[Replying to post 183 by Mithrae
You've spent half the thread excoriating others for supposedly trying to see the worst in this individual Sabbath breaker (when in fact it was his peers, or 'God,' who actually deemed him worthy of death)
At least two people have said the man was some sort of rebel, and equated what he did with genocide and treason. So yeah...there's no "supposedly" going on here. They literally have tried to see the worst in the man.
There's nothing necessarily sadistic about stoning compared to most other forms of execution. Depending on size, speed and accuracy the first stone cast could easily do the job, or certainly the first volley; perhaps a second of actual physical pain comparable to beheading or shooting and more humane than hanging.
All these methods can and have caused intense pain and not just physical pain. There's also the [strike]physiological[/strike] psychological shock of having to kill someone. If we're to go by the axiom of there's a god involved with great knowledge and power, such a god would be able to tell the Hebrews to use a painless method of killing.
but apparently with far less basis you are quite determined to see the worst in a whole nation!
Is this because I called them howling barbarians?
Objectively and most obviously, they spread participation in the act of execution around beyond a single individual, in addition to (perhaps) diffusing/lessening each participants' subjective feeling of responsibility. They may be a slightly different take on the same concept, or may be the same since we're not really told anything about the psychology behind stoning; it would be difficult to know whether you threw the killing stone, too!
There's a huge difference between blank cartridges/dud switches and heavy stones. The former are physically incapable of harming someone, while the latter is. A group of men shooting at someone and some of them having blank cartridges means that while they don't know which of them has the actual lethal firearm, they go into it knowing that for some of them they are physically incapable of harming the prisoner.
In this situation, all the rocks are capable of killing the prisoner. Each and every one. There is no mention in the story, no thought given, to the concept of diffused responsibility, so this is another strike against the supposed existing god. Each and every person who picks up a rock does so in the full knowledge that he has in his hands a murder weapon and intends to use it.
Again, the key question is whether the 'law of Moses' was better or more optimal than what was available from surrounding contemporary cultures. If so then it would be compatible with the assumption that being a good god is akin to being a guiding parent.
In this analogy, I'd expect to hear about parents killing their children for tidying up their room on a Saturday. Is that what a good, guiding parent is supposed to do?
The parent analogy doesn't work.
Neither you nor anyone else has answered that key question; most folk critics and Christians alike seem not to even be thinking about it, many simply throwing out hyper-emotive descriptions of the incident as 'stupidity' or 'barbaric' or (as you put it) "the absolute basest bloodlust in humanity."
I have been answering it. Consider that the Christians on this page have been saying that the man deserved to die, because he after all violated one of the Ten Commandments. Well...Thou Shalt Not Kill is also one of the commandments. Does a guiding parent give contradictory orders to his children?
The reason why I have been so vocal on this thread (and other related threads, much like the moral question I posed to Christians as a group in the Ask a Group subforum) is BECAUSE of what I think about this whole concept, of being guided by such a god, or worshipping, following, obeying and learning from it...and my conclusion that such a concept does not make sense.
You've also claimed that you could provide a better societal model for even a primitive society to follow,
Using even my limited education, I could improve things for the Hebrews. I could instruct them in germ theory for example. My own societal model would be something more than just "Do whatever this man over here says God has commanded", which seems to be the be all and end all of what the story of Numbers 15 teaches.
You haven't even answered my critique that aggregate human nature seems rather stubborn; that there is not and never has been any shortage of conceptually better ways to do things, and yet even enlightened 21st century America is still struggling to measure up to many of the better ideals expressed in the Pentateuch itself!
In our modern day, our legal concepts have things like mens rea, mitigating circumstances, etc. Such concepts appear not to have been the case regarding Numbers 15. I wonder at that - if we humans can think up such things, why not God? Why is it God apparently doesn't consider mens rea? Why is it that the Christians on this page do not allow any sort of presumption of innocence kind of thought. I do that. I don't know WHAT the man was trying to do with the sticks. Others have said that he was a dangerous rebel, and equated what he did with wilful genocide and treason. Okay...maybe he was, maybe he wasn't. But the story doesn't tell us that. All the data
we have is
1) The man picked up sticks
2) It was the wrong day of the week to do so
3) The mob asks what should be done with him
4) God answers (via Moses) that the man should die.
The Christians on this thread have (most of them) jumped to the conclusion that the man is evil and was plotting something. As I have said a few times, this is indicative to me of what the religion does - it causes people to think the absolute worst of one another. Not the best.
Even if you suppose that you could create a societal model which seems miles better in your head, there's every probability that in pragmatic terms trying to drag the Israelites so far from where they started would fare much worse than the 'law of Moses' merely urging the them forward by a few steps.
Possibly. However, is this to say one shouldn't try to teach something better than hurling stones at skulls for picking up sticks?
But the arguments against that position have really been of a rather low quality indeed... so many critics and atheists gathered here making claims and assertions apparently based more in how they feel about the story than whether they can even theoretically justify their views with evidence
This isn't a discussion about evidence, per se. You'll notice that the OP's question doesn't ask whether the god mentioned in Numbers 15 exists. No the question is
"If you were there with these Israelites, would you stone this man in obedience to Moses and to Yahweh? "
So of course the discussion went where it did. Also I want to point out that those who supported the stoning and said they'd take part also made arguments without evidence. Those people who said the man was essentially doing genocide and treason - part of my arguments on this thread have been about
the complete lack of evidence to back up their claims (the story makes no mention of what he planned to do with the sticks) and yet here they are thinking the absolute worst of him.
Again, the key question is whether the 'law of Moses' was better or more optimal than what was available from surrounding contemporary cultures.
I want to go back to this for a moment - should the Hebrews have burned infants in fires to [strike]Molech[/strike] excuse me Yahweh if Yahweh commanded it?