If you would like to prove to yourself that God is imaginary, here is one easy way to do it: Look for places in the Bible where God is an absurd, unmitigated jerk instead of the “all-knowing”, “all-loving”, “fully-enlightened” being that he is supposed to be.
Now that statement makes a tremendous presumption that only an open theist would make: that God can learn something. The problem with that is that Scripture just doesn’t support that assumption, period. Here’s a nice debate on that question featuring Dr. James White and Bob Enyart. Mr. Brain is simply descending into ad hominem attacks to cover his ignorance and presuppositions rather than honestly deal with the texts in question in context. Honest, thinking readers wouldn’t treat any other text like he is treating these texts, which have raised questions for centuries.
As I have said before, it is only through proper application of hermeneutical principles and exegesis of the texts that we can get to what they mean, and a proper application of the texts. While Marshall lists several texts, one in particular that I’ve answered here, and here, this response will be built around his attack of what is probably one of the most, some say, controversial, though I just prefer to say difficult.
Even I will admit that many of these texts have been abused over the years, and its actually only in the past 75 to 90 years, with the discovery of older and better manuscripts that we believers have been blessed with greater and deeper understanding of many of the texts, except for one in particular: 1 Corinthians 14:34-35 (ESV), which reads,
[…]the women should keep silent in the churches. For they are not permitted to speak, but should be in submission, as the Law also says. If there is anything they desire to learn, let them ask their husbands at home. For it is shameful for a woman to speak in church.
Some modern translations (ESV, HCSB) seem to run the last half of verse 33 into the beginning of the statement. But as Daniel B. Wallace, a New Testament scholar has noted, “[…] many of the Western witnesses have these verses after v. 40, while the rest of the tradition retains them here.” So if it is those verses, then the part of the verse that gets tagged onto verse 34, “As in all the churches of the saints[…]” is properly attached to verse 33, as the NIV, NKJV, NLT, NASB, etc, render it, “For God is not the author of confusion but of peace, as in all the churches of the saints (NKJV).” Also, I found this exegetical examination of the text interesting.
And since God is “not the author of confusion”, the confusion is inserted by the reader. So, what is the best way to respond to such an errant criticism in the manner that Mr. Brain is bringing the attack? Simply, it is an anachronistic fallacy. Since the terms that he is bringing to bear would not apply by the culture present in those societies, the criticism is essentially irrelevant.
But let’s look at his definitions, which he actually provides, but not exactly since he confuses the adjective “sexist” with the noun “sexism”, so I will use the definition of the word that Mr. Brain chooses to use:
1.attitudes or behavior based on traditional stereotypes of sexual roles.2. discrimination or devaluation based on a person’s sex, as in restrictedjob opportunities; especially, such discrimination directedagainst women.
Does God exhibit an attitude based on traditional sexual roles? No, he defines those roles.
Does God “devalue” a person based on their sex? No. In Galatians 3:28, the same author of 1 Corinthians writes this,
There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.(ESV)
Most critics will go after the usage of masculine pronouns in the text, and some modern translations attempt to soften this fact, but that is merely a feature of language that the writers used to write with. It was a common practice and actually is irrelevant as well.
But, for some bullet point refutations to close this out.
- Are any of Jesus’ disciples women? No. —OMG, he did not just say that? Really, Marshall, if you read “The Da Vinci Code” the most famous female disciple is mentioned there, and slandered, Mary Magdalen. In fact, Luke 8:1-3 lists several women besides her: Joanna and Susanna, by name, as well as mentioning “many others who provided for Him from their substance.” Mark lists a few others: Mary the mother of James, and a woman named Salome (Mark 16:1). So, just on the basis of those three, this is refuted.
- Are any of the elders in the book of Revelation women? No.—Since the book of Revelation is an apocalyptic work, dealing with images that are difficult to interpret (10-horn beasts and giant eagles and all) this argument is somewhat irrelevant because the “elders” that are mentioned in 5:10 are not named, only numbered.
- Are any of the books of the Bible written by women? No. —This is an argument from ignorance since, technically, the books could have been written by women who were acting as scribes for any of the credited authors. But, let’s just ask that question of any other work of antiquity: how many of those were written by women? Sorry, doesn’t pass the smell test.
But just to put this to bed, and prove how ridiculous this claim is:
- Woman, even though she bore the curse of “increased pains in childbirth”, was the entry point for God’s invasion of time.
- Many women are named in scripture doing great things: Deborah (Judges 4), who was a “judge of Israel”, Jael (also Judges 4), Ruth, Bathsheba, Esther, Mary the mother of Jesus, Priscilla (Acts 18, 1 Corinthians 16), as well as Euodia and Synteche who, “labored (with Paul) in the gospel (Philipians 4:2-3)”.
But, just for kicks, let’s assume that God is sexist, that God prefers men over women. Guess what, it does not follow that God would be imaginary. This “proof” is only further proof of the fact that Marshall Brain simply is ignorant of the facts and ignorant of logic.