to destroy us.

Regardless of all that adversity,  a spiritual seeker,  a loving and righteous man,  with a proper sense of Love and Justice,  would not want Satan to have his evil way with Job,  murdering his family and servants,  and would never consent to it,  so that is how I can say that God did not want it,  and that God would have prevented it if he could.  He consented to it only because of even greater adversities and constraints which are unknown to us,  which are far worse than our adversities,  which are unreported in the Bible.  Job sensed this,  that God was acting  “out of character”  for some important reason.  Even in the depths of his profound misery,  Job still followed the pure ideal values of Love and Justice,  that God had temporarily abandoned.  Job kept his loyalty to God’s ideals,  the universal moral ideals,  even when he thought he was being attacked unjustly by God.

So if the story of Job is generally true in principle,  if it has a kernel of precious knowledge,  if it has a lesson worth learning,  that lesson is that we have the ability to pursue the same ideals that God is pursuing,  even when God is apparently punishing us for doing so.  We are capable of seeking these pure ideal values on our own,  against all adversity,  even when everything we love is being destroyed.

A secondary lesson from the story of Job is that the power and relationship of God and Satan are not as orthodox religion teaches.  Some unknown factors compelled God to lower his protective barrier around Job,  which exposed Job and his family and servants to Satan’s vicious attacks.  There are elements missing from this story,  that would explain and justify God’s way of handling the epic situation.  If we are limited to the elements presented in the Bible,  then God’s actions in much of the Bible are not justified.  But by logical and moral reasoning,  I know that  God is always justified,  so the Bible simply does not report all of the elements.

We can come to this conclusion in the spirit of Job himself,  who knew he had been wronged and cried out for Justice,  knowing that he would be justified in the end,  in spite of all the physical evidence to the contrary,  in spite of a rebuke by God.  And he was indeed proven to be justified,  by God himself.  After this conclusion,  our goal then becomes an effort to seek out the unknown,  unreported elements of the reality of God,  and the reality of the world,  and the reality of our spiritual existence.  These unknown,  unreported elements will not be found in any church,  nor in any  “approved”  scripture,  nor in any orthodox religious organization.

Likewise,  the crucial points I am making here,  about the story of Job,  will never be preached in a church,  except perhaps in condemnation of such ideas.  Chief among those points is this:

An omnipotent God would not have allowed this horrendous attack on Job.  An omnipotent God would have rebuked Satan for daring to challenge him with such an evil ploy,  to allow Satan to kill Job’s family and servants and livestock,  to destroy everything Job had.  But God did allow it,  Job did not curse God,  Satan was proved wrong,  and even after all that,  God did not rebuke Satan.  In the Book of Job,  God did not rebuke Satan,  but God did rebuke or lecture Job,  for crying out in pain and wishing to die,  and demanding an answer from God,  after everything he loved was destroyed,  and his body was covered with boils.  And still,  Job did not curse God,  yet he was rebuked by God.  God’s rebuke was more like a lecture,  asking how Job could question God’s judgement,  asking where was Job when God created the universe.  Nothing was said to Job about God offering up Job as an innocent victim to Satan in a bet,  which is what caused this whole tragedy.  Therefore,  Job was within his moral rights to question God’s judgement,  rendering God’s rebuke unreasonable,  perhaps even abusive.  With such an irrelevant and evasive rebuke,  God was almost acting as Satan’s partner in this evil deception.   As I said above,  there are elements missing from this story,  that would explain and justify God’s way of handling the epic situation.  Chief among those elements is the question of the omnipotence of God.

 

Love,  Knowledge,  and Justice…..  The Essential Elements of Goodness

However,  one element that is very clear,  that stands out above all in this story,  is Job’s integrity and morality.  Job is the unsung hero in this cosmic duel between God and Satan.  Everything he owned,  everyone he loved,  everything he held dear was destroyed,  and he did not know why.  And yet he held tight to a philosophy of love,  knowledge and justice.  He did not succumb to hate,  he searched for knowledge of what was happening to him,  and he cried out to God for justice.  He held tight to this philosophy for it’s own sake,  not for the sake of God,  who had abandoned him to the ravages of Satan.  Even when Job was scolded by God like an naughty child,  adding insult to injury,  Job did not despair.  That divine rebuke could have driven Job to anger,  hate,  deep depression,  or suicide.  But it did not,  because Job was driven by something greater.

Job held tight to a natural moral philosophy that is universal,  that is superior,  with or without the support of God.  The strength of this philosophy is not dependent upon God.  In fact,  it could be said that God is dependent upon the strength of this philosophy.  We are all  dependent upon the superiority of the concepts of Love,  Knowledge,  and Justice.  Held up by this philosophy,  even when abandoned by God,  Job did not completely despair,  he did not give in to his darkest thoughts,  he did not lash out in anger.  With his three close friends,  he searched for knowledge of what had befallen him.  When he was rebuked by his friends,  he did not hate them.  Instead,  he prayed for his friends, showing great love.

But Job fiercely sought justice.  He refused to admit guilt for any sins that he was being punished for,  and held a steady moral course,  saying  “Though he (God) slay me,  yet will I trust in him;  but I will maintain mine own ways before him”.  Job 13:15.  Job trusted God even if God killed him,  but he did not trust God with his own ways,  his own moral path,  his own essence.  This is remarkable,  that Job would pay homage to God on one hand,  but still maintain his own moral values independent of God on the other hand.  Job is actually expressing allegiance to a moral code or philosophy greater than God,  a philosophy that men are capable of discerning for themselves.  With this realization,  we have finally arrived at the most important cosmic lesson of Job.

 

The True Strength of Job,  Apart From God

In this philosophy,  God is seen as a great power,  our creator,  our vast superior.  He may have more power than any other entity in the universe,  but he is not omnipotent.  Omnipotence for any entity is a fantasy,  a false idea of human religion.  God is seen as the highest sponsor of love and goodness,  but God is not seen as the arbiter of all morality.  There is an ideal of morality that we all seek,  apart from God,  even in opposition to God if necessary,  that holds our true allegiance.  We are capable of following a path of morality and righteousness,  with or without God,  because of how he has designed us.  This is what Job was expressing.  The creation can be independent of the creator,  in some ways.  God cannot act unjustly and still keep our complete loyalty.  In Job’s case,  he was being unjustly and wrongfully attacked,  and Job knew it.  He knew he had done nothing wrong,  he knew that he was in the right.  He did not know that Satan was responsible for the attacks.  He assumed that God was responsible for the attacks,  and he respected God,  even if under attack by God.  But Job still expressed an independence from God,  he expressed the iron will to  “maintain mine own ways”  before God.

I am not recommending that we all  “maintain our own ways”  separate from God,  as a goal in itself.  That would be foolish,  that would be arrogant,  that would be evil.  That is what Satan was doing,  what Satan has done ever since his original rebellion against God.  We must discern the philosophical difference between Satan and Job.  They were both in conflict with God,  but one was evil and one was good,  one was the predator and one was the victim.  One was attacking,  and one was being attacked.  And the story of Job is presented as a unique situation in all of history,  when God gave permission for Satan to viciously attack one man,  in order to test him.  God knew the strength of goodness within Job’s soul,  the strength of Job’s innate moral values,  the correctness of Job’s ethical nature.  Because of Job’s moral strength,  apart from God,  which God could sense,  this bet with Satan was not as risky for God as Satan thought it was.  God knew that Job could follow his own strong moral compass,  even when Job thought that God was attacking him.  Prior to Satan’s devious attack,  Job had faith in God.  After the attack,  as the gamble played out,  Job continued to have faith in God,  and God had faith in Job.  And they both had faith in something apart,  something ideal,  something we all seek and use every day,  and that is a philosophy.  The philosophy God and Job shared was a universal philosophy of goodness,  composed of the basic elements of Love,  Knowledge and Justice.

God’s faith in Job,  God’s faith in the independent superior philosophy of Job was proven to be justified.  Even in ignorance of the true situation,  Job made the right call and chose to follow his own moral judgement,  which was correct by any measure.  This put him in conflict with God,  this put him in conflict with his friends,  but that did not stop him.  Job did not curse God,  but he did not blindly submit to God either.  He questioned God,  and he made a declaration to his friends,  in defiance of the apparent attacks by God:  “Hear diligently my speech,  and my declaration with your ears.  Behold now,  I have ordered my cause;  I know that I shall be justified.”  Job 13:17-18.  When his friends argued with him and tried to hold him guilty,  he bravely held his ground:  “God forbid that I should justify you:  till I die I will not remove mine integrity from me.  My righteousness I hold fast,  and will not let it go:  my heart shall not reproach me so long as I live.  Let mine enemy be as the wicked,  and He that riseth up against me as the unrighteous.”  Job 27:5-7.   This is very remarkable.  Job was holding his own moral position,  against his friends,  against God.  He was holding his own moral position above God.  Job knew that he was innocent.   After everything he held dear was destroyed,  and his body was covered with oozing boils,  and he thought he was going to die in misery,  Job still knew that he was in the right,  on his own,  even if he was being attacked by God,  even if his friends criticized and rebuked him.  He knew that he was innocent,  and he knew that Justice was on his side,  even if God was not.

Justice,  as an ideal moral value,  was at least as important to Job as his respect for God.  He was willing to die for his concept of Justice,  rather than admit any guilt of sins that he had not committed.  Job had an absolute Knowledge of right and wrong and Justice,  that he valued above anything,  even above God.

But remarkably,  even in his torment and pain, while maintaining an ideal philosophy,  Job did not lose his faith in God,  even though God may be attacking him:  “Whence then cometh wisdom?  and where is the place of understanding?  Seeing it is hid from the eyes of all living,  and kept close from the fowls of the air,  Destruction and death say,  We have heard the fame thereof with our ears.  God understandeth the way thereof,  and He knoweth the place thereof.”  Job 28:20-23.

Job knew that he himself had some small measure of wisdom and understanding,  and he held tight to it.  He had a keen understanding or knowledge of morality and justice.  It was the only thing keeping him from complete despair in his plight.  Please note that  God did not give Job this ultimate knowledge.  God had abandoned Job to the malevolence of Satan.  Job acquired this knowledge of ideal morality on his own,  because he valued it,  he hungered for it,  he sought it,  and he aspired to it.  God was his creator,  God was his mentor,  God was his teacher,  God was his ally,  but when he thought he was being forced to choose between God and his own moral values,  he followed his own excellent moral values,  he followed his own concept of true Justice.

But even then,  Job did not abandon God,  even though he thought God may have abandoned him.  He maintained the belief that God still possessed the ultimate understanding and wisdom,  even if God was attacking him.  This is quite astounding,  and it was infinitely impressive to God.  Jobs’ wife had urged Job to curse God and die,  but cursing God was still the farthest thing from his mind. To Job,  the concepts of goodness,  ideal morality,  and God were forever linked,  regardless of his personal fate.  This is the ultimate profound expression of an allegiance to ideal morality and philosophy,  while still including an allegiance to a senior,  superior entity who shares the same values,  even if that entity was somehow hostile for the moment.  Job looked beyond his devastating personal tragedy,  and stayed focused on an ideal of universal goodness and Justice. This is the bravest expression of natural moral philosophy that I have found,  in all of the literature I have researched in my life,  to this moment.

It is braver even that Jesus,  who had a bit of an advantage on Job,  because Job was God incarnate.  Even so,  on the cross,  Jesus cried out  “My God,  my God,  why have you forsaken me?”,  but Job never expressed such a sentiment,  quite to the contrary.

Job maintained a fine-tuned balance of ideal moral philosophy throughout his ordeal. Job expressed loyalty to God, refused to admit guilt for any sins that he was being punished for, and held a steady moral course, saying “Though he (God) slay me, yet will I trust in him; but I will maintain mine own ways before him”. Job 13:15.

I am not recommending that we all “maintain our own ways” separate from God, as a goal in itself. That would be foolish, that would be arrogant, that would be evil. That is what Satan was doing, what Satan has done ever since his original rebellion against God. We must discern the philosophical difference between Satan and Job. They were both in conflict with God, but one was evil and one was good, one was the predator and one was the victim. One was attacking, and one was being attacked. And the story of Job is presented as a unique situation in all of history, when God gave permission for Satan to viciously attack one man, in order to test him. God knew the strength of goodness within Job’s soul, the strength of Job’s innate moral values, the correctness of Job’s ethical nature. Because of Job’s moral strength, apart from God, which God could sense, this bet with Satan was not as risky for God as Satan thought it was. God knew that Job could follow his own strong moral compass, even when Job thought that God was attacking him. Prior to Satan’s devious attack, Job had faith in God. After the attack, as the gamble played out, Job continued to have faith in God,  and God had faith in Job.  And they both had faith in something apart, something ideal,  something we all seek and use every day,  and that is a philosophy.  The philosophy God and Job shared was a universal philosophy of goodness, composed of the basic elements of Love, Knowledge and Justice.

Job trusted God even if God killed him, but he did not trust God with his own ways, his own moral path, his own essence. This is remarkable, that Job would pay homage to God on one hand, but still maintain his own moral values independent of God on the other hand.  Job is actually expressing allegiance to a moral code or philosophy greater than God,  a philosophy that men are capable of discerning for themselves. With this realization,  we have finally arrived at the most important cosmic lesson of Job.

The True Strength of Job,  Apart From God

In this philosophy,  God is seen as a great power,  our creator,  our vast superior.  He may have more power than any other entity in the universe,  but he is not omnipotent.  Omnipotence for any entity is a fantasy,  a false idea of human religion.  God is seen as the highest sponsor of love and goodness,  but God is not seen as the arbiter of all morality.  There is an ideal of morality that we all seek,  apart from God,  even in opposition to God if necessary,  that holds our true allegiance.  We are capable of following a path of morality and righteousness,  with or without God,  because of how he has designed us.  This is what Job was expressing.  The creation can be independent of the creator,  in some ways.  God cannot act unjustly and still keep our complete loyalty.  In Job’s case,  he was being unjustly and wrongfully attacked, and Job knew it.  He knew he had done nothing wrong,  he knew that he was in the right.  He did not know that Satan was responsible for the attacks.  He assumed that God was responsible for the attacks,  and he respected God,  even if under attack by God.  But Job still expressed an independence from God,  he expressed the iron will to “maintain mine own ways” before God.

Job stood on the foundation of morality that he had learned from God,  and reached higher still,  when God seemed to be faltering.  For this act of profound goodness and courage,  Job is my favorite character in the Bible.  And in the end,  for the icing on the cake,  he was proven right and rewarded by God.

Even when he was being rebuked by God,  even when God failed to explain why this disaster was happening to him (a friendly little bet with Satan),  he held to his own high principles and stayed to his highly moral course.  Job proved to be the strongest moral character in this story,  even stronger than God.

In Part Six,  I presented God’s faith in Job,  Job’s faith in God,  and their mutual faith in something apart from God,  an ideal moral philosophy,  that holds the true allegiance of both God and man.  If this is true,  wouldn’t it behoove us to try to discern and describe what that philosophy is?

PART SEVEN– God Goes All In, and Rebukes Job

The twists and turns of the Book of Job are hard to follow.  But the one element that is very clear,  that stands out above all in this story,  is Job’s tenacious integrity and morality.  Job is the unsung hero in this cosmic duel between God and Satan.  Everything he owned,  everyone he loved,  everything he held dear was destroyed,  and he did not know why.  And yet he held tight to a philosophy of love,  knowledge and justice.  He did not succumb to hate,  he continued to love his wife and his friends,  he searched for knowledge of what was happening to him,  and he cried out to God for justice.  He held tight to this philosophy for it’s own sake,  not for the sake of God,  who had abandoned him to the ravages of Satan.  Even when Job was scolded by God like an naughty child,  adding insult to injury,  Job did not despair.  That divine rebuke could have driven Job to anger,  hate,  deep depression,  or suicide.  But it did not,  because Job was driven by something greater.

God’s long rebuke of Job,  taking up four chapters, does not mention Job’s tragedy or the reason for it.  The rebuke is mostly rhetorical questions,  such as  “Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth?… Have the gates of death been opened unto thee?… Knowest thou the ordinances of heaven?… Wilt thou condemn me, that thou mayest be righteous?  But Job had not condemned God,  he had re-affirmed his trust in God,  even if God killed him.  This rebuke appears to be intended to remind Job of his ignorance and weakness in comparison to God,  a reminder which Job did not really need.  This rebuke was a non-sequitir, a diversionary tactic by God.

In four chapters,  God did not say anything about the murders of Job’s family,  servants and livestock.  God did not say anything about the boils that covered Job’s body.  Everyone still believed that God had done these horrible things,  and God let them keep believing it.  God’s purpose must have been to lend legitimacy to Satan’s attack,  and to test Job’s loyalty even further,  to see what Job would do when rebuked and humiliated in front of his friends.  Job took the rebuke to heart,  saying  “Behold I am vile; what shall I answer thee? I will lay mine hand upon my mouth.” Job 40:4.  God was not yet satisfied,  and continued the rebuke even more,  beginning with  “Gird up thy loins now like a man: I will demand of thee, and declare thou unto me.” Job 40:7.

In God’s lengthy rebuke,  Job knew that God did not explain why Job had been so viciously attacked.  He knew that God was beating around the bush,  avoiding some central issue,  using evasive tactics,  and Job was rightly disturbed by this.  And indeed,  God was avoiding telling Job about the bet with Satan.  God would not tell Job that he was the human target of a crucial battle between God and his greatest enemy,  a battle that would be recorded in a Bible that would teach humanity profound lessons for many thousands of years.

After God’s lengthy rebuke,  Job was awed,  Job was humbled,  but incredibly he still held to an ideal apart from God,  still challenging God,  still wanting,  even demanding answers from God.  Job did not grovel,  he did not despair,  he did not become a yes-man,  he did not extinguish his own bright flame of spirit.  He was not satisfied with God’s rebuke,  and with amazing courage,  he issued a small rebuke of his own to God:  “Hear, I beseech thee, and I will speak: I will demand of thee, to declare thou unto me.” Job 42:4.

These words were similar to words God had used in his rebuke.  God had demanded Job to declare,  and now Job was demanding God to declare.

Question:  What gave Job the incredible bravery to throw God’s own words back at him?

Answer:  The strength of Job’s independent superior philosophy,  apart from God.  You see,  Job knew that God was not being straight with him.  Job knew that he had not been treated fairly,  that justice had not been served.  Vital moral principles had been violated,  many murders had been committed,  and God did not address this at all in his rebuke.  Also, on the strength of Job’s philosophy,  apart from God,  he was telling God  “go pick on someone your own size”,  like a small boy would tell an older bully in the school playground.  Job could do this only if he had an absolute conviction that his moral values,  his moral philosophy was absolutely right,  with or without God.  This gave him the strength of will to hold God to a higher standard, apart from God.

Job held tight to a natural moral philosophy that is universal,  that is superior,  with or without the support of God.  The strength of this philosophy is not dependent upon God.  In fact, it could be said that God is dependent upon the strength of this philosophy.  We are all dependent upon the superiority of the concepts of Love, Knowledge, and Justice.  Held up by this philosophy,  even when abandoned by God,  Job did not completely despair, he did not give in to his darkest thoughts,  he did not lash out in anger.  With his three close friends,  he searched for knowledge of what had befallen him.  When he was rebuked by his friends,  he did not hate them.  Instead,  he prayed for his friends,  showing great love.

Job knew,  by virtue of his independent moral philosophy,  that he was in the right.  By that same philosophy,  he knew that God was hiding some important information,  and he still stood up to God,  to ask for it.  He did not get it, but he did still ask for it.

Job submits to God

Job submits to God and falls silent

Job’s last words offered a concession,  a deferment to God,  to show his loyalty to God the end:  “Wherefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes.” Job 42:6.

For all Job knew, after he uttered these words,  God would finally kill him,  and Job knew not what would become of his soul after that.  Put yourself in his place,  and feel his emotional anguish,  his physical pain,  and the crushing uncertainty of this moment.  After steadfastly proclaiming innocence and demanding justice many times,  Job’s last gesture was to put himself entirely at God’s disposal.  He fell silent and waited upon God’s answer,  and it was as if the entire universe held its breath with Job.

Then,  instead of killing Job,  to their undoubtedly great shock and surprise,  God turned to rebuke his friends!  He singled out Eliphaz,  who had believed the lies of the dark spirit:  “The Lord said unto Eliphaz the Temanite,  My wrath is kindled against thee,  and against thy two friends:  for ye have not spoken of me the thing that is right,  as my servant Job hath.” Job 42:7.

Job restored to health and prosperity

Job restored to health and prosperity

So in the end,  Job’s independent moral philosophy was proven right,  and it was even rewarded by God,  who had abandoned Job during the agonizing ordeal of this horrible bet with Satan.  God was very pleased with Job’s conviction, bravery, and independent moral philosophy.  God restored everything Job had lost,  even doubling it:  “So the Lord blessed the latter end of Job more than his beginning: for he had fourteen thousand sheep, and six thousand camels, and a thousand yoke of oxen, and a thousand she asses. He also had seven sons and three daughters.” Job 42:12-13.

So ends the story of one man’s integrity, faith, and philosophy withstanding the onslaught of worst attacks of Satan,  and winning over the heart of God.  But there is more to analyze here,  concerning the limits of God.

TO BE CONTINUED IN PART EIGHT

God was so impressed with Job,  God may have even re-examined himself,  an idea that was explored by Carl Jung.

Carl Jung’s  “Answer to Job”

Carl Jung

Carl Jung (1875-1961)

Carl Jung was the famous Swiss psychiatrist and psychotherapist who founded analytical psychology. His work has been influential not only in psychiatry but also in philosophy, anthropology, archaeology, literature, and religious studies.

Jung created some of the best known psychological concepts, including the archetype, the collective unconscious, the complex, and extraversion and introversion.

In 1952,  Jung published the book  “Answer to Job”,  which is considered by some Jung analysts to be Jung’s most important and profound work.  In Jung’s book,  Job’s steadfast retention of his personal morality under attack is acknowledged.  It impresses God so much,  that God is forced to re-examine Himself,  for allowing such an unjust attack.  Perhaps He is not so righteous after all!  Out of this astonishing divine self-reflection,  triggered in God by Job’s persistent righteousness,  God goes through a process of transformation that leads to His incarnation as Jesus.  God develops a new respect for humanity through his testing of Job,  and from that a new relationship between God and humanity is born,  through the life and ministry of God as Jesus.  Job’s unjust suffering at the hands of Satan,  allowed by God,  was the direct inspiration for God’s unjust suffering at the hands of evil humans,  in the incarnation of Jesus.

So,  according to Jung,  Job had to be a real person,  who caused such an impressive and transformational effect on God himself,  that it brought about God’s later incarnation as Jesus Christ.  I do not take my analysis of Job that far,  but suffice it to say that my analysis of Job as a real person who had important effects upon God and Satan,  and who elevated the status of humanity in the cosmos,  resides in good company.

My analysis of goodness,  as a set of ideal universal moral principles that exists apart from God,  is also in sync with Jung.  I contend that  Job’s steadfast adherence to those ideal principles motivated God himself to become more closely aligned with those principles.  This could be the process of transformation that Jung credits with motivating God to incarnate himself as Jesus Christ.  In other writings,  I speculate further upon what those ideal universal moral principles might be.  If they are capable of moving God to transform himself, as Jung proposes,  then they are even more powerful than I previously thought,  and they deserve a great deal more investigation by all.  But for now,  let us return to the cosmic events reported in the Book of Job.

 

Job Rebuked,  Then  Rewarded…..  Satan  Rewarded,  Then NOT Rebuked

God rewarded Job,  but what did God do with Satan,  his great enemy,  who caused this horrible ordeal?  Nothing!! Something is surely wrong here…..   Satan got  “rewarded”  up front,  by being given free reign to murder and destroy.  Then Satan was proven wrong and he lost the bet,  after murdering many people and killing livestock,  but God did not rebuke Satan with one harsh word.  The Book of Job begins with a lively dispute between God and Satan,  but it ends with a deafening silence between them,  after Satan was utterly defeated in his challenge.

It seems that God missed a golden opportunity here.  Satan left a trail of death and carnage in his wake,  and was proven wrong,  yet God had nothing to say to him?  Instead,  God rebuked the poor man Job,  who was the target of the most devastating terrorist attack on a single man in history,  that included many murders,  destruction of houses,  killing herds of livestock,  and a biological attack to Job himself.  So then God rebukes Job,  the innocent victim of the attack,  and God does not rebuke Satan,  the evil perpetrator of the attack??  This is fundamentally wrong and it offends our sense of justice,  even more than Job’s sense of justice was offended,  for Job did not know the larger conflict swirling around him.  But God’s failure to rebuke Satan may give us a clue about the reality of God,  and the limits of God’s power.

Could it be that God actually chose to remain silent,  chose not to rebuke Satan at the end of this epic contest?  That seems unlikely.  Throughout the Bible,  God rarely misses an opportunity for a rebuke.  It is a key teaching method for him,  and rightly so.  We need to read God’s rebuke,  after a key event,  to get the teaching points of the event,  to learn his wisdom.  In Job’s case,  Job was the innocent victim of a vicious attack,  and he got a rambling rebuke from God.  Satan,  the perpetrator of the attack,  the criminal,  the murderer,  needed to be rebuked,  and by rights should have been severely punished as well.  There needed to be a terrible price for losing a high-stakes bet with God.  There needed to be retribution for the many murders and vast destruction of houses,  livestock,  etc.  As a minimum,  the situation called for a rousing  “evil lost and goodness won”  rebuke of Satan,  in some more distinguished divine language.

So it is very unlikely that God chose not to rebuke Satan for attacking Job.  It seems more likely that Satan quickly vanished or retreated far from God’s presence,  out of God’s grasp,  so that he could not be rebuked.  Somehow,  God was not able to rebuke Satan,  or not able to make Satan listen to a rebuke,  that Job and his murdered family desperately needed to hear,  that we so much need to hear today.  If rebuke was not possible in this case,  then discipline or punishment of Satan was not possible either.  This is an indicator of God’s limits,  God’s lesser power than is generally believed;  and Satan’s greater power or freedom than is generally believed.  It is an indicator  that is consistent with other conflicts between God and Satan,  that are reported in the Bible.

In the end,  the story of Job was a great triumph for the philosophy of Goodness,  but it could have been a greater triumph for God if he had delivered a stinging rebuke to Satan,  or reduced Satan’s power,  or set new limits for Satan’s access to humanity.  Or kill Satan as he had murdered Job’s family and servants,  or ban Satan from the Earth entirely,  now there is a good thought.  Far from such measures,  God did not even rebuke Satan with a single word.  Here the greatest enemy of God and Goodness was defeated,  shamed,  proven wrong…..  and God did not follow through with meaningful measures.  God did not,  most likely because he could not.

Something is very wrong with the story of Job:  Satan is too powerful,  God is too permissive in what he  “allows”  Satan to do.  Satan commits many murders,  loses the bet,  and then God fails to rebuke Satan.  This does not ring true…..  this does make moral sense…..  this does not serve justice…..  so some key information is missing.  We must remember that God and Satan are moral opposites,  moral enemies at war,  yet here they are depicted as if they were friendly rivals,  engaging in conversation and a bet.  We must remember that Satan already staged a great rebellion in heaven,  and was  “thrown down to the earth”  by God and his loyal angels,  to remove the evils of Satan from God’s presence.  Yet here the great rebel enemy Satan is almost depicted as an equal to God,  able to come into God’s presence at will,  able to argue with God and challenge God with a bet,  that would cost the family and servants of Job their lives,  that would cost Job everything except his physical life.

There is a hit song  “The Winner Takes It All”  by the group ABBA,  with lyrics that could describe the story of Job:  “The gods they roll the dice,  with hearts as cold as ice…..  and someone weak down here,  loses someone dear.”  The story of Job sounds like that.

The story of Job also sounds like the stories of the Greek gods of Olympus,  where the gods compete with each other and manipulate humans like pawns.  The Greek gods engage each other in power struggles,  with any god able to gain an advantage over another,  and humans suffer the consequences.  The story of Job is like this.  God may completely defeat Satan someday,  as the Bible predicts,  but humans constantly suffer through the ages,  as the casualties of their long war.  If the Book of Job has any credence at all,  could it be that it gives us a more accurate picture of the relative powers of God and Satan?

As mentioned above,  Satan spoke of a  “hedge”  or protective barrier that God had placed around Job,  to protect him against Satan’s attack or influence.  Could it be that Job’s obedience to God and goodness helped to make that barrier possible?  Could it be that a person’s moral orientation,  toward goodness or evil,  toward love or hate,  is a necessary condition of building such a  “hedge”  around them?  Could it be that Satan is also capable of building a  “hedge”  or protective barrier around someone who is following predatory evil principles?  Someone like,  perhaps,  the evil Pharaoh enslaving the Hebrews?  So that the evil Pharaoh was protected by Satan,  and could actually stand up against God and refuse to free the slaves?  So that the Biblical plot device had to be employed,  that God had  “hardened Pharaoh’s heart”  against freeing the slaves,  when actually Satan was reinforcing the will of Pharaoh to defy God,  and protecting Pharaoh himself from God’s attack,  to some degree?

The battle of Exodus was much larger and more important than the battle of Job.  Job involved only one man and his sphere of influence,  while Exodus involved two nations and their combined spheres of influence.  God had a lot more invested in the Hebrew people,  than he had invested in Job and his family.  So likewise,  the amount of attention and effort that Satan paid to Job,  would be greatly multiplied in the story of Exodus.  The story of Exodus is an epic pivotal chapter in the Bible,  and Satan is not mentioned,  but we can be sure that Satan was there,  and that his strongest piece on the chessboard was Pharaoh.  Satan would surely throw all his power into protecting Pharaoh from God’s attack,  and this Satanic effort had an effect that was not reported or understood.  The Biblical account of God  “hardening Pharaoh’s heart”  has always disturbed me,  and now I am beginning to figure out another explanation.  It seems more likely that Satan emboldened Pharaoh to refuse God,  and protected him from being killed by God,  while many other Egyptians died around him,  who had little or no responsibility for enslaving the Hebrews.

The story of Job also makes the reader uncomfortable,  and for good reason.  It does not make moral sense,  with the underlying assumption of an omnipotent God.  With that assumption,  the reader must suspend morality and logic to agree with its conclusion.  Without that assumption,  the story of Job is still disturbing,  but it makes much more sense.  I must insist that crucial facts about God and Satan are missing from the story.  I think  the Book of Job will make sense and will be morally justified,  when we learn the truth about God and Satan,  much of which is missing from the Bible in general.  But there are enough clues to indicate that the orthodox view of their relationship is not completely accurate.

 

The Birth of Evil

By simple logic and morality,  an omnipotent God would not even allow an enemy like Satan to exist,  but would have disabled or destroyed Satan at his first act of destruction.  Or,  perhaps at his second or third,  or tenth,  or hundredth,  or thousandth act of destruction.  But throughout the Bible,  spanning many thousands of years,  Satan remains as the principle cause of evil in the world,  whom God apparently cannot disable or destroy,  but whom God will somehow manage to imprison in some future time,  as described in the Book of Revelation.  The epic, cosmic conflict between God and Satan began before the birth of humanity,  as described in Revelation 12: 7-9:   7 And there was war in heaven,  Michael and his angels waging war with the dragon.  The dragon and his angels waged war,  8 and they were not strong enough,  and there was no longer a place found for them in heaven.  9 And the great dragon was thrown down,  the serpent of old who is called the devil and Satan,  who deceives the whole world;  he was thrown down to the earth,  and his angels were thrown down with him..…”   So why are we told that the rebellious group of angels was  “not strong enough”  to defeat God?  Why was this an issue to be addressed?  How could there even be any possibility that they could be  “strong enough”  to defeat God?  There could only be such a possibility,  if God were not omnipotent.  That is already implied by the fact that there was a war in heaven at all.

Just as God,  perhaps,  could not later stop the Pharaoh from turning against him,  God could not stop Satan from turning against him,  though God surely tried to.  The stakes had been much higher with Pharaoh than with Job,  and the stakes were much higher still in dealing with the original rebellion of Satan,  than in dealing with Pharaoh.  God did not  “harden the heart”  of Satan to escalate the conflict,  but surely tried to defuse the conflict,  to bring Satan back into harmony with the morality and philosophy of God.  God could not stop Satan from turning a large number of other angels against him,  though God surely tried to.  God could not stop these rebellious angels from gaining more influence and power among other angels,  recruiting one-third of all angels to join them,  until they challenged the very authority and power of God himself,  though God surely tried to stop them,  all along the way.

The rebellious angels had even more power than their numbers represented,  because of the natural advantages of evil.  When entities lose their morality and turn towards evil,  they gain great advantages in any conflict.  They no longer care about  “fighting fair”  with any moral code.  They gain the advantages of surprise,  deception,  lying about their enemies,  lying about themselves,  lying about their actions and goals,  and targeting innocents to do the most damage possible to their opponents.  The forces loyal to God were lucky to expel the evil angels before they converted even more than one-third of the angels to follow Satan.

The Bible does not tell us the time span of this war,  nor the time span of the developing conflict that led up to the war,  but it must have been an agonizing struggle that lasted a long time.  When it rose to the level of violence,  there may have been more than one engagement or battle in this cosmic  “war”.  Happily,  God and his loyal angels were strong enough to win the final battle.  So the evil  “dragon”  Satan and his angels were kicked out of heaven,  but they were not really disabled or disarmed.  They were able to set up operations elsewhere,  like here on Earth,  and do great damage.

This is clear evidence of God’s weakness or limits in fighting evil.  An omnipotent God would not have needed to fight a war against any adversary.  God would not have needed to put his loyal angels at risk in battle,  but he could have defeated the adversary with a snap of his omnipotent fingers.  He also could have prevented them from doing damage outside of heaven.  Yet here in the Bible,  we have testimony that God had to send his angels,  commanded by Michael,  to fight a war with the rebellious angels,  commanded by Satan.  Then,  more importantly,  the tragic result of this war was not a destruction or disabling of powerful evil,  but merely an expulsion of powerful evil from one location to another.  The disease of evil was not eradicated or cured,  it was merely evicted from its place of origin,  and forced to find new victims to attack elsewhere.  Heaven was sanitized and cured of evil,  but  the rest of universe has been infected with evil ever since.

That is what the Biblical account tells us,  if we read between the lines.  But preachers will not preach this part of the Bible message,  though they will excel at reading between the lines elsewhere,  to preach their witty sermons.  But this is my “sermon”,  motivated by love,  justice,  logic,  and morality.  If we accept the existence and rebellion of Satan,  then this must follow:

Satan and his angels were  “thrown down to the earth”,  not as part of a wise intentional divine plan,  but as a great disruption of God’s plan,  as a desperate last-ditch defensive measure to get the troublemakers out of heaven,  anywhere but heaven.  Heaven was saved,  but only by exposing the rest of Creation to the predatory evils of Satan.  This was a desperate measure to save heaven,  but also to subject Earth to the power of Satan and his angels,  because there was not sufficient power available to God to do anything else.  This was a desperate measure,  taken in a vicious war.  The expulsion of Satan from heaven was a salvation for heaven,  but a disaster for the rest of the universe.  Preserving the  “free will”  of Satan had nothing to do with it;  that was not a consideration at all.  God did the best he could to defeat,  disable and destroy Satan,  but it was not enough.

So later,  at the birth of the human species,  represented by the story of The Garden of Eden,  Satan was right there, embodied in a devious serpent,  eager to ruin God’s latest project of creation.  Believers do not question WHY Satan was there at all,  or HOW God’s great enemy was even able to invade God’s precious crucible of the creation of humanity.  But it must be questioned.  Satan should not have been allowed there.  A factory owner does not allow his greatest competitor into his factory;  a company inventing a new product does not allow an enemy into it’s research facility;  a scientist does not allow protesters or terrorists into his laboratory.  Fences,  walls,  locks,  and security forces are used to keep enemies out.

Likewise,  parents do not allow evil people to gain easy access to their young children.  Young children are supervised and protected at all times,  to prevent evil predatory people from approaching them.

Yet Satan was there,  God’s great enemy in God’s earthly Garden of Eden,  a sacred sanctuary of great importance in God’s plans.  Satan was there,  ruining the lives of the first humans,  simply because God could not keep him out.  God had kicked Satan out of heaven,  but was unable to destroy or disable Satan,  unable to further limit his areas of operation.  Heaven was safe,  but the rest of the universe was in great peril.

So,  the human tragedies and wars through the entire history of our planet have been aided by an army of evil angels,  angry angels,  that God kicked out of heaven.  God expelled the rebels from his own domain,  but he could not stop them from making our planet miserable.

This is a disturbing chain of events.  Let us bring these events down to a human level,  to perhaps understand them better.  It would be as if some citizens,  in an earthly town called Paradise,  become disgruntled and rebellious.  They take offense at the town’s large church called Heaven and its pastor called God,  blaming it for all their problems.  Some of the rebels are members of this church.  The church is a beautiful church,  a rich church,  for its members lovingly contribute their time and resources to make it a glorious place of fellowship and worship.  The church gives back to the community,  with resources and help flowing to those who are in need.  These rebellious members lust after the beauty and glory and resources of the church,  wanting it for themselves.  It becomes known that the rebels are being incited by a man named Lucifer,  who is  the chairman of the church deacons.  He keeps telling them that the pastor God is plotting to kick him and them out of the church.  So they move into the church,  claiming that it owes them a place to live.  They then start vandalizing and looting the church in hidden ways,  and harass its other members when they come to services on Sunday.  They tell lies about the pastor God,  that he is stealing money from the church,  that he is sleeping with the women of the church.  They tell the members that God is unworthy to be pastor,  that they should accept Lucifer as the new pastor of the church.

In this town called Paradise,  there is no police force to call,  because there has never been any crime.  For many months,  the pastor God talks and pleads with the rebels,  now more properly called a criminal gang,  even giving them money and gifts,  pledging peace and good will.  But it is to no avail.  Lucifer and his gang claim that the church is rightfully theirs,  and that they can take better care of it,  which is a lie,  because they are secretly looting it and rigging explosives to destroy it,  and stalling for time.  Sadly,  but with steel resolve,  the pastor God organizes and arms the church deacons,  fights a battle and repels Lucifer and his gang of criminals from the church called Heaven,  only to watch them retreat and spread into the surrounding neighborhood and attack the gentle neighbors,  who are less able to resist the criminals.  The pastor grimly realizes that the war has really only just begun,  and he begins to organize for war,  to defend and liberate his town.

Now,  this pastor would be considered a noble hero and a great leader,  but he is not omnipotent,  for he cannot easily defeat the criminals attacking his church and town.  In a desperate struggle,  he threw them out of the church,  only to watch them spread to the town.  The town called Paradise is no longer a paradise.  It will take a much longer struggle to remove them from the town.  When he throws them out of the town,  he will have to worry about them attacking other towns.  And the longer they exist,  the more followers they recruit to join them and attack the rest of the town.  Their self-serving,  predatory philosophy and their lying propaganda appeal to an alarming number of people,  who had seemed to be good citizens.  The only way to stop the gang of criminals from spreading their predatory philosophy,  is to imprison them or kill them.  That becomes the pastor’s goal,  but it will take a very long time of agonizing conflict and destruction to accomplish it,  because the pastor is not powerful enough to do it quickly or efficiently.

Grimly,  this pastor called God prepares himself for a much longer struggle,  that he fears might expand from his town to other towns,  to the entire world.  And the pastor is grieved,  for he is not sure who will win the war.  He sees that this new power of  Evil is devious,  cunning,  and it has natural tactical advantages over goodness.  But he must hide his uncertainty and his limitations from his followers.  He loves them dearly,  and they need a leader who appears to be powerful,  righteous,  and confident.

We are very familiar with wars here on Earth,  and we know that they are the very opposite of the omnipotent rule of goodness and morality.  Wars happen because evil gains horrible power,  and threatens to enslave the entire world,  or a portion of the world,  so that the forces of goodness and morality must fight for their very survival.  A war is an extreme event of conflict and desperation.  War is an  “existential”  event,  threatening the actual existence of the warring sides.  Neither good nor evil is omnipotent,  but they are completely incompatible,  so they must fight wars to attempt to destroy each other,  or at least exclude each other from certain places.

So God fought a war and expelled the evil of Satan and his angels from heaven,  but could not stop them from doing their evil elsewhere in the universe,  like here on Earth.  Why would God fight a war to expel evil from his local domain,  but then allow evil to torment the rest of the universe;  the rest of his Creation?  Why would God allow it,  if God had the power to prevent it?  We can be fairly certain that God did not want or will this to happen,  so we can also be fairly certain that God was simply not able to stop it from happening.

 

War and Omnipotence Are Mutually Exclusive

The Bible tells us of war in heaven.  Satan and his minions were defeated in  “heaven”,  but not elsewhere.  The same conflict continues elsewhere,  producing wars here on Earth.  But wars do not suddenly spring forth out of nothing…..  wars occur as a final tragic eruption after a long build-up,  after a long struggle,  only when every other solution has failed.  Love has tried and failed,  logic has tried and failed,  reason has tried and failed,  morality has tried and failed,  and the predatory power of evil remains undaunted, attacking and advancing.  When the conflict escalates to war,  goodness is sometimes finally able to defeat evil,  to some extent.  But it seems to me that omnipotence,  on either side,  would not allow conflicts to escalate to the extreme of war.  Omnipotence is a fantasy.  Where war is present,  omnipotence is not present…..  and war is everywhere,  even in heaven.

God is not able to change this universal truth,  but is subject to it,  as described in Revelation 12: 7-9, and elsewhere in the Bible.  God was forced to engage in war in heaven.  Why do I use the word  “forced”?  Because it is an obvious conclusion.  Do you think that God wanted a war to happen,  or allowed a war to happen,  when he could have prevented it or stopped it?  Of course not.  But that ridiculous,  illogical,  immoral idea must be accepted,  that God did allow a war to happen when he could have prevented it,  if you believe in an omnipotent God.

The entire Bible could be described as a record of the war between God and Satan,  which is not over,  which may never be over.  So because of continual war,  in heaven and earth,  we can conclude that God is not omnipotent.  The ideas of war and omnipotence are mutually exclusive.  Where one exists,  the other cannot exist.  If any entity in the universe were omnipotent,  there would be no need for the extreme destruction and devastation of a war,  at any time or place.  By simple logic and morality,  any enemies would simply not be allowed to gain enough power to fight a war against the omnipotent entity or his believers,  whether that entity was good or evil.  Enemies would be disabled,  long before the extreme obscenity of war became necessary.  This is why I can theorize,  with complete confidence,  that God is not omnipotent in all things,  even if he is the Creator of the universe and the origin of Goodness in the universe.

We find further evidence of this lack of omnipotence,  again in the book of Revelation,  which describes the final conflict between God and evil forces on Earth.  Here is Revelation 20: 9-10 :    “…9 And they came up on the broad plain of the earth and surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city,  and fire came down from heaven and devoured them.  10 And the devil who deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and brimstone,  where the beast and the false prophet are also;  and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever. ”  So here,  we are told that God,  after allowing Satan to have his evil way on Earth for thousands of years,  will finally defeat him,  imprison him  and punish him,  at the end of a war here on Earth.  And sadly,  all the billions of human souls that Satan has turned to evil,  through the ages,  will be punished with him.  The price of not stopping Satan at his original rebellion will be horrific.

Curiously,  God will not simply destroy Satan when he defeats Satan,  which would be more efficient and which would even be more merciful than eternal punishment.  This begs the question of whether God could actually destroy Satan or not,  a question we will address below.  But whatever God ends up doing to Satan,  if God could do that later,  if God could do it at all,  why not do it sooner,  and save billions of humans from lives of undeserved misery,  pain,  torture,  and  agonizing death,  such as the horrific murders that  ISIS is committing right now,  in the tens of thousands?  Just as many earlier predators in human history have murdered hundreds of millions?

Our human history is but a reflection of the more important events occurring in the spiritual world.  As above,  so below.  God could not stop the evil of Satan to prey on other angels,  inciting them against God,  challenging God,  causing a rebellion in heaven.  God was finally able to cast Satan and his followers out of heaven,  but he could not stop them from causing trouble elsewhere.  Human history is a reflection of that.  We have a constant supply of little Satans that God cannot stop…..  psychopaths,  sociopaths,  criminals,  murderers,  gangs,  cartels,  corrupt politicians,  evil dictators,  murderous tyrants.  All sorts of human parasites and predators that prey on the rest of us,  and then we are often forced to defend ourselves in wars.  Allowing  “free will”  has nothing to do with it.  When that free will is abused and people become predatory monsters,  preying on the rest of us,  they must be stopped,  just as Satan must be stopped…..  but they are not stopped by God.  This demonstrates the limits of God.  Even if God stops evil people and Satan at some future time,  it does not wipe out the horrific,  devastating evil that has been done for the thousands or millions of years leading up to that future time.

 

The True Nature of Justice,  And Its Corruption

There is a universal truth concerning justice,  a natural moral imperative concerning justice,  that too often gets ignored,  because it is constantly violated.  And here is the universal truth:  Justice is only as effective as it is swift.  The longer justice is delayed,  the less effective it is.  The longer time that justice is delayed,  the longer time that injustice and evil will reign.

Justice is a need we all acknowledge quietly in our own private thoughts,  and loudly in our social commentary.  There is a weighing scale in our heads,  that is constantly judging,  constantly weighing the actions of everyone around us,  and our own actions,  for fairness  (according to our own personal ideas of fairness).

Justice is a hunger that we all feel every day of our lives.  It is also a practical need.  For example,  when a criminal is about to pull the trigger of a gun to commit murder,  or a terrorist is about to push the button of a bomb to commit mass murder,  or a computer hacker is about to click on a program that will steal the personal data of millions of people,  ruining their financial lives,  there is no moral deferral of justice.  To provide true and proper justice,  the criminal or terrorist needs to be stopped,  before the crimes or murders are committed.  The crimes and murders will commit a great injustice to the victims,  the victims’ families,  the victims’ friends,  the victims’ co-workers,  and to all of society.  If the murders are not prevented,  then a great injustice occurs which cannot be undone,  and justice is reduced to a pale shadow of itself,  pursuing the criminal or murderer to punish them for the horrendous damage they have already done,  to their victims and to justice.  They have murdered justice,  just as surely as they have murdered their human victims.  Then,  we become obsessed with efforts to pursue them,  catch them and  “bring them to justice”  (a popular phrase concerning known criminals who got away).

But catching criminals after their horrific crimes,  is akin to closing the barn door after all the horses have escaped.  Catching the criminals after their horrific crimes may prevent any further crimes,  but it does not undo the crimes already committed.  Just as closing the barn door does not put the horses back into the barn.  In this way,  the popular societal or cultural concept of justice is only a pale shadow of what justice really is,  because criminals are not stopped when they should be stopped.  They should be stopped  before the crimes or murders are committed,  but after the criminals have the full intent,  plans,  and means to commit the crimes.

Criminals become evil in their heart,  mind and soul,  before they commit the crimes.  Their morals have melted,  their ethics have evaporated,  their values have changed.  They have been transformed into vicious predators,  and their souls have turned dark.  But like chameleons,  they hide their true dark colors,  and blend in with their lighter surroundings,  until they strike.  We cannot weigh their moral values,  nor read their evil intentions,  but God can.

The prevention of injustice or crime is much more important and effective than punishing it,  after it has been fully done.  Therefore,  the prevention of massive injustice is the primary component of full justice.  Full justice would prevent the criminal or murderer from committing the murders in the first place,  when they have the full intent and the means  (such as weapons or bombs)  to commit the murders.  This justice cannot be properly achieved by humans,  because we cannot read each others’ minds to see intent.  This justice can only be achieved by God and his spiritual agents,  who can read minds and see all intent,  and who know the secret means criminals acquire to carry out their crimes.

Failing that complete and perfect justice,  there is a fallback position,  which is almost as good.  At the very least,  after the first murder has been committed,  full justice would stop any more murders from being done by the same person or group.  This would be like closing the barn door,  after only one horse had escaped,  and it would be highly effective.  Instead of needing to catch a hundred horses,  or a thousand horses,  we only need to catch one.  Even this weaker form of justice is difficult,  usually impossible,  for humans to carry out.  But it would be like child’s play for an omnipotent God.

The need for justice is constant,  like the need of our lungs for oxygen.  Our bodies cannot stay alive without oxygen for more than a few minutes,  and our immortal souls need justice constantly as well,  and do poorly without it.  Justice is needed every moment in your life,  in my life,  in the world,  in the universe…..  yet justice is constantly denied,  delayed,  deferred,  or derailed.  Justice is only as effective as it is swift…..  it cannot morally be delayed to a future time.  This is a vital moral principle,  yet every religious doctrine violates it.  Every religion puts off justice until some future time,  through some kind of grand judgement,  through karma,  through reincarnation,  or through some other contrived concept.  This failure concerning justice in every orthodox religion,  makes every religion false concerning justice.  When we lose sight of the goal of constant justice,  it lets evil and injustice have their way with us,  preying on us,  wreaking havoc on everything.  The promise of future justice is an empty promise,  that perpetually sacrifices the present to evil.  It is a corruption of justice that has tainted every religion in the world.  When it come to justice,  every religion is a false religion.

The Birth of Evil Should Have Been Stopped

The scope and importance of this issue is quite stunning,  when you consider the enormous moral and practical implications.  In just three verses,  as you read above,  Revelation 12: 7-9 describes a mythical event or a real event,  before the beginning of Earth or humanity,  that changed everything after it,  because it was the birth of evil in the universe,  whether symbolic or real.  It was the first discord,  the first argument,  the first divorce,  the first lawsuit,  the first abuse,  the first crime.  It was the first time any living being thought of attacking or destroying another living being.  It was the first shot of the first battle of the first war,  before anyone had experienced the full horror of a war.

One side of the conflict was morally right  (God),  and one side of the conflict was morally wrong  (Satan).  The elements of rightness and wrongness are discussed elsewhere,  but rightness is marked by love and service to others,  while wrongness is marked by hatred and service to self and abuse of others.  By any measure of logic or morality,  the right side should win  (continue to survive and thrive),  and the wrong side should lose  (be stopped and disabled or destroyed).  That is the basic moral goal of intelligent life itself,  and this was the crucial time to make that happen.  The survival of Satan would mean the thriving of evil,  the thriving of the predatory self-serving philosophy that he had brought into being.

If Satan survived,  he would spread his predatory self-serving philosophy far and wide through the cosmos.  Was the survival of one evil entity,  Satan,  worth all the pain,  misery and destruction that he caused in heaven and then on Earth,  for all of human history?  And remember,  Earth is just one planet in a very large universe.  Any other inhabited planets were also to be attacked and victimized,  if Satan were to survive.  The survival of Satan was certainly NOT worth all of the pain,  misery and destruction he has caused in heaven,  on Earth and everywhere else.

This was an epic moment,  when the the fate of the universe was decided,  for billions of years to come.  The stage was being set,  for a cosmic theatrical play that could be a devastating tragedy,  or a fulfilling triumph.  The stakes of this emerging conflict could not have been higher.  God should have realized this,  and I am confident that God did realize this.

So,  if God realized the incredible stakes of this emerging conflict,  for the entire universe,  then two questions arise.  Should God destroy Satan,  and could God destroy Satan?  More important than the question of whether God could destroy Satan,  at any time past or future,  is the question of whether God should destroy Satan,  especially at the beginning of Satan’s ominous turn away from God and toward evil.  These questions are intimately connected.  The true and honest answer to one of these questions will determine the correct answer to the other one,  and will give us an insight into the nature of God.

First question…..  should God have destroyed Satan,  after he was able to defeat Satan’s treachery and rebellion against God and Heaven?  I would answer with an urgent, resounding YES…..  when I consider the horrible consequences of not doing so.  Satan was the first entity to question God’s love,  reject God’s plan,  reject God’s moral principles,  and the first entity to attack God.  Satan was the first rebel,  the first criminal,  the first traitor,  the first liar,  the first thief,  the first seducer,  the first rapist,  the first manipulator,  the first enslaver,  the first torturer,  the first murderer,  the first tyrant…..  all rolled into one evil entity.  Satan was the first seed of poisonous weeds in the cosmic garden.  Satan was the first malignant cell of a cancer in the cosmic body.  Satan was the first embryo of a vicious new predatory species,  which spread quickly after Satan’s banishment from heaven.  Looking back across the five thousand years of human evil that we know of,  looking at the countless millions of victims of endless wars on Earth, countless millions of good people snuffed out by evil predators…..  I then keep looking further back to the first war,  reported to us in Revelation 12: 7-8,  and I say YES,  God should have destroyed Satan,  especially if God had any inkling of what devastation Satan would bring to rest of the universe,  if left alive and powerful.  Satan’s single life should have been taken,  so that billions of lives would be saved.

I would even say that it was God’s moral duty to destroy Satan,  instead of merely ejecting him from heaven,  and thereby unleashing a ravenous dragon of evil on the rest of the universe.  So to answer this first question,  YES,  God should have destroyed Satan,  just as a doctor should destroy cancer cells and not let them survive.  God should have destroyed not only Satan,  but also every shred of energy associated with Satan,  and every follower of Satan who did not show true repentance.  If other angels later decided to rebel against God,  and follow the destructive path of Satan,  then they should be destroyed as well.  Such predatory evil is like a cancer,  and no doctor in his right mind would simply extract a living cancer from a patient,  and allow it to leave the hospital and infect new victims.

The common religious excuse of limitless  “free will”  to commit crimes and predatory evil is not valid.  All living beings may have free choice,  but once they have chosen,  their freedom ends,  and the consequences begin.  Every free choice begins a consequence,  and a chain of multiple consequences.  The free choice of one person,  to be a predator or criminal,  should not give them the liberty or power to continue to destroy the free choice of others.  If God allows Satan or other evil entities or evil people to enslave or kill,  their victims have certainly been deprived of their  “free will”.  Why should God allow Satan or anyone else the ability to continuously kill,  enslave or dominate others?  Why should God give evil entities the prolonged  “free will”  to destroy the  “free will”  of their victims?  Especially Satan,  the top predator in the food chain of evil?  No one should have such continuous and long-term free will to destroy others.  Giving evil predators continuous free will to destroy or dominate,  is the same as taking their victims’  free will away.  Clearly,  God should not do so,  therefore God should have destroyed Satan,  or should have at least imprisoned Satan immediately following the rebellion,  as God is predicted to do in Revelation 20:10.

Second question…..  could God have destroyed Satan,  after he was able to defeat Satan in this first war?  I believe in the love and goodness of God,  and his desire to protect us from evil,  as stated many times in the Bible.  I believe that God knew that Satan would attack the rest of God’s creation,  when God ejected him from heaven.  So I believe that if God could have destroyed Satan,  that God would have destroyed Satan.  God could not destroy Satan,  when he should have,  and therefore God is not omnipotent.  God and his legion of angels do what they can to defeat evil entities,  but they cannot destroy them.  If most of human history is any indication,  they cannot do much to defeat evil entities in this world,  even though they are doing all they can.

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The Walled City of Heaven,  and The Caterpillar

golden-heaven-with-walls

Heaven is depicted in the Bible and in popular religion as a glorious,  shining city with high and strong walls all around it,  and a gate.  A wall is a looming,  depressing structure that blocks the view.  Why would God need a wall around heaven?  Whether real or mythical,  walls around a city have but one purpose,  and that is to keep enemies out.  That is very appropriate,  for it seems that the only place in the universe that God can keep evil from rampaging,  is that shining walled city with a gate,  with an army of angels to defend it.  Inside the walls,  saints peacefully stroll the streets of gold,  going about their saintly business.  Outside the walls,  the wolves of evil roam in packs,  with the entire universe as their territory.  The battle of good versus evil rages everywhere outside those walls of the city of heaven,  the sanctuary of God.  God may be fighting evil everywhere else with us,  even commanding the fight,  but he cannot destroy evil outside those walls,  outside that one sanctuary where God once fought a desperate war to eject the first evil.  I say  “war”  because that is the word that the Bible uses.  I say  “desperate”  because war can be nothing else,  because the outcome is uncertain,  and victory is not guaranteed to either side.  All these elements of this scenario are completely incompatible with omnipotence.

This alarming image I conjure from the Bible is a far cry from any religious doctrine in the world,  but it may be a bit closer to the truth.  It does not put God in the awkward,  impossible position of an all-powerful deity who allows the constant evils,  wars,  and disasters that occur on this planet.  But all orthodox religions do put God in this awkward position.

With all the religious talk of omnipotent,  benevolent deities who love us,  the world is in horrible shape,  with evil entities running rampant everywhere,  whether cutting off our heads or hacking our computers,  causing misery and conflict and destruction everywhere.  The omnipotent deities cannot be criticized by their believers for this disastrous state of affairs,  so the standard excuse given in religions is that we are all part of God or made in the image of God,  even the evil ones.  So it follows that we are granted  (or we grant ourselves,  as part of God)  free will as a precious loving gift,  for good or evil,  for better or worse,  because all are loved,  even the evil ones,  because even they are made in the image of God.  If a person chooses to use their free will to turn to evil,  well,  that is terrible,  but it is their own fault,  not God’s fault,  and God has no responsibility to immediately revoke the free will that is being horribly abused by that person,  even though God is omnipotent.

Religious believers accept this nonsense concerning God and evil,  then largely forget it or ignore it,  because it is unpleasant to think too much about evil and evil people.  Then they are overly confident in their faith,  and smug in their superiority and safety,  largely blind to the predatory evil in the world,  until it comes to kill them and cut their heads off.  Part of my purpose here is to shake religious believers out of their smugness,  their false  (and foolish)  sense of security,  their belief that God has everything handled,  that God will protect them,  that God is omnipotent,  that God has a wonderful plan,  that God is defeating evil so that we don’t have to.  Religious believers think that they are protected,  right up until the moment that they are killed by a terrorist or a criminal that they did not see coming,  because they were blinded by their religion.  God does have a plan for good,  but it is constantly thwarted by the disruptive actions of Satan,  other opposing spirits,  and humans who have their own plans for evil.

Like a caterpillar,  let us say a silk caterpillar,  most religious believers weave a protective cocoon of religious doctrine around themselves.  Like the caterpillar inside the cocoon of silk,  most religious believers have the ultimate feeling of security from all their wonderful doctrines of peace,  love and protection.  They also expect to emerge from their cocoon someday,  like a beautiful butterfly,  oblivious to all the destruction that happened around them,  in a new spiritual body,  in the presence of God.  If they are even aware of all the violence happening outside their cocoon of religious doctrine,  they are confident that they are protected by their cocoon,  because they believe their cocoon was woven by God,  and not by themselves.

Silkworm and cocooncocoons in hot watercocoons being sorted in water

But in reality the silk caterpillar,  still feeling safe inside its cocoon,  has been plucked from its hiding place and has been dumped into a bag and onto a truck,  on its way to a silk factory and to its doom.  Soon,  the caterpillar,  still feeling safe inside its cocoon,  will be dumped into a vat of boiling water,  to kill it as an unwanted by-product,  so that the silk can be separated and used to produce beautiful garments,  while the caterpillars that produced the beautiful silk are dead carcasses,  flushed down the waste pipes of the silk factories.  It takes about 2500 cocoons to make one pound of silk.  So after the silk caterpillar makes a silk cocoon,  a thing of great beauty and value,  the amazing creature who made this amazing cocoon is boiled to death and discarded as garbage.

The caterpillar,  who thinks it is safe in its cocoon,  who thinks it will emerge from its cocoon as a lovely butterfly,  is easily killed.  Similarly,  evil parasites and predators in this world are able to prey on religious believers,  who think that they are safe and secure inside their religious cocoons,  who are blind or indifferent to all the horrific evil happening in the world,  which they have ignored until it attacks them personally.

But then it is too late.  Evil has them in its sights,  with terrible weapons,  with superior numbers,  while the victims are unprepared,  unarmed,  and frightened.  Then evil easily separates them from their cocoon,  from their possessions,  from their freedom,  from their loved ones,  by killing them.  It is easy to defeat and kill people who have ignored you.  It is like killing caterpillars inside their cocoons.  Caterpillars inside cocoons don’t see danger coming,  so the element of surprise is guaranteed.  Because of the element of surprise,  even the Japanese attack on the military base at Pearl Harbor was almost as easy as killing caterpillars inside their cocoons.

 

WE Are Responsible to Stop Evil

But we should not be surprised by evil at any time.  We should be tracking its every move,  seeking to destroy it at all times,  instead of the other way around.  We should be vigilant,  we should be prepared,  we should be armed.  And there is crucial evidence in the Bible to support this principle.  There is crucial evidence that God expects us humans to stop the evil ones among us.  Even with all the censoring and book-burning that produced the Bible,  there are indications in the Bible about God’s true position on  “free will”,  and also about his possible limitations.  For example,  in Genesis 8 and 9,  after the great Flood,  God is giving Noah instructions concerning the new covenant between God and man.  He is telling Noah how humanity is to conduct itself,  to live a more righteous way.

In Genesis 9:6,  God told Noah  “Whoso sheddeth man’s blood,  by man shall his blood be shed;  for in the image of God made he man.”  This is a command among other commands,  not merely a divine observation or prediction of what will happen.  This seems to me to be a crucial verse,  concerning the relationship between God and humanity,  at the crucial time of a new beginning.

To put this command into modern human context,  this is the spiritual equivalent of disconnecting the 911 emergency call system.  It is the spiritual equivalent of disbanding all police forces in society.  We,  as individual citizens,  expect our government and police to help us when we are attacked by criminals,  and most religious believers expect God to somehow help them when they are attacked by criminals.

But what if there were no 911 to call,  no government or police to help citizens…..  what if God was not willing or able to step in to help his followers who call for his help,  when they are violently attacked?  Well,  dear readers,  this is not a  “what if”  question.  With this Bible verse,  God was stepping back,  and handing the responsibility for enforcing justice against evil to every person in this world.  Sadly,  it is a responsibility that most people,  probably 99 percent or more, are miserably failing to keep.

God is saying that when an evil human predator attacks a human victim,  then it is up to the good humans to  “shed the blood”  of the evil human predator.  Responsibility falls directly upon the shoulders of all good humans,  to enforce justice upon the evil humans  “whoso sheddeth man’s blood”.  God is saying that he will not enforce justice upon the most violent criminals and terrorists,  such as serial murderers,  such as Mexican cartels,  such as Boko Haram,  such as ISIS,  such as the increasing number of  “lone wolf”  terrorists who are killing people all over the world.  God is saying that he expects us humans to stop and kill these evil people,  to shed their blood,  without God’s help.  Or perhaps with God’s support,  but we must do it for ourselves.  If we can stop the predators without killing them,  that is fine,  but we are allowed,  if necessary,  to “shed blood”.  God may enforce justice upon them later,  in the spiritual realm,  but here and now on Earth,  it is our human responsibility,  and also our humane responsibility to enforce justice upon them now,  in the world of flesh and blood.

If this command from God is still in effect,  then all the urgent prayers of religious believers for God to help them or others who are under attack,  are prayers that may be futile and falling upon deaf divine ears.  God is saying:  don’t call upon me,  to do what I have long ago told you to do for yourself.  But most of the religious believers,  and all the liberal pacifist fools in the world,  are not listening to this command of God,  and would loudly disagree with it,  and would totally dismiss it or condemn it,  if it was brought to their attention.

Why would God assign to humanity such a difficult and dangerous task,  the stopping and punishment of violent criminals and murderers?  Maybe God assigned humanity to police itself,  concerning violent criminals and murderers,  because HE CANNOT DO IT HIMSELF,  because of some metaphysical limitation that He does not wish to reveal to us.  So He gave us a stern law,  for us to stop violent criminals and murderers for ourselves,  to shed their blood,  so that we would feel empowered and justified to do so.

How could it be that God could cause a great Flood to wipe out most of humanity,  which had become a race of murderers,  and yet not be able to stop a single murderer?  I do not know the answer to that mystery.  But the story of the Flood and the command in Genesis 9:6 plainly show that God cares nothing about the  “free will”  of evil people,  when he destroys them and tells us to shed their blood ourselves.

It also implies that we all should be doing a great deal more,  to stop evil in our world.  We should be calling it out and seeking it out,  instead of ignoring evil and waiting for evil to come to us.  But 99% or more of good people in this world do exactly that :  ignore evil and wait for it to come attack them.  Then,  they are shocked and surprised and unprepared,  against an enemy who is prepared and deadly.

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The Cosmic Struggle,  The Cosmic Chess Match,  Which May Never End

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blue chess board in lava.

I am a Christian,  I worship God,  I follow Christ,  and I support the goal of destroying false religion,  stopping evil oppression and liberating slaves,  such as God did in Egypt.  But if God was forced to engage in such a complex game of conflict,  like a game of chess,  in all Biblical times and up to the present day,  then God cannot be omnipotent.

I enjoy the game of chess,  which is an ancient simulation of war….  the original  “war game”.  It involves opponents who start the game as exactly equal,  each with an equal  “army”  of game pieces,  and who then win or lose the game by their intelligence and daring,  or lack thereof.  Chess is a good simulation of real-world, violent conflict,  but without the violence.  It is an intellectual simulation,  without regard to justice or morality on either side.  Each side must battle the enemy’s pawns  (lowest ranking fighters),  knights  (highest ranking fighters),  rooks  (strongholds),  bishops  (religious or philosophical leaders),  and queen  (the king’s closest partner),  to penetrate far enough into the enemy’s defenses to capture or kill the enemy King.  Many pieces will fight and fall,  but the game is not over until the enemy King is defeated,  and  “checkmate”  is declared.

white king standing over fallen black queenSimilarly,  In the cosmic struggle,  the cosmic chess match,  the fight is not over until the King of one side is defeated.  The symbolic Kings are God and Satan.  The proper objective of God should be to defeat Satan,  permanently.  An omnipotent God should have been able to achieve that goal by now,  after billions of years,  without keeping the universe in a permanent state of deadly conflict,  don’t you think?

There is one result in the game of chess that is called a  “stalemate”,  when one side has lost all except his King.  The King is not in checkmate,  but the King cannot move without being defeated,  because the opposing pieces have him boxed in.  The game ends in a draw,  even though one side still had the power to defeat the other.

The  “stalemate”  is actually a win for the weaker side,  who tricked the stronger side and prevented them from winning.  When one side has only his King left,  he plans his moves carefully against his opponent,  who is trying to put his King in  “checkmate”,  which simulates capturing or killing the King.  He tries to trick or lure the opponent into a stalemate,  to deny the opponent a win.  If he gets a stalemate,  then all the chess pieces are brought back onto the board for another game,  and another chance to win game and match.

The original  “stalemate”  was Satan’s rebellion in heaven  (whether symbolic or real),  where Satan attacked God,  God fought back,  God ejected Satan from heaven,  Satan was  “thrown down to Earth”,  and the pieces were then re-set on cosmic chessboards all over the universe,  with one chessboard being our little planet Earth.  Satan was the real winner,  because while defeated in heaven,  he and his followers survived and re-grouped,  to continue the fight everywhere else.  The clues of that continuous fight are contained in the scriptures of every religion,  and in the volumes of secular history,  and in today’s news on TV.  Predatory forces rise up constantly in every generation,  causing untold suffering through corruption,  abuse,  crime,  oppression and war.  It is logical that predatory humans have hidden allies of predatory spirits,  such as Satan and his dark angels,  supporting them and protecting them to some degree…..  just as God promises to support and protect his followers.  Ephesians 6:12-13 tells us so:  “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities,  against powers,  against the rulers of the darkness of this age,  against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.  Therefore take up the whole armor of God,  that you may be able to withstand in the evil day,  and having done all,  to stand.”  These verses were written for persecuted Christians after Jesus left us,  supposedly in victory over evil and death.  But  “the whole armor of God”  did not protect Christians from being persecuted and killed in horrible ways back then,  and it does not protect them today.  Regardless of such Biblical promises,  evil forces remain very strong and deadly.  This is just a continuation of the original war started by Satan’s rebellion and his expulsion from heaven.  The overall  “stalemate”  war between God’s forces and Satan’s forces continues,  producing piles of dead victims and oceans of tears here on Earth.

Surviving a fight with evil,  whether in flesh or spirit,  to remain standing over the fallen enemy,  is not as easy as that last verse implies.  Wrestling with evil is like a man wrestling a powerful wild animal,  an animal with the strength and cunning of a lion,  and with focused intelligence.  The man can be more cunning,  but If the man makes one mistake,  the lion will devour him.  Fighting evil is perilous,  treacherous,  and deadly.  Evil has a natural advantage of surprise,  and a natural advantage of not following any rules or morals.  This cosmic rivalry between God and Satan,  between Goodness and Evil,  may be more evenly matched than any religion believes.  But then,  there is not much logical or moral justification for what any religion believes. They get some basic principles right,  but other basic principles have been ignored or badly distorted.  Primarily,  they ignore or distort the basic need of humanity for continuous,  real-time justice.

That seems to be the permanent moral state of the world and the universe.  It is driven by a strong undercurrent of conflict between love or hate,  giving or taking,  creating or destroying,  serving others or serving self,  liberation or domination,  empowerment or oppression.  It seems that each side has its strengths and weaknesses;  neither side has sufficient power to always defeat the other side.  Every day,  every moment,  every encounter is open to be won or lost.  The only certain condition from moment to moment is…..  uncertainty.  Justice;  the clear defeat of predatory evil;  is constantly thwarted,  and seldom achieved.  But still,  there is a certainty that the two opposing moral forces are there,  in each moment,  in each encounter,  and that one of them can bring decisive elements into play.  We should never forget the certainty that the two opposing moral forces are there,  in our lives,  in every encounter,  every thought,  every moment.  We,  as individuals,  are both the pawn and the prize sought by unseen moral forces much greater than ourselves,  personified by Satan and God.  One side seeks to enslave us,  the other side seeks to liberate us.  One side seeks to take power from others,  the other side seeks to give power to others.  One side hurts,  the other side helps.  One side destroys,  the other side builds.

Each moment is uncertain,  but with the use of decisive elements,  the victory of one moment can lead to the victory of the next moment,  and the next,  gaining a strong momentum,  and moments can build quickly into monuments…..  monuments of strength for good or evil.  There is also a certainty that you or I can be one of those decisive elements,  that we can build moments into monuments.  This is the marvel,  the miracle,  the potential that God has created within each one of us.  We can waste that potential,  or we can use it and change the world,  for better or for worse.

So,  the world and the universe are in a never-ending chess match of morality,  where there are endless wins,  losses,  and stalemates,  and the board keeps getting reset,  with new pawns ready to fight and die.  No one really knows what happened to the old pawns who fought and died,  but every religion thinks it knows,  and insists that it is right.

Chess is a good simulation of war,  but it is played on a board,  without real weapons,  with game pieces that do not bleed or die.  Chess has strict rules,  but real war has no rules,  only results,  either victory or defeat.

rhino on chess boardAnd God is not an equal player,  but is supposed to be the most powerful player of all.  God is supposed to be the one and only omnipotent player.  God is supposed to be the One who created the game in the first place,  and has the power to win the game at any time,  or to abolish the game,  and start over with a different game.  But there is a catch,  there is a hook,  there is a moral requirement that cannot be ignored.  With great power,  there also comes great responsibility.  So with omnipotence,  unlimited power,  there also comes unlimited responsibility.

An omnipotent cosmic chess player,  in the real universe,  the real world,  would be morally required to win the game every time,  to win every deadly conflict every time,  to defeat evil and save its victims from pain and death,  while preventing any conflict from ever escalating into anything that could be called a  “war”.

For an omnipotent God,  who knows everything that is happening and has unlimited power over everything that is happening,  there would be no excuse for  “war”.  There would be endless ways to keep war from happening.  Yet,  on our planet we have wars happening constantly.  In those wars,  we have good people constantly losing their freedom,  their possessions,  their lives to the power of evil.

The existence of constant war on our planet is a hideous abomination,  and it is the result of the failure of good forces to defeat evil forces,  up to and including God.  Good forces are not able to prevent evil forces from building up enough power to wage war in the first place,  and then good forces must either engage in war,  or lose their freedom,  possessions,  and lives to the advancing evil.

Chess is a war game played between opponents of equal power,  and most real wars are fought between opponents of roughly equal power,  or the situation would not develop into a  “war”  in the first place.  In war,  there is a rough balance of power,  between opponents of limited power,  who are trying defeat each other.  The definition and concept and existence of  “war” is not even possible,  if one side in the war has unlimited power.  So the existence of  “war”  in the world,  in the universe,  in the Bible,  in heaven,  rules out any possibility of omnipotence.

With an omnipotent God,  there would be deadly conflict with evil,  yes;  constant combat with evil,  of course;  but it would be limited,  and the defeat of evil predators would be far more certain.  The same evil enemy,  such as Satan,  would not have to be defeated twice,  and would not be allowed to prey on weaker souls for thousands or millions of years.  Murderous tyrants would not be allowed to die a natural death,  after destroying millions of lives.  There would be no significant victories for evil,  such as the enslavement of the Hebrews for centuries by Egypt,  or the successful Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor or Nanking,  or the Holocaust killing of six million Jews by the Nazis,  or the current horrific success of ISIS.  There would be no stalemates with evil,  such as Satan’s rebellion in heaven,  and every successful ploy of evil since then.  There would be no prolonged conquests of evil,  no prolonged suffering of its victims.

But sadly,  evil has been unlimited by God in what it can achieve.  History is full of cases of evil defeating goodness,  or forcing goodness into a stalemate.  A complete victory for goodness is very rare,  and it is never lasting.  Christians would assert that the death and resurrection of Christ was the crucial everlasting victory against evil,  but it was far from complete,  because Christ left us in a world still filled with evil,  and with Satan and his legion of fallen angels still on the loose,  as powerful as they ever were.

 

Jesus,  Demons,  and Pigs

Jesus, the single most important person in history,  who I believe was God in human form,  was a game-changer in many ways.  In the area of spiritual warfare,  he ‘cast out demons’,  he won battles against these predatory spirits,  these fallen angels turned demons,  such as those who battled the angels in the Book of Daniel.  But still today, these spirits prey upon the souls of Earth.  Jesus’ victory over these spirits was a limited victory,  as I shall explain.  Even Jesus Christ himself,  the Son of God,  would not or could not disable them or destroy them,  which sorely needs to be done.  There is an instructive encounter of Jesus with predatory spirits,  or demons,  as reported in Mark 5: 1-14:

“And they came over unto the other side of the sea,  into the country of the Gadarenes.  And when He was come out of the ship,  immediately there met Him out of the tombs a man with an unclean spirit,  who had his dwelling among the tombs;  and no man could bind him,  no,  not with chains:  Because that he had often been bound with fetters and chains,  and the chains had been plucked asunder by him,  and the fetters broken in pieces:  neither could any man tame him.  And always,  night and day,  he was in the mountains,  and in the tombs,  crying,  and cutting himself with stones.  But when he saw Jesus afar off,  he ran and worshiped Him,  and cried with a loud voice,  and said,  What have I to do with thee,  Jesus,  thou Son of the most high God?  I adjure thee by God,  that thou torment me not.  For He said unto him,  Come out of the man,  thou unclean spirit.  And He asked him,  What is thy name?  And he answered,  saying,  My name is Legion:  for we are many.  And he besought Him much that He would not send them away out of the country.  Now there was there nigh unto the mountains a great herd of swine feeding.  And all the devils besought Him,  saying,  Send us into the swine,  that we may enter into them.  And forthwith Jesus gave them leave.  And the unclean spirits went out,  and entered into the swine:  and the herd ran violently down a steep place into the sea  (they were about two thousand)  and were choked in the sea.  And they that tended the swine fled,  and told it in the city,  and in the country.  And they went out to see what it was that was done.”
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healingthegerasenedemonpossessedman222Demons into Pigs

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The townsfolk rushed out to the scene of the miracle,  and observed the former mad man with Jesus,  and observed 2000 dead pig carcasses floating in the sea.  You would think that they worshiped Jesus and praised what he had done,  thanking him for saving the mad man from the demons.  But no,  later verses tell us that the Gadarenes were afraid,  and asked Jesus to leave their coasts,  which he did.  Perhaps they were distressed at the sight of so much death and carnage,  as I think anyone would be.  Why did it happen this way?  Let us analyze this amazing story objectively,  while granting that it happened exactly as described.

First,  the demons involved do not sound like they are at the level of the two demon princes mentioned in the Book of Daniel.  Those demons battled the archangel Michael and another angel,  on a much higher level of power and significance.  Here,  Jesus encounters a ‘legion’ of demons who are attacking a single man.  Apparently,  it takes a ‘legion’ of these weaker demons to overcome one man.  This is not a very impressive display of their power.  They should be ashamed that it takes so many of them to possess one man.  They are the ‘scum of hell’,  ganging up to prey upon the ‘scum of the earth’,  as they surely regard us.

Jesus found these lower-level demons and their victim,  probably seeking them out by design.  As God incarnate,  he should have been aware of their presence from afar.  He crossed over the Sea of Galilee in a boat with his disciples,  landing in the country of the Gadarenes.  After Jesus purged the demons,  the Gadarenes were afraid of him,  and asked him to leave,  which he did.  He may have been able to predict this outcome.  So this was a very short trip,  with a single purpose,  which gave us a very important glimpse into spiritual warfare.

So,  what should we think about this amazing encounter?  Here are my thoughts,  for your consideration.  Jesus purged a legion of lesser demons from this possessed man,  saving this one man,  but Jesus granted the demons’ request to move into a herd of 2000 pigs,  a very large herd of ham on the hoof.  The demons promptly drove the pigs to run off a cliff and drown in the sea.  Obviously,  having done all the damage they could do here,  the demons did not stay inside dead pigs,  but then moved on to find more human victims,  away from the presence of Christ.  And they left behind a lot of collateral damage,  that Christ had agreed to.  Now,  to me,  granting the request of a legion of predatory demons would never be a good idea.  But Jesus had his reasons,  the parameters of spiritual reality,  which we must try to understand.

This is not the glorious victory,  over the soldiers of Satan,  that the orthodox Christians would have us believe.  It is more like a desperate hostage negotiation,  conducted by police against a terrorist who has kidnapped someone.  Jesus did not use his supposed omnipotent power to banish the demons from the Earth,  as one would expect,  as the demons seemed to fear,  or to destroy them completely.  Instead,  curiously,  he granted their request to move into the herd of pigs.  Why would Jesus do that?  He traded the destruction of one man,  for the destruction of 2000 pigs.  This is clever bargaining,  from a weak position,  with the forces of pure evil,  to get the best possible deal.  This is not a position of moral supremacy,  of supreme omnipotence.  This is a position of limited power,  with a hint  of clever calculation.  This is not a very good way to stop demons from doing further damage,  but it is all that Jesus Christ,  the embodiment of God on Earth,  was able to do.

There is a confusing passage above,  saying that the demons  besought Him much that He would not send them away out of the country.”  Now consider,  if Jesus were able to banish demons from the country,  from the region,  from the Earth,  isn’t that exactly what he should do?  But first,  it is very interesting to note that the demons were not worried that Jesus would destroy them,  completely ending their predatory,  destructive,  miserable existence.  They were not worried that Jesus would imprison them,  or throw them into the Biblical  “lake of fire”.  This implies that the demons did not think that Jesus could destroy them, or imprison them,  or do anything to effectively shut them down.  But they did think that Jesus could banish them from a large area,  perhaps from the Earth,  which is exactly what Jesus should have done.  The demons acknowledged that Jesus had a limited advantage over them,  at that location and that time,  but they were not worried that their mortal enemy had complete power to terminate their predatory activities.

So there is a deadly game happening here,  with many factors that the Bible account did not cover.  There are many important things happening between the lines of the scriptures,  that we must try to discern.

When the demons besought Jesus,  that he would not  “send them away out the country”,  Jesus should have had a superior bargaining position.  He could have indeed forced them to go  “out of the country”,  if the demons believed that he could do so.  But either Jesus could not do so,  or he could have banished them from  “the country”,  but granted their request,  and only banished them from one man.  Why would Jesus grant such an undesirable request,  from a legion of evil,  ruthless demons?

Did Jesus grant their request out of love or pity or mercy,  mercy for a legion of demons who have ruined countless human lives,  and who would ruin countless more lives,  if not disabled?  I think not.

Here was a lucrative target,  an entire legion of demons caught in the act of destroying a man’s life and disrupting a human community.  If Jesus could have stopped the demons cold,  he would have.  Perhaps Jesus did not banish the demons from the Earth,  because he did not have the power to do it,  and because he did not want the demons to discover he did not have the power.  So to get them out of one man,  he struck a trade with them,  allowing them to destroy a herd of 2000 pigs,  and to leave from the presence of Jesus,  and retain their freedom to operate elsewhere.

Sadly,  because Jesus could not disable or destroy the demons,  his trade was much worse than it seems.  To save one man,  he traded not only 2000 pigs,  but also the next human victim of the demons,  and the next,  and the next,  for as long as the demons are allowed freedom.  Jesus was able to force the demons out of one man,  one victim,  but he could not end their destructive behavior.

From an objective,  neutral viewpoint,  it would seem that the demons got the better deal in this encounter.  They had to give up one human victim,  but they got to destroy a huge herd of pigs, and they destroyed the livelihood of the pigs’ owners.  This might be one reason that the Gadarenes asked Jesus to leave.  Jesus had just caused one of their prominent citizens,  the owner of 2000 pigs,  to lose his herd and his livelihood.  Not to mention the livelihood of his herders,  and all his other employees.  Not to mention the likely shortage of bacon for breakfast in the village for a long time.

The Gadarenes,  in their indulgent self-interests,  did not appreciate the incredible spiritual battle they had just witnessed,  because they did not know who Jesus was,  nor the parameters of the spiritual war that Jesus was fighting.  If they knew,  they might have gladly sacrificed 2000 pigs,  to help Jesus in his cosmic war.  And they would have welcomed Jesus into their village,  to teach them more,  instead of asking him to leave.

But still,  we must realize that this was a serious crime,  that Jesus allowed the demons to commit in front of him,  and they were not punished or banished in any way.  They were not even banished from that village.  What was to stop them from returning to that same village,  the next week or the next year,  or a hundred years later,  to attack more human victims?  But,  of course,  they did not need to return to that village.  They retained their freedom of operation,  to find and destroy an unlimited number of human victims in the future,  all over the world,  right up to the present day…..  and they got their story recorded in the Bible,  so that we know a legion of demons is still here,  to bedevil us,  tempt us,  and attack us.  Invoking the name of Jesus may give us some protection,  but the demons can find plenty of victims who are not faithful followers of Jesus.

Considering these consequences,  this victory of Jesus over demons fades more and more.  Jesus had some power over the demons,  and he himself was not in danger from them,  but his power over them was limited.  His ability to protect the world,  protect us,  from these evil spiritual predators was seriously limited,  by unknown factors.

It is also interesting that Jesus asked the demon’s name,  in the singular,  as if Jesus thought it was only one demon.  Why did Jesus not already know that there were many demons present,  and why did he not already know all their names?  If Jesus did know these things,  why did he pretend not to know?  Is this a teaching point of Jesus,  or just an honest report of what happened,  revealing the apparent limits of God?

This whole episode is another good example of the  “stalemate”  with evil,  when evil forces are not destroyed or disabled or neutralized,  but merely forced to retreat and re-locate,  to continue their evil elsewhere.  One victim is saved,  but many others are endangered.  This is the  “stalemate”  that evil forces are able to achieve,  ever since the original rebellion of Satan depicted in the Bible.

Hints of this stalemate are visible everywhere in the Bible,  because it is the unspoken backstory of the Bible.  In Acts 10:38 we are told that  Jesus  “went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil,  for God was with Him.”  Elsewhere we are told that Jesus WAS God,  that Jesus was the human incarnation of God.  Jesus did do a lot of healing in the scriptures,  and surely did much more healing and casting out demons that was not documented.  All of this healing of  “all who were oppressed by the devil”  was only necessary,  because Satan had not been properly defeated or disabled for thousands of years prior to this.  For thousands of years,  the Bible implies,  God did not or could not permanently defeat or disable Satan,  but did fight him,  so when God came to Earth as Jesus,  he cast out demons,  but of course he still could not permanently defeat or disable Satan.   

Jesus_temptation

Satan tempting Jesus

Jesus had an encounter with Satan himself,  at the beginning of his ministry.  Jesus had an opportunity to rightly confront Satan for all the predatory evil he does,  and to bring it to an end.  He had an opportunity,  in one blow to Satan,  to end all the demon possession that he would busy himself against,  during his entire ministry.  He had a chance to kill the head of the snake,  and disable the body and scales of the snake at the same time,  if he were able.

This encounter could have been the biggest victory of goodness over evil in history.  Here,  God’s greatest enemy came to him,  in person,  presenting himself as a target.  If Jesus had done anything to defeat,  diminish,  or disable Satan,  it would have mightily enhanced his three year ministry,  transforming it into a victory lap,  instead of a grueling battle against the predatory evil of Satan,  demons,  and men.  Jesus could have still died on the cross,  killed by the evil of men,  and ascended to heaven,  and he would have left a lot less predatory evil active in the world behind him.

But the encounter with Satan in the wilderness was nothing like that.  Satan was on the offense,  tempting Jesus,  while Jesus was on the defensive.  Jesus endured the temptations,  quoted scriptures,  and let Satan go away to continue his vast predatory evil operations all over the world.  Then Jesus spent the next three years chasing demons out of individual victims,  after Jesus had let the demons’ boss go,  without laying a single blow on him,  without even trying to.  Jesus did not diminish nor disable Satan,  because he could not.

Christians would explain this by saying the time was not right for Jesus to defeat Satan,  that Jesus will do that in his Second Coming,  that it was not according to God’s plan and timeline.  I say even if that is true,  it indicates God’s limits.  I would submit to you that the time to defeat evil is NOW,  because the longer it is allowed to operate,  the more victims it destroys.  Why are evil predators allowed to prey upon us,  for thousands of years?  I say that the time to defeat and disable predatory evil is NOW,  always NOW,  never some vague time in the future,  because predatory evil is destroying its victims NOW,  always NOW.  What do you say?

This is not intended as a critique of Jesus,  saying what he should have done or not done.  This is intended as a search for clues,  to determine a truth,  to find out why predatory evil is so powerful and difficult to defeat,  diminish or disable,  even with the power of God against it.  I am quite certain that Jesus did everything he could against Satan and the demons,  given the power and tools he had to work with.  We need to begin to understand the incredible obstacles he faced,  to begin to appreciate his incredible accomplishments,  even more than they are appreciated by orthodox believers.

 

Daniel and The Angels…  21 Days of Stalemate in The Scriptures

Daniel protected by angel in den of lions

Daniel protected by angel in den of lions

In the book of Daniel,  there is another very interesting story of spiritual warfare,  that supports the idea of a God who is something less than omnipotent,  though he is more powerful than Satan.  It reports on a battle in the constant war between God and Satan,  through their appointed subordinates or  “princes”.  It supports my analysis of the general deplorable state of  “stalemate”  between forces of good and evil.

Daniel was a Jewish prophet who was living in forced exile with the Jewish people in Babylon.  He had already won the great respect of the Persian king,  and been appointed a high office in the government,  by his great wisdom and faith in God.  He had already been attacked by his enemies and thrown into a lion’s den to be killed and devoured,  where an angel was sent by God to protect him from the lions.

This story of the lion’s den,  in itself,  needs to be examined for evidence of the true nature of spiritual hierarchy,  and relative spiritual power.  Like Job,  Daniel was probably the greatest follower of God of his time,  who became the focus of spiritual warfare between the forces of God and the forces of Satan.  Daniel was far more than a prophet of God…..  he was an exceptional leader of his own people in exile,  who gained the respect of the king of his peoples’  enemy,  and was appointed as a vice-regent in the enemy’s government,  to have a great influence for goodness in both the Jewish and Babylonian societies.  He was doing it all for God,  with God’s help,  to do God’s will on earth.  He was under God’s protection.  And yet,  the enemies of God were able to have Daniel thrown into a lion’s den by the king himself,  through an evil plot of legal maneuvers,  forcing God to send an angel to protect Daniel from the lions.

Now consider this carefully…..  a good king and God himself were maneuvered by evil forces,  to allow God’s best prophet to be condemned to die.  We are supposed to marvel at this miraculous rescue,  but why were evil forces strong enough to put Daniel in the lion’s den,  in the first place?  Shouldn’t their evil plot have been foiled,  and the plotters punished,  before Daniel was thrown to the lions?  In this way,  a story of strength through miraculous rescue,  becomes a story of weakness.  If God were stronger and justice was enforced properly and evil forces were properly opposed,  the miraculous rescue would not have been necessary.  Daniel would have never been pushed into a lion’s den,  about to be devoured,  needing an angel to rescue him.  The angelic rescue was an act of desperation,  needed only because the forces of evil had already been so successful,  that God’s most important prophet of the time had been condemned to die. Throughout human history,  countless good men of the caliber of Daniel have been condemned to die by evil forces,  and have not been rescued,  and have been killed in horrible ways.  Daniel’s rescue was the rare exception,  to the rule of murderous evil throughout history.

Later,  the incident of interest occurs when Daniel begins praying and fasting in a state of mourning,  out of concern for the dismal state of his people and the world.  He prays and fasts fervently for three weeks.  He must have been getting physically weak and spiritually discouraged by then.  Then,  finally,  he gets an answer to his prayers,  and what a spectacular answer it is!!

In the third year of the reign of King Cyrus of Persia,  after three weeks of praying and fasting,  Daniel is visited by an angel,  who is almost apologetic for his tardiness,  who is quick to explain why he has been delayed.  The angel has been delayed by a fight with a subordinate demon of Satan,  called the prince of Persia.  In Daniel 10:2-20,  we read:  “in those days I Daniel was mourning three full weeks…..  Then I lifted up mine eyes,  and looked,  and beheld a certain man clothed in linen,  whose loins were girded with fine gold of U-phaz:  his body also was like the beryl,  and his face as the appearance of lightning,  and his eyes as lamps of fire,  and his arms and his feet like in colour to polished brass,  and the voice of his words like the voice of a multitude…..  when I heard the voice of his words,  then was I in a deep sleep on my face,  and my face toward the ground.  And behold,  a hand touched me,  which set me upon my knees and upon the palms of my hands.  And he said unto me,  O Daniel, a man greatly beloved,  understand the words that I speak unto thee,  and stand upright,  for unto thee I am now sent.  And when he had spoken this word unto me,  I stood trembling.” 

“Then he said unto me,  Fear not,  Daniel,  for from the first day that thou didst set thine heart to understand,  and to chasten thyself before thy God,  thy words were heard,  and I am come for thy words.  But the prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me one and twenty days:  but lo,  Michael,  one of the chief princes,  came to help me;  and I remained there with the kings of Persia.  Now I am come to make thee understand what shall befall thy people in the latter days:  for yet the vision is for many days…..  And now I will return to fight with the prince of Persia:  and when I am gone forth,  lo,  the prince of Grecia shall come.  But I will shew thee that which is noted in the scripture of truth:  and there is none that holdeth with me in these things,  but Michael your prince.”

The angel goes on to give Daniel the prophecy in two more chapters,  ending the book of Daniel.

Some writers have argued in the literature that the princes and kings referred to are human,  not angel or demon.  But it is absurd and idiotic to propose that the angel visiting Daniel was fighting with humans.  No human can resist or oppose an angel.  We cannot even see them,  unless they want to be seen. Other interpretations of the Bible have used the term  “angel-prince”  instead of prince in the verses above,  which pits angel against angel.  This is correct,  because we are told elsewhere in the Bible that one-third of the angels of heaven were  “thrown down to the Earth”  along with Satan,  and they became the eternal enemies of God.  They became demons,  but technically they were and still are angels, who have turned against God and become evil spiritual predators of great power.  Therefore,  I will refer to them as demon princes.

This story gives us keen insight into the conflicts of spiritual warfare between God and Satan,  and their relative powers.  Remember now that,  like Job,  Daniel was probably the greatest follower of God of his time,  having strong influence for God with both the Jews and the Persians.  But unlike Job,  he was not the subject of a cosmic bet.  God did not lower his  “hedge of protection”  around Daniel.  Daniel was a constant target of attack by Satan,  and constantly protected by God,  and still,  Daniel was condemned to die and was thrown into a lion’s den,  and had to be rescued by an angel.

God and Satan are not engaged directly in this fight described above,  but their high subordinates are.  The angel speaking is not named,  but he must be a high-ranking angel himself.  He tells of being helped by Michael,  a higher angel,  “one of the chief princes”,  in a fight with  “the prince of the kingdom of Persia”.  He was sent from God to deliver a great prophecy to Daniel,  in answer to Daniel’s prayer,  on the first day of Daniel’s prayer.  But a powerful demon called  “the prince of the kingdom of Persia”  fought him and delayed the first angel for 21 days.

Meanwhile,  Daniel kept fervently praying and fasting.  Sometime during that 21 days,  the great archangel Michael,  called  “one of the chief princes”  came to help the first angel.  This apparently triggered reinforcements on the side of evil,  and the angels engaged in battle with  “the kings of Persia”.  One demon opponent was now more than one,  and they were plural instead of a single  “prince”,  with the higher rank of  “kings”.

tpd_angel_demon_artWe can only imagine the spiritual weapons used in this fight,  and the spiritual fireworks they must have produced.  It seems unlikely that they simply faced each other and stared intensely at each other.  There had to be a clash of raw forces,  a collision of deadly energies,  and a battle of wits as well.  The demons blocked the angels’ path,  probably able to seriously injure or disable the angels.  The two angels battled these demon princes and kings,  until the angels finally prevailed after 21 days,  and broke free to deliver God’s message to Daniel.

Then the angel told Daniel that he was returning to fight with the demon prince of Persia  (note that the angel did not say that the demon would be defeated or banished or any such thing),  and that a mysterious prince of Grecia would come,  most likely another demon.  It is not clear whether the prince of Grecia is coming to attack Daniel,  or going to join the prince of Persia,  whom the angel tells Daniel he is going back to fight.  It could be that the angel was ordered to go resume the fight with the demon prince of Persia,  or it could be that the demons know that the angel must go back the same way that he came,  and they are preparing to attack him again,  and the angel knows that he must fight with them again,  in order to return home.

So,  we can surmise that demons have territories like other predators….. and that those demons,  like bandits or pirates,  are powerful enough to attack or ambush the angels of God,  who are doing the business of God and carrying messages from God.  And God will not or cannot stop the demons from attacking his angels.  But when they do attack,  God is able to send enough reinforcements to defeat the demons in that specific battle…..  just as God was able to  “throw them down to the Earth”  in that original battle,  defeating Satan and one-third of the angels in Heaven.

We are not told whether the prince of Grecia  (Greece)  is a demon prince or an angel prince.  However,  only the demon princes are associated with a territory,  while the angels are not.  My guess is that it is another demon prince,  coming to attack the angel and / or Daniel.  But the speaking angel ends by referring to the archangel Micheal as  “Michael your prince”,  signifying perhaps that Michael has been assigned the protection of Daniel against the demon prince of Grecia.

This is an interesting signifier of Michael,  is it not?  Here Daniel is told to regard the archangel Michael as his prince,  assuming a large role in Daniel’s life and faith.  Should we be doing the same thing?  I think perhaps we should.  Michael is mentioned elsewhere in the Bible,  as a champion of God battling forces of evil.  Should we all regard Michael as our angelic prince,  just a little below God?  Should we all be asking God to send Michael and other angels to protect us against unseen demonic attacks,  that ruin our lives?  I will be including this request in my prayers,  from now on.

To summarize,  In this remarkable story,  Daniel has become the focus of a great battle between powerful,  high-ranking angels and demons.  The demons are referred to as being a  “prince of Persia”  and  “prince of Grecia”,  meaning that they are higher demons,  having seized demonic control over specific human kingdoms.  Like earthly predators,  they carve out territories for themselves,  defeating any rivals that stand in their way.  These higher demons are able to fight and delay two angels,  including the archangel Michael,  for 21 days,  keeping the angels from doing an important assignment from God.  For me,  this is the most important point of the story.  It gives us insight into the real spiritual nature of the universe.

It is a story of warfare;  a story of attacks,  counter-attacks,  reinforcements,  retreats,  and re-engagement.  Angels are at risk;  they can be delayed,  perhaps even defeated,  perhaps even harmed,  if the demonic enemy concentrates enough force in  a certain time and place.

In this story of Daniel,  a supposedly omnipotent God allows demons to attack his messenger angel,  and then God has to send his archangel Michael to help.  God and his most powerful angel are thwarted and  “stalemated”  for 21 days,  by demons who God and Michael have already thrown out of heaven,  long ago.  We should ask here,  why are these demons still so powerful,  and what would have happened if God did not send his archangel Michael to help the first angel?  Would the first angel have been defeated or destroyed?…..  very likely.  Would the first angel have reached Daniel to deliver his important message from God?…..  probably not.

We should also ask here,  how many times must the same evil enemies be defeated? God already threw them out of heaven.  Then God defeated Satan again,  in the Book of Job.  What these demons did in Biblical days,  in the Book of Job, in the Book of Daniel,  in the Book of Mark when Jesus cast out demons,  they are still doing.  If they can still attack angels,  if they can still influence bad people to kill,  if they can still  “possess”  people,  if they can still torment good people,  then they are not yet truly defeated.  But they should have been truly defeated in the first and greatest battle with them,  when God was forced to  “throw them down to the Earth”.   How much more destruction will they cause,  how much more misery will they spread,  how many more murders will they commit,  before they are finally stopped?

Given the current dismal state of affairs in our communities,  in our country,  in our world,  with people being robbed,  raped,  tortured,  murdered,  blown out of the sky,  burned alive and beheaded every day…..  the fallen angels,  who became demons,  are causing and will cause a great deal more destruction,  misery,  and murder.  The Bible says that God will someday defeat them  and throw them into prison,  but God please forgive me,  I really must see that happen before I truly believe it.  Right now,  and for all of human history,  evil angels and evil humans are able to attack,  destroy our property,  and kill us at will.  It is up to God to prove to us that he can stop them.

Meanwhile,  the story of Daniel is clear evidence,  in the scriptures themselves,  that God is not omnipotent.  If he were omnipotent,  why would he allow demons to attack and delay his angels on their Godly mission,  for 21 days?  And remember,  where there is a fight,  where there is a war,  neither opponent is omnipotent,  and the outcome is uncertain.  This is clear evidence,  in the scriptures,  that the forces of God and the forces of Satan are more evenly matched than is believed by orthodox religion.  It is also clear evidence that the forces of God can prevail in single conflicts,  even when forces escalate on both sides.  So God is the superior entity,  but Satan and his forces are powerful enough to force God into a general stalemate for thousands of years of human history,  and that dismal stalemate continues today,  and we all suffer greatly from it.

This story in the book of Daniel,  along with the story of Job,  the story of the Exodus,  the story of Jesus casting out demons,  the story of God casting Satan out of heaven before the birth of humanity…..  these scriptures and others have a common theme that shouts to me the limited nature of God,  and the tragic stalemate the world is in,  indeed that the universe is in.

There are two crucial lessons here,  that people can benefit from,  that the God-human relationship would benefit from.  First,  because of God’s limited nature,  he is not to be blamed  (as he is generally blamed)  for the crimes of evil angels or evil humans,  nor for all of the natural disasters that devastate our planet.  He can focus energy and resources to cause specific things to happen,  he can create life, and set large cosmic and planetary systems in motion,  but he cannot prevent all crimes and disasters.  Second,  and most important,  he needs our help more than we can imagine,  especially from his followers.  Far more than wanting our love and passive obedience,  God needs our aggressive help in resisting,  battling and defeating evil humans,  just as God needed the angels’ help in defeating the demon prince of Persia and delivering his message to Daniel.  The angels could not have done it without God’s  help,  and God could not have done it without the angels’ help.  That is why the episode played out as it was reported by the angel to Daniel.  If that is the way it happened,  then it could not have happened any other way.  If that is the way it happened,  this story gives us key parameters to understanding the spiritual landscape and battlefield,  understanding the reality of spiritual warfare.

You should give much thought to this,  before you dismiss it.  If this episode in the the Book of Daniel is dismissed as merely a  ‘vision’  or a  ‘parable’,  and not a real occurrence,  then every story in the Bible can be so dismissed.  This is what believers do,  when they are confronted with uncomfortable episodes in the scriptures.  They dismiss them as a dream,  a vision,  a parable.  Or get this,  they dismiss them as a great ‘mystery’ of faith.  They throw out vital scriptures that teach vital lessons.  They ignore the fact that we are provided important clues in the scriptures,  to help solve the great mysteries of faith.

A third lesson is that the defeat of evil,  such as these demon princes and their great influence on humanity,  will be a mutual task that will require the active aggression of every good human and angel,  acting under the guidance and protection of God. We can all be soldiers in God’s army,  but most of his flock act more like bleating sheep,  and run from any danger,  or meekly endure it,  as many teachings do advise us to do.  It could be that those teachings have been over-emphasized,  doing harm by the weakening of goodness and the strengthening of evil.

But orthodox preachers and teachers will not see these lessons,  nor consider such a possibility,  because these lessons do not agree with the orthodox agenda.  Preachers endlessly analyze the two chapters of prophecy delivered to Daniel by the angel,  but they mostly ignore the great difficulties and perils that the angels encountered,  attacked by demons,  producing 21 days of stalemate,  in delivering that prophecy.

The two subjects,  the prophecy and perils of its delivery,  are vitally linked,  and we were given them together for a reason.  We should not consider one,  without the other.

Stalemate is Not Desirable,  Nor Intentional

In a chess match or any other conflict,  a stalemate is not what either side desires or intends.  It is an undesirable outcome that the weaker side forces the stronger side into.  Consider the casting out of Satan from heaven,  the casting out of demons by Jesus,  the battle of angels and demons in the Book of Daniel,  or any other conflict with fallen angels or demons.  The fallen angels or demons are never disabled,  never neutralized,  never terminated as sources of trouble.  They are merely dislodged,  displaced, and  forced to find new victims.  But there are always plenty of new victims to be found.  This is a state of perpetual stalemate,  and it is horrible.  It cannot be intentional,  on either side.  On the side of God or goodness,  a  “stalemate”  strategy,  or allowing endless stalemates to occur,  makes no sense  from a logical,  moral,  strategic,  or tactical viewpoint.  Saving victims here,  while endangering other victims there…..  this is very ineffective,  not to mention frustrating.   It would be like arming our military with only non-lethal devices like stun guns or tear gas.  We can stun the enemy or force them to retreat,  only to have them revive or re-locate to attack elsewhere.  Non-lethal power is focused to save people in one area,  only to have other areas attacked,  without reducing the capabilities of the enemy.  This results in never-ending war,  with no true victory possible.

Or,  it would be like having a house infested with cockroaches.  The homeowner sprays the house with non-lethal bug spray,  which forces all the roaches to scamper about,  and then pass out,  lying upside-down with legs quivering on the floor.  The homeowner then gets his broom and sweeps all the roaches out of the house,  thinking that he has accomplished something.  And he has won a temporary,  localized victory.  But soon the roaches revive,  and either creep back into his house,  or into the neighbor’s house.  Now,  roaches are dirty and disgusting,  but they do not sting.  With evil forces,  instead of roaches,  the pests are more like hornets,  scorpions or rattlesnakes. Can you imagine ejecting swarms of still-alive hornets and scorpions and snakes from your house,  and what your neighbors would think of this strategy?

Just imagine a new product on the shelves,  next to all the lethal bug sprays,  that advertises “Knock em out,  Sweep em out,  Let em live”,  with pictures of roaches,  hornets and scorpions.  It might appeal to the more extreme environmental and pacifist fools in society,  but sales would be extremely limited.  And if you used such a product,  you would face the rightful anger of your neighbors.  You have cleared your house of pests or enemies,  but only by forcing them to move into the neighbors’ houses.  Just as God did when Satan and his angels were ejected from heaven and  “thrown down to the Earth”…..  just as Jesus did when he ejected the legion of demons from the man into the herd of pigs.  The pigs did not deserve to be driven to their death by demons,  and the owner of the pigs lost his property.  Then,  the next human victims of those demons did not deserve to be attacked by demons,  all the way up to the present day.

But this is all that God seems to be able to do,  in most cases,  when dealing with non-human forces of evil,  and also when dealing with evil humans,  who may be protected by evil non-human forces.  Evil entities are purged or defeated in one place,  only to move to another place and attack again.  On the spiritual battleground,  God may eventually win a real victory,  but only after millions of years of struggle,  and after thousands of years of misery,  destruction,  and war on this planet.  This  “stalemate”  strategy makes no sense…..  unless …..  power is limited.

So,  in human history and in the Bible,  it seems that the reality of the struggle between God and evil goes something like this:

God is love in some cosmic sense,  but that love does not embrace destructive,  predatory evil.  God clearly hates evil and evil-doers.  He tells us so in many ways,  in many religious writings.  Also in religious writings,  God dictates laws against evil and punishments of evil-doers.  Some of them are punishments that we are to carry out,  as in Genesis 9:6 above.  Or in many other scriptures,  God promises to protect the good and punish the evil.  But God usually does not or cannot destroy evil-doers,  and usually he cannot stop them from their predatory acts of abuse and destruction,  especially if they are leaders.  Examples of this are legion,  exceptions are few.  In the Bible,  the best example is the story of God sending his loyal angels to fight a war against Satan and his rebellious angels,  ejecting them from heaven,  but not killing them and not being able to stop their evil elsewhere  (this is not said,  but it is abundantly evident by what happens next,  in the rest of the Biblical timeline).  In the story of Exodus,  God did not attack or kill Pharaoh directly,  even though Pharaoh was keeping the Hebrews enslaved,  after they had been enslaved for generations.  God makes many promises to protect his followers from evil enemies,  or is attributed such promises by his followers,  but then he largely fails to do so.

The greater the power of an evil man like Pharaoh,  or an evil spirit like Satan,  the lesser the chances that the powers of goodness  (including God,  especially God)  will stop him from murder and destruction.  This is an observable fact of human history and current events,  and it is Exhibit 1 against the omnipotence of God.  Most of the confusing stories in the Bible,  some of which I mentioned above,  become very clear if we stop demanding that God be omnipotent,  if we accept the far more realistic idea that God has very real limits;  limits  that produce stories that are described in the Bible by human writers,  while not being understood by those human writers.  Now,  after those writings,  with thousands of years of tragic human experience to analyze,  in the historical record,  we can come closer to understanding the limits of God.  Even if Satan is a myth,  the stubborn persistence and power of human evil gives the same result.

God created us,  and he loves us,  and he hates evil,  but he will not or cannot stop an evil man from murdering you or me.  He will not or cannot stop evil predatory leaders of nations from enslaving their own people,  or from attacking,  enslaving or destroying other nations.  The logical and moral conclusion is that God is not able to stop them,  except perhaps in rare cases where factors converge to enable it.

 

Back to Pearl Harbor

So we should be very grateful for all the crucial help God gave us in the  “lucky”  circumstances of the attack on Pearl Harbor.  I sincerely thank God for that incredible help,  as everyone in America should thank God.  But we should also see the indicators that suggest that this was not the hand of an omnipotent God,  but a God who has limits,  and who performs brilliantly within those limits.  I am in awe of the chain of beneficial consequences that Admiral Nimitz pointed out in his narrative above,  that he was in a unique position to observe. Nimitz brilliantly points out the errors of the Japanese,  which were obvious to him in hindsight,  and attributes them to the influence of God,  but he does not offer any opinion as to the metaphysical details of that influence.

This is a separate puzzle to solve…..  how did the bold,  ruthless and clever Japanese commanders fail to finish their mission,  and fail to destroy the fuel, repair,  and submarine facilities,  failing to destroy the ability of the American Fleet to fight back?  How did God bring their  “errors”  into being,  without violating the Japanese commanders’ precious  “free will”,  which is regarded as sacred and inviolable in orthodox Christian doctrine?  If God concealed things from the commanders,  or directed their attention elsewhere,  or caused them to forget things,  this could be considered a serious violation of their  “free will”,  which would cause huge headaches for Christian theologians.  It causes no problems for me,  because I think there is a universal moral principle that evil people who destroy others forfeit their right to any  “free will”,  in the first act of destruction,  and it becomes the obligation of others to take their  “free will”  away from them,  by any means including killing,  to stop further destruction.  I do not think God has any great concern for the  “free will”  of evil people.

Admiral Nimitz did not wish to walk where angels fear to tread,  so to speak,  and he did not concern himself with such prickly details of how God brought about the  “errors”  of the Japanese commanders.  He could see the bigger picture,  and perhaps he alone could see the larger battle being played out on the vast physical and spiritual chessboard,  that was the conflict we call World War II.  He saw the traces of God’s hand.

The Allied forces did not win that war on their own.  We won it only with the help of God,  who was doing secret things to help us,  and to hinder our stronger enemies,  without regard for preserving  “free will”.  But an omnipotent God could have,  would have,  and should have,  prevented the conflicts from becoming a “World War” in the first place.  For an omnipotent God,  the loving creator and father of us all,  preventing the tremendous evil, horror, and destruction of a “World War” should be at the top of his “to do” list.

 

Japanese Adventures in China:  The Rape of Nanking

We should be even more grateful for the limited help of a limited God at Pearl Harbor,  when we realize that other victims of the murderous Japanese Imperial forces did not receive such brilliant divine help.  In 1931,  ten years before Pearl Harbor,  the Japanese Army invaded China and swept the weaker Chinese Army before them like loose debris.

They routinely committed atrocities against the defeated Chinese,  torturing them,  slaughtering them,  using them for slave labor.  They conducted deadly biological experiments on Chinese prisoners in concentration camps.  They did all this in China,  just as the Nazis would do it 10 years later with the Jews in Europe.  They considered the Chinese to be inferior and wanted to exterminate them,  just as the Nazis considered the Jews to be inferior and wanted to exterminate them.  God did not prevent the Nazis from killing 6 million Jews,  and God did not prevent the Japanese from killing at least 4 million Chinese civilians.  Some researchers place the numbers of victims much higher.

Nanking was the capital of a Chinese province in 1937,  when the Japanese Army conquered it,  after defeating the resisting Chinese Army units.  The Jap generals decided to make an example of the city,  and ordered all the inhabitants to be killed.  They did not succeed in this horrifying goal,  but they tried,  and in 2 months they tortured and killed perhaps 400,000 people,  most of them peaceful civilians. They likened the Chinese to animals and insects to be exterminated,  and took the opportunity to “harden” their troops to cruelty and killing. Rape-of-nanking-cover

The Japanese soldiers shot,  bayoneted,  beheaded,  mutilated and burned their victims. They made a sport out of brutal killing.  Japanese officers competed to see how many Chinese they could decapitate with their swords.  Some Japanese troops lined up Chinese civilians front to back,  and then fired a rifle into the front victim in the line,  to see how many Chinese people a single bullet would kill.  The troops were encouraged to rape women and girls,  and were instructed that if women and girls were raped,  they must then be killed,  lest they bear a Japanese child.  Many were literally raped to death,  from loss of blood after their vagina ruptured.  Others were disemboweled after rape,  or nailed alive to a wall,  or had their breasts sliced off.  Others were roasted alive.  Some troops would capture a pregnant woman,  make bets as to whether the baby was a boy or a girl,  and then cut the baby out of the woman to settle their bets.

The vicious Japanese in Nanking made ISIS look like amateurs in savage killing.  This mass slaughter is perhaps the worst known single atrocity in human history,  or at least the best documented.  And it was not done in secret,  at the time.  Japanese newspapers back in Japan reported the rising death toll with pride and glee,  and reported the rising death count of specific Japanese officers,  so the Japanese people were informed.  Westerners in the city did their best to save as many Chinese as they could,  and sent frantic cries for help to their home countries.  Other countries,  including America,  stood by and protested the brutal atrocity,  but did nothing to stop it or counter it or punish Japan for it.

And God,  omnipotent or not,  did nothing to prevent it or stop it. Iris_Chang

Iris Chang heard about this horrific atrocity from her Chinese grandparents,  and began to study it.  When Iris Chang published a well-researched book about this greatest atrocity in 2001,  “The Rape of Nanking: The Forgotten Holocaust of World War II”,  she was actually accused of fabricating the tale and slandering the Japanese.  She received hate mail and death threats.

Incredibly,  some Japanese politicians denounced her as a liar and denied that the atrocities ever happened.  Finally, they gave a vague admission that unfortunate things happened and some Japanese soldiers did bad things.  When they should have issued apologies and separated themselves from their evil past,  they added a new moral outrage to the disgrace of their nation.  They take the evil of their fathers upon themselves,  and perhaps show us their true colors.  Perhaps the Japanese culture is still capable of such evil,  if they will not acknowledge it in detail and denounce it.

Then,  to add another victim to the rape of Nanking,  adding tragedy to tragedy,  Iris Chang could not take the abuse she was getting from writing her important book,  and she allegedly committed suicide in 2004.  A suicide note was found that said she was being hounded by unknown people following her,  and tampering with her mail.  She suspected it was the CIA or other government forces.  She felt that they would not stop until they had destroyed her. After her tragic death,  the people of Nanking erected a statue of Iris Chang to honor her work on their behalf.

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Statue of American author Iris Chang in Nanking, China

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This is a tale of crushing tragedy,  starting with the pure evil of the Japanese government and military in the 1930’s,  continuing with the denial and anger of the Japanese politicians,  and ending with the harassment and death of Iris Chang in 2004,  who simply reported it to the world.  In this case,  the world did  “kill the messenger”,  because the world did not like the truth of the message.

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No Possible Benefit from the Unjust Slaughter at Nanking

So we in America should be even more grateful for the brilliant divine help we received at Pearl Harbor,  and in the rest of World War II,  when we realize that others did not receive such help.  The city of Nanking lost about 100 times the number of people we lost at Pearl Harbor.  It is hard to even imagine the attack at Pearl Harbor repeated 100 times,  but with the addition of Japanese troops on the ground,  committing brutal murder of civilians and sadistic torture,  thrown into the mix.

Why didn’t the pitiful,  defenseless victims of Nanking get some metaphysical protection,  like was given at Pearl Harbor?

Someone may suggest that they were in some way less deserving of God’s help,  or of the wrong religion,  but I will not entertain any such suggestions….. that is descending down toward the attitude of the Japanese butchers themselves.  Another may suggest that God allowed the Chinese to suffer this hellish atrocity to teach them something, or to toughen them…..  that somehow there was a shred of benefit from allowing the demonic Japanese troops to torture them and slaughter them.  For those who died,  the lesson was a bit too intense.  Even for those who survived,  scarred for life,  I will not entertain such a false rationalization.  The only lesson of value they could have learned from this genocide was the need to attack the Japanese with every shred of energy in their soul,  with their bare hands if necessary,  and to kill the Japanese monsters as they died,  instead of cowering like sheep at the slaughterhouse.

But God does not teach this lesson of violent resistance through the orthodox religions.  The orthodox religions all teach pacifist doctrines,  to leave justice to God or karma.  These pacifist doctrines of all religions are very wrong,  because they concede victory to predatory evil.  Neither God nor karma were offering any resistance to the Japanese,  or any help to the Chinese,  and it is absurd to suggest that either the Japanese or the Chinese could learn anything beneficial from this unjust slaughter.  So I will not entertain any suggestion of God  “allowing”  this unjust slaughter for any reason,  if he had any power to prevent it or stop it.

In the present massive atrocities of ISIS,  there is no possible benefit from  “allowing”  these Islamic monsters to murder the followers of every other religion,  and to spread a vicious tyrannical form of Islam throughout the world.  They are pure evil,  wearing a holy mask of religion,  and there is no possible benefit in  “allowing”  them any shred of success.

For that matter,  there was no possible benefit from  “allowing”  the unjust attack on Pearl Harbor,  either.  Tell me,  how were the 3800 dead Americans supposed to learn or benefit from this,  if their single mortal life was taken from them,  and their souls were then shuffled away for an eternity in heaven or hell?  If God had any more ability to oppose the attack,  than the ability he exercised in the Japanese  “errors”  that Admiral Nimitz described,  then he was negligent to be holding back that ability.

So I will entertain the possibility of limits to what can be done by metaphysical beings,  in the physical world we live in.  It is painfully obvious that the metaphysical help humans receive from God is severely limited,  and therefore God must be limited,  in some way that we do not know or understand.  In addition to wars,  this occurs to me every time there is a major natural disaster,  like a hurricane,  tornado,  earthquake or tsunami.

The Final Suggestion of this Cosmic Lesson

Far from criticizing or attacking God,  this is a realization that could bring us closer to God.  When the possibility of limits is considered,  those of us who believe in God should be even more grateful for the help we do receive,  and we should realize that he needs our help more than we have imagined.  Instead of sitting back and throwing a temper tantrum,  being angry that God has allowed evil people and natural disasters to kill millions in horrible ways,  we should pitch in and do more to defend and protect people from wars and disasters;  do more to help the surviving victims;  realizing that maybe God is doing all that he can do,  and is holding nothing back,  and desperately needs our help.

A limited God would deserve even more love, respect, devotion, loyalty and worship from us,  his created beings.  His love may be unlimited,  but his power might be limited,  and that would be a great enlightenment and liberation for us.  We would not blame him for “allowing” all the evils,  all the disasters,  all the wars that destroy us.  We would come to understand better the tragedies that befall us,  that he cannot prevent.  We would come to understand his suffering,  when he sees us being tormented in this world,  and he cannot stop it.  We would be in awe of all he has been able to create and accomplish,  without being omnipotent,  without knowing all that will happen to us.  We would know that he suffers when we suffer,  he cries when we cry,  he rejoices at our joy,  he is proud when we gain wisdom,  just like our earthly fathers and mothers.

Indeed,  Jesus taught that we should address God as “Abba”,  which is roughly translated as an affectionate term for father,  like “daddy”.  We know all the limits and obstacles our earthly fathers face,  and know all that they sacrifice to provide for us,  because they love us,  but they cannot protect us from everything,  and that puts great meaning into the affectionate term “daddy”.  Jesus wanted us to apply all of that earthly sentiment concerning our earthly fathers to God. But God does not protect us from most harm,  and this may be evidence of God’s limits.  Our earthly fathers may be able to protect us from some harm even better than God,  in some cases.

Concerning the attack on Pearl Harbor,  God could not stop it from happening,  but he did turn its evil to work for the good,  with all the events of extremely good luck for the American forces,  and all the “errors” of the Japanese forces,  as Admiral Nimitz explained above.  In this article,  I have explained my view of God’s actions at Pearl Harbor,  in all of history,  and in the Bible,  as being understandable only if God is limited and not omnipotent.  But theologians will turn this topic into a discussion of  “free will”  and how God grants it unconditionally to all of us.  In their view,  God is unlimited and omnipotent, but he grants us all an unlimited  “free will”,  in this earthly life.  According to orthodox religious doctrine,  an omnipotent God severely limits himself by granting all of us our  “free will”  to live our lives as we choose,  whether for good or evil,  to be rewarded or punished in the afterlife.  I have explained how this doctrine makes no moral or logical sense,  and should be viewed as morally irresponsible and grossly negligent.

Theologians raise  “free will”  to a sacred status,  that God will not violate,  even if we use our  “free will”  to destroy everything.  This is the only way they can explain all the evil and tragedy in the world,  and still argue for an omnipotent God.  But it is a very poor argument,  as I explained in the last article of this blog.  https://goldenmeantx.wordpress.com/2014/04/20/a-different-easter-celebration-jesus-with-a-whip/    In that article,  scroll down to the section  “Free Will VS. Permissive Inaction”.  What if the  “free will”  argument only hints at the whole truth?  What if it is only a crude distortion of the whole truth?  What if it is the cover story for a larger truth that we do not want to face?  What if our obsession with  “free will”  is merely a manifestation of human selfishness and stubbornness,  and not a loving gift from an omnipotent God?  It is something to seriously consider.

But in considering that,  you must also consider the need to take on a great deal more personal responsibility yourself,  in countering the evils of this world.  And that would be a worthwhile consideration,  even for an atheist or agnostic,  regardless of any consideration of God.

If you have read this far into my article,  after having read all of it,  I welcome you,  and I know,  as if we were soulmates,  that you will empathize with this expression of one of my basic messages :

When does violence become morally justified,  if ever?  That is a crucial question,  which has been debated for thousands of years,  and here is my answer,  in the form of a paradox…..  VIOLENCE BECOMES JUSTIFIED AGAINST THE VIOLENT.   When a person,  or a spirit,  or an angel,  becomes violent for any reason other than the basic need to survive…..  when a person becomes a dominating,  manipulative tyrant,  disrupting the lives of everyone around them…..  or when an angel in heaven became resentful of God and rebellious,  and could not be returned to reason…..  when destruction or domination or predation becomes the goal of any entity…..  when any such entity has the intent and power to commit unjust violence,  and begins that violence…..  THAT is the precise moment when violence becomes justified against the violent.  That is when the stopping of the destroyer becomes the imperative moral goal,  the duty,  the responsibility of anyone in contact with the destroyer,  and the destroyer must be opposed by all means,  for the common good.  The initiator of predatory violence brings a righteous violence upon himself.  This moral principle is more important than any of the Ten Commandments….. in the Bible,  it precedes the Ten Commandments  (see Genesis 9:6).  This is a natural moral imperative that must be obeyed,  or else evil and deception will rule…..  just as they have ruled for almost all of human history.  This is a law that has been broken,  ignored,  misinterpreted and denounced for thousands of years,  to the great shame and disgrace of the human race. 

That exact message was given at the beginning of this article,  but I have covered so much religious and philosophical grounds,  that some readers will not have realized the possible truth and value of this message,  until after reading the entire article.  So I have repeated that imperative message here,  to give more victims of evil the chance to stop being victims,  to stop believing the religious and philosophical propaganda that focuses only on  “love”  and  “peace”,  which is incomplete and crippled,  therefore wrong and harmful.  It is my hope and intent that more victims of evil will emerge from their cocoons,  and step forward as volunteers,  as active participants in the war against evil,  which rages around us at all times.

One of my favorite Bible verses is a plea to God for help :  “Rescue the poor and the needy;  deliver them out of the hands of the wicked.”  — Psalm 82:4.  But this could just as well be God’s plea to us for help,  God’s command for us to fight the wicked and rescue their victims.  Moral principles like this are universal….. binding to God,  binding to us,  binding us to each other in moral harmony.   God is already doing all he can against the wicked,  and still the wicked are seizing and controlling much of our world.  He needs our help.

So,  the proper question is….. are you and I doing all we can against the wicked?  The proper answer is…..  we are not….. and that should cause us great shame….. but sadly,  it does not seem to cause us any shame at all.  We are too busy with our own self-centered interests,  too busy making a living,  too busy with our family,  too busy having some fun.  Those few who recognize the wicked,  will focus on avoiding the wicked,  instead of attacking them to stop their crimes.  There is a  widespread basic moral failure to attack the wicked and rescue their many victims.  We are too busy with the affairs of our own lives,  to trouble ourselves with the victims of the wicked…..  until we ourselves become victims of the wicked,  and then it is too late….. just as it was too late for the 3800 American dead at Pearl Harbor,  and too late for the 400,000 Chinese dead at Nanking,  and too late for the Christians who are being murdered every day in Iraq and Syria by the wicked monsters of ISIS.

We are not all willing or able to actively fight the wicked,  but we should all support those who are willing and able to fight the wicked,  on all fronts,  local and global.  We should support the fighters,  instead of condemning them,  or condemning their mission.  Yet that is what many  “progressive”  radical liberal pacifists do to our warriors,  and they are sadly gaining the majority in America.

I will end with a quote from Admiral Nimitz,  that noble warrior who defeated the wicked Japanese forces,  who saved millions of people from death or slavery,  which summarizes all he learned at Pearl Harbor and in the rest of World War II :

“God grant me the courage not to give up what I think is right,  even though I think it is hopeless.”    .     .     .     .    – – five star Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz,  commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet in World War II

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The Golden Rule Needs Some Iron

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I have been working steadily on this blog post,  and it has a lot of new material.  New pics, new book references, new philosophical arguments.  So I thought it was time to re-blog it.  Click on “view original” below the pics…..  but before you do that…..

I issue a 1-MINUTE CHALLENGE.  Can you spare just 1 minute for your own self-improvement,  for a step toward a better life, and a better world?  That is what philosophy can do for you.  Spend just 1 minute browsing the graphics below,  find one that interests you,  and go read the text surrounding that graphic.  It is my hope that you will find encouragement and inspiration in what you read,  and that you will want to read more of the blog.  If you have a blog,  leave a link in the comments,  so I and others can find our way to it.  Thanks!!

JACOBS-LADDER-with-angelsOnly Racists Oppose My DictatorshipScene_at_the_Signing_of_the_Constitution_of_the_United_StatesA Theory of Justice by John RawlsBernie Madoff - Master Swindler with wife

Socrates takes hemlock poison

Socrates takes hemlock poison

Solomon's wisdom of the baby

Solomon’s wisdom of the baby

Green aura

Green aura

Red aura

Red aura

Blue aura

Blue aura

Paul Harveyforward_sticker_rectangleRadicals by David Horowitzyuan_100_fMao leading peasants attackPETA ad reducing woman to animalIngrid NewkirkLion eats lambLooking for Spinozasavethechildren 060907The Third Jesus by Deepak ChopraThe problem of evil womanth_drill-sergeantIRAQ PRISONER ABUSELord of the Rings poster

Plato and Aristotle at The Academy

Plato and Aristotle at The Academy

th_arbeit_macht_frei 1prisoners1black-hole-swallows-star_36618_600x450The Golden Rule by Norman RockwellWithout Conscience by Robert Hareth_George-Zimmerman-Wanted-Poster-2

goldenmeantx

 

If you would like to contact me about this article, without leaving a comment for all to see,  then please use this contact form.  I look forward to your input.  Thanks.

Date last revised:  25 October 2014

Some readers will think this writing is too long, some will utterly reject its ideas, some will consider it heretical, in either a religious or political way.  But other readers will learn something useful from this writing, and some will be encouraged that there is a writer who has a view of this issue that is similar to their own, and who had the courage to “put it out there” where anyone can read it.  But that is about the limits of my courage, which may sound the trumpet-call of retreat at any moment.  So read this piece while it is still here….. it may disappear at any time.  For that matter…

View original post 36,997 more words

Christmas Lights Gone Crazy

Last weekend, I took my family for a drive around town to look at the Christmas lights on people’s houses,  and we saw some very nice ones,  but we did not see anything like this.  This is completely incredible and over the top….. can you imagine having this next door to you…..OMG….. where are my earplugs….

FYI,  this song “Gangnam Style” by Korean pop-singer PSY has set the record for most-viewed on Youtube, recently passing the 1-billion mark….. but it has nothing to do with Christmas….. what were these people thinking….. this is a perfect example of mindless sensuous extravagance….. which is the point of “Gangnam Style”…..  somehow I actually like it….. but not for Christmas!!  These people are competing in a Christmas light contest to win $10,000.  They are begging for votes on Youtube and Facebook.   I will not give them a vote, but I will give them a break, because in other videos, their gawdy lights blink to “Joy To The World” and “Amazing Grace”.  However, they could have left out  “Gangnam Style”….. and we would not miss it.  But the damage is done, and this video has attracted world-wide attention, with about 3 million views already.  The owners say that reporters from all over the world have appeared at their house in Cedar Park, Texas…..

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The irony of that video is amazing.  The song is making fun, in Korean language, of rich people doing senseless, extravagant things, and that is exactly what these people did with their Christmas lights.  They do not know or care,  but the song they are blaring out of speakers is making fun of them!  Their house would have fit right in, as a crazy scene in the song video, with PSY galloping in front of it, LOL….. and the people in the house would probably love that, but it has nothing to do with the meaning of Christmas.

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For those who have not been following this crazy song, and the controversies surrounding it, even involving President Obama, here is the official PSY video….. click on the title and check out the number of views:

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If I were to build an extravagant Christmas light display,  and then play non-Christmas songs with it,  this is much more to my liking….. at least it is patriotic….. and honoring all 4 branches of our brave military, who have fought tyranny and defended freedom all over the world….. something which  PSY brutally condemned in a disgusting video in 2004….. he sung for the torturing and killing of our soldiers and their families….. our troops died in the Korean War to give this PSY-cho the freedom to condemn us…..  PSY is such a scumbag,  but that is another story…..

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And here is a delightful synchronized display involving 13 different houses on a street with an actual Christmas song….. Merry Christmas!!

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Racing in Thailand

As I wrote in the last article, on my trip to Thailand, I introduced the Thai folks to some good ol’ American-style car racing!!  Not real cars, of course, but slot cars and go-karts. When I was a kid, I raced slot cars at a big racing center, won a few organized races, and got free track time for every ‘A’ on my school report card. When I was raising my son, I found another slot car center with a big track, and we raced together weekly. For this trip to Thailand, I spent almost $300 on 3 different HO-scale AFX slot car track kits in Texas, crammed them into a big suitcase, and flew them to Thailand with us.  I also had to buy voltage converters for the power packs.  This gave me a good project to do over there, and I knew all our Thai friends and family would love it, because everyone loves slot cars, whether they know it or not! They have never seen or heard of slot cars, and most of them couldn’t afford it anyway, so this would be a real treat for them. My wife told them I was bringing little race cars (lot kang nit noy), and they assumed it was something for kids. They could not know the fun that was in store for them, as I knew.

Setting up the track took a lot of work. First, I had brother-in-law Dang (the same gentleman who cut the corner off the spirit-house slab in the last article) build a plywood table for the track. Thai people sit on the floor a lot, and I took advantage of that, making the table about 18 inches tall. This put the track at chest level, when sitting on the floor, and I didn’t have to provide chairs.  Dang did a great job.  Once he had the table built, my work began. I opened up the 3 track kits and put together the longest track I could, with 4 lanes. Turned out I couldn’t use all the track pieces I brought, but the extra cars and controllers came in very handy. With a custom track, the geometry didn’t work exactly right, and I had to nail the pieces to the table to keep them from popping apart. After 2 day’s work, this is what my track looked like. It might not look like much, but I had 4 lanes, 8 controllers, and 8 race cars ready for action,  for the Thai racers to choose from:

Slot car track finished

Before I opened the track for business, I examined the race cars. About 3 inches long, they were a marvel of engineering genius. Since I raced these cars as a kid, I observed the advancements made since then. These new cars had more power, angular slot pins, and magnets to help keep the car on the track at faster speeds. The car bodies were a work of art, with detailed Lemans and Formula 1 styles.   I tested the track, and ran all the cars on it. Some cars were faster than others, and some ran better on certain lanes, and I made mental notes of all this. This custom track had about 28 linear feet per lap, and these cars could make a lap in about 3 seconds.  HO scale is 1/64, so for that scale the track was about a third of a mile, and the cars were zipping around at scale speeds almost 400 MPH!! This translates into a quarter-mile time of about 2.5 seconds. A  full-size top fuel dragster makes the quarter-mile in 4.4 seconds, crossing the line at 335 MPH, so these little cars are really flying!! And if you don’t let off for the curves, they will truly fly, off the track and into the wall. Get 4 people racing at the same time, and this is a formula for great fun!! (sanook mahk!!)

A 10-year-old neighbor kid named Jing-Jong had heard I was bringing some kind of race cars, and he couldn’t wait to try them. He hung around until the track was finished, and I showed him how to run the cars. At first, he wouldn’t let off for the curves properly, and his car was flying off 3 or 4 times per lap. I showed him how to run some fast laps without crashing, and he slowly got the hang of it. He tried every car, and like me, discovered that some were better than others. He picked out the fastest car, and acted like he owned it.

Fern and Jing-Jong....

....clowning around

Ladies from the bank....

....having great fun!!

Soon everyone was trying out the track, and they all loved it. I took some photos, but this is less than half of the people who ran the cars. After a couple of days, we announced that we would hold races, and the winner would get a crisp new American 1-dollar bill (worth 30 Thai baht). We had gotten a $100 bundle of new Washingtons from the bank back home. That night, the real fun began. I did not race, but acted as sponsor and referee. I could have won most of the races, but I wanted my Thai friends to have fun, learn about racing for themselves, and have a better chance to win. In practice time, everyone was crashing a lot, and everyone was helping everyone else put the cars back on the track. Before we started the races, I announced, through my wife, that the races would be 20 laps. We also announced that when they crashed, everyone had to put their cars back on the track themselves, with NO HELP (MY CHUAY). I thought this would make them be more careful and drive better, but…….  no.  What it did was add chaos to the fun, with everyone running around the table every few seconds, when they crashed at the far end or on the other side.

Start your engines

Racing, crashing...

...reaching, running

There was also lots of yelling, because when people put their cars back on the track, the car in next lane would hit their fat fingers and crash. Then another person was running around the table, with the first person running back to his controller, and they almost ran into each other! It was hilarious!!  Everyone was smiling and laughing, non-stop. Jing-Jong added more chaos, because when his car crashed, he would lay his controller down so that the wire was on the track, and more cars would crash on that! His name was very popular.

But Jing-Jong won a lot of the races, because he had practiced the most, and he knew which car was the fastest. The other folks noticed this, but we all let him race the fast car, because he was the youngest and he was enjoying it so much. He was also enjoying all the dollar bills he was collecting…..

Joy helps Jing-Jong count $$

I'M RICH!!!

My other “racing”  goal was to take Thai people to a go-kart track, to drive real racing machines on a real track. There are no tracks in our area of Thailand, but I have driven karts when we went to Phuket in the south. This time, we rented a van and took a total of 10 people to Chiang Mai, in the mountains of north Thailand. I knew there was a go-kart track there, and I did some research and had the locations of 2 of them. The van driver knew about another one. He called that one and said no answer. I had the phone number of a second one, but not the third one. I gave him the phone number I had, he called it and said out of service. I was very bummed out…..  I was about to be deprived of my fun.

Thank goodness I had bought a plug-in internet “air card” that you plug into the USB port of your laptop for 3G internet. It is slow, but it works. Riding in the van, I found the website of the third track, and found the phone number. He called it and it was open!! Thank God, I thought, now we can have some real fun instead of visiting temples, no matter how pretty, or tourist shopping traps, no matter how charming. We made it to the track, and I told all the folks with us I would pay for them to drive the karts. Three of them took me up on it, including the van driver. This cost me 3200 baht, over $100, but it was well worth it, to give them a chance to do something they had never done before, race real karts on a real track! Too bad Jing-Jong wasn’t along, he would have loved it.

This track was different than any other track I have driven, because it was highly-polished concrete with a metal roof over it (protected from rain and sun)….. and they called the carts “drifter” karts. And drift they did! After a couple of laps I was almost going sideways thru some of the corners. It was a blast!! Just needed more power to maintain the drift. The tires left no marks on the slick concrete. They found the right combination of concrete polish and tires. I don’t know if there is a track like this anywhere else in the world, but there should be. It was more fun than the indoor electric karts at “Pole Position” in Las Vegas that are hyped so much. They told us 15 minutes of karting, but they gave us a little more.

Me catching Yong outside

me about to pass Fern

The others had no kart experience, except the van driver had done it once at another track.  But they were having great fun, learning how to slide the karts.  The photos don’t capture the sliding very well, but we were sliding all over the place.  I made the most of the time, going as fast as I could, having a blast. I lapped the others 3 or 4 times in the 15 minutes. I usually had to set up on the outside, slide early, and pass on the inside when the other driver slid wide coming out of the turn. My wife was taking the photos, and the other folks were with her, taking it all in. They had never seen anything like this before. Her sister-in-law said I was “chasing” the others, that I was “being mean to them.”

I was proud of my wife’s reply…..  She said no, that is what they are supposed to do. The others are passing each other, too.  This is racing, and everyone goes as fast as they can. If that means passing, then you pass. That’s what she told them….. So she has actually learned something from all my years of riding and racing.

Check out the website of this place, called X-Centre, http://www.chiangmai-xcentre.com/chiangmai_gokarts.htm , actually this should be the webpage about the karts. You can check out the other pages about the dirt bikes, dirt buggies, bungie jump, paintball, and zorb balls. I tried to get the 17-year old niece with us (Fern) to do a zorb ball, but she wouldn’t. My wife wouldn’t let me do a dirt bike ride, which have to be pre-scheduled, anyway.

If you are into non-motorized  mountain bicycle riding, Chiang Mai is a rare treat. The mountains are awesome, but fairly gentle, as mountains go. There is a business called “Mountain Biking Chiang Mai”, that caters to tourists who are bikers. Here is their website  http://mountainbikingchiangmai.com/index.html   For less than $100 for a day ride, they will provide good bicycles, helmets, pads, and other gear. They will truck you up to the top of the mountain, and you ride down, with a guide. Elevation drops from top to bottom are as much as 5400 feet. That is over a mile!!! This would be an epic ride in tropical mountains, but sadly I did not get to do it this time. If you go to Thailand, and crave adventure on 2 wheels or 4, Chiang Mai is the place to go.

Here are some other pics from Chiang Mai. It is a beautiful place with many centuries of history, as a city-state with its own king, then as a part of the kingdom of Thailand:

Angry "MOM"

Quiet "MOM" (No DAD lizard)

Emerald buddha at mountain-top temple

Yow rings bells

Top of stairs at mountain-top temple

Fern at bottom of stairs

Aquarium at shopping mall

Aquarium + cars at shopping mall

Hot springs with geyser

Water dragons at mountain-top temple

Thai Ronald McD

Gate guardian at temple

Tribute to King and Queen

Stunning temple grounds

Beautiful temple front

Awesome temple interior

Life-size elephants and huge buddha

Fern on swing at temple

Family monument at cemetery

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Amazing temple grounds from Ferris wheel

 

 

 

Close Encounters of the Cultural Kind

I have returned from my trip to Thailand, which I make every 2 years, whether I am ready or not.  Sometimes it is really tough to break away from work. I am married to a charming Thai woman (she charmed me anyway), and we have long ago agreed that I would go with her to Thailand every 2 years or so. She goes every 6 months, if we can afford it. We have built a house in her hometown, and she loves staying in it and working on it. Every trip, she has some project that she does, to repair or improve the house. When I go, I am impressed by what she has done, for she has good taste and is very practical, for the most part. We now have a house that is the talk of the town (or our part of town anyway). When the Thai folks talk about it, they call it the American house (bahn falang), and they ask each other, “have you been INSIDE?”, meaning inside the compound walls to see what we have done lately.

(NOTE–  click on each picture to see an enlarged version)

 Once I have seen what my wife has done to the house, given it my approval, and rested from the long flight, we venture out into Thai society, visiting friends, conducting business, going to the store, and going on little trips to other places in Thailand. Two years ago, we went to Phuket, the exotic tropical island, and stayed in a hotel that had 3 meters of water in the lobby during the tsunami of 2004. Upon learning this, I got a room on the top floor. This year, we went to Chiang Mai, in northern Thailand, with mountains. This is my favorite part of Thailand. Mountains excite me, they thrill me, they inspire me. Also, they provide some relief from the heat and humidity of Thailand. Also, they are safe from tsunamis.

 Every time I go to Thailand, I have to relearn the language and the culture. I know that everyone is watching me, and I don’t want to be thought of as “the dumb American”. I try to act according to Thai customs, and give them some insight into American customs, at the same time. I have many encounters with Thais and Thai culture, which are fascinating and charming. “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” was a popular sci-fi movie which took you through alien encounters of the first, second, and third categories, climaxing with a personal encounter with alien beings face-to-face. Traveling to Thailand reminds me of that. Thailand is so different in environment, language, customs, religion, and values, that it seems like an alien encounter.

  Let me describe one of these encounters for you:

In beautiful Chiang Mai, in the mountains, we have been staying at our hotel, the Riverside Diamond, for 2 days. In the parking lot of our hotel, we are approached by a charming girl / woman (in Thailand it is hard to tell between girls and women… they all look young and pretty). She is carrying a large dish or platter, on which are arranged some cute little hand-made bamboo containers. You might assume the containers contain food for sale, but as the woman gets closer, you hear the chatter of birds, and you realize the bamboo containers are cages, laying on a bed of bird seed. They are of slightly different sizes, but about the size of two fists put together. If you look closely through the bamboo lattice, you might see that the tiny birds are common sparrows, just like the ones flitting about in the trees nearby. The ones in the cages are also flitting about, or trying to, probably beating themselves senseless against the cage and each other.

 You might try to tell the woman “we don’t want to buy any birds”, but if you do, you are just exposing yourself as a dumb American (or falang as they call us). Hopefully you have a Thai friend present who will explain that the woman is not selling the birds exactly, she just wants money so that you can have the privilege of letting the birds go free. “Oh” you may ask, “and then she goes and catches them again, or catches other birds like them? What is the point of that?” Your Thai friend will explain that letting the birds go free is like a good deed, which the Thai people call boon or in English, “merit”. More than that, as I have read, it is a religious obligation to Buddhists, which is deeply woven into Thai culture. Their saying is tam boon, dai boon, which means “do merit, receive merit”. This is popularized in English as “make merit.” Good Buddhists are constantly trying to “make merit” (which erases bad karma or builds up good karma) by doing good deeds to people or in this case, to birds. It seems that the spending of money for a good purpose gets you some moral credit or merit (just as it does in any culture). So this woman is offering you the chance to “make merit” for the good of your soul, or actually getting you closer to losing your soul in Nirvana. From my wide readings, I know that in Buddhism, Nirvana = putting out the flame = final enlightenment = dissolution of self.  Buddha was all about erasing himself and us, as individuals, from the universe (an idea I find to be disturbing and illogical). But I doubt that this woman really understands that. She is just trying to make some easy money from tourists, to make a living in a tough world.

 Now that you are duly enlightened about these pitiful birds and their plight, you might feel like going along and making some merit. So next you ask the price. Your Thai friend translates that one cage with 4 or 5 sparrows is 100 baht, or 3 dollars. There are some slightly larger cages with 8 or 9 sparrows, and those go for 200 baht, or 6 dollars. Now, that is pretty steep, if you know that the average Thai construction worker makes all of 10 dollars per day, or less. But most falang don’t know that, and their pockets are full of money itching to be spent.

 Getting back to the parking lot, my Thai friend, who in this case is my wife, informs me that she wants both of us to release a cage of 9 birds, so I should pay the lady 400 baht, or 12 dollars!! That is more than most Thais make in a whole day!! I attempt a protest, but it does no good, as I am informed that we can certainly afford 12 dollars worth of merit. This puzzles me at first, because usually my wife will haggle the price of anything, anywhere.  But not for this, the purchase of merit. OK, I get it.  Next, the lady says she doesn’t have 2 cages with 9 birds each, so we wait while she carefully cracks open a small cage and a large cage, puts the openings together, and tries to blow some birds from the small cage to the large cage. This whips the birds into a greater frenzy, and feathers fly. I can imagine eyes being pecked out by wayward beaks, as the birds careen into each other, but no birds move into the larger cage.  So the lady crams her hand into the small cage, grabs a frantic bird, crams it into the large cage, and repeats this process until she has 9 birds in the large cage. How she can count them is beyond me, for they are a whirring blur of poor panicked sparrows.

 This process disturbs me, but I could justify it by considering that my merit is increasing, the more tormented the poor sparrows, who are about to be released from their pretty but cruel tormentor. All my Thai companions seem undisturbed, so they must be thinking the same thing, right?

 Thailand trip 2012 bird release lateI give my camera to Yong, a Thai friend / employee, and he prepares to snap a picture of us releasing the birds. We have to pry the cages open, and I am taking too long, so my wife released her birds, grabs my cage and releases mine, and somehow Yong is slow on the trigger, and snaps the picture one second after all the birds have flown the coop. So I got plenty of merit from releasing tormented birds, but no good picture. Oh well.

 I handed the lady the merit / ransom money, and I had my wife ask her “will the birds come back to you?”, for at least she did have lots of seeds under the cages for the birds to eat, if they could take a break from their frenzy. The lady exclaimed “Oh no, I have to go to the forest and catch more.” Good for the released birds….. Hopefully these particular birds have learned their lesson, and will not enter the same bird trap twice. But that is not what I have read. Many of these merit-selling bird catchers feed the birds marijuana seeds, so that the birds will get hooked on it and return to them, to be easily caught. Addicted birds are just as foolish as addicted humans. Also, I have been told that some kidnappers clip feathers from the wings, so the birds can hardly fly. Then they can catch the same birds over and over again, which probably become accustomed to their peculiar fate. Well, at least the birds are being fed, I guess.

 One wonders if the kidnappers themselves are making any merit, by kidnapping and mistreating small animals for a living. I would think their merit account is being depleted, wouldn’t you? But somehow, they justify what they are doing as acceptable. It is a good thing for them that there is no PETA chapter in Thailand. But on the other hand, perhaps the small animals are lucky that they are just being kidnapped, and not eaten. The Thais eat just about everything, including some disgusting insects. But it is interesting….. I don’t see any insects being kidnapped for ransom. They might be easier to catch, but I guess it would be less appealing to release a plastic bag full of scorpions, or large stinging ants, or cockroaches, or mosquitoes. Don’t mosquitoes deserve their freedom, too? Or how about blood-sucking leeches? Somehow, I cannot imagine my wife saying, “ooooohhhhh, look at the poor leeches, let’s pay money to let them go!” When my wife worked in the flooded rice fields of Thailand as a young girl, she was often attacked by blood-sucking leeches, big ugly squishy ones, which she had to pull off of her skin. When she got them off, she smashed them with a stick.  I don’t think she would pay money to release a bag full of  leeches. But she might pay money to buy a bag full of leeches, and smash them one by one, with a brick.

 This enterprising, charming young lady, kidnapper of birds, approached us at our hotel. But usually, these merit-selling kidnappers of birds operate around popular temples, where the making of merit is more on the minds of the visitors. At the temples, there are also kidnappers of turtles and fish and eels and snails, which are displayed in buckets or plastic bags half-full of water. The plastic bags are tied up, with no food visible, and no visible means of charging the bags with oxygen. The animals in buckets are crowded–  just look at the bucket of eels below. The release of each different animal brings a different karmic reward.  For example, releasing a turtle back into the river will bring you long life. Releasing a catfish means you won’t have competition in business. Eels bring money, work and prosperity (things will go smoothly and slippery).  Releasing tiny fresh water snails brings happiness in love.

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These hapless creatures near the temples are caught over and over again, to be sold to the next sucker, er, I mean, pilgrim seeking to “make merit.” Kidnapping small animals and charging ransom money to let them go, is big business at temples all over Thailand. I wonder what the monks think of this kidnapping business that they allow at their temples. I would ask them, but I would need my wife to translate, and she would say it is rude, and refuse to ask them – – –  NOTE TO SELF: If I die and am reincarnated in Thailand, put in request NOT to be reincarnated as a small animal near a Thai temple!!! – – –  I am partial to the birds, because they not as messy, and they are easier to let go. I have ransomed many pitiful kidnapped birds in my trips to Thailand, so I guess I have a little merit built up by now, if anyone is counting.

 I may need it, because I may have angered some spirits on this trip. My wife built a “spirit house” when we built our house. This is a small doll-house-like, religious-looking structure that Thais buy and put next any house that they build. It is supposed to provide a symbolic dwelling place for the spirits of the land and the air, who are disturbed or displaced by the construction of a new house. This is not from Buddhism, it is a much more ancient tradition from animism, the belief of spirits in nature. In Thailand, animism has merged with Buddhism, or Buddhism has embraced animism. Thailand’s popular religion is called Buddhism, but I think if Buddha was alive today, he might disagree. For example, he would have no part of kidnapping small animals for ransom at temples. He might react to that in the same way that Jesus reacted to the sale of animals at the temple in Jerusalem. And I don’t think he would sanction spirit houses, either.

But today, Thailand’s popular religion is an interesting mix of animism, Hinduism, and Buddhism, with a hierarchy of Buddhist monks presiding over the mix. It is more like popular culture, than pure religion. Building spirit houses is the custom, and people feel cultural peer pressure to follow the practice. Everyone else does it, so my wife did it too. Years ago, only one spirit house was required, but then the head monks somewhere decided that you needed a low spirit house and a high spirit house… good news for the spirit-house merchants… it doubled their business!

So when my wife heard about this, and saw other people doing it,  she added a second spirit house, and expanded the concrete platform that they stand on. The platform is in a bad place where she put it, blocking part of the driveway. I almost hit the corner of the platform, while backing the car out of the garage. My wife and I had a fight about this. She didn’t want to change it, and I said the platform was way too big, we could cut it in half, and that I would cut it in half myself if I had to. She said that if I did, I could go back to Texas by myself (this is a punishment?), and that the spirits might cut me in half!  Wow, talk about touching a nerve….. but soon she relented and agreed to cut the corner of the platform off. Which her brother-in-law Dang proceeded to do the next day. Dang claimed that the spirits pulled his necklace off and dropped it on the ground, and that it has never come off like that before. He also claimed that something pulled on his legs while he was asleep that night, and then he couldn’t get his breath. I told him don’t worry, if the spirits are good spirits, then they should be happy that we can use our driveway safer now, without running into their little house with a car.

 I paid Dang well, about twice the normal rate of Thai workers, same as we paid the other 5 people working for us. We also gave them gifts from the US (shirts, perfume, pocketknives, flashlights). We also threw a party and gave away 10 bags with gifts and money in them. We also fed them for free while we were there. These people are dirt-poor, so they were very grateful for our generosity. In recent years, we built a new house for a neighbor whose old wood house was falling down. We spent about $7G to help this woman and her family. Hopefully this makes more merit than releasing kidnapped birds…..

We also had our house blessed, which was a side benefit of the memorial ceremony my wife has done for her departed mother, every time I go to Thailand. This ceremony is quite an event, with much preparation and much ritual. Nine monks and a layman “deacon” from the local temple come to the house. A room must be prepared for them, with enough space for the monks to sit cross-legged side-by-side on floor mats. The wall behind them is draped with a large colored sheet. Electric fans are brought in. A microphone is provided. Food is prepared to feed the monks after their ritual….. this is the only food they will eat that day. The monks file in and take their places. The deacon, also sitting on the floor, takes the microphone and talks or chants for about 10 minutes, with some of the observers repeating his chants. The observers, including me, are also sitting on the hard tile floor, with legs folded under us. This becomes uncomfortable for me in about 5 minutes, painful in 6 minutes, and the Thais are probably amused watching the American squirm and shift about. The deacon finishes his part, and then the monks start their chant, with the head monk leading them.

 This long chant, composed of several different chants, which I can hear stop and start, lasts about 30 minutes. My wife has mercy on me and says I can get up and leave during the chanting. So I excuse myself to the other house and observe the folks (including friends and neighbors who have come for the ceremony) getting the food ready for the monks. They start taking the food in to the house where the monks are.

 The chanting stops, and I am summoned back to the ceremony. There is a little more chanting, in which I hear the names of departed family members, including my wife’s mother, father, and sister. This is a memorial ceremony for them. Then,  I participate in formally presenting the food to the monks. I can directly hand the food dishes to the monks, but women are not allowed to do that. The monk places his ceremonial cloth on the floor in front of him, and the woman places the food dish on the cloth. The monk cannot touch the dish until the woman’s hands are off of it. I guess they think dishes conduct sexual energy or something.

 The head monk with this group is a new one, and he is careful to perform all his duties. After the food is presented, he grabs his bundle of tied bamboo sticks, dips it into his bowl of holy water, and sprinkles all of us. I seem to get wetter than the others. I don’t know if this is because I paid for the whole thing, or if he thought the falang was a bigger sinner. No matter, I will take all the blessings I can get!! Finally, I get to retire to the other house. But soon, I see that the head monk followed behind me, with a young monk carrying the holy water bowl, and he is drenching everyone and everything in sight with holy water. UH OH, I think, and I rush ahead to my desk in the back room, which has many papers and books on it, that don’t really need to get wet. I worry about the finish on the desk, but there is nothing I can do about that. I sweep the papers and books into the chair, and push the chair under the desk just in time, and the head monk sweeps into the room, dousing everything with holy water, including me again. Like I said, I will take all the blessings I can get!! At least I kept my papers from getting wet, which was a small blessing in itself. After the monk left the room, I retrieved some toilet paper from the bathroom and wiped the water off the desk.

 On this trip, we were able to attend a Sunday service at the Chachaengsao Baptist Church in the next town. I am intrigued by these people, who embrace a foreign religion in their own country. They are very friendly, and want to get to know us, but my wife is reluctant. I know of a few Christian missionary groups in Thailand, and I see some Christian offices fleetingly, as we pass by in our car. Crosses are rare in Thailand, and they catch my attention. I have not established a relationship with the Baptist Church yet, but I plan to in future years. Or perhaps with the Catholic Church in my wife’s hometown. Or perhaps both.

 My trips to Thailand are full of cultural encounters like this. I have gotten used to most of them, but it is a chore to remember what to do, and what not to do, when I only go every 2 years or so. I spend much of my trip relearning the language, and remembering the do’s and don’t’s of this charming, exotic culture. But I try to introduce the Thais to some American culture at the same time. This trip, I spent some money introducing the dirt-poor Thai folks to some car racing in two forms, and they loved it, but that is another story. Maybe for the next article.  Sawa-dee-kop until then…..

Fast forward five years…..  here are some photos from a trip to visit my wife’s Thai cousin,  who lives in Fort Worth,  Texas.  It was a very interesting trip:

Old temple gate and new Indian templeInside Indian templeBass Hall Angels 1Bass Hall Angels 3New Indian temple full shotTarrant County Courthouse

 

 

The Philosophy of Falsehood

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DATE LAST REVISED:  22 MARCH 2014

In my last article, I covered a few current news stories, that featured lying and massive distortions of the truth. Indeed, that is a prominent feature of most news stories ….. because it is a prominent feature of most human events since the beginning of time. In most news stories, either the reporter is biased and distorting, or the people in the report are lying and distorting. Lying is easy; all it takes is words, which proceed constantly from our mouths or our gadgets. Lying is perhaps the easiest unethical act to do and get away with, or sometimes (rarely) the easiest ethical thing to do. All of us must be concerned about lying, because we need to know if we can trust the words of the people around us. Our judgment of this is key to our success or failure, in any field of human endeavor.  Words are a powerful weapon, a powerful tool, and a powerful paint. Paint does not change the shape of the thing it covers, but it drastically changes the appearance.

 Like painting, lying is a fine art, and all of us are artists, of greater or lesser skill. Some of us are like photographers, minimizing the distortion, trying to paint a very accurate and objective picture of reality; and others are like abstract artists, maximizing the lies, painting a very distorted and selective picture of reality.

 Dividing communications into “truth” or “lie” is far too simplistic. People “spin” their communications with exaggerations, omissions, fabrications and distortions, to paint a picture that they believe is to their benefit, or to the benefit of people they care about. I believe everyone does this to some degree, as an integral part of human nature. That does not make it OK, it is just my observation. It seems to me that much lying is done to justify oneself or protect oneself from disapproval. I would say that self-justification is the first commandment of the human ego, and everyone does it, to some degree, in an ethical or unethical manner. If you disagree with this observation, please let me know. If you agree, also please let me know. This is the first time I have tried to describe it in writing. I do not have handy any literary references for this argument, but I am sure I could find some.

“Spinning” or lying can be done in an ethical manner with good intentions (the proverbial “white lie”), or in an extremely unethical manner with harmful intentions. We should all know this, and I think this is self-evident, in history and in current events. A few years ago, I wrote a piece of philosophy about lying, and here it is, with some additions. This is a subject as timely now as it was in the times of Immanuel Kant, as timely now as it will be 1000 years in the future…..like I have written elsewhere, philosophy has a shelf life of a few thousand years…… Philosophy, ahh, who needs that?  You do, I do, we all do, and rather urgently…..

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THE PHILOSOPHY OF FALSEHOOD

             The foundation of morality is to have done, once and for all, with lying.

                 — T. H. Huxley, Science and Morals

            There are times when lying is the most sacred of duties.

                 –Eugene Labiche, 1815-1888

A truth that’s told with bad intent beats all the lies you can invent.

     –William Blake, 1757-1827

If you speak the truth, have a foot in the stirrup.

     –Turkish proverb

Ye shall know the Truth, and the Truth shall piss you off, if you have believed the lies.

                 –Original to this work

 Before we delve into the shadows of human lying, let us first leave the human realm of thought, as if humans did not even exist on this planet. Consider the use of deception in the natural world around us. In nature, deception is a crucial element of life. Both predator and prey depend upon deception for their very survival. This is true for virtually every class of animal, from the smallest to the largest. A virus survives by tricking the cells of an animal’s body to manufacture more of the virus. Doctors inject dead virus material into our bodies to trick our immune system to manufacture the antibodies to kill the live virus. Some plants use deception to trap and eat insects. Many insects, fish and birds use color patterns and deceptive “eye spots” to confuse predators. Some deep-sea creatures use light-generating chemicals to become invisible to predators when viewed from below, for they blend in with the extremely weak light from above. Some fish and turtles use worm-like tongues or tentacles to lure hungry or curious fish into their mouths. Predators use camouflage patterns, stealth and deceptive pack-hunting strategy to catch their prey. Indeed, predators could not survive without deceiving their prey in some way. Many prey animals could not survive without deceiving predators in some way. If God is responsible for all of this, then he incorporated deception into the very fabric of his great tapestry of life. If evolution is responsible, it has somehow incorporated deception into the very genetic code of many species, controlling both their appearance and their behavior. Animals are born with deception painted on their skin, and written into their genes….. they have no choice in the matter.

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Human bodies, even in their various colors, stand out like a sore thumb. Our camouflage is located between our ears. With intelligence and free will, at the top of the evolutionary ladder, we should learn from the deception of the animal kingdom below us. We would be foolish not to use deception to thwart our enemies, to defeat evil and preserve goodness, which is the God-given mission of humanity. Life all around us, even inside us, uses deception to survive, and we must use it too. But for humans, apart from catching food or avoiding becoming food, the primary MORAL use of deception is to oppose evil. A secondary moral use of deception is for innocent humor or comedy, or the entertaining clever sleight-of-hand of “magic”, as practiced by popular illusionists such as David Copperfield, Criss Angel, and Lance Burton. Also, we can all enjoy a good-natured jab or prank among friends, as long as it does not go too far.

 Up front, let me plainly state my personal opinion that in most cases, for humans, lying is unethical and harmful, even destructive. But when we are faced with enemies who are trying to destroy us or harm us, lying may become necessary, in order to survive. Now let us see what others have written about deception, through the eons of recorded history:

 First, because they are the most glaringly wrong, consider the teachings of Islam, our President’s favorite religion….. (maybe this is why)…..

According to the Koran, Muslims are allowed to lie to unbelievers in order to defeat them. A Muslim who follows this doctrine feels no guilt in lying to non-Muslims. They are only obligated to tell the truth to fellow Muslims. The two forms of lying are:

Taqiyya – Saying something that isn’t true.

Kitman – Lying by omission.  An example would be when Muslim apologists quote only a fragment of verse 5:32 (that if anyone kills “it shall be as if he had killed all mankind”) while neglecting to mention that the rest of the verse (and the next) mandate murder in undefined cases of “corruption” and “mischief.” 

Though not called Taqiyya by name, Mohammed clearly used deception when he signed a 10-year treaty with the Meccans that allowed him access to their city while he secretly prepared his own forces for a takeover.  The unsuspecting residents were conquered in easy fashion after he broke the treaty two years later, and some of the people in the city who had trusted him at his word were executed.

Volumes more could be quoted about the Muslim sanction for lying, and if you want to pursue it further, you can start here, where I got the above info:   http://www.thereligionofpeace.com/Quran/011-taqiyya.htm  Believe me, this is just scratching the surface of the history of Muslim lying and deception. Now, on to other more truthful religions:

An ancient Babylonian writing warns those who lie: “Whose mouth, full of lying, avails not before thee; thou burnest with their utterance.” An ancient Hindu text declares: “A sacrifice is obliterated by a lie and the merit of alms by an act of fraud.”

Buddha had a lot to say about Right Speech, which is one of the crucial elements of the Noble Eightfold Path: “And what is right speech? Abstaining from lying, from divisive speech, from abusive speech, and from idle chatter: This is called right speech.”…..”The truthful one never knowingly speaks a lie, not for the sake of his own advantage, or for no other person’s advantage, or for the sake of any advantage whatsoever.”…..”The truthful one unites those that are divided; and those that are united, he encourages. Concord gladdens the truthful one, he delights and rejoices in concord. The truthful one aims for deep concord by his words.”

Buddha was very wise, and concord is very cool.  I especially like this teaching, and try to follow it in my own life. The trouble is, the people I deal with do not seem to want concord. They seem to enjoy conflict, seeking  it out, challenging me to a duel, a fight for dominance of doctrine. So I fight back, and try to open their eyes to a larger, higher truth of the universe.  But here is a basic, lower truth of the universe, that I have discovered through many years of painful experience::  those people who are divided, do not want to be united. The divided will go to vicious extremes to remain divided, and will attack anyone who tries to unite them. There are cosmic, metaphysical reasons for this, and struggling against cosmic fate is a waste of time, as I am beginning to realize. Instead, I have to try to figure out what God is really trying to do, in my life, in my mother’s life, in my father’s life, in my son’s life, in my friends’ lives, in my enemies’ lives, and figure out how to help accomplish that mission,  completely outside of my own self-interests:  “Not my will, but Thy will be done, O Lord.”  It is a tall order, and every day I fall short of that goal, but that is what I am trying to do, with every step that I take, with every breath that I breathe, with every beat of my heart, until it stops beating….. I am in hot pursuit of the truth of the universe, and the goodness of God….. no matter how the forces of evil try to distract me….. so let us now continue with my main topic,  The Philosophy of Falsehood::

The Ninth Commandment from the Bible states: “Thou shalt not bear false witness against your neighbor” (Exodus 20:16). A Hebrew psalmist wrote: “Keep your tongue from evil, and your lips from speaking deceit” (Psalm 34:13). The Proverbs also condemn lying: “There are six things that the Lord hates…..a lying tongue” (Proverbs 6:16-17). “Lying lips are an abomination to the Lord” (Proverbs 12:22). “It is better to be poor than to be a liar” (Proverbs 19:22). Jesus weighed in with these words: “It is from within, from the heart, that evil intentions come: …..deceit….. All these things come from within, and they defile a person” (Mark 7:21).

It is interesting that God’s Ninth Commandment given to us through Moses did not categorically state: “Thou shalt not lie”,  as a blanket rule. It certainly could have. The simplest Hebrew word for lying is  “kazzab”,  but it was not used here. Instead, the Ninth Commandment specifically said: “Thou shalt not bear false witness against your neighbor”, using the Hebrew word “sheqer” for  false. The word “sheqer” also means lying, but it is used more in reference to the swearing of oaths, as in a court of law. Does the wording matter? Of course it does. Does this mean that lying against an evil enemy is allowed? I think it does. Christian theologians are divided on this subject. Some, like Saint Augustine, believed that it is never permissible to lie. Others, like Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who had time to contemplate this issue from the perspective of a Nazi prison cell, held that under certain circumstances lying was not only morally permissible but morally mandated. Thus, Bonhoeffer advocated deceiving the enemy in circumstances of war, and he had no qualms about lying to help Jews escape, who were facing extermination. I have also seen this issue addressed on at least one other person’s website, http://www.missiontoisrael.org/9thcom-pt1.php, the website of minister Ted R. Weiland, which states: “The Bible provides many examples of people lying to protect their own lives or the lives of others. These people were not condemned, and, in some instances, they were even commended and blessed by Yahweh.” It goes on to provide many examples from the Bible, which are very interesting. If I had the time to research the scriptures and the issues, I think I would agree completely with Ted. Judging solely from parts of his website, I think he is zeroed in and on target, concerning the ethical use of lying.

God according to GodAnother brilliant author, physicist Gerald Schroeder, gives a possible example of God withholding information from Abraham, in a very human encounter. This passage is found in Schroeder’s latest book, God According to God (2009), in a chapter titled Knowing Truth in Your Heart: “The wording of several biblical passages reveals the extent to which even an agent of God will go to maintain affections within a family. Divine messengers have come to bring happy tidings to Sarah and her husband, Abraham. Sarah, from within the family’s tent, overhears the angelic messengers telling Abraham that she will bear her first child the coming year. That was quite a piece of news, considering that Sarah was 89 and Abraham was 99. ‘And Sarah laughed within her herself saying,  ” After I have become old shall I have such a pleasure? And also my man is old.” ‘ (Genesis 18:12). When God recounted Sarah’s words to Abraham, God omitted Sarah’s reference to Abraham’s advanced age. ‘And God said to Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh saying, ‘Shall I truly bear a child, I who am old?’ ” (18:13). We would call it a white lie, a slight divergence from the full truth to maintain family peace. It is part of God’s command to be just and good.

This omission or withholding of information sounds like something almost anyone might do, to avoid provoking a bad reaction in a family. But here we have God himself visiting a family and using this very human strategy of withholding information. And he was not doing it to save someone’s life or property. He was just doing it to avoid causing discord. He would have known how Abraham would react to Sarah’s inner thought about his age.

In Schroeder’s book, he was finished with his point, but this Biblical story gets much more interesting, a couple of verses later: “Then Sarah denied, saying, I laughed not; for she was afraid. And he (God) said Nay; but thou didst laugh.” (Genesis 18:15). Here we have Sarah lying to God’s face, though she may not have believed he was God at the time. She thought she could deny her thoughts, for she had laughed within herself, not aloud. But God being God, he had heard her inner laugh and doubt, and he called her on her lie. God does not get angry, he just corrects her with the truth, but again omits her thought about Abraham being old, to avoid getting Abraham angry at his wife.

Doing good deeds is hard work, and full of potential for damage. Here is God, appearing as a man, telling an old couple about a miracle he is going to perform for them and their descendants, and he has to tolerate being disbelieved and lied to by a woman, and he has to commit a lie of omission himself, twice, to avoid causing any trouble between the two people he is trying to bless!!

There is also an interesting verse from Jesus, which says: “Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves; be ye therefore as wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.” (Matthew 10:16). Being “wise as serpents” implies the use of deception and withholding information, perhaps lying, to defend yourself against the “wolves” of evil, while still being “harmless as doves”.  

However, official Christian doctrine is quite clear: lying is evil, harmful, and against the will of God. Christian philosophers and theologians, starting with St. Augustine, have reinforced this position. This is called the deontological position: that all lying is morally wrong and lying should never be sanctioned. An even stricter statement of this position is given by the famous German philosopher, Immanuel Kant (1724-1804). Kant is the strongest advocate of this position that I have found. In his Metaphysical Principles of Virtue, Kant says: “Lying is the obliteration of one’s dignity as a human being. A man who does not himself believe what he says to another … has even less worth than if he were a mere thing.” Kant is hailed by some liberals as the greatest philosopher of the last 3 centuries. This is surprising, given most modern liberals’ rather casual relationship to the truth, and their tendency to defend moral weakness. But we shall soon see the link.

Immanuel Kant

In his Lectures on Ethics and elsewhere, Kant strongly condemned lying. He described it as an act against humanity itself, since it attacks the condition and means through which any human society is possible. For good people, this is a compelling argument: Lying is wrong because it adversely affects mankind universally and man individually. Lying violates Kant’s moral decree, his “Categorical Imperative.” That famous and much-debated imperative is stated as: “Act only on that maxim which you can, at the same time, will to become a universal law.” In other words, act only as you judge that all people must act. Kant taught that his Categorical Imperative covered words as well as actions. Therefore, it meant that we should always tell the absolute truth, and never utter a false statement of any kind.

As an ideal principle, I agree with Kant. If everyone in the world followed Kant’s principles and told only the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, the world would be a much better place, and perhaps a more shocking place. But that will never happen, and we have to learn to deal with people who lie. We have to deal with people who lie with good intentions, we have to deal with people who lie with malice. We have to deal with people who lie about their evil intentions, and we have to deal with people who are honest about their evil intentions.

Benjamin Constant

The latter category sparked a debate in Kant’s famous career. Kant was like a rock star in 18th century European high society. Kant was so opposed to all lying, it became a topic of heated discussion in social circles. There is a famous incident in which a prominent French writer, Benjamin Constant, asked Kant to consider if one should lie to a murderer bent upon killing your friend, who is staying in your house. Benjamin likely sets up the scenario this way: A known murderer approaches you to inquire as to the whereabouts of your friend, who he wants to kill. You know the murderer’s intent, and you know where your friend is. In fact, your friend is staying in your own house, trusting that you will protect him. The murderer knows the two of you are friends, and he asks you if your friend is at your house. So now, what do you tell the murderer?

Incredibly, Kant says that you cannot lie, and you must tell the murderer where to find your friend. He responds that “To be truthful in all declarations…is a sacred and absolutely commanding decree of reason, limited by no expediency,” including human life. So, to keep yourself morally pure, you knowingly send a murderer to kill a friend. One wonders what Kant’s friends thought of this idea, or if he had any friends at all. If he did, then after this amazing episode, they knew how little he valued them. He stubbornly respected a moral rule, more than the moral principle of opposing evil, more than the moral value of protecting human life, more than the simple trust and loyalty of friendship.

After their initial debate, Benjamin Constant wrote of it in a French journal published in 1797. This provoked Kant to publish a response. Here is a link to Kant’s (translated) written response to the challenge and criticism of Benjamin Constant. It is titled “On A Supposed Right To Lie From Altruistic Motives”: http://www.unc.edu/courses/2009spring/plcy/240/001/Kant.pdf

You should go to the link and read it. It is the most impressive example of intellectual self-deception and trying to defend an indefensible position that I have ever seen. It supports my postulate above that self-justification is the first commandment of the human ego. It is an egotistical lie, told by a celebrated philosopher, to defend unconditional honesty. It is a philosophical train wreck. It reminds me of the saying: “If you can’t dazzle them with brilliance, then baffle them with bullshit.” Kant tries to do both, but it falls as flat as a guilty child’s stubborn retort….. because it is just plain morally WRONG. It also strikes me as cowardly, as Kant explains that telling the truth to the murderer carries no risk to yourself, while lying to the murderer incurs legal liability, and you might be sued if anyone is hurt. In his eagerness to defend himself, Kant lowers himself to the level of legal considerations, which are far removed from the lofty morality he claims for himself. Laws are only basic rules, which can often be used equally as a weapon for good or evil.

Perhaps I am overconfident in the moral competence of humanity, but I would be surprised if a single person reading Kant’s response would honestly agree with him. Even criminals would not be likely to betray their friends in this way. Kant is way out in left field here. Kant’s insistence on helping the murderer is just too extreme, too harmful, too morally naïve. In fact, in his zeal to defend himself, Kant has overlooked some obvious alternatives. His ‘moral’ solution to the problem, telling the truth, is in this case the MOST harmful and LEAST moral thing one could do. There are four options that come to my mind, which do not even require lying. They are listed here in order of morality and bravery. First is to run away, second is to say nothing, third is to state that you refuse to answer his question, and fourth is to strongly condemn the murderer, and threaten him with retaliation if he harms your friend. The fifth option (my personal choice) is to lie, to send the murderer as far away from your friend as possible. The sixth option is physical violence, which may become necessary if you choose options 1, 2, 3 or 4 and the murderer becomes violent with you.

Regardless of your choice, even if you obey Kant and tell the truth, your next “moral duty” would be to follow the murderer and thwart his efforts, or contact your friend and warn him. Kant, the champion of “moral duty”, does not even mention these duties. Perhaps they did not occur to him, because he was a spineless coward…? Kant’s brave solution– giving the murderer what he demands and then letting him go on his way without opposition– is the only one that involves no risk to yourself. For after the murderer finds your information to be true and kills your friend, he will have no quarrel with you. One wonders why the great moral thinker Kant did not include these steps (the following and the warning) in his great decree. For here is hidden evil exposed, a murderer confessing his intent before committing a murder, a rare occasion indeed. But Kant does not lift a moral finger to oppose it, or even to acknowledge the opportunity. For such a moralist as Kant, this is a serious omission. It uncovers the fatal flaw in his philosophy: the failure to deal with evil. Kant’s idea of bravery in the face of evil is to take no risk, to avoid lawsuit, to do evil’s bidding, to help it find its victim by telling the truth. This perverts morality to such an extreme, it almost makes me sick.

Thus Kant’s extreme scenario, meant to teach a lesson on the immorality of lying, actually teaches us little about lying or telling the truth. It teaches us to be mindless robots to rules of morality, even if this costs other people their lives. It teaches us to be pacifists. It teaches us even to be submissive to evil. It encourages cowardice. It ignores the effective options one may take without even lying. It ignores the immorality of telling the truth in some cases. It advocates the elevating of a rigid moral rule over more important moral principles and values. These are Kant’s real points, which are all presented and reinforced without directly stating them. And with some of these points, he teaches the faulty values of liberalism, and that is why liberals still honor him today.

Kant’s solution, telling a murderer the truth at the cost of your friend’s life, reminds me of the popular “no evil” trio of monkeys. You know the ones….. they are sitting on their butts side-by-side, one with hands on his ears, one with hands on his eyes, one with hands on his mouth….. representing the Buddhist teaching of “hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil”. For in Kant’s scenario, you hear no evil intent in the murderer’s words, you see no evil in the presence of a self-proclaimed murderer, and you speak the truth because you think all lying is evil. But in this case, telling the truth is evil, and lying is your best weapon of the moment against a murderer seeking his next victim. If you tell him the truth, you are as stupid as a monkey, and an accomplice to murder.

If you agree with my solution to Kant’s problem, then you agree that lying is permissible in some cases. This classifies us as utilitarian in philosophical terminology. According to utilitarian ethics, we judge the morality of a lie by the benefit or harm it will cause. A lie is permissible when it will maximize benefit or minimize harm. In natural moral philosophy, we must say that a lie is permissible when it will promote goodness or oppose evil. Further, when evil persons are on the prowl, as in Kant’s example, lying to them to thwart their evil mission is an absolute moral imperative. It is a powerful weapon in our arsenal of options to oppose evil.

Even if they do not lie, agents of goodness certainly have no twisted Kantian moral duty to tell agents of evil all they know. That is what Kant is advocating. If all good people obeyed Kant and did this, the evil people would quickly learn its usefulness. A robber would need only to ask, to learn the location of a man’s house, and the times he will not be there. A rapist would need only to ask, to learn the location and names of a man’s wife or children, and the times that they are the most vulnerable. They would need only to ask, to learn a man’s bank account number, credit card number, and social security number. For if Kant says we must sacrifice our friend’s life to evil, what do these smaller things matter? But what would this do to society? Law and order would have no meaning, and civilization would collapse. Evil men would rule everything, without opposition. In the light of moral reality, we see that Kant’s moral duty to always tell the truth is a violation of Kant’s own “Categorical Imperative.” For when the presence of evil is acknowledged, this moral duty cannot and must not be universally applied. It would quickly bring about the complete triumph of evil. Kant seems to assume that evil would gradually cease to exist as people learn to do their moral duties. But if that is his assumption, he is wrong. Evil is here to stay, for it is born anew with every new generation. It is an important consequence of Kant’s own dear “freedom of will.” Kant does not see the consequences of his own philosophical system.

This is not just a problem with Kant, it is a strong fallacy running through almost all of religious philosophy. This amazing doctrine of non-violence and compliance with evil finds refuge in some corner of every faith. When evil strikes us, pacifists remind us that Christ would have us turn the other cheek for the next blow. This is supposed to impress us as an enlightened moral position, but in many cases it is moral folly and wishful thinking. Pacifists ignore these sayings of Jesus:

Do not think that I am come to bring peace on Earth; I came not to bring peace, but a sword. For I came to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and a man’s enemies will be the members of his household. (Matthew 10:34-36 NASB)

But now, he that hath a purse, let him take it, and likewise his scrip: and he that hath no sword, let him sell his garment, and buy one. [Luke 22:36]

There is also the incident where Jesus becomes violent himself, using a length of rope or cord as a whip to drive the livestock out of the temple in Jerusalem, and overturning the tables of the moneychangers in the temple:

Jesus with whip

Jesus overturning table

Since Jesus taught different lessons at different times in different circumstances, it is up to us to learn how to apply them. Pacifism in the face of violence is considered noble or admirable, and sometimes it is. Jesus proved that by allowing himself to be captured and executed. But if it is misapplied, as Kant misapplies it, it is  the same as cowardice. This strategy may work in certain cases, but as a general policy or doctrine it is a dismal failure, and it is far over-rated by modern liberal society.    

Kant is considered (by liberals) to be the greatest philosopher of the last 300 years because he was the most successful in expressing the goodness in humanity. He eloquently transformed it into a moral duty. But he filtered out evil. His precious “freedom of will” means that humans always have a moral choice, but Kant did not instruct us how to deal with those people who choose to do evil. Any philosophy that does not acknowledge the willful and permanent presence of evil, and does not develop effective ways to deal with it, is committing a serious error of omission. As Kant himself demonstrates with his famous example of telling the truth to a murderer, it is a fatal error, for Kant is willing to sacrifice his friend’s life to follow a rigid moral rule. With his concept of “radical evil,” Kant did acknowledge permanent evil. But he gave it short shrift, and failed to give us a successful way to deal with it.

After this extreme example of telling the truth at the cost of a friend’s life, Kant further illustrates his moral confusion with two other examples. These are not as well documented, but I found them. They are found in Kant’s Lectures on Ethics. In the first example, if a known thief asks a person with 50 dollars if he has any money, Kant says a justifiable answer would be, “I have no money,” a clear lie (which would not turn away any respectable thief). Kant explains: “The forcing of a statement from me under conditions which convince me that improper use would be made of it is the only case in which I can be justified in telling a white lie.” So, while a friend’s life IS NOT worth lying for, 50 dollars IS worth lying for? The murder of our friend is not an “improper use” of our statement?

Later in his lectures, Kant gives us another confusing example. Your neighbor asks you to point out his faults to him, but you know to do so would hurt his feelings, so you are not forthright with him. Kant explains: “If we must blame, we must temper the blame with a sweetening of love, good-will, and respect. Nothing else will avail to bring about improvement.” Now we are to disobey a neighbor’s direct request for our knowledge, when earlier we gave our knowledge freely to a murderer. So, while a friend’s life IS NOT worth lying for, a neighbor’s feelings ARE worth lying for? There is no way to resolve these inconsistencies in Kant’s thinking. He showed us with the first famous example that he is in serious error, and he shows us with these later examples that he is in serious confusion. If he was just modifying his view, then he had the moral duty to point out and correct his earlier error. But he did not do so. As his career played out,  his position on lying swung impulsively from one extreme to the other, without explanation or apology.

With these latter examples, Kant is now leaning toward the third philosophical view of lying. That view of lying is called teleological. According to teleological ethics, lying is permissible to avoid harm to ourselves or others, produce benefits for ourselves or others, promote fairness and justice, and protect the truth by counteracting another lie. Defenders of this view say we may lie to friends to avoid conflict or decrease social friction (Lying in Prime Time,Journal of Mass Media Ethics, Leslie, 1992). They say complete honesty could make relationships tedious, even laden with conflict (Lying, American Psychologist, Saxe, 1991). They say lying is a valuable tool which permits a person to adapt to society and the world of nature (The Importance of Lying, Ludwig, 1965). Lying is transformed into a behavior which is virtuous, caring, merciful, and fair. But Ludwig cautions us to distinguish between “useful and constructive forms of lying, and the useless and destructive forms.” This is indeed the moral duty falling upon those who would lie so freely. And this is the task many modern philosophers have taken upon themselves, to reject the moral rule against all lying, and to teach us how to lie with skill and honor. I do not advocate such a liberal teleological approach to lying, but rather a cautious utilitarian approach.

In contrast to this, or perhaps at the end of the teleological road, over the cliff, is what I consider the most notorious and immoral use of deception in human history. In China in 1956-1957, Chairman Mao conducted what is known as the “Hundred Flowers Campaign.” Mao made many speeches inviting criticism of the Communist government. In one speech he said: “Let a hundred flowers bloom, let a hundred schools of thought contend.” The Chinese people were very suspicious of Mao’s intent. But after more speeches, they were encouraged, and millions of letters poured in to the government, giving Mao exactly what he had asked for. China’s intellectuals wrote freely in newspapers and magazines, there were rallies in the streets, there were posters proclaiming a new freedom of thought. People criticized the suppression of intellectuals, the harshness and brutality of previous crackdowns, the slavish following of Soviet policies, the appalling poor standards of living in China, the banning of foreign literature,  and corruption among party leaders, including the fact that “Party members enjoy many privileges which make them a race apart” (Wikipedia).   Then Mao claimed that the criticism had gone too far, and used the letters to track down and punish or kill about half a million dissidents who had been drawn in by Mao’s deception. May he burn in Hell forever, if there is a Hell. For this demonic deception of his was just one small episode in decades of the most brutal and frightening oppression one can imagine, with a death toll of perhaps 30 million….

…..and let us not forget, Mao is a role model to many “progressives” and Radicals in America today, and in our government. Someday, this COULD happen here…..

  

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The current “Occupy” movement was orchestrated by Van Jones, the former communist sympathizer who had to resign from the Obama administration. The Occupy movement is the latest brainstorm of the Radical movement, in the tradition of Saul Alinsky. Saul Alinsky taught the use of deception and lying to defeat capitalism. The Radical movement is very similar to communism, which I have already written of here: https://goldenmeantx.wordpress.com/2011/01/30/radicalism-the-dark-side-of-liberalism/

The most relevant paragraph of that article is:

“The ethical Liberal may groan and say, “there you go again, equating Liberals and Radicals with Communism….. it is not the same.” But the underlying philosophy of Radicalism and Communism IS the same. The labels are different, but both of them depict the history of civilization as a war between rich and poor, and depict the rich as the evil enemy of the innocent poor. Both of them want to confiscate the wealth of the rich, destroy the upper class, and remake society according to their doctrine. They are both essentially unethical, willing to lie, misrepresent, mislead, and willing to destroy the reputation or livelihood of their enemies any way they can. The only essential difference between Radicalism and Communism, is the degree of violence they will employ in seeking their power, and the degree of violence they will employ after they gain power. Radicals stage riots and throw a few bombs; Communists stage massive purges and throw millions in prisons or concentration camps. We have yet to see what Radicals will do in America if they gain decisive, irresistible power. We must ensure that they never get the chance to show us what they will do.”

Radicalism and Communism both think nothing of deceiving and lying to defeat their political enemies. They use it as a main strategy, until they gain enough power to establish a “dictatorship of the proletariat”, which has some parallels with the Occupy slogan about the so-called “99% against the 1%”. What we may be seeing is a new pseudo-communist movement being born under our noses, with the support and agreement of President Obama, who said that he stands with the protesters. But that is no surprise, for Obama wrote in his own book that he sought out Marxist professors and students in college, and he appointed a Marxist-leaning activist, Van Jones, to his administration. Jones was the driving force behind the movement that became Occupy Wall Street (see my last article).

I am NOT saying that Obama or the Occupy leaders are communist. But they both have Radical roots, and Radicalism teaches the heavy use of deception and lying, as does communism. That is all I am trying to point out here. Radicalism and communism teach the routine, constant, heavy use of deception and lying.  Political labels can be misleading, but doctrines and behavior point to the truth. If it quacks like a duck and lies like a duck…..

I, on the other hand, support only the non-routine, occasional use of deception and lying, in extreme cases where life, liberty, or property is under attack. Let no one try to accuse me of hypocrisy or double standards on this. They will not succeed.

I hope this discussion of lying has illustrated the difficulty of following moral rules, in terms that all of us can understand through personal experience. If we follow the simplistic moral rule, “Do not lie”, like Kant did, we will soon find ourselves in situations where we are violating moral values which are much more important than a rigid moral rule. Human life is not a simple game with simplistic rules; it is highly complex contest of wills between those who try to help and those who try to hurt. Telling the truth to people who will use the information in harmful ways IS NOT A MORAL DUTY. On the contrary, I must argue that withholding information and/or lying to such people is the proper moral duty. Protecting goodness and opposing evil are far more important than any moral duty to tell the truth. Both goodness and evil have available to them the entire spectrum of behavior and physical action, and evil will use that entire spectrum without hesitation. This means that goodness, when opposing evil, must do everything from telling lies to killing people. Goodness must violate moral rules to preserve moral values, depending on the situation. This is not a modified version of “situation ethics,” it is a proper response to aggressive acts. This is not a typical everyday routine, but a non-typical response to destructive evil in desperate situations. We can rule out certain acts that good people should never do, such as theft, rape, torture, taking of hostages, killing of innocent bystanders and other behavior motivated by intentional cruelty. As Aristotle argued, such acts are inherently evil in themselves, and can never be justified. But other than this one category of prohibited behavior, good people must have available to them the same options of deception and physical force that evil people have. When lives and property are put in danger by agents of evil, the opposing agents of goodness must take strong and decisive steps to defeat them. This is not just a fanciful “Hollywood” brand of goodness, for use only in violent action movies where the good guys defeat the bad guys, often by killing them. This is instead a vital elementary moral principle, usually honored in times of declared war, but not understood or supported in times of so-called peace.

 What good people must realize is this: as long as evil exists (and that will be as long as life exists), as long as evil people are among us, there is no true peace. Lying or telling the truth is just one small part of the problem. War is not just “over there” in Iraq, or wherever our troops happen to be fighting at the moment. The real war is  internal  and spiritual….. between love and hate; charity and greed; creating and destroying; building up and cutting down; setting free and enslaving; giving power and taking power. In simpler terms, the real war is between those who help and those who harm. Which side do you fall on? Really? According to who? Would your family and friends and co-workers agree with your opinion of that? Which side do they fall on? Really? According to who? The battlefield is everywhere, in all our lives, and in all our hearts.

True peace would be complete separation of good people (those who mostly help) from evil people (those who mostly harm), as soon as that quality could be determined, and for as long as that quality lasted in the person. Until that is accomplished, there is temporary peace for individuals lucky enough to avoid evil, but as soon as they become a target of evil, their peace is over, and they will be lucky to escape with their lives and their sanity. But if they fight back with all the tools available to them, some of the same tools evil is using, they have a chance to win. Fighting evil and winning gives a person the greatest satisfaction and the only genuine peace there is, in this world.      

We must also realize that humans are intelligent creatures of limited knowledge, but unlimited creativity. There is also that pesky ego, telling us that we already know  everything we need to know, but we don’t, and we never will. So while we can never know enough to tell the complete truth, we can know enough to paint some very convincing pictures of the truth, that can be very misleading.

Life on this planet is like a walk through the ultimate art gallery in the Twilight Zone, to purchase a painting for our home. We must try to pick out the few masterpieces painted by angels, among the many masterpieces painted by demons. We must also try to pick out the more ordinary pictures painted by well-meaning folks, among those painted by mischievous imps. Sometimes it is hard to tell the difference. But we should pick carefully, because someday, somewhere, somehow, I believe we will held accountable for our choices.

Or perhaps, we are also constantly being held accountable. I recently ran across an interesting quote from Buddha: “We are not punished for our anger, we are punished by our anger.” I would add that all the people around us are punished by our anger as well, and they may not deserve it.  But that is another subject…..

….. at any rate, I hope this article has served to illustrate the importance of philosophy in our everyday lives, whether it is formal philosophy, religious philosophy, or political philosophy.

Philosophy….. who needs that?  You do.  I do.  We all do.  And rather urgently.