The Instigator
Con (against)
The Contender
Pro (for)

The bible is a moral book

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 1/19/2017 Category: Religion
Updated: 2 years ago Status: Debating Period
Viewed: 794 times Debate No: 99115
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (2)
Votes (0)




Rules of debate:

1) If pro(divergent_ambon) chooses to use round 1 for debate, they should waive round 4 to keep the number of rounds used for debate even between us since I am not using round 1 for debate. Otherwise, they don't need to if they don't use it for debate

2) No insults, ad hominem, or personal attacks

3) Last round used for debate should only be used for rebuttal to previous argument(s) made by opponent.

If any of these rules are broken by either side, voters should award the point for conduct to the one who did not violate these rules or did so in a lesser manner.


We should agree on definitions of terms upfront, if pro disagrees with these, then they should comment before accepting the debate, and suggest their own definitions and I may decide to agree to those.

Moral: "Holding or manifesting high principles for proper conduct" [1]

To determine what is proper conduct, we will go by what is generally accepted in society

Bible: The old and new testaments consisting of the books Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, Joshua, Judges, Ruth, 1 and 2 Samuel, 1 and 2 kings, 1 and 2 Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther, Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Lamentations, Ezekiel, Daniel, Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephania, Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi, Mathew, Mark, Luke, John, Acts, Romans, 1 and 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philipians, Colossians, 1 and 2 Thessalonians, 1 and 2 Timothy, Titus, Philemon, Hebrews, James, 1 and 2 Peter, 1, 2, and 3 John, Jude, and Revelation.



I'll make this an acceptance round for a more structured debate.

I want to make it clear before beginning that

1) I'm not an inerrantist. I don't think the Bible is 100% true or somehow the "word of God."

2) I'm not a fundamentalist Christian. I most closely could be seen as a panentheist identifying with portions of various Christian liturgical sects and Valentinian Gnosticism.

3) I'm training to be a historian of the ancient Near East and various aspects of the Christian and Jewish tradition.

I know the Bible has lots of objectionable passages and ideas, and I cannot wait to get into the discussion of them and their overall place in the narrative of the canonical Scriptures.

(Note: I will be using both the OT canonical order of the Tanakh and Protestantism interchangeably)

Looking forward to the discussion!
Debate Round No. 1


I'm going to keep this short, sweet, and to the point. Nonetheless, the evidence is compelling. How can the bible be considered a moral book, when it has so many promotions of violence in it?
You can see a nearly complete list of all instances where violence was promoted in the bible here [1] Now of course, not every single one of those instances is violence promotion, but just a report on something violent that occured, but much of it is God, Himself doing the violence, encouraging violence, or doing nothing to condemn the violence.

I'll name a few specific examples from that list though, but anyone can look through it themselves and they should do so.

1) God commanded to kill all of the amalekites, even women, innocent children, and their innocent animals (Deuteronomy 25:17-19)
2) God Comanded Abraham to kill his own son, for only the reason to test his faith, but since he's omniscient, he would know Abraham had much faith, so this was pointless. (see genesis 22)
3) 42 children were mauled to death by bears through the will of the Lord for merely making fun of a bald man(2 Kings 2:24)

And there are countless other examples similar to the above. There are also other examples of questionable morals besides violence, such as things that are misogynistic[2], intollerant[3], unjust[4], and against family values[5]. While there are some morally good things in the bible[6] I argue the bad outweigh the good as there are many more examples of awful things than good things in the bible, and murder outweighs just about any good thing a person could do.
Zinnia Jones: The Six Moral Dealbreakers of Christianity


My opponent brought up several troubling passages in the Bible. I'd throw in a few more, like Psalm 137:9 and Numbers 31.

Methodological issues
The issue is that my opponent reads the passages of the Bible as proof texts, as if I'll find some wholesome parts of the Bible and use them to rebut what he has said. This, however, is completely wrong. It assumes inerrantist and fundamentalist interpretation as the only viable interpretation. It is not. In fact, such interpretations were a rarity until the fundamentalists of the early 1900's. Unfortunately, skeptic and Christian alike have swallowed this falsity wholesale.

The Bible was written by men and women. It is first and foremost literature. In Tolstoy's "War in Peace," there is rape. In "Moby Dick," there is cannibalism. In Weisel's "Night," there are all manners of tortures and horrors. Yet no one calls these beautiful works "immoral," for they encapsulate the human experience for these people.

The Bible is an anthology of works that encapsulates the human experience. It is deeply flawed, contradictory, and contains horrible things, but it also is deeply inspiring, empathetic, and contains stories of great beauty and love. This is the human experience. It is no more 'immoral' than any of the other classics I provided.

The Story of the Bible

In the beginning, man created their God, Yahveh. Yahveh was a tribal deity to them, just as Chemosh was the Moabites. Yahveh was a brutal deity and a "man of war" (Exodus 15:3), coincidentally just as the Israelites were. He commands genocide, rape, and a brutist understanding of "chesed," a covenant loyalty to family, race, and religion.

Later, when these stories were re-read hundreds of years after their composition, things were different. Now, the Jews were oppressed by the Assyrians and Babylonians. Prophets like Amos, Jonah, Micah, and others began preaching a univeral God, and a God who cared about the poor and needy more than war, sacrifice, or right beliefs. (Amos 2:7, 4:1-2, 5:11 - Micah 6:8 - Jonah 4:10-11). This God replaced the tribal deity of old.

It later changed again hundreds of years later. The Romans were in control now. New ideas about God came. That is when Jesus came around and the legendary stories about him grew. The Jesus of faith was highly universalist, and his ideas of God hung on compassion and kindness to all (friend and enemy), as well as self-sacrifice and love. (Matthew 25) This went beyond social boundaries (Mark 2:16), gender roles (Luke 8:1-3), and race (Luke 10:25-37).

Jesus is said to have died "fulfilling the law." (Matthew 5:17) Jesus died to connect all people together and for all people to be reunited with each other and with God... the ultimate sacrifice.

The Culmination of The Story of the Bible
The culmination of the Protestant Christian Bible is in these passages

Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

"There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus."

This is the culmination of the story of Scripture, and I doubt anyone can say that's "immoral."
Debate Round No. 2


RE: Methodological issues

My opponent said "It assumes inerrantist and fundamentalist interpretation as the only viable interpretation."

Well, I'm not sure I see any other way these verses can be interpreted. You are free to interpret them another way if you can find one. I just doubt there is another way to interpret these passages.

My opponent said "The Bible was written by men and women. It is first and foremost literature. In Tolstoy's "War in Peace," there is rape. In "Moby Dick," there is cannibalism. In Weisel's "Night," there are all manners of tortures and horrors. Yet no one calls these beautiful works "immoral," for they encapsulate the human experience for these people."

Well, yes, the book containing these things doesn't make that immoral, that wasn't my argument. My argument was, quote by quote, "but much of it is God, Himself doing the violence, encouraging violence, or doing nothing to condemn the violence. " When the moral authority on the matter is doing the violence, encouraging it, or doing nothing to condemn it, it gives the message that these things are perfectly alright to do. If it just had violence in it, without god encouraging it and commanding it, then that would be a different story and I wouldn't call it immoral.

Re The story of the Bible

I don't see anything to rebut here, other than that just because there are good things also in the bible, it doesn't outweigh the atrocities.

Re: the culmination of the story of the Bible

The culmination was lead by a lot of atrocious things though; even during Jesus' life, there are questionable morals as well, such as Jesus claiming in Mathew 10:34 that he wasn't here to bring peace to the world, "but a sword". There are other examples in this in the New Testament as well.

Bottom Line: My opponent would need to offer a viable interpretation to the verses I pointed to in order to claim that the Bible is moral, otherwise it definitely seems like it is not.
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Debate Round No. 3
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Debate Round No. 4
2 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Posted by divergent_ambon 2 years ago
My WiFi has gone out at my college, and my phone is not apt enough to post an argument. If it's alright, I would defer this debate to a separate new one in a day or so.
Posted by FollowerofChrist1955 2 years ago
You should attend this debate:
Atheism- A lost reality! A hopeless, helpless cause!
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