Reading through this thread, I was struck by one of Ventus's arguments:
If there is a God, and particularly if God has revealed himself through Scripture, then ... Scripture should be better than it is.
It looks like Ventus's presence in this thread has tapered off, which is a shame because I was really curious to hear a solid response from Ron. So let's set aside Ventus's numerous other points for a minute, and focus on the particular issue of whether we can easily improve the Bible.
If God is an omnipotent, benevolent being who has chosen to reveal Himself through the Word of the Bible, we should expect the Bible to be essentially perfect. Admittedly, the translation from Hebrew could have introduced a few errors, but on the whole, a book written by God should be good enough that no human could improve it significantly. Therefore, if I can think of ways to substantially improve the Bible, that is evidence against the existence of the God of the Bible.
(This argument doesn't work if we think of the Bible as just a book by people about God rather than God's Word made manifest. Based on Ron's earlier distinction between God and god(s), though, I get the impression that this thread is about the God who wrote the Bible, so the argument applies. If my impression was mistaken, I apologize.)
So, how can I improve the Bible? Ventus listed three ways; I'm ignoring the Commandments one, since I think the other two are much cleaner examples and are by themselves sufficient to make my point.
1. Condemn slavery. First off, Ron said earlier that slavery is a post-fall thing, and just because man engaged in it doesn't mean God condoned it. In fact, the Bible does
explicitly condone slavery in, for instance, Leviticus 25:44 :
Both thy bondmen, and thy bondmaids, which thou shalt have, of the heathen that are round about you; of them shall ye buy bondmen and bondmaids.
That's from the King James version; Merriam-Webster defines "bondmen/maids" as people bound to service without wages (ie. slaves), and newer translations just use the term "slaves" explicitly. In other words, it's ok to have slaves as long as they're heathens. Support of slavery can also be found in the New Testament (eg. Ephesians 6:5).
Even without that explicit condoning, though, what does it mean to not have an anti
-slavery passage in the Bible? Ron is right that the Bible can't be expected to condemn every immoral act by name, but Leviticus makes a good effort to do so; it's mostly just a big list of God's rules for mankind. Chapter 11 is all about what you are and aren't allowed to eat, with several helpful examples. Chapter 18 is just a big index of S@xual taboos, and chapter 20 is another index of the same taboos
but with the death penalty attached to most of them. In all of this laying-down-the-law, how is it that God neglected to condemn the appalling human rights violation that is slavery, but remembered to note that we can't eat rabbits because they "chew the cud"?
2. Get rid of Genesis 19:8, or at least modify it heavily. Again, Ron's response is that Lot offering his daughters to the rapists was an act of man, not an act of God. But Genesis 19 is not just a record of what happened one day in Sodom way back when. It's meant to teach a lesson; the Sodomites are punished because they've strayed too far from the righteous path, Lot is saved because he puts his trust in God, and Lot's wife is punished for even looking back to the cesspool of sin from which she was fleeing. Lot is clearly the protagonist in this story; his hospitality saves the travelers from the mob, and his faith saves him when the rest of the city burns. Why is it never discussed that by offering his daughters to the rapists, he is committing the second most immoral act in the chapter (right after the rapists themselves)? If the angles who saved him were really messengers of a good God, they would have at some point explained to him that his actions were despicable. And since Genesis 19 is a story about morality, this explanation should have made its way into the final draft.
In a nutshell, the Bible would be a better book if it condemned slavery instead of endorsing (or even ignoring) it. And it would be a better book if it didn't gloss over Lot's heinous act. This argument can really be responded to in one of two ways:
-Tell me why the changes I suggest aren't clearly improvements, or
-Maintain that the Christian God is real, but accept this as evidence the Bible probably wasn't written entirely by Him and probably doesn't describe Him perfectly.