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Thread: Is God Perfect?

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    Ecurb Ecurb's Avatar
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    Is God Perfect?

    The "perfection" of the Judeo-Christian God is asserted by both believers and atheists. The atheists want to bash God for being omnipotent while allowing suffering. But is the God of the Bible perfect? In the Old Testament, at least, it seems He is not.

    Some assert God's omniscience, but God is often "surprised", as by the Israelites abandoning him for the statue of a cow. He can but rarely get the Israelites to do what He wants them to do, which seems less than all-powerful. Atheists like Dawkins and Harris bash God for failing to live up to His omniscient and omnipotent reputation -- but how is the reputation derived?

    What do we even mean when we say something is "perfect"? We know that we cannot know the mind of God, so how can we judge its perfection? Moses himself could not see the "face of God". If the greatest of prophets can only glimpse a bit of God's back, how can the rest of us claim to know He is omniscient or omnipotent?

    I mention this because I read an article in which the author says that God's famous reply when Moses asks His name ("I am what I am") is more properly translated as "I will be what I will be." This suggests that God is incomplete, or changing. This seems incompatible with perfection.

    It seems to me that descriptions of God as "perfect" represent a hope of the religious, rather than a reality supported by scripture. Sweeping, idealized descriptions of God contradict scripture, and fuel the arguments of agnostics (like me).

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    Registered User bounty's Avatar
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    ecurb, just in general I don't know that id equate perfection with omniscience or omnipotence, although I disagree with interpretations of scripture that cast god in the light of not being that---I have always thought of perfection in this regard. when jesus is giving the sermon on the mount and as recorded in matthew 5:48 he says "be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly father is perfect" I believe he is ultimately talking about being without sin, as well as being defined by justice, charity, benevolence, mercy and all of the other virtues to which we aspire, and of which, god is.
    Last edited by bounty; 04-06-2016 at 06:12 PM.

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    Without an agreed upon definition of perfect there may be difficulties.

    It is easy to know that jealous entities unable to control their tempers would not be thought of as perfect by many. Entities that destroy

    Amorites
    Canaanites
    Ba-shan-ites
    Midianites
    Perizzites
    Hivites
    Jebusites
    Makkedahites
    Libnah
    Lachish
    Eglon
    Hebronites
    Debir
    Gibeonites

    down to the last woman and child, are probably not perfect.

    If the questiobn is: Can God do anything? then from my philosiphical perspective the anwer is no. God could not create a universe where two is not the successor of one. Either mathematics is an inner necessity of God, or something outside of God that even God is constrained by.

    Aren't perfection and chasos metaphorical opposites? Or do you consider that to have any truth value?

    I have a sneaking suspicion that the universe itself can only approach chaos or perfect order asymptotically, which would bring them mighty near to their opposite poles yet not be wholly chaotic or orderly because of that tiny bit of opposite lying under the asymptote. God I don't know about. Maybe not the same as the universe.

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    Ecurb Ecurb's Avatar
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    Well, my question is about scriptural affirmations of God's perfection, not atheist and agnostic opinions (we get so much of that these days on the internets). I did think of the quote from the New Testament you offer, bounty, but I didn't know what to make of it. Thanks for your interpretation.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ecurb View Post
    Well, my question is about scriptural affirmations of God's perfection, not atheist and agnostic opinions (we get so much of that these days on the internets). I did think of the quote from the New Testament you offer, bounty, but I didn't know what to make of it. Thanks for your interpretation.
    I do not know what what those scriptual affirmations are. What are they, sir?

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    Registered User fajfall's Avatar
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    surely Muhmmad is the greatest prophet given he created the strongest and what will soon be world's largest religion, and he's the only one we're reasonably certain actually existed.

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    Maybe YesNo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ecurb View Post
    I did think of the quote from the New Testament you offer, bounty, but I didn't know what to make of it.
    bounty's answer breaks through the existential paradoxes by reformulating the idea ethically.

    The ideas of perfection, omniscience and omnipotent are important in choosing which God to worship. Humans are picky. They only want to worship the best God they can conceive of. Atheists come in with paradoxes hinting that there isn't any best God and then generalize that to saying there can't be any God at all and then go off the deep end denying agency itself. They are like Zeno saying there isn't any motion. But there are always Gods. If one can't find any, one can always worship Money or chase Fame or collect Sea Shells. We are going to do something. In spite of Zeno we are going to move.
    Last edited by YesNo; 04-07-2016 at 08:27 AM.

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    Registered User bounty's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ecurb View Post
    Well, my question is about scriptural affirmations of God's perfection, not atheist and agnostic opinions (we get so much of that these days on the internets). I did think of the quote from the New Testament you offer, bounty, but I didn't know what to make of it. Thanks for your interpretation.
    my pleasure ecurb. ive got some commentaries that I can peek in too to see if they say anything different on the matter...

    Quote Originally Posted by desiresjab View Post
    I do not know what what those scriptual affirmations are. What are they, sir?
    desiresjab, there are online bible concordances that will allow you to search for a particular word in scripture. once you get to one and type in "perfect" you will get a few dozen hits, mostly adjectives, but some nouns, and many of them in direct reference to god.

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    Registered User Calidore's Avatar
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    Problem is, all God's alleged words have been filtered, or invented outright, by imperfect people. Then those words have been translated into other languages by other imperfect people. And still others have decided which words to include in the official Bible(s).
    You must be the change you wish to see in the world. -- Mahatma Gandhi

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    Quote Originally Posted by Calidore View Post
    Problem is, all God's alleged words have been filtered, or invented outright, by imperfect people. Then those words have been translated into other languages by other imperfect people. And still others have decided which words to include in the official Bible(s).
    Precisely. We appear to have some people on here who know Biblical languages.

    I want to know in Revelations what number was written in the original text that got translated by King James's staff as 200,000,000 (two hundred million). I am not sure what number system the Greeks were using in John's time but I think it was somewhat primitive. One reason the Greeks were not great at numerical thinking like they were with the geometric was their lack of a system for expressing numbers and performing manipulations with them easily.

    How about it, some of you scholars?

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    Registered User bounty's Avatar
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    ive not run across anyone here yet who reads Aramaic, Hebrew or greek but I suspect there are indeed some folks. I have "real life" friends who do though desiresjab and would be happy to inquire.

    exactly what verse in revelation are you referencing?

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    Quote Originally Posted by bounty View Post
    ive not run across anyone here yet who reads Aramaic, Hebrew or greek but I suspect there are indeed some folks. I have "real life" friends who do though desiresjab and would be happy to inquire.

    exactly what verse in revelation are you referencing?
    Revelation 9:13-16.

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    Registered User bounty's Avatar
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    i'll ask and let you know his answer.

    here you go:

    200,000,000 == dismuriades muriadon.
    Dis - 2
    Murias -- 10,000.

    Literally: 2 (x) 10,000 (x) 10,000
    The KJV has a plausible interpretation of the number.

    I would add that in Revelation, the numbers are symbolic. 2 is the number for witness, 10 for completion. This number would be a VERY complete witness. That doesn't seem to fit for the number of troops, though. My study bible, on the other hand, says that this is just meant as an extraordinarily high number: as if a child said, "A bajilion bajilion -- no, double that!" (As far as I can tell, murias is the word which, on its own, represents the biggest number as the Greeks had for a countable number; numbers beyond it were given in terms of murias).

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    On the road, but not! Danik 2016's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Calidore View Post
    Problem is, all God's alleged words have been filtered, or invented outright, by imperfect people. Then those words have been translated into other languages by other imperfect people. And still others have decided which words to include in the official Bible(s).
    I agree with you, Calidore. However the point for me is that the Holy Books as they are have always been a reference of ethical behavior.
    Sometimes I think we are losing this reference in an age where nothing seems to be sacred any more.
    "I seemed to have sensed also from an early age that some of my experiences as a reader would change me more as a person than would many an event in the world where I sat and read. "
    Gerald Murnane, Tamarisk Row

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    Registered User Iain Sparrow's Avatar
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    Honestly, you believe the Holy Bible is a good reference for humans to live wholesome, ethical lives?

    Show me one line in scripture in which either God or Jesus says that one human owning another human is wrong. Slavery, is perhaps the most abhorrent thing one person can do to another, yet not only is it never outlawed in the Bible, God sets down rules and regulations, and lists in detail what shall be the ethical and lawful treatment of slaves... thereby condoning the practice and paving the way for institutionalized slavery.


    Here are ten passages from the Bible that clearly demonstrate God's position on slavery:

    Genesis chapter 17, verse 12:
    And he that is eight days old shall be circumcised among you, every man child in your generations, he that is born in the house, or bought with money of any stranger, which is not of thy seed. He that is born in thy house, and he that is bought with thy money, must needs be circumcised.
    In this passage God understands that people buy other people and, quite obviously, is comfortable with the concept. God wants slaves circumcised in the same way as non-slaves.

    Exodus chapter 12 verse 43:
    The Lord said to Moses and Aaron, "These are the regulations for the Passover: No foreigner is to eat of it. Any slave you have bought may eat of it after you have circumcised him, but a temporary resident and a hired worker may not eat of it.
    God again shows that he is completely comfortable with the concept of slavery and singles out slaves for special treatment.

    Exodus Chapter 21, verse 1:
    Now these are the ordinances which you shall set before them. When you buy a Hebrew slave, he shall serve six years, and in the seventh he shall go out free, for nothing. If he comes in single, he shall go out single; if he comes in married, then his wife shall go out with him. If his master gives him a wife and she bears him sons or daughters, the wife and her children shall be her master's and he shall go out alone. But if the slave plainly says, 'I love my master, my wife, and my children; I will not go out free,' then his master shall bring him to God, and he shall bring him to the door or the doorpost; and his master shall bore his ear through with an awl; and he shall serve him for life.
    Here God describes how to become a slave for life, and shows that it is completely acceptable to separate slaves from their families. God also shows that he completely endorses the branding of slaves through mutilation.

    Exodus Chapter 21, verse 20:
    If a man beats his male or female slave with a rod and the slave dies as a direct result, he must be punished, but he is not to be punished if the slave gets up after a day or two, since the slave is his property.
    Not only does God condone slavery, but he is also completely comfortable with the concept of beating your slaves, as long as you don't kill them.

    Exodus Chapter 21, verse 32:
    If the bull gores a male or female slave, the owner must pay thirty shekels of silver to the master of the slave, and the bull must be stoned.
    Not only does God condone slavery, but here God places a value on slaves -- 30 shekels of silver. Note that God is not sophisticated enough to understand the concept of inflation. It is now 3,000 years later, and a gored slave is still worth 30 shekels of silver according to God's word.

    Leviticus Chapter 22, verse 10:
    No one outside a priest's family may eat the sacred offering, nor may the guest of a priest or his hired worker eat it. But if a priest buys a slave with money, or if a slave is born in his household, that slave may eat his food.
    Here God shows that the children of slaves are slaves themselves, and that he is completely happy with that concept.

    Leviticus Chapter 25, verse 44:
    Your male and female slaves are to come from the nations around you; from them you may buy slaves. You may also buy some of the temporary residents living among you and members of their clans born in your country, and they will become your property. You can will them to your children as inherited property and can make them slaves for life, but you must not rule over your fellow Israelites ruthlessly.
    Here God states where you may purchase your slaves, and clearly specifies that slaves are property to be bought, sold and handed down.

    Luke, Chapter 7, verse 2:
    Now a centurion had a slave who was dear to him, who was sick and at the point of death. When he heard of Jesus, he sent to him elders of the Jews, asking him to come and heal his slave. And when they came to Jesus, they besought him earnestly, saying, "He is worthy to have you do this for him, for he loves our nation, and he built us our synagogue." And Jesus went with them. When he was not far from the house, the centurion sent friends to him, saying to him, "Lord, do not trouble yourself, for I am not worthy to have you come under my roof; therefore I did not presume to come to you. But say the word, and let my servant be healed. For I am a man set under authority, with soldiers under me: and I say to one, 'Go,' and he goes; and to another, 'Come,' and he comes; and to my slave, 'Do this,' and he does it." When Jesus heard this he marveled at him, and turned and said to the multitude that followed him, "I tell you, not even in Israel have I found such faith." And when those who had been sent returned to the house, they found the slave well.
    Here Jesus shows that he is completely comfortable with the concept of slavery. Jesus heals the slave without any thought of freeing the slave or admonishing the slave's owner.

    Colossians, chapter 3, verse 22:
    Slaves, obey in everything those who are your earthly masters, not with eyeservice, as men-pleasers, but in singleness of heart, fearing the Lord. Whatever your task, work heartily...
    Here God shows that he is in complete acceptance of a slave's position, and encourages slaves to work hard.


    If the Bible is written by God, and these are the words of the Lord, then you can come to only one possible conclusion: God is an impressive advocate of slavery and is fully supportive of the concept.

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