The following is a result of challenging a young man to read the book of Job, after a lengthy discussion about God, Jesus, Satan and the Bible in general. Because of his claim to atheism, we agreed to disagree on a number of things, but he did agree to read Job and here are his thoughts, posted with his permission.
Above all else the Book of Job is an allegory for people to appreciate what it is that they have, and to persevere when times get tough. This, in my opinion, can be understood by believers and non-believers alike, since the main message is quite clear. However, I don’t think that you need God in order to use this story in every-day life. Every person goes through trials and tribulations, some that are more challenging than others, but in the end one has to persevere and continue to work hard to make those hard times pass. For me, a deity is not the main source of either good or bad times, and it is only through what we do during those hard times that shapes and influences us as a person. Ultimately, I believe that we as humans must accept all that happens as our own responsibility and not blame or praise any one or any thing else since we can only control what is in our power to control.
There are many things from the Bible and the Scriptures that we can take and make good use of, since the main message is to be a moral and contributing member of society. However, that message was passed down from mankind for centuries since it helps to serve our own needs and our own purposes, and we do not need a God to tell us not to hurt other people since we fully understand that hurting people leads to a dysfunctional community. When the Bible was written some 1800 years ago (and as early as 1500 years ago), society was quite primative in that clearly defined laws were still rudimentary and people were still trying to figure things out. Societies around the world rose and collapsed as they tried to codify laws that worked for their civilization. Christianity survived because the main political leaders found utility in it (yes, I know that makes me sound like a cynic) and that’s how it was able to spread. But the message, the essence of the Bible, to be a good person is something that should be instilled, but I do not think that an omnipresent and omnipotent God is needed to hold it all together. To give praise to a supreme being for when things go well, and to accept full “blame” for when things go bad is in complete contradiction to human nature and human ego. You are right in that humility is something that all people need to practice–to know one’s limitations and to accept one’s shortcomings–but, again, for me, God does not factor into that.
There are many things in this world that I will never understand, and there are things that humans cannot understand, and may never understand, but thats OK since the fact that we live on this floating rock orbiting a giant star is the most random occurrence out there (in my humble opinion).
I am curious to hear what you have to say about this, and look forward to reading what your opinions/beliefs are on the matter.
My responsive thoughts will appear tomorrow. (God willing).