Thursday, September 10, 2009

Job (and possibly Ben)

christianity, job, bible, satan, god, atheism, atheist,
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.


  1. I love God's answer to Job, it is 'might makes right, so fuck off.'

  2. Job: "Oh, God, why? WHYYYYYYYYY?????????"

    God: "Cuz I can, that's why!"

  3. This is why even the ancient polytheists were like, "Huh? WTF! That's crazy shit."

  4. I believe in extra biblical texts, when Job asks God about his kids, God answers, "Well at least they suffered horrible agonizing pain before they passed away and went to Sheol."

    So again, remind me how God is not like a Mafia boss?

  5. Ben isn't Job, namely because Ben goes around killing and kidnapping people. Don't get me wrong though, I love the buggy-eyed bastard, he's one of the best villians on TV, but he is just that, a villian.
    Jacob is totally a god though. A Dying God at that, so he's right up my alley, heheh.
    For a god to say to you, "You will suffer. I can see it but can do shit about it. Sorry dude, I can only do so much," is one thing, but to inflict that suffering on a whim is truly awful. Job's story is one of the saddest stories written. I really have the hardest time imagining what the point of the story is though, because a human would be cursing every single god by that point. Maybe the point is that Job was an alien? A demon? Who knows.

  6. I just have to ask ... who is "Ben"?

  7. Ben is a character from the television show Lost.

  8. Ah, thanks. I don't watch Lost; thought Ben was another Bible character or something.

  9. Well, there were Benjamins in the bible, but LOST: WATCH IT. NOW.

  10. Ah Hell to the no on watching Lost. It's wound down into nothing more than your typical "never-ends-and-filled-with-ridiculous-twists" show, the kind I wish would be scrubbed off my precious airwaves. Only shows I'm watching are House, Fringe, 24 and half of Discovery Channel's lineup. (And some random stuff here and there.)

  11. Ah, it did kind of hit a rut in the third season, but once the fourth season started and they started to gear up for the end of the series it has definately started wrapping things up and answering questions. They actually have a new term for something that was awesome, became terrible, and then regained it's awesomeness, it's called "Returning to the Island", after Lost. Seriously, watch it. The last season starts next year. Catch up now.

  12. yeah, three was definitely a weak point, but five will blow your mind. totally blown.

    and seriously, you can't complain too much about Lost when you're watching 24. i mean, how many times can Jack Bauer die, not die, and save the world, and then die?

  13. Don't you dare talk crap about my Jack! He's Chuck Norris without the real-life stoopid.

    Besides, I've just been a fan of the show since it began. Kinda hard to shake it off.

  14. And besides, you should know you cannot kill Jack Bauer. Killing him doesn't make him dead, just angry. ;-)

  15. Oh five was astounding, and 6 is looking great too. More Richard! We get more Richard! Yeee!

  16. You know, I absolutely love Keifer Sutherland and can not stand 24, mainly because he reminds me of Chuck Norris in it. It just bugs me. And then crazy right-wing bloggers started talking about Jack was the ultimate American and that just turned me all the way off.

  17. Yeah, 'bout that ... I really don't see why 24 is hailed as being more conservative-leaning than neutral. Probably 'cuz of the torture (*Republicans fap*) and that sort of stuff; I just like watching Jack escape death only to break terrorists' bones. 'Tis fun. =)

  18. that was my problem 24, to be honest. i love keifer, but keifer as norris with the love of the crazy right was a bit much.

  19. I remember finding the Job story disturbing even when I was a thoroughly indoctrinated Christian kid. Even then it struck me as God being cruel for no good reason.

  20. I think it is a epic and beautiful poem. Did you see my post about it? I named it Rhetorical Adjuration.

  21. BeamStalk;

    i was just coming to the comments to make the comment that you made - that the story of Job makes God sound like a mafia boss - i am so very glad i read the comments first :D

    but its true - it's how all the portrayals of the mafia show it - you want to send a message, you kill the person's loved ones.

    i wonder, being that "The" Mob is made up pretty much entirely of Italian Catholics, that's *why* they use methods like killing a person's children, spouse, parents, etc - they got the idea from the book of Job?

  22. Job is a very sad story, and you explained why better than I've heard anyone.

    There is a lesson in Job, though, in that it gives us a good insight into the mindset of ancient Israelites (technically, they weren't properly "Jews" just yet).

    The insight that I find most interesting is their view of the afterlife, which is alluded to time and again in Job, but not quite spelled out. To illustrate, isn't it funny that, at no point, does God say anything like, "Not to worry Job, I will reward you in Heaven!" The reason? Because the ancient Israelites had no concept of going to Heaven when they died, but they thought they went to Sheol, either the upper, comfortable part, or the lower part of Sheol where your soul would be slowly obliterated. Being good or bad, saved or lost, a believer or not, had nothing to do with which part you went to, but silly things like, whether or not you had children! Ironically, some of the ideas about Sheol morphed into the later belief in Hell.

    I've actually written an entire book on this topic--"Hell? No! Why You Can Be Certain There's No Such Place As Hell," and I go into a lot more detail there. If you're interested, you can get a free Ecopy of my book at my website:


Comments are for you guys, not for me. Say what you will. Don't feel compelled to stay on topic, I enjoy it when comments enter Tangentville or veer off into Non Sequitur Town. Just keep it polite, okay?

I am attempting to use blogger's new comment spam feature. If you don't immediately see your comment, it is being held in spam, I will get it out next time I check the filter. Unless you are Dennis Markuze, in which case you're never seeing your comment.

Creative Commons License
Forever in Hell by Personal Failure is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
Based on a work at