I have a tremendous problem with the Book of Job: it's the saddest story ever told. It's a tale of a cruel god and a crueler bet.
If you're not familiar with the Book of Job, Job was a righteous man, one of few in the Bible to be named so.
In the land of Uz there lived a man whose name was Job. This man was blameless* and upright; he feared God and shunned evil.
One day, for no apparent reason, Satan pays a visit to God.
One day the angels came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan also came with them. 7 The LORD said to Satan, "Where have you come from?" Satan answered the LORD, "From roaming through the earth and going back and forth in it."
8 Then the LORD said to Satan, "Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil."
Satan, ever the logical one, I guess, suggests that perhaps Job wouldn't be so righteous if God weren't forever rewarding Job for his righteousness. It's a valid point, but what God does next is nothing short of criminal.
9 "Does Job fear God for nothing?" Satan replied. 10 "Have you not put a hedge around him and his household and everything he has? You have blessed the work of his hands, so that his flocks and herds are spread throughout the land. 11 But stretch out your hand and strike everything he has, and he will surely curse you to your face."
12 The LORD said to Satan, "Very well, then, everything he has is in your hands, but on the man himself do not lay a finger."
I have three problems with this: (a) Suppose you were bragging to a friend that your dog is the best natured dog in the world, and your friend says, "well, sure, you're always coddling him, of course he's good natured. I bet if you started starving and beating him, he wouldn't be such a good dog," would you say, "okay, then, beat and starve my dog. that'll show you!" Of course not.**
If you wouldn't torment a dog just to make a point, why is it okay for God to torment a blameless man?
(b) God doesn't even allow Satan to torment Job directly. God has Satan tormenting innocent animals and family members. They didn't do anything, but they'll pay to prove God right. How is that not the worst thing you've ever heard?
While he was still speaking, yet another messenger came and said, "Your sons and daughters were feasting and drinking wine at the oldest brother's house, 19 when suddenly a mighty wind swept in from the desert and struck the four corners of the house. It collapsed on them and they are dead, and I am the only one who has escaped to tell you!"(c) What is the difference between Satan and God in this story? Sure, Satan's the one who suggested torturing Job for no reason at all, but God's the one who allowed it. Between the two, God may actually be the less moral entity.
Despite losing all his livestock and his entire family, Job remains faithful to God. Not one to lose a bet, Satan suggests that if God allowed Job himself to be tormented, Job would surely crack.
7 So Satan went out from the presence of the LORD and afflicted Job with painful sores from the soles of his feet to the top of his head.
Job, of course, does not crack. Eventually, Job does (sort of) question God's will, at which point God basically answers with "Because fuck you, that's why!"
1Do you know when the mountain goats give birth? Do you watch when the doe bears her fawn?
2 Do you count the months till they bear? Do you know the time they give birth?
Job immediately backs down, instead of asking what goats and deer have to do with killing his children in order to win a bet with Satan***.
The most disturbing portion of Job comes right at the end wherein God makes everything better by giving Job more livestock and more children. Sure, God, children are all the same. Just replace the one you killed and that makes it all better. Seriously, who would be okay with this?
If the point of Job were to remind me that God is fickle and dangerous, and that even following all the rules could well earn me torture, the story would be bad enough. Christians however, read stories like this and then blather on about "love" and "gifts" and "justice". That's just insane. I'm beginning to think atheism is just the moral response to crazed immorality of Yhwh.
*People like Ray Comfort like to remind us, well, more like beat us over the head with, that no one is blameless, you know, except for Job, as it says, right there in the Bible, that they say is the exact, literal word of god.
**If you would do that, go jump in front of a train, you stupid fucking psychopath.
***Answer: Absolutely nothing.
In case you're wondering, Ben is a Lost reference. It's been suggested that Jacob is God and Ben Linus is Job.