Home » Atheism, Culture, Darwinism, Ethics, Media » He said it: “[t]he universe that we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil and no good, nothing but pitiless indifference” — professor Richard Dawkins’ cynical manipulation of our moral sensibilities

He said it: “[t]he universe that we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil and no good, nothing but pitiless indifference” — professor Richard Dawkins’ cynical manipulation of our moral sensibilities

In recent days, UD contributor Dr V J Torley has rightly taken atheism advocate, professor Richard Dawkins to task for cynical manipulation of our moral sensibilities in his public accusations against Christian philosopher-theologian, Dr William Lane Craig. And that, patently to avoid having to account through a public debate for his many acid fulminations against theism and the Christian faith in particular over the years.

(ADDED, Nov 2/3, NB: it may help to cf. a thought-provoking video here. [NB: This video documents that professor Dawkins is on record that he evidently cannot find a basis for moral objection to infanticide, and that he evidently cannot find a moral basis for objecting to Hitler's genocide. His projection of moral outrage against Craig etc is therefore credibly manipulative rather than genuine. This is consistent with the long since documented inherent amorality of materialism that is further discussed below.] In case it is needed, this clip documents Dr Craig’s actual view on moral issues, obviously including on genocide. Craig directly responds here, from about 8:15 on, explicitly that the genocide accusation “is a misrepresentation of my position” [8:50], c.9:20 on he clarifies: “dispossess [a debauched culture]” as opposed to “genocide,”  though I still think he has not adequately appreciated the evident non-literal war rhetoric context nor does he address the eternal blood feud issue that nearly 1,000 years later Israel faced while in captivity under Persia. Cf comment here below for more. )

Professor Dawkins now seems to have beaten a hasty retreat behind the poisonously polarised cloud stirred up by his knowingly false accusation of support for genocide.

(And if you think that “knowingly false” is inaccurate, you can rest assured that no sane,  sensible, informed person in our civilisation can seriously entertain the notion that Bible-believing Christians and Christian leaders in particular, support genocide. The accusation plainly was rhetorical  “red meat” tossed out to stir up a distractive, atmosphere-poisoning controversy.)

But that leads to some serious issues.

First, the utter cynicism and turnabout rhetorical tactic manipulation behind Dawkins’ rhetoric can be seen from his 1995 Scientific American Article, “God’s Utility Function” [pp. 80 - 85]:

Nature is not cruel, only pitilessly indifferent. This lesson is one of the hardest for humans to learn. We cannot accept that things might be neither good nor evil, neither cruel nor kind, but simply callous: indifferent to all suffering, lacking all purpose.

We humans have purpose on the brain. We find it difficult to look at anything without wondering what it is “for,” what the motive for it or the purpose behind it might be. The desire to see purpose everywhere is natural in an animal that lives surrounded by machines, works of art, tools and other designed artifacts – an animal whose waking thoughts are dominated by its own goals and aims . . . .

Somewhere between windscreen wipers and tin openers on the one hand, and rocks and the universe on the other, lie living creatures. Living bodies and their organs are objects that, unlike rocks, seem to have purpose written all over them . . . . The true process that has endowed wings, eyes, beaks, nesting instincts and everything else about life with the strong illusion of purposeful design is now well understood.

It is Darwinian natural selection . . . . The true utility function of life, that which is being maximized in the natural world, is DNA survival. But DNA is not floating free; it is locked up in living bodies, and it has to make the most of the levers of power at its disposal. Genetic sequences that find themselves in cheetah bodies maximize their survival by causing those bodies to kill gazelles. Sequences that find themselves in gazelle bodies increase their chance of survival by promoting opposite ends. But the same utility function-the survival of DNA-explains the “purpose” of both the cheetah [--> i.e. predator]  and the gazelle [--> i.e. prey] . . . .

The total amount of suffering per year in the natural world is beyond all decent contemplation. During the minute that it takes me to compose this sentence, thousands of animals are being eaten alive, many others are running for their lives, whimpering with fear, others are being slowly devoured from within by rasping parasites, thousands of all kinds are dying of starvation, thirst and disease. It must be so. If there is ever a time of plenty, this very fact will automatically lead to an increase in population until the natural state of starvation and misery is restored.

In a universe of electrons and selfish genes, blind physical forces and genetic replication, some people are going to get hurt, other people are going to get lucky, and you won’t find any rhyme or reason in it, nor any justice. The universe that we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil and no good, nothing but pitiless indifference . . . . DNA neither cares nor knows. DNA just is. And we dance to its music.

[NB: This article raises the issue of the problem of evil, here emphasising the problem of natural evil; probably the strongest argument in the atheists' arsenal, but one that only works by implicitly assuming that good and evil, thus moral obligation, are real; while ducking the implication that the only valid worldview in a world in which OUGHT is real, is one that has a foundational IS that adequately grounds ought. And materialism -- scientific atheism today, has no such is. So, the objecting atheist actually has no grounds to stand on to make the argument; his argument, in the end is self-defeating, and so the proper response is to insist that such an atheist face that issue before proceeding further. (Cf here for a preliminary discussion of the problem of evil from a Christian perspective.)]

Of course, much of Dawkins’ aura of assurance about his views stems from the sort of a priori materialism imposed on the science that Lewontin documented in his infamous 1997 NYRB article, and — while it is often persuasive for a great any people — it is in fact little more than materialist question-begging dressed up in a lab coat. (And, I don’t know of any expensive lab coats.)

Philip Johnson’s rebuke to such a priorism flying the false colours of science and practically certain knowledge is apt:

For scientific materialists the materialism comes first; the science comes thereafter. [[Emphasis original, colour added] We might more accurately term them “materialists employing science.” And if materialism is true, then some materialistic theory of evolution has to be true simply as a matter of logical deduction, regardless of the evidence. That theory will necessarily be at least roughly like neo-Darwinism, in that it will have to involve some combination of random changes and law-like processes capable of producing complicated organisms that (in Dawkins’ words) “give the appearance of having been designed for a purpose.”
. . . .   The debate about creation and evolution is not deadlocked . . . Biblical literalism is not the issue. The issue is whether materialism and rationality are the same thing. Darwinism is based on an a priori commitment to materialism, not on a philosophically neutral assessment of the evidence. Separate the philosophy from the science, and the proud tower collapses. [[Emphasis added.] [[The Unraveling of Scientific Materialism, First Things, 77 (Nov. 1997), pp. 22 – 25.]

In short, Dawkins’ confident manner about the presumed truth of the grand powers of Darwinian natural selection to fashion cheetahs and gazelles — and whales and us etc. –  from ultimately pond scum, should not overawe us.

Also, given this additional perspective from Dawkins’ 1995 article on the moral implications of his selfish gene thesis, we can now see that for Dawkins, appeal to moral sensibilities ends up being little more than a cynical means to persuade by manipulating emotions.  For (as we have just seen above) in his more frank and straightforward moments in more accommodating contexts like Scientific American, he openly admits that, on his materialistic worldview, there is “no evil and no good.” 

In short, evolutionary materialism is utterly amoral.

Which we should take as a grim warning.

And so, we understand how he has mistreated Dr Craig: he acts as one who holds power to manipulate to advance his perceived interests: if the public’s feelings can be so twisted by a false but persuasive accusation against one of those “ignorant, stupid, insane or wicked” backward, anti-science “fundamentalists,” that you are repelled by the dominant idea of God we see in our civilisation, the Judaeo-Christian, Bible-based view, then that is pulling us away from fairy tales to get us to accept Science as the fount of practically all knowledge and truth.

Which to him is as close to good and purpose  — there is no good and no purpose! — as he gets.

“The end justifies the means,” “might makes right,” and “all is fair in love and [culture] war,” etc.

If that is his real underlying view (and the evidence we can see points that way), then the willingness to smear, snip out of context and knowingly falsely accuse make a lot of saddening sense.

It is an effective means to a desired end, and one Dawkins expects to get away with in the major media.

Which, he knows, are in his corner.  As, are many of the elite opinion-influencers and decision-makers of our civilisation.

This cite also underscores the utter moral bankruptcy of materialism as a worldview that has in it no foundational IS capable of bearing the weight of OUGHT. This is a point that should be no surprise. It was long since emphasised by Plato in his The Laws, Bk X, 2350 years ago in 360 BC, when he grimly warned in the voice of the Athenian Stranger:

Ath. [[The avant garde philosophers, teachers and artists c. 400 BC] say that the greatest and fairest things are the work of nature and of chance, the lesser of art [[ i.e. techne], which, receiving from nature the greater and primeval creations, moulds and fashions all those lesser works which are generally termed artificial . . . They say that fire and water, and earth and air [[i.e the classical "material" elements of the cosmos], all exist by nature and chance, and none of them by art, and that as to the bodies which come next in order-earth, and sun, and moon, and stars-they have been created by means of these absolutely inanimate existences. The elements are severally moved by chance and some inherent force according to certain affinities among them-of hot with cold, or of dry with moist, or of soft with hard, and according to all the other accidental admixtures of opposites which have been formed by necessity. After this fashion and in this manner the whole heaven has been created, and all that is in the heaven, as well as animals and all plants, and all the seasons come from these elements, not by the action of mind, as they say, or of any God, or from art, but as I was saying, by nature and chance only . . . .

[[T]hese people would say that the Gods exist not by nature, but by art, and by the laws of states, which are different in different places, according to the agreement of those who make them; and that the honourable is one thing by nature and another thing by law, and that the principles of justice have no existence at all in nature, but that mankind are always disputing about them and altering them; and that the alterations which are made by art and by law have no basis in nature, but are of authority for the moment and at the time at which they are made.- [[Relativism, too, is not new; complete with its radical amorality rooted in a worldview that has no foundational IS that can ground OUGHT. (Cf. here for Locke's views and sources on a very different base for grounding liberty as opposed to license and resulting anarchistic "every man does what is right in his own eyes" chaos leading to tyranny.)] These, my friends, are the sayings of wise men, poets and prose writers, which find a way into the minds of youth. They are told by them that the highest right is might [[ Evolutionary materialism leads to the promotion of amorality], and in this way the young fall into impieties, under the idea that the Gods are not such as the law bids them imagine; and hence arise factions [[Evolutionary materialism-motivated amorality "naturally" leads to continual contentions and power struggles; cf. dramatisation here],  these philosophers inviting them to lead a true life according to nature, that is, to live in real dominion over others [[such amoral factions, if they gain power, "naturally" tend towards ruthless tyranny; here, too, Plato hints at the career of Alcibiades], and not in legal subjection to them . . .[Jowett translation. Emphases and explanatory parentheses added.]

I’ll bet you never heard this passage in school or college.

Someone will object, that atheists can be decent, upright moral people.

Indeed; only, their worldview has no foundation capable of bearing the weight of ought, so they are left to rely on moral instincts and principles borrowed from other views (often without acknowledgement and sometimes set up in dangerous isolation from balancing principles . . . ) sustained by the feeling that this is right in the face of cynical manipulations and a general tendency — present in every culture and every era — of morality to decline in the face of the corrupting influences of power and dissipation.

And, of course, those who have agendas to promote popular or politically correct sins simply selectively appeal to the underlying amorality of evolutionary materialistic scientism, to chip away at whatever shreds of moral consensus remains from past eras.

It is not for no reason that Will Hawthorne warns us:

Assume (per impossibile) that atheistic naturalism [[= evolutionary materialism] is true. Assume, furthermore, that one can’t infer an ‘ought’ from an ‘is’ [[the 'is' being in this context physicalist: matter-energy, space- time, chance and mechanical forces].  (Richard Dawkins and many other atheists should grant both of these assumptions.)

Given our second assumption, there is no description of anything in the natural world from which we can infer an ‘ought’. And given our first assumption, there is nothing that exists over and above the natural world; the natural world is all that there is. It follows logically that, for any action you care to pick, there’s no description of anything in the natural world from which we can infer that one ought to refrain from performing that action.

Add a further uncontroversial assumption: an action is permissible if and only if it’s not the case that one ought to refrain from performing that action . . . [[We see] therefore, for any action you care to pick, it’s permissible to perform that action. If you’d like, you can take this as the meat behind the slogan ‘if atheism is true, all things are permitted’.

For example if atheism is true, every action Hitler performed was permissible. Many atheists don’t like this consequence of their worldview. But they cannot escape it and insist that they are being logical at the same time.

Now, we all know that at least some actions are really not permissible (for example, racist actions). Since the conclusion of the argument denies this, there must be a problem somewhere in the argument. Could the argument be invalid? No. The argument has not violated a single rule of logic and all inferences were made explicit.

Thus we are forced to deny the truth of one of the assumptions we started out with. That means we either deny atheistic naturalism or (the more intuitively appealing) principle that one can’t infer ‘ought’ from [[a material] ‘is’. [[Emphases and paragraphing added.]

We need to think, very soberly indeed, about where a priori materialistic evolutionary materialism dressed in the holy lab coat, is taking our civilisation. END

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29 Responses to He said it: “[t]he universe that we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil and no good, nothing but pitiless indifference” — professor Richard Dawkins’ cynical manipulation of our moral sensibilities

  1. kf,,,

    Darwinism On Trial (Phillip E. Johnson) – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gwj9h9Zx6Mw

    ,,you may appreciate this blast from the past

  2. Thanks, interesting.

  3. Another link for you, KF – related to our materialist educational system – the murder confessions in Philadelphia of two women who helped their abortion “doctor” boss to kill babies who survived their abortions, and over-drugged a “patient” who later died.

    It’s not going to change anything though, because this was a “clinic” that was doing illegal late-term abortions. Still it might cause some people to reconsider their support for abortion.

    There’s several sources for this, but this one I think is the best (so far):

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/.....story.html

    The governor of Pennsylvania ordered the firing of several state workers over this case, since authorities were given a heads up about the goings-on at the “clinic” and nothing was done. The “doctor” in the case faces even stiffer penalties – probably a life sentence.

    It’s sad that killing babies is only 3rd degree murder, and only if they happen to have survived the abortion only to be snuffed out at their first moments of life outside the womb.

    I think most people, whether they agree with abortion or not will be horrified by this story.

    There’s been some awful things happening in Philadelphia lately. I lived there for 11 years, so I still keep up on local news there.

  4. Sorry, I meant to say “guilty pleas,” not “murder confessions.”

  5. Ouch, not good news.

  6. I didn’t see this explicitly stated in the post, but it seems to me the take-away here is: How can Dawkins castigate Craig for advocating genocide (or anyone for anything, for that matter) when his own world view de-legitimizes an indignant response? After all, if there’s no such thing as right or wrong, why should anyone care (in terms of offense) if certain populations are wiped out by genocide, least of all Dawkins?

  7. MH:

    Thanks for your thoughts.

    Actually, I wish it were only a matter of feelings being towards the right and being inconsistent with one’s worldview.

    On the substance above and in the linked, this was a calculated “toss out the red meat” rhetorical stratagem, designed to provoke a distractive controversy.

    A stratagem that exploits the moral sensibilities of people in service to an agenda that undermines morality; by making a willful false and poisonous accusation.

    That’s a big part of why I am insisting that the question of the worldview foundations of morality have to be addressed fair and square.

    GEM of TKI

  8. “Professor Dawkins? now seems to have beaten a hasty retreat behind the poisonously polarised cloud stirred up by his knowingly false accusation of support for genocide.”

    –When you say “support for genocide” do you mean support for a “particular” genocide? Because clearly Craig was supporting *a* genocide:
    “So whom does God wrong in commanding the destruction of the Canaanites? Not the Canaanite adults, for they were corrupt and deserving of judgment. Not the children, for they inherit eternal life. So who is wronged?”

    If that isn’t support, what would be?

    If OTOH you mean support of genocide “in general” than it is you making a false accusation of Dawkins.
    It’s clear as can be that Dawkins is only claiming that Craig supports a particular instance of genocide in the OT; he no where says or implies that he supports genocide in general. For instance, he’s certainly not accusing Craig of supporting the Holocaust.

    Here is the article from Dawkins:
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/comm.....lane-craig

    What did Dawkins say in the article that isn’t true?

  9. KF, if I was your PR adviser I would be suggesting that you let the matter drop. There really is no other way to parse Craig’s comment quoted by goodusername in 3 above. You are therefore in the position of supporting someone who expressed approval of baby killing.

    (Ed: This is an outrageous example of the depth of poisoning that Dawkins’ “toss out the red meat to trigger a fight” tactics have produced. Kindly see just below. KF}

  10. Umm Craig is supporting God…

  11. Timbo:

    This is not a PR matter, this is a case of slander meant to create an atmosphere of hostility and based on a morally bankrupt, destructive worldview; if Craig were UK resident he would have a serious High Court libel case with anti-religious hostility aggravation against Dawkins.

    Sorry, I am not taking PR advice or turnabout tactics — that is what you are trying here [FYI, this is about DAWKINS, kindly refrain from further slanders that I support "baby killing" I will take a very dim view of such attempts to smear me on a false accusation, especially given how I have handled the specific cases here . . . did you read and try to understand what I actually have had to say before taking up a burning brand to try to sear my forehead with a scarlet letter forged by Dawkins et al? What does that tell me that you are?] — from the advocates or supporters or spreaders of such cynical slander.

    FYI, my aim here is like Jesus’ when he spoke to those who had been sent by Herod et al: Go tell that Fox . . .

    That is, I am marking a line in the sand, for record.

    Don’t you dare think that I am going to chalk this down to a PR defeat and let’s hope the poison does not fester longer.

    I know better than that, and I know where unanswered blood libel leads.

    And, blood libel is exactly what this is, FYI.

    [Don't ever forget, as well that this is in the specifically Jewish portion of the Judaeo-Christian Scriptures, so the Blood Libel is also implicitly anti-Semitic. Do you really want to go there?]

    The cynical manipulation of moral sensibilities by nihilistic advocates of evolutionary materialism that actually believes that “there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil and no good, nothing but pitiless indifference” is hereby exposed.

    Exposed in blood libel.

    Yes, Blood Libel.

    I repeat, to drive the point home: BLOOD LIBEL.

    This is no little rhetorical game.

    You are playing with a nuke tripwire here.

    And, BTW, Timbo, in the teeth of corrective information, you just classified yourself as not being serious and informed, for you actually managed to put yourself on the side of promoting the blood libel slander. (Onlookers, note absolutely no sign of serious or fair-minded interaction with the serious issues.)

    FYI, Timbo: neither Dr Craig nor any other significant Bible-believing Christian leader in our day supports genocide or the like. Something that Dr Dawkins plainly knows, but cynically disregarded in his resort to tossing out the red meat to stir up a distractive poisonous fight, the better to get away with decades of increasingly irresponsible, poisonous, hostility-/hate- laced rhetoric.

    We note your support of moral bankruptcy and for willing promotion of blood libel for future reference.

    For God’s sake, please think again before spreading further blood libels about other people.

    Good day

    GEM of TKI

  12. GUN:

    Pardon some direct words.

    Let’s get some things straight, as you seem to be busy pushing poisoned talking points instead of facing sobering issues squarely:

    1: No responsible Bible-believing Christian leader supports genocide or the like. None, zip, zilch, nada. That isn’t even a serious question, it’s a no-brainer for any decently fair minded person who has even a smattering of the history of our civilisation and what led to many moral reforms in the teeth of its many sins. Do I need to cry names like Wilberforce, Buxton [who tried to do away with the death penalty at the turn of C19], Shaftesbury, Gen Booth, Mother Theresa, Wesley, and more?

    2: Dr Dawkins and co KNOW this, and/or have a duty of care to know and acknowledge this first and foremost, which they have flagrantly neglected to the point where if Dr Craig were a UK resident and were so minded, he would be in every position to undertake a serious case in High Court for Libel with anti-religious bigotry as aggravating circumstances. (Assuming, he could get decent judges, on the record of recent cases, I am losing my respect for UK law.)

    3: In addition, as the above Original Post that you artfully duck shows, Dr Dawkins and co (in more congenial circles) are on record on the morally bankrupt, utterly amoral import of their worldview:

    there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil and no good, nothing but pitiless indifference . . .

    _________________________

    4: So, the manipulation of moral sensibilities — for him, there are just moral feelings, OUGHT is not real, it has no foundational IS in his materialism . . . — on Dawkins’ part here is utterly cynical and calculated atmosphere poisoning. Libel.

    5: The better to get away with decades of increasingly strident public anti-God, anti-Christian rhetoric that has contributed to precisely this poisonous atmosphere. Aggravating circumstances.

    FYI, the proper name for this little exercise by the retired prof for the public understanding of science, is: BLOOD LIBEL.

    He snipped out of context — and defiantly so in his remarks about I do not care about context — from an article that clearly leads with the direct statement that our Civilisation has been shaped by the Judaeo-Christian scriptural tradition to respect life and so the passages in question are troubling, deeply troubling. As they should be, they are talking about culturesNOT races (note, the Bible goes out of its way to identify that the greatest king of Israel, David, and the Messiah, Jesus, had both Canaanite and Moabite ancestors [even breaking the convention of not naming women in genealogies to do this], and when there was a partly racially motivated attack on Moshe for marrying Zipporah (a black woman), the divine punishment on Miriam and Aaron was Leprosy which turned their skins sickly whitecultures gone so wrong they are cancerous plagues upon the earth that become threats to the rest of region or even the world: threats multiplied by a hereditary blood feud approach that led to an attempted genocide against Israel in Captivity 1,000 years later on the flimsiest of excuses — a judgement BTW with which the Romans unconsciously concurred, in how they treated a branch of that same culture, in Carthage [look at the underlying dynamic, not just the usual stuff done in a 101 survey]. Craig goes on to identify the core of the Christian worldview and to lay out the difficulties with this matter, then he tries to give his perspective on what is at stake in the end and where the options lie (in my view, not a very successful attempt, because he does not sufficiently address wider historic, biblical and ethical context).

    Dawkins gleefully snips some of that out of that context to blood libel Craig and others.

    For, he KNOWS, and should know, that the very reason Craig et al struggle is precisely because they do not support genocide.

    he does so to get away with decades of increasingly strident, hostile and now poisonous Anti-God, anti-Christian rhetoric.

    That willful blood libel slander aggravated by anti-religious hostility or even hate is inexcusable.

    It is also a grim warning for our civilisation.

    One that echoes Plato’s warning 2,350 years ago, which you and others of like ilk so studiously ignore when it comes up here at UD.

    And so, we must take due note of those who, in the teeth of easily accessible correction and balance, persist in promoting blood libel; and/or refuse to hear the other side of the story.

    For, that poisonous polarisation is one of the warning flags about where such blood libel naturally, historically leads.

    Pogroms, and holocausts.

    Which, is why I refuse to be silent, or to be silenced. And, it is why I have made the above original post part of UD’s permanent record, for future reference as needed.

    And, you just volunteered yourself to be an illustrative case study.

    GUN, do you REALLY want to go there?

    If so, you know what is written into my name:

    Bydand!

    GEM of TKI

    F/N: For those puzzled, the term “genocide” is an invented word, one specifically made to label what the Nazis did. So, if you accuse someone of supporting or advocating genocide, you had better be able to back up the accusation that they are Nazis. In court.

  13. GoodUserName:

    Because one can logically rebut Dawkins’ hypocritical and unfounded “moral outrage” over the idea of god ordering the Canaanites killed doesn’t mean one supports the idea of killing off an entire group of people.

    KF above points out the blatant, manipulative hypocrisy of Dawkins from two directions – first, under Dawkins’ worldview, genocide is just another event caused by physics, regardless of how any humans justify it. Physics doesn’t care – it’s cold and pitiless. Dawkins has no grounds to be “morally outraged” by anything that actually occurs – including whatever Craig says – via his own philosophy, as per Dawkins’ own words.

    Second, Dawkins knows Craig doesn’t support genocide; but what Craig can do is logically defend the killing of the Canaanites from the premise that God’s command = what is moral. IOW, if Dawkins’ philosophy is true, he has no reason to be outraged; if the premise that God’s command = moral is true, and other posited tenets are true (our lives are god’s to allow or end, and children go to heaven) then again there is nothing to be outraged about.

    So, from Dawkins’ perspective, or from the believer’s perspective, there’s nothing to be outraged about. Evil adults die (as all will anyway), innocent children go to heaven. So? I don’t agree with Craig’s premise that God can arbitrarily command something and it be good, but from Craig’s premises, his logic is sound.

    However, Dawkins knows that many of his atheistic/materialist followers will be outraged by this (and I’ve run into quite a bit of it myself at Elizabeth’s blog site); but why should they be outraged?

    Should they be outraged that genocide occurs at all? It’s just the natural progression of physical determinism. Why should “what occurs” outrage anyone? Dawkins himself condemned this outrage at those who murdered children and said we’d all be more “enlightened” when we don’t experience outrage for those who murder children, but instead view them as malfunctioning machinery (although, I don’t see how we can claim anything is “malfunctioning” when it is doing exactly what physics has generated).

    Yet, here’s Dawkins expressing outrage over Craig’s defense of a purported (in his view) child-murdering god. It doesn’t get much more hypocritical than that.

    Why should atheist/materialists be outraged over Craig’s defense of the Christian god? Under their philosophy, Craig is just another biological automaton doing what it has been programmed by physics to do, believing what he has been programmed by physics to believe. It’s like a pecan tree being outraged by the behavior of an oak tree. Under materialism/atheism/determinism, there’s nothing to be outraged about – unless one is outraged by the deterministic progression of physics in general. I guess I should be outraged that gravity doesn’t let me fly!

    So, what is really going on? Neither point of view warrants such vitriolic outrage. What are atheist/materialist/determinists so angry about?

    IMO, I think that in their hearts they want to believe there is a god (and, on some level, know there is one), and feel hurt that the god in their hearts (or that they yearn for) is being – in their view – portrayed as an absurd monster, and that absurd and monstrous acts (in their view) are being justified in god’s name. And they are so outraged by this that ill-considered hate and venom come steaming out of their mouths.

    This is the reason (IMO) many of them dropped out of whatever religion they were brought up in; they found the characteristics and history of the god they were raised believing to be absurd and/or outrageous.

    Under their own philosophy, though, and under the philosophy as defended by Craig, there’s nothing to be outraged or angry about. Which leaves one considering: why are they so outraged?

    Again, IMO: because they yearn for (and actually have in their hearts as a fundamental desire) an intellectually satisfying god that is not absurd, is not a monster, would never do those things or act that way and is loving, is rational, and is intelligent in a way they can admire and respect.

    And when that god concept – in their mind and heart, even vague and intellectually denied – is sullied with what is to them these outrageous and absurd characterizations, they react with outrage even though that outrage is belied by their own claimed philosophy.

    ______

    {Ed: Mel, thanks for your intervention. I think Craig’s approach — which I think is defective and opens the door to the sort of attacks above — has in it some subtleties hinging on a wider knowledge of the God of the Bible that was once commonplace in our civilisation. Namely, that as Jonah — who WAS hoping for a Divine Wipeout of the Assyrians — God is “a gracious God and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, and relenting from disaster.”. So, if the hard core of the key Canaanite city clans did not respond like the even more notorious Assyrians, that may be saying something. Craig is saying that he trusts God to be good and just on what he already knows of God, even in cases like this where he is bewildered. And, when an evangelical theologian puts the issue of the plenary inspiration of the Scriptures on the table, he is bewildered. I don't think he intends to suggest support for a sort of God's command blindly must be good, but instead we know God to be good on other grounds so we must be prepared to trust where we cannot trace. You will note that I have highlighted the eternal blood feud aspect of the issue and an attempted genocide 1,000 years later, as well as the dilemmas confronting Churchill and Roosevelt on bombing Germany given what was at stake on the Russian Front and in the hidden nuke race. Just the fact that the 88 mm dual use AA/antitank guns that shot down so many bombers and the fighters and fighter bombers that contributed as well, may have been the margin of success on the East Front, which was the decisive one. Had Hitler fully broken through in 1942 or 1943, we are looking at capture of the Caucasus and then Iran putting him on the Persian Gulf. Command of world oil, elimination of Russia, and being in a position to win the nuke race; with rockets to put the A-bombs on, or the Horten flying wing upped to be an intercontinental bomber. Bye bye London and New York for sure, just as demonstrations. So, now, go ahead and condemn Churchill and Roosevelt as “genocidal” mass murderers, for the bombing campaign, that they KNEW was killing a LOT of German civilians, including children. Go on with your immoral equivalency rhetoric, down through Marshals like “1,000 bomber” Bomber Harris, and so on to individual flying men, including people like Mrs O’Leary’s family members, and even Herman Goering’s nephew who flew bombers for the USAAF over Germany. Then, don’t forget the OP issue: Dawkins believes there is “no good . . . no evil.”This whole thing is a calculated “toss out red meat to stir up a poisonous, tainting fight rhetorical strategy. That’s why I am saying the whole thing is totally distorted and poisonous, cynically poisonous. KF}

  14. 14

    KF:

    First, sorry that I posted that under my old name. Sometimes it just logs me in under it for some reason.

    I agree that if we must posit (and we must, for a coherent morality) god as source of good (god **is** good, not god “behaves” good), then of course god cannot deliberately generate what we call evil, although evil might exist as a necessary sort of “by-product” or necessary juxtapositional context of god being god.

    Most people only get the reader’s digest, cartoon version of the Christian god, to say nothing about any contextual thought and deeper philosophy. It’s very, very easy to see that particular kind of vision of god as ridiculous and monstrous – so easy that it is obvious (at least from the limited undertanding).

    IMO, people with a correct idea of god in their heart find the idea of god-sponsored genocide, or even a genocide-like event, outrageous and monstrous, even if those people are atheist/determinists/materialist whose outrage is entirely unjustified via their own intellectual views.

    If someone isn’t outraged by genocide, and they don’t find it monstrous (even if it is purported to have been commanded by god), they do not have a correct idea of god in their heart.

    IMO, although Craig is technically correct and his logic sound (given his premises), and even though there is much, much more meaningful and necessary information to be parsed about the event in question, it can only add fuel to the fire to attempt, in any way, to defend any command to deliberately kill children – even if they are, according to Christian theology, going to be saved from hell and spend eternity in heaven as a direct result of that timely killing.

    In effect, what the story and Craig’s defense tells us is that it is an accepted decision by a group of people to take what one or a few of them experience as the word of God and, if it/they tell you to, kill off a whole ethnic group including the children.

    If it were me, I would have to parse that command via logic and infer that I’m either delusional, or that some entity is posing as god and issuing an evil command. I would have to refuse on moral grounds, because good is good regardless of what any entity – including any purporting to be god – says it is.

  15. 15

    However, I fully agree that Dawkins is not like your average atheist – he knows better and he is, IMO, purposefully and hypocritically inciting and enflaming these negative passions.

  16. WJM:

    I don’t mind either of your names.

    Mr Dawkins is also plainly tossing out poisoned red meat to trigger a toxic fight; which it has. With his friends in the major media, and the help of those he can manipulate to spread his toxic talking points and pound tables and shout on the net, that allows him to slip away without having to account for the increasingly unhinged anti-Christian rhetoric he has been indulging in for years.

    But, he has now crossed the threshold of blood libel. Whether or not he intends that, it is the yawning door to pogroms and worse.

    Which, he was responsible to have known.

    So, this is lying slander.

    (I wish I did not have to be so blunt, but those who are playing with nuclear matches on this don’t seem to realise or be willing to acknowledge what is going on. Someone in this tread even tried to taint me with advocacy of child murder. THAT is how toxic this stuff is. Shut up and take the blood libel, which will lead us to imagine how morally superior we are as we set out on law and administration to effect pogroms. or, if you protest, we smear you personally with blood libels, directly or by invidious association. I will not stand for that, and refuse both toxic alternatives.)

    So, instead of playing into the hands of lying slanderers, the blood libel must be exposed, which is what I have done.

    And, those who take it up or propagate such blood libel must understand that that is what they are doing.

    You are right that people with the right notion of God will not accept God as mandating murder, much less mass murder. That makes the relevant texts very troubling and even perplexing indeed. Sufficiently so that Craig has put the plenary inspiration of the scriptures on the table.

    Which is about as strong a testimony that he does NOT support genocide, as you can get.

    But, how easy it is to snip out of context and smear, especially if there is a streak of underlying, barely restrained hostility at work.

    Which is what sets up pogroms and worse.

    We do not need to go down that road.

    Which is why I have highlighted that we need to first and foremost ground morality on a sound worldview. Which materialism cannot do.

    Then, we can look at the issues in a more balanced and informed perspective.

    As I have tried to take up at 101 level here.

    This is a nuke tripwire, blood libel issue, and I think that the saner folks on the other side may be beginning to see that.

    But, believe you me, I am not going to roll over and play dead in the face of blood libel.

    That’s written into my name.

    Bydand!

    GEM of TKI

  17. 17

    Yes, the first thing is to call out and put the brakes on the malicious smearing of character that invites and even promotes open hostility against Christians, made worse by Dawkins’ explicit authorization to simply ignore their challenges, complaints and arguments by refusing to debate (or even listen) as if their position shouldn’t even be heard.

    That’s promoting intellectual and philosophical fascim.

  18. WJM:

    The key issue here, sadly, is blood libel.

    A term that doubtless is being angrily denounced, but what else is there when you willfully in defiance of duties of care, accuse people falsely of support for genocide and child murder etc, refusing all correction?

    And you are right, trying to intimidate us into silently accepting libel (and refusing to acknowledge that we may have a point worth discussing) is worse. That deadly silence that in the 1930′s opened the way for much worse than words, must never be allowed to happen again.

    But then, this is the same Dawkins who IIRC, was trying to take UK libel laws and introduce the notion that to object to evolutionary materialism is to lie against the truth so the libel laws should be used to shut us up.

    CENSORSHIP.

    That DOES raise some very serious questions about what we are dealing with.

    There is some serious explaining to do on the other side of this issue.

    GEM of TKI

  19. am i missing something here? It sounds like some of those leaving comments actually believe in a god. Did i somehow travel back in time to the stone age? Can someone please explain to me what arguments are used to support a belief in a god? And if people need a god in order to behave, why are 99% of the inmates in the california prison system believers?
    I am no more an atheist then an asantaist. Do people need a reason to be good other than that it’s the right thing to do and is more beneficial to themselves and society than to not be good?
    I realize that my questions are unsophisticated but i’ve yet to here a sound explanation to them.

  20. accuse people falsely of support for genocide and child murder etc, refusing all correction

    That is the type of accusation you routinely make against ‘evolutionary materialists’ – you know, the one where you make claims about objective morality, destruction of society etc … and lay it all at the feet of people who disagree with you.

    There is some serious explaining to do on the other side of this issue.

    You have more than enough explaining to do yourself so rather than casting stones why don’t you have a go at confessing to your many sins!

    I assume now you will proceed to deface this post, like you do to the posts of others who disagree with you?

    __________

    {Ed: Dr Bot, of course is failing to note that this is a case of blood libel being dealt with. The attempt at immoral equivalency in that context is a sad case of enabling behaviour. And to make an editorial remark, yet again, is not to “deface” a post.}

  21. dslusher,

    Trouble is who defines what is good or bad. Can’t you think of a scenario where somebody defines “good” to his/her personal liking not caring a pin about others? E.g. what is good for a staunch Nazi is not necessarily good for a Christian, don’t you think?

  22. Kairosfocus, I can think of no better example of someone willing to cast the first stone than yourself; note how many of your posts make a direct appeal to the crowd…”Onlookers!!”. Your megaphone constantly rattles with apocalyptic warnings about the dangers of ‘evo-mat thinking’ and you are quite happy to drag anyone’s name through the mud to score points.

    You are nothing more than a preacher and UD has become a convenient venue for your sermons. Your diatribes regularly end in some version of “let us think on this a while” and all that is missing is the collection plate being handed round.

    You also have no problem with UD being constantly spammed with irrelevant creationist Youtube links and Christian music.

    You are just part of the reason why UD is the running joke that it is. And there’s no amount of ‘evo-mat-materialist-Hitler” type finger pointing that will change that.

    END

  23. Trouble is who defines what is good or bad.

    Why KF of course! ;o

  24. His other main issue is he doesn’t have a sense of irony.

  25. Onlookers:

    (And yes, I am going to speak to the audience directly. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that, despite the above cynical attempts at snide Alinskyite ridicule as a means of attacking the man instead of answering the case. That resort is itself inadvertently revealing on the balance on the merits of fact and logic of the matter in the original post. And, remember, this is on a case of blood libel, and that by the leading “Scientific” “New” Atheist in the world. [And BTW, cute but viciously loaded talking point quips on “irony” do not provide a good excuse for false turnabout accusation that blames the victim, especially if the victim tries to defend himself. Sad.)

    Let’s look at the above developments in steps, noting that this is evidently the Darwinist reaction, over 24 hours after the original post went up:

    1 –> Let’s start with a pivotal fact, i.e. that the OP cites Dawkins from a key 1995 Sci Am article, to the effect that:

    The universe that we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil and no good, nothing but pitiless indifference . . . . DNA neither cares nor knows. DNA just is. And we dance to its music.

    2 –> Observe, not one of the objectors has been able to dispute the accuracy of that all too telling remark. And,

    3 –> that remark directly illustrates one of the key points I have highlighted in the OP: from the days of Plato on, it has been clear that evolutionary materialism is inherently amoral, and thus reduces to leading its adherents to accept that might or manipulation makes for “right.” To cynical nihilism, in short.

    4 –> In the case in view, that is exactly what is going on.

    5 –> Professor Dawkins knows full well that neither Dr Craig nor any other responsible Christian leader or informed Christian supports genocide or murder of children etc.

    6 –> But, he also knows that there is a good chance that he can get away with willfully snipping Craig out of context to fling this blood libel in his face in public, to duck having to account for many years of increasingly strident rhetoric that attacks especially Bible believing Christians.

    7 –> He plainly calculated that he could get away with it, as the media and pundit classes as a whole are unlikely to seriously call him on this or on other cases of similarly outrageous false characterisations and accusations. In addition, he knew that if he tossed out this poisonous bit of rhetorical red meat, many would take up the talking points, provoking a poisonous war of words that would on average hurt Christians.

    8 –> So, he willfully played on moral sensibilities to provoke a poisoned exchange, all the while holding to the view “there is, at bottom . . . no evil and no good.”

    9 –> This is precisely the kind of cynical, poisonous, chaotic, destructive factionism and bullying domination that Plato warned against 2350 years ago. This time, by blood libel. (And I need not highlight the steps beyond blood libel; sadly, we are at a nuke tripwire threshold.)

    10 –> Now, let us look above again, at the responses: attacking the man who points out what is wrong and says that this must stop, instead of calling for stopping from this sort of cynical, viciously destructive slander.

    11 –> Indeed, someone above who should know far better is trying to turn the matter around, directly implying that the undersigned is guilty of such blood libel. (I think an apology is due for that one.)

    12 –> Someone else feigns surprise that anyone still believes in “god.” That is sad. (I suggest to such a one, that s/he should start here as a beginning of rethinking.)

    13 –> Others hold forth in like vein, or try to resort to Alinskyite ridicule.

    14 –> All of this is poisonously distractive, and none of it actually responds seriously to a very serious matter on the table. Again, that matter is blood libel, by a leading atheist spokesman, as a way to get out of actually having to seriously argue his case through a debate with an informed Christian philosopher and theologian.

    15 –> In that context, much of the above is what I have called “shut-up” rhetoric, talking points designed to try to intimidate into silence so that the slanders and poisonous strawman mischaracterisations will take hold in absence of objection and will be taken for truth.

    16 –> In short, something is very, very sick with our civilisation, if that is how reasonably educated people are now habitually arguing: shoot the messenger or otherwise shut him up, he bears tidings we do not wish to hear.

    17 –> Please, listen to yourselves above, again, and rethink what you are doing. (I think most people caught up in this talking point storm do not realise the matches they are playing with, or the sort of horrendously destructive fires such matches can kindle.)

    ________________

    As for me, I refuse to either be silenced, or to allow myself to be slandered without serious reply.

    And, that is most certainly not “casting the first stone.”

    Good night,

    GEM of TKI

  26. Dr Bot, you have again stepped over the line into personal abuse. On the issue of how right and wrong can be discerned, I simply point you to the Kantian Categorical Imperative as a good start. Blood libel based on cynical slanderous false accusation, joined to amoral, evolutionary materialistic nihilism that seems to see morality as little more than feelings to be manipulated to the rhetorical and agenda advantage of the New Atheism — as is shown in the original post — will abundantly fail that test. GEM of TKI

  27. Kairosfocus,

    “He snipped out of context — and defiantly so in his remarks about I do not care about context”
     
    –I have looked at the words in a wider context and there’s nothing to indicate that he doesn’t, indeed, support the genocide in question, which is what Dawkins accuses him of.  A wider context gives a better understanding of WHY Craig supported the genocide, and it arguably would have been more fair to Craig to have included some of the “whys” and perhaps discuss those, but what Dawkins did was not slander.

    “For, he KNOWS, and should know, that the very reason Craig et al struggle is precisely because they do not support genocide.”

    –Yes, I’m pretty sure Craig doesn’t support genocide in general, and yet, was put in a position to support a genocide – and that is probably is why he struggled in this case. He had to either a) Argue that the Biblical story is made up b) Argue that God was wrong in ordering the genocide or c) Argue that genocide in this case was justified. He obviously went with “c” and struggled because he was in the position of supporting a genocide – a position I’m sure he wasn’t comfortable being in.

    Dawkins probably realizes he doesn’t support genocide in general as well – which is probably why he did not claim that Craig supports genocide in general, as that would be slander, and only claims that Craig supported genocide in this particular instance, which he obviously did.
     
    One can debate whether Craig makes a sound argument that – in this particular case – the genocide was just (as many have),  and one can certainly argue whether Dawkins was honest in his reasons for not debating Craig (as many have), but it is beyond me how anyone could claim that Craig wasn’t saying that the genocide was justified.

    “As they should be, they are talking about cultures — NOT races…”

    –I’m not sure what your point here was. Were you trying to argue that what the Israelis did wasn’t genocide? I think that by any definition of the word “genocide” out there this would fit the definition.

    The UN defines it as: “intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group” which comes from Lemkin who coined the term.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/C.....f_Genocide

    And anyway, the question posed to Craig specifically mentioned “genocide” and yet Craig no where in his answer argued against that labeling of the action in question.

    “For those puzzled, the term “genocide” is an invented word, one specifically made to label what the Nazis did.”

    –The person who coined the word “genocide” was Raphael Lemkin. Although he coined the term in 1943, he had been advocating for many years before WWII that there should be an international law against that sort of crime and it was the Armenian genocide in Turkey that inspired him. As the wikipedia entry states:
    “It was there that Lemkin became interested in the concept of the crime, which later evolved into the idea of genocide, which was based on the Armenian experience at the hands of the Ottoman Turks”
    He obviously included the actions of the Nazis in his definition, but he specifically did NOT want the word to only be applied to the Nazis. Though it was the nazis that got the world’s attention to a problem that Lemkin had long been trying to point out.

    “So, if you accuse someone of supporting or advocating genocide, you had better be able to back up the accusation that they are Nazis. In court.”

    –I’m not even sure what that means. It’s nearly universally acknowledged that the Turks committed genocide in 1915, and that the Serbians committed genocide in Srebrenica, but I wouldn’t say they are “Nazis” (they both actually fought the Nazis, for what it’s worth).

  28. GUN:

    Pardon, but I find you are being insistent in enabling behaviour.

    At this point, it does not seem to have soaked in that you are enabling a BLOOD LIBEL.

    (And, given the turnabout rhetoric in the thread, it bears noting that I am responding after the fact to Mr Dawkins’ actions — not only recent but going back to the mid 1990s as cited in the OP above, and to those of his supporters who are carrying some very destructive and tendentious talking points; points that are part of a smear that works by exploiting our moral sensibilities as convenient levers to polarise people against one another. While in fact the one so acting holds that good and evil are not real, beyond such emotionally loaded perceptions. A smear that then poisons perceptions of people to the point where it is being imagined or even assumed then shouted that Bible-believing Christians are supporters of genocide. And, if a critical mass of people then believe such blood libels, and view and begin to treat Christians as a class as criminals, those who sowed or watered the seeds of such abuse bear a serious responsibility indeed. Please, think again. {Added, Nov 4: Dr Craig is on record here, Oct 17 2011 [a BBC radio show it seems], on his actual views; notice “The nazi . . . then does nothing wrong.” It is clear from this clip that he does not approve of genocide etc.})

    It evidently has not dawned on you that the sort of remarks you are supporting are of the type — your’e race-slaughtering nazis — where you had better be able and willing to back them up in court. Equally plainly, you have not seriously looked at or engaged the contextual and balancing information here; that should suffice to show that the precise reason that Christian thinkers and Christians in general find these passages about ancient blood feud warfare deeply troubling is because we do NOT support genocide or the like.

    Next, given the issue in the original post of the inherent amorality and destructive manipulativeness of materialism, you need to provide a worldview foundation for the judgements that something is good or evil. Otherwise the proper conclusion is that you are simply using the talking points of those whose game is to manipulate our moral sensibilities to create poisonous polarisation, instead of to responsibly address issues.

    Please, start from these points in any future discussions, or else, kindly leave this thread. I will not tolerate enabling behaviour for blood libel. The nuke threshold has been crossed.

    I take a stance at this level, because this is not a matter of idle talking points; we are here talking about BLOOD LIBEL. Willful false accusations made to evade public responsibility and accountability for years of increasingly hostile remarks that build up to this point — now, pointing beyond it to things too awful for words. Remember, this is not about some unknown bloggist scribbling off his ill-advised fulminations in a corner [which Breivik showed can be dangerous enough], it is a matter of the actions of the leading New Atheism advocate in the world, professor Richard Dawkins, a man repeatedly feted by the elites of our civilisation.

    And, these actions are also taken by someone the original post shows beyond reasonable dispute, who at root believes there is no evil, no good. So, Mr Dawkins is simply cynically manipulating moral feelings by tossing out poisonous red meat to stir up a poisonous fight he can retreat behind the cover of.

    Now, as I just pointed out, this thread is not about a defense of Mr Craig, it is primarily about what Mr Dawkins has done, given the key cited context of the Sci Am article. Precisely what the New Atheist talking-point promoters so desperately wish not to discuss.

    However, I will now pause and note for record, for those who do want to know some balancing things. Though, I have already repeatedly pointed such people here for a more appropriate venue for such a discussion.

    Mr Craig begins his main discussion:

    These stories offend our moral sensibilities. Ironically, however, our moral sensibilities in the West have been largely, and for many people unconsciously, shaped by our Judaeo-Christian heritage, which has taught us the intrinsic value of human beings, the importance of dealing justly rather than capriciously, and the necessity of the punishment’s fitting the crime. The Bible itself inculcates the values which these stories seem to violate.

    The command to kill all the Canaanite peoples is jarring precisely because it seems so at odds with the portrait of Yahweh, Israel’s God, which is painted in the Hebrew Scriptures. Contrary to the vituperative rhetoric of someone like Richard Dawkins, the God of the Hebrew Bible is a God of justice, long-suffering, and compassion.

    You can’t read the Old Testament prophets without a sense of God’s profound care for the poor, the oppressed, the down-trodden, the orphaned, and so on. God demands just laws and just rulers. He literally pleads with people to repent of their unjust ways that He might not judge them. “As I live, says the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live” (Ez. 33.11).

    He sends a prophet even to the pagan city of Nineveh because of his pity for its inhabitants, “who do not know their right hand from their left” (Jon. 4.11). The Pentateuch itself contains the Ten Commandments, one of the greatest of ancient moral codes, which has shaped Western society. Even the stricture “an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth” was not a prescription of vengeance but a check on excessive punishment for any crime, serving to moderate violence.

    God’s judgement is anything but capricious.

    This raises three very significant points. First, that the reason the passages in question are troubling is that they appear to cut across what WE and US — first person, plural (normally, inclusive of first person singular . . . ) — in our day support. Second, He outlines the wider context and significance of the Judaeo-Christian scriptures and their influence on our civilisation: they are largely responsible for the greatly enhanced respect for innocent life in our time; just the opposite of what would obtain if the New Atheist talking points were right. Third, he points to the key moral factor at work: God, as Creator, Dread Lord and Judge, sits in a very different role from us, i.e. he has the right — exercised — to properly impose death on fallen humanity, limiting our general lifespan as a terminus to ever-increasing corruption and evil; as well as cutting off individuals who in his just judgement need the sentence accelerated from the usual time, the proverbial three score years and ten, with extensions by reason of strength. But that same God is merciful, and does not wish to simply erase the human race or for that matter any particular “race,” as the incident with Jonah implies for the notorious Assyrians (who the prophet DID want wiped out as a race).

    In that context, genocide is an utterly inappropriate but loaded term, used to create a hostile rhetorical framing of the discussion. The matter is about judgement of individuals and cultures gone wrong to the point where they become willful plagues on the earth; not wiping out of some races in favour of other races.

    So, we can note that the matter has been inappropriately and poisonously framed to take manipulative advantage of our reaction to the Nazi, survival of the fittest driven mass killings of RACES they viewed as evolutionarily inferior or degenerate — the case the very word “genocide” was invented to describe. (I need not elaborate on Darwin’s chilling expectations that this would happen in his Descent of Man Chs 5 – 7 esp ch 6, or H G Wells’ warning that this would be a likely consequence, in some pretty preachy passages of his novels. I will only mention the ethnically Jewish Christian, Heine’s warning from the 1830′s on the implications of philosophically and scientifically led apostasy in German culture. Save, to note that he highlighted that the Cross was the fragile subduing talisman that kept in check the brutal German love of war. You have been hearing one side of the story, artfully framed by New Atheist rhetorical techniques designed to make the worse — amorality and cynical manipulation of our moral sensibilities to advance a case that cannot frankly acknowledge its inherent, inescapable foundational amorality — appear the better — more moral (of all things) — case.)

    In the biblical scheme of things, God’s general sentence to preserve us from unlimited evils, is that we must all die — the implication on the Biblical view is that our primordial innocent ancestors were in a state of active preservation of life based on relationship with God [withdrawn at the fall]. We do so in a very limited span, which protects humanity at large from utter corruption: for, the powerful and/or contagious evil do not have enough time to utterly dominate, corrupt and oppress the race as a whole. And that is the Bible’s central view of race and humanity, i.e. we are ONE family, so a racism-driven reading of scriptures — whether to attempt to justify racism, or to project racism unto it — is inherently a misreading.

    If you doubt this, here is a classic text, a key part of Paul’s Mars Hill discourse:

    Ac 17:24 “The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by hands. 25 And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything, because he himself gives all men life and breath and everything else. 26 From one man he made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live. 27 God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us. 28 ‘For in him we live and move and have our being.’ As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring.’

    29 “Therefore since we are God’s offspring, we should not think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone—an image made by man’s design and skill. 30 In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent. 31 For he has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed. He has given proof of this to all men by raising him from the dead.” . . .

    Judgement of nations, in this context, is a judgement of corrupt cultures that become self-destructive and/or a menace to their region or the world at large; by, first, consequences of the chaotic impacts of willful sin.

    Culture, not race.

    God is not in an “improve the species by survival of the fittest” breeding project.

    Normally, to such communities of chaotic corruption, God then sends prophetic corrective voices, to explain the reasons behind the chaos triggered by sin and call for repentance and reformation; a very familiar pattern. As, is the just as familiar one of shooting the messenger bearing such unwelcome news. Sometimes, all too literally.

    If the nations — INCLUDING Israel (destructively judged by defeat and exile twice) — defy correction, they self-destruct through chaos, family disintegration, oppression, misrule and over-taxation etc; thus losing the vitality, the vision, the common good sense, the sense of community, the courage and the commitment that makes men willing to stand and die in their defense; or, for that matter the willingness to dedicate time, effort and resources to raise the next generation, especially daughters. (BTW, that is what killed the classical cultures.)

    In some cases, where particular cultures reach a threshold of irrecoverable evil — the cup of their iniquity is full and overflowing, there may be direct action to evict the tenants; breaking the power centres so that the culture cannot spread a plague of evil across the earth. The usual metaphor is that the land vomits them forth, as happened to Israel twice; when many limited judgements by defeat, conquest and subjugation did not lead to a change of heart. (So much for projecting the notion of Nazi-like racial supremacism on Israel. A blessed covenant people is not based on allegedly superior genes. And, in the NT, the principle is explicit that in Christ the blessing of Abraham comes to all nations who will but receive Messiah.)

    In the biblical narrative, a final destructive judgement notoriously and proverbially happened with Sodom and Gomorrah, judged by volcanic destruction. But — apart from what is termed a “remnant” like Rahab the harlot/innkeeper, the surrounding communities plainly did not take heed, and 400 years later were at the limit of evil. BTW, it is worth noting that there is an explicit statement that Israel was not regarded as good, only under tutelage towards the good; and Moshe’s farewell speech has in it a prophecy of stubborn resistance to the right leading to judgement and exile. So, the biblical issue is means and consequences of judgement on rebellious communities that love to mock then oppress then kill their prophets and dismiss warnings, and it is in that context, that we should read the relevant puzzling passages.

    Copan — who IMO handles this issue better than Craig’s brief remarks [and he does so at book length], as I clip in the linked here [read on from this point], points out that first and foremost we must realise that the passages are culturally contextualised war rhetoric in a setting of their times (not ours) in the further context of a prophetic spokesman backed up by the signs and wonders that authenticate his message, and were not literally meant — nor were they understood to be literally meant. For instance, if Nazi-like genocide as we understand it was meant, why then does the context so often describe how the defeated people should be treated, without batting an eyelid? Why is a pagan innkeeper/prostitute held up as a heroine, as acceding to Israel and marrying into the family that gives birth to Israel’s most famed King, and later on — in the New Testament, Messiah?

    Let me briefly excerpt (but do not take this as an excuse not to read the onward clip and paper) some key balancing points Copan makes:

    The new atheists are certainly rhetorically effective, but I would contend that they have not handled the biblical texts with proper care, and they often draw conclusions that most Christians (save the theonomistic sorts) would repudiate. And this judgment is not the refined result of some post-Enlightenment moral vision, but the biblical writers themselves point us toward a moral ideal, despite the presence of human sin and hard-heartedness . . . .

    While the new atheists are correct in pointing out moral flaws and horrendous actions of OT characters, they often imply that “if it’s in the Bible, it must be approved by the author.” Yet we see from 1 Corinthians 10 that many of Israel’s stories involving stubbornness, treachery, and ingratitude are vivid negative role models-ones to be avoided. The OT’s “is” does not amount to “ought” . . . .

    The new atheists miss something significant here. They assume that the ANE categories embedded within the Mosaic Law are the Bible’s moral pinnacle. They are, instead, a springboard anticipating further development-or, perhaps more accurately-pointing us back toward the loftier moral ideals of Genesis 1 and 2 and even 12. These ideals affirm the image of God in each person, lifelong monogamous marriage, and God’s concern for the nations. The implications from these foundational texts are monumental . . . .

    According to Birch, we should acknowledge rather than ignore or downplay morally-objectionable practices and attitudes within Israel such as patriarchalism, slavery, ethnocentrism, and the like. He adds a crucial point, however: none of these practices and attitudes is “without contrary witness” elsewhere in the OT.[43] The new atheists gloss over any “contrary witness,” focusing only on the morally problematic. However, closer examination reveals that Scripture itself (rather than twenty-first-century critics) has the resources to guide us regarding what is ideal and normative and what is temporary and sui generis in the Bible.[44] . . .

    And, we may freely add, despite the war rhetoric the onward history shows that there was considerable actual mixing of peoples. This, to the point where the genealogies for the greatest King of Israel, David, break the convention and highlight that he had as maternal ancestors a Canaanite prostitute/innkeeper [much the same in those days] and a Moabitess. One of his three generals is a Philistine from Goliath’s hometown — yes, Ittai the Gittite; his personal bodyguard — yes, the ones who he trusted to guard him, standing next to him with weapons — are Philistines; and in fact he accedes to the throne by first being a Philistine vassal in Ziklag, bringing a cohort of 600 Philistines with him when he goes to become king first of Judah then of Israel. This move seems to have revolutionised Israel’s general technology [moving to the Iron Age by capturing blacksmithing technology], economy and military potential. When a son rebels, in significant part, it is David’s pagan subjects who come to his aid. This king is the ancestor of the Messiah. And, his predecessor, Saul, actually gives some of his sons recognisably Canaanite names, indicating a mixed culture that required a King to show a prudent balance.

    I know, I know, that is not in the usual Sunday School lessons, or on the religious TV channel cartoon hour shows, but it is in the text and it is discussed by the serious theologians. It also explains why it is that Hebrews and neighbours had such close speech that they could routinely converse, why David was on such good terms with Moab [when he fled to Philistia, he sent his parents to Moab for refuge -- he had family there, Ruth plainly was from a prominent Moabite family]. And, it explains how Israel is transformed from a hardscrabble peasant culture so poor that its champion in a key duel is using a sling and stones against an armoured warrior to an economic and military powerhouse in a generation, one that even after the split post Solomon, was dominant or a key player in that region for centuries.

    We must not project our current obsessions with race unto a document that comes to us from a very different context, 3 – 4,000 years ago.

    Matters simply are not so simplistic as that.

    The best understanding of the war rhetoric, is probably much like this: while you are by no means a righteous people, being under moral-spiritual tutelage and subject to similar judgement [notice, e.g. how ten plagues of the Egyptians are matched by ten tests of the Israelites, also failed], YHWH is using you as his instrument of judgement (by and large by fairly gradual displacement . . . note the reference to fierce animals not multiplying) of a culture that — in defiance of adequate prophetic warning — has become a menace to all. In that process, certain key hard core centres will have to be destroyed, and as a mark that this is judgement not conquest, you will not loot them, not even of their food or precious metals. This is not a simple matter of conquest by a superior military power, indeed you are actually markedly inferior in numbers, technology and technique; you will have to rely on Divine protection and intervention. And, this is itself a warning to you that if you refuse moral- spiritual tutelage and become like those you displace and absorb, you, too will be subjected to displacement at the hands of other powers I will raise up as instruments of judgement against you. At all times, you must strive for moral-spiritual reform and upliftment.

    Such a fairer, more contextually informed reading, of course, does not sit easily with the New Atheist talking points and framing on racially motivated genocide. But, it has this merit, it far more accurately reflects the context.

    Let me therefore conclude by clipping from the previously linked discussion of the exchange with Jonah that Craig mentions in passing:

    . . . from Jonah 4, we may see how the prophet, in a misguided sense of patriotism, had tried to run away from his call to prophesy a warning of judgement to the Assyrians, mortal enemies of Israel. And surely enough, the warning: “forty days and Nineveh [now Mosul] shall be destroyed” opened the door to national repentance led by the king, and to relenting in judgement.

    The prophet, still only half understanding the heart of God, complains (and God responds):

    Jonah 4:1 . . . it displeased Jonah exceedingly, and he was angry. 2 And he prayed to the LORD and said, “O LORD, is not this what I said when I was yet in my country? That is why I made haste to flee to Tarshish; for I knew that you are a gracious God and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, and relenting from disaster. 3 Therefore now, O LORD, please take my life from me, for it is better for me to die than to live.” 4 And the LORD said, “Do you do well to be angry?” . . . . 11 ” . . . should not I pity Nineveh, that great city, in which there are more than 120,000 persons who do not know their right hand from their left, and also much cattle?”

    Jonah was concerned and depressed about a plant that grew up, gave him shade then withered. God was more deeply concerned about a nation — even, an enemy of Israel — blindly heading for disaster, that it should have occasion to repent.

    So, a more balanced, better informed and nuanced, less angry-at-God reading of the texts, will give a very different view from prof. Dawkins’ dismissal.

    But that is exactly the rhetorical point: all too many in our day have little or no knowledge of the Bible, not even a Sunday School level exposure. So, when they see the sort of distorted, out- of- context and slanderous summary above, that tries to push God into the dock, they are often misled to think it is an accurate and fair summary. And then, to try to correct the misperceptions and anger of those whose minds have thus been poisoned, is very hard . . .

    The nuke threshold has clearly been crossed — I have every reason to see that the New Atheists will only become more strident and extreme in their hostility and rhetoric and agenda serving oppressive policy initiatives in institutions or even governments, but individuals can save themselves from an untoward generation.

    The choice is open to us.

    GEM of TKI

  29. PS: The Assyrians are still there, they are now a Christian people even after 1,000 years of Muslim domination.