Debate / Discussion / Interview / Video

Street Interviews: Proxy Bible Stories

YouTuber Essenceofthought recently put together an interesting challenge wherein bible passages, redressed as historical and current events, are posed to believers in order to see how they respond to these moral dilemmas without their biblical context.

We decided to take this idea out to the street and try them on some random people. The people we spoke to came from different walks of life with varying beliefs, leading to three very different conversations.

In Essenceofthought’s original video challenge the point was really that, at it’s most basic, a Christian is defined as “a follower of Christ”, pushing the point that if you consider yourself a Christian, and yet reject these stories which mirror biblical law… can you really call yourself one?

We didn’t push this point in particular, mainly because we didn’t speak to only Christians. But we also just wanted to take the premise of this idea and simply show how different people responded to it.

If you would like to try this yourself on a friend or family member, and see what responses you get, you can share Essenceofthought’s video challenge with them.

Alternatively, if you prefer to pose the questions yourself, here are the full scenarios along with the corresponding bible passages:

Scenario 1

Nazi Germany, December 31, 1941 during the peak of Nazi expansion. Hitler’s celebration praise continues. However, during a break outside main Berlin, in which the Führer enjoys a drink with his top sidemen as part of a propaganda stunt, a group of passing children mock SS leader Heinrich Himmler for his receding hairline. In response to the insult to his ‘dealer of death’, Hitler has the 42 children executed.

Scenario 2

Takes place only in the past month, from within China. Hu Lang Sung, a rape victim, is being forced into marriage, by not her parents, but the very state itself. The Communist Party of China recently installed a law which entails:

“On the event that a virgin woman who is raped outside of city limits is found during or immediately after the copulation has taken place, the individual who raped her is to be restrained and forced to pay the father of the woman 4000 Chinese yuan. Once the money has been received by the father, it is the duty of the woman to marry the offender to prevent social unrest. She cannot file for divorce under any circumstance.”

Scenario 3

The Middle-East, in South Iraq. Here, inside a small town, a man known to the news reporters only as Shar, the Arabic word for evil, now stands trial for working on Friday, the Islamic holy day. If found guilty, Shar is to be subjected to a public stoning by the local people for his supposed crimes against Allah. Currently, he has no one willing to defend him.


Scenario 1 =

2 Kings 2:23-24
New International Version (NIV)
Elisha Is Jeered

23 From there Elisha went up to Bethel. As he was walking along the road, some boys came out of the town and jeered at him. “Get out of here, baldy!” they said. “Get out of here, baldy!” 24 He turned around, looked at them and called down a curse on them in the name of the Lord. Then two bears came out of the woods and mauled forty-two of the boys.

Scenario 2 =

Deuteronomy 22:28-29
New International Version (NIV)

28 If a man happens to meet a virgin who is not pledged to be married and rapes her and they are discovered, 29 he shall pay her father fifty shekels[a] of silver. He must marry the young woman, for he has violated her. He can never divorce her as long as he lives.

(50 shekels of silver = 4000 Chinese yuan, or $600 USD)

Scenario 3 =

Numbers 15:32-36
New International Version (NIV)
The Sabbath-Breaker Put to Death

32 While the Israelites were in the wilderness, a man was found gathering wood on the Sabbath day. 33 Those who found him gathering wood brought him to Moses and Aaron and the whole assembly, 34 and they kept him in custody, because it was not clear what should be done to him. 35 Then the Lord said to Moses, “The man must die. The whole assembly must stone him outside the camp.” 36 So the assembly took him outside the camp and stoned him to death, as the Lord commanded Moses.

And in the very likely case that you are told that the Old Testament is no longer relevant, or that Jesus’ coming abolished the old law:

Matthew 5:17-20

New International Version (NIV)

The Fulfillment of the Law

17 “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. 18 For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. 19 Therefore anyone who sets aside one of the least of these commands and teaches others accordingly will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20 For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.

If you decide to try this out for yourself, please share the responses you get with us on our facebook page. Or if you go as far as to record yours as well, add it as a video-response on YouTube.

11 thoughts on “Street Interviews: Proxy Bible Stories

  1. It was Heinrich Himmler, not Heimlich. Heimlich is a German last name, and it happens to be that of a well known doctor that came up with a life saving technique. He had nothing to do with Nazi brutality.

  2. One other problem, Himmler wasn’t actually bald, he had a receding hairline but he wasn’t bald. And if kids had actually done that, Himmler would have had them killed. Hitler was cruel, but he didn’t have the backbone for that. Himmler would have done it with a smile on his face.

      • What I don’t think some people have been getting is that it’s fairly obvious that a moral person will object to these actions regardless of who you say was behind them. It’s only when it’s presented as a command of god that suddenly there is a cognitive dissonance between their beliefs and their own conscience. Suffice to say, getting bogged down in the minutia of these scenarios is missing the point of your challenge.

  3. When people try the “Old Testament Dodge”, I always say, “Well, I can’t really get behind God just because he doesn’t think that kind of thing is okay… anymore!”

    When did he change his mind, anyway?

  4. Maybe do one for Job 2:3. Guy does a bunch of bad stuff (whatever you like). Then when caught, says ‘the devil made me do it’, implying everything is okay. That’s basically what got is saying to the devil. ‘I did all this bad stuff to Job, because you told me to’. It’s easy to show people their morality is corrupted by religion, as they have one standard for humans and another for God. They are okay with letting him get away with murder.

  5. Ive just read the post on pornography and then read this post, which seemed rather strange. In the porn post people argue that its arbitrary for christians to say porn is wrong, or sinful and for that to be the case there has to be a normal, I guess ‘right’ which has been violated etc. This blog on the other hand is appealing to people’s conscience as to what they should know is right or wrong behaviour / actions.

    Whilst I think the porn post and comments are crazy, I can see that the position is entirely consistent with atheism. However, this post seems entirely inconsistent with atheism. It seems to appeal to some kind of ‘objective’ morality that everybody should know about. However, on atheism morality is a social / evolutionary biological phenomena. In which case different societies could well answer these questions differently. If the case in China is ok in china, then whats the problem? Whose to say your morality is right? etc.

    So when it comes to accounts in the Bible that are very much in an historical context Why would you have a problem with something that a society didnt have a problem with back then? Not to mention the question of whether God has sufficient reasons for allowing certain things that are unrepeatable now etc.

    All seems very confused and using relative moraliity when it suits and appeals to objective morality when that suits. As atheists you have no philisophical ground under your feet for these kinds of objections.

    As an aside I find the name of this site very alarming. I know in your minds it means nothing but damnened you may be, but it isn’t and wont be better than not being damned. This article appeals to conscience. Well your conscience is tape reccording the contents of your own court case when you stand before God, and it will give evidence against you. Damned is not something to revel in, and I don’t say that in any kind of argumentative spirit.

    • In the post about porn, as you observed, we stated that the religious objections to it were arbitrary, not subjective. Anything which an atheist would deem immoral, there is evidence that can be pointed to as to why. Atheism isn’t about moral relativism. Morality can be objective without being absolute. Things which people did long ago that we have since decided are immoral weren’t any less immoral at the time. It’s not morality itself, but rather our understanding of it which changes and evolves.

      As for the name of our site, this is not to be taken literally.. especially since we don’t actually believe it to be a real possibility. It’s tongue-in-cheek.

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