The Story of Naaman – That’s one mean god

The second book of Kings contains the story of Naaman, the head of a foreign army, who is cured from his leprosy by Elisha.

It’s a story I’ve read and heard preached about many times. For those wishing to extol the virtues of faith and the overcoming of doubt, it makes for a great narrative.

What is less well known is that at the end of the story Elisha’s servant gets a little greedy and claims the payment for the healing after Elisha has turned it down. It’s not clear how Elisha finds out about the deception, but he isn’t best pleased and promptly curses the servant and all his descendent to be forever plagues with leprosy. Nice.

It is this sort of ending that justifies the challenge that the Christian god isn’t a god of love but a moral monster.

Subjective moral values aside, the story creates a narrative that should be testable today. The servant’s descendents were cursed to suffer with leprosy forever. Which means that there should be alive today a family line whose descents all suffer with this disease. This would make for an interesting medical case, especially since leprosy isn’t a genetic disease. Does a family line exist today where all members suffer from leprosy?

The existence of such a family would surely be evidence for the authenticity of this story and therefore affirm the existence of such a curse, which surely would conclude that the Christian god isn’t a myth after all. It would also confirm that the Christian god is a petulant vengeful scumbag that we should be afraid of but is not at all worthy of worship. So if this story can be confirmed to be true based on the servant’s curse, then maybe Christians don’t want the lineage to be identified after all.

There are some Christian objections though:
– maybe it’s not leprosy, the English says leprosy, but the original could mean any skin disease.

My ancient language knowledge isn’t good enough to read the original; there is strong support for it being leprosy and also for a less specific diagnosis. Whatever it is or was, it doesn’t cancel out the many generations being cursed with a disease forever. If that disease isn’t a genetic disease, then how does each descendent get it? Does god arrange for each one to succumb?

– People with leprosy tended not to reproduce due to being outcast so don’t assume the servant did

Well, that puts paid to the all descendents forever part of the curse. Who’s at fault there? The godly Elisha or god? Someone surely messed up.

– Maybe god chose not to honour Elisha’s curse beyond the servant.

This is a good one. It rescues god from the evil very not loving accusation but also removes the testable part of the story. No confirmation means the bible is once more in the cupboard marked myth. Christians probably like it because it means the bible can’t be falsified either. Perfect for those with blind faith.

Seen in a fresh light, the story of Naaman isn’t one of grace and faith, it’s one of betrayal, vengeance and downright nastiness. Who wants that sort of god to rule over them? Not me.

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On The Alleged Atheist Assumptions

There are Christians who claim that atheism assumes there is no god (https://lyleduell.me/2017/02/02/the-assumptions-of-atheism/). This is typical of theists who are self-styled atheist experts. Apparently this assumption (which hasn’t actually been established, merely claimed and assumed to be true) is false because

No one can prove that there is no God

If it’s not possible to prove there is no god, then equally it’s also not possible to prove that there is a god, which leaves the theist in the uncomfortable position of assuming there is a god, with no proof, while pointing a finger that the atheist saying you can’t assume there is no god because you can’t prove there is no god.

I participate in regular conversations with theists and atheists and the claims of atheists vary a lot. There are those who confidently claim there is no god and there are those who take the softer road that belief in god is not reasonable if said god cannot be demonstrated. The majority take the latter. It’s not clear from the blog post I linked to if all atheists are lumped into the assumption claim or if it’s only the former. What’s also not clear is how the author thinks atheists come to these assumptions. If the assumption if merely because the lack of a god can’t be proven, that that is an entirely reasonable position to take. Given that you can prove neither the existence nor the non-existence of a thing, assuming it exists is the least reasonable position to take.

Next we get to

The second assumption, which I have found in most atheists, is the belief that they are smarter than those who believe in a God.

Yes, there are many atheists who will comment along the lines of “only a stupid idiot would believe in a god”, or other less salubrious phrases. These are equally matched by those theists who quote Psalm 14:1 or other bible verses which justify looking down their noses at non-believers. I am pretty sure I’ve been called all sorts of variations of stupid by theists far more times that I’ve seen atheists bat it back. The numbers aren’t actually important though because the insult isn’t useful regardless of the direction it flows. It is a tad dishonest to accuse the atheist of assuming higher intelligence while not acknowledging the reverse is an equal problem.

The blog post then makes a reference to poll that claims that 51% of scientists believe in god. The link associated with the claim didn’t work for me but it seems to be this:

http://www.pewforum.org/2009/11/05/scientists-and-belief/

Note that it’s 33% believe in god and 18 believe is some form of higher power that’s not god. 10 of those 33% are religions other than Christian. Those stats don’t looks so great compared to the 41% with no belief. But I’m not sure what that has to do with intelligence and belief. Intelligent people sometimes believe dumb things. That happens the world over. Trying to point score on an intelligence comparison achieves nothing other than making it look like you are trying to justify an assumption you have.