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DaveScot Responds to BarryA

Barry poses the debate topic:

A soldier amuses himself by ripping a baby from his mother’s arms and tossing it in the air and catching it on a bayonet.

Resolved, it is self-evident that the soldier’s action is wrong in all places and at all times.

However, Barry restricts the range of answers by not allowing anyone to assert whether it would be right or wrong if God commanded the killing.

As many of us know, God, according to the Old Testament, did indeed command the killing of babies.

My position is that in the ordering of baby killing God was wrong and therefore cannot be a trusted source of moral absolutes. If the Old Testament is a true accounting of God’s interaction with the world then I have no choice but to conclude that my morals are superior to His. But rather than believe that I choose to believe that the Old Testament is not a true account of God’s interaction with the world but is rather, at least in part, a rather destructive immoral human fabrication created during a much more barbaric, violent time and place in world history when the sword was more respected than the olive branch.

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95 Responses to DaveScot Responds to BarryA

  1. I will not comment on this thread other than to say that DaveScot is not, in fact, responding to BarryA. I said nothing about the Old Testament, and in fact tried hard (and ultimately failed) to keep discussions of the Old Testament out of the comment thread, because such discussions are plainly a distraction.

    I tried to keep the discussion of my post limited to philosophy, because this bears directly on the issue of philosophical materialism, which is germane to this blog. Discussions of Old Testament theology, both pro and con, are not within the scope of this blog. I am not unafraid to discuss those issues. I just do not think this is the appropriate forum.

  2. Hi,

    -”a rather destructive immoral human fabrication created during a much more barbaric, violent time and place in world history when the sword was more respected than the olive branch.”

    Do you really think we live in a better time?

    I don’t think so.

    What about the killing of innocent people in Irak, Afganistan, Japan, Korea, Vietnam, South Africa, Australia, South America etc… by the Europeans (which I am)!

    I can’t believe some people are still optimistic about the our present time.

    I don’t think the Old Testament times were more barbaric or less.

    If God ordered me to kill a baby i think I could not do it. But when He did order the killing of all first born it was to show that He is not be made fun of I think. He gives life, and takes it back, it’s like that.

    But the Jewish-Christian God is a just God and is not a psychopath, He is true to Himself.

    Just my thoughts.

  3. Pazu

    I was careful to say “time and place“.

    And yes, I believe that any of the nations where the Protestant Reformation 500 years ago took root and bloomed are now superior to the places where most of the events in the OT took place. I don’t mean to say that the entire world is now superior to the entire world back then, I’m just saying that parts of the world today are superior.

  4. How crass. As the Creator of life, God has the right to take it.

    See also:

    Argument from Outrage

    Extermination of the Amalekites

    Extermination of the Canaanites

  5. We already know that some killing is justified. Indeed, this is the principle behind the “just war” theory and the principle of self defense. So, it should not surprise us that God can be justified in killing in some circumstances. It is important to remember that the road to New Testament ethics was a long, arduous process. The so-called “People of God,” were, in the beginning, extremely crude, and in some cases, downright barbarous. You can’t begin the process of self-actualization with the Sermon on the Mount and the Beatitudes. People have to be formed over multiple generations before they will even consider such appeals. It is also important to remember that some civilizations can become corrupt to the point of being irredeemable.

    In the case of the population of Canaan, for example, the people were burning their own sons and daughters in sacrifices to their gods. As troubling as it may seem to non believers, the creator does have certain moral privileges that his creatures do not have. One of those prerogatives is the moral right to decide when a certain society or culture is unsalvageable. As creatures, we are bound to allow the “wheats” and “tares” to grow up together. God is under no such obligation for the simple reason the he knows when it is necessary to uproot a civilization and we don’t. Usually, God doesn’t have to act at all, since most corrupt civilizations destroy themselves.

    In any case, I know of no case in the Old Testament where God did not give fair warning prior to bringing down the hammer. Indeed, when God was getting ready to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah, Abraham asked God if He would destroy the righteous along with the wicked. Incredibly, God negotiates an agreement with Abraham to save the innocent and even sends angels to warn the righteous to get out in time. So, it’s not like God was happy to be doing this. How many times has the Creator tried to warn the creature, and how many times did the creature tell God to mind his own business. Actions have consequences. Prophets have been warning us in our own time to stop killing babies for convenience, but we continue on as if it was no problem at all. Quite often, these same abortionists are the first ones to get all riled up when they read Old Testament stories about God’s chastisements. Remarkable!

    Yes, sometimes babies do have to suffer for the sins of their parents. So, what else is new? We all suffer from the ravages of original sin, and none of are spared because we were once babies. That is why we come out of the womb crying. This life is not called a “vale of tears” for nothing. Your real objection, at its most basic, is the idea that we must all suffer for the sins of our first parents. Everything else is a derivative of that problem. In fact, we are all tied together in some way and we all suffer when someone does evil. It is a natural consequence of being part of the same fallen human race. Rather than obsess over the Old Testament problem, we ought to attend to the New Testament solution.

  6. Barry

    Sorry, but I AM responding to you. I can’t help it that you contradicted yourself and made your question invalid by so doing.

    Dig it: you asked if the bayonetting of babies was wrong in all times and places then you went on to restrict the times and places to those times and places where the God of Abraham didn’t command the killing.

    You can’t have your cake and eat it too, Barry. It’s all times and places, which must by definition include the times and places described in the Old Testament, or it isn’t all times and places.

    This is not a distraction but rather a fair answer to your original question and ignoring your later contradiction which you imposed when you didn’t know how to respond to that answer.

  7. Jonathan Sarfarti

    The only crass thing here is the image of the creator you cling to.

  8. I would like to add that I am very angry towards the US governement, for all the lies they’ve been feeding the world, with so-called “just wars” in the name of freedom and democracy. Sometimes using the name of God!! I am a Christian and I used to think that maybe this Irak war is just or something, but now it’s obvious that the goal is not democracy and certainly not bringing the Irakis a better life. Well it’s just history repeating:
    1) western governments put a dictator at the head of an interesting country (natural resources)
    2) this dictator starts going off track, and wants to re-nationalize the natural resources
    3) Western world + multinational corporations are not happy with that
    4) let’s start a war!
    5) let’s encourage our youth to enter the military and let’s make them believe they are fighting for our freedom

    When will Americans wake up?

    I see world governments worst than darwinists in the sense that those governments (not just the US, but Europe also) lie and openly lie to the masses with no shame whatsoever.

    I think it’s still similar to Darwinism in its use of propaganda especially via the media.

    For a lot of americans, if we criticize the US government, we are anti-americans! It’s like Darwinists callin dissenters anti-science.

    Anyway it’s important to think critically in all sphere of life, which I am sure all of you do.

    Cheers,

    PS; I am not anti-american nor anti-west, just anti BS.
    Maybe I was off topic a little bit, but sometimes people and governments use the name of God to make believers believe that the leaders are godly since they mention God! But of course it’s just a manipulation, it has always be I hope one day believers will not be so easily duped.

  9. Stephen

    We already know that some killing is justified.

    Not according to Christ. The problem here is that most Christians talk the talk but don’t even come close to walking the walk. I’m more of a follower of Christ than the vast majority of so-called self-annointed church going Christians. I at least try to walk the walk and know very well when I’m not walking it. Most of rest of you are in deep denial about your own sinful behaviors. Every time you kill another living thing that isn’t harming you in any way you’re doing something that Christ avoided like the plague. No killing of anything is a common thread in many religions including, properly interpreted, Christianity. Admit that your animal desire to eat the flesh of other animals is, in the modern world where you have no problem (it’s very healthy in fact) subsisting on fruits and vegetables, a hedonistic practice. Stop lying to yourself that it’s anything other than hedonistic animal behavior.

  10. Jonathan,
    thanks for the links, I am always intrigued by those slaughters too.

    It reminds me of what Sionnists are doing in the middle east. I am not anti-Jew of course but Sionnists seem to be Godless, and seems to want to shut down any dissent (even here in France).

    The western world blames the Arabs for many things, but when we look at all the unjustice that they have to endure it’s understandable that they start to hate the west and Israel.

    I used to think it was God’s plan for Israel to be back to its homeland. I am for it to be there, but I oppose the slaughter of so many innocent lives, not just a physical slaughter but also a moral slaughter, deprived of all their human rights.

    What would Jesus say to Israel (the government not the people, let’s be clear on that) nowadays?

    The world could have been such a great place to live in, but we humans spoil everything, too bad…

  11. I am a long-time reader of this blog, and I cannot recall any time in the past that two regular contributors to this blog aired their disagreements by creating new posts and counter-posts. Why not just post your disagreements in the comments section? It’s starting to look like in-fighting, and it’s not even a topic that pertains to the purpose/thrust of this blog.

    DaveScot, I agree with Sarfati. If God is the creator of life, he can do with that life what he wills. If he wants to take that life he can do so. In this case, there is justification for God’s taking of life, but that is besides the point. God, as creator, has prerogatives that his creatures do not. It is comparable to parents and children. There are things parents can do that children cannot, and yet it would be “childish” for the children to complain about this. I’m not saying I am not troubled by the killing of those children, but there is nothing immoral about it. It would be immoral for us to take life because we are not the author of that life, but God is.

  12. DaveScot,

    One important difference between the OT God and the example Barry provided: There are zero indications that God commanded it for amusement. Right off the bat, that’s a distinction from the soldier.

    There’s another difference: God, by His nature, is privy to information beyond that of humans. If we trust that God has our best interests in mind, and we truly believe that a command comes from God, it is irresponsible (to say the least) to avoid such a command.

    I’ll even give you an example. Let’s say you work in a poor hospital in Calcutta. A man shows up one day, inspects a patient, and informs you that the staff must chop off the patient’s right leg and right arm. In this scenario, you’re just a poor worker – you look at the patient, and they seem healthy to you. But the man is a doctor. He has a reputation for keeping the health of the people he cares for in mind, and having access to knowledge far beyond you.

    Should the orders be followed or not? If you argue no on the grounds that the patient seems healthy to you and that’s all that matters, we’re in a bind. It throws expertise and reasonable trust out the window. If you argue yes on the grounds of the doctor’s traits, you can see the conclusion that follows.

    A final important distinction between the cases: Even where killing is justifiable in Christian belief, it is never something that should be viewed as good, certainly not something to be happy about. (And I will be the first to admit not everyone follows this through.) If I were to kill a man in defense of others, left with no other option, it would be justifiable. Gloating, being glad at it, even viewing the death as a ‘good thing’ would not be.

  13. Dave Scot,

    I am a big fan of your objectivism and your usually clear mind. Then you make a post like this.

    Not according to Christ. The problem here is that most Christians talk the talk but don’t even come close to walking the walk. I’m more of a follower of Christ than the vast majority of so-called self-annointed church going Christians. I at least try to walk the walk and know very well when I’m not walking it. Most of rest of you are in deep denial about your own sinful behaviors. Every time you kill another living thing that isn’t harming you in any way you’re doing something that Christ avoided like the plague. No killing of anything is a common thread in many religions including, properly interpreted, Christianity. Admit that your animal desire to eat the flesh of other animals is, in the modern world where you have no problem (it’s very healthy in fact) subsisting on fruits and vegetables, a hedonistic practice. Stop lying to yourself that it’s anything other than hedonistic animal behavior.

    The statement just does not logically follow from what we know of Christian teaching. It is obviously colored by an unobjective view of Christianity. All I can say is please do not speak on the Bible or Christianity. Your ignorance and somewhat warped agenda on these items is really on display. I don’t know who else to put it. Thanks,

  14. Sorry, that should be “I dont’ know how to put it”

  15. Dave,

    When I was nine years old I was on an island in Italy where my folks came from. We spent over two months there one summer. The year was 1959. The island was poor. And, of course, Americans were rich, so not in need of money. Somewhere along the line, some ‘cousins’ of mine told me that there was a man close by who would pay us to shuck corn. Loving the local ice cream, I agreed. So, for four or five days, there I was shucking “dried” corn—which causes your fingers to bleed. For two weeks I asked my cousins for the pay. They told me that this man always would ask for help saying he would pay, but he would never pay.

    I was steamed. My ravaged fingers demanded justice. And I got it.

    A few days after being informed of this man’s unjust behavior, I found out that he owned a certain parcel of land near where my ‘uncle’ had a piece of land he too farmed. The next evening, as the sun was setting so that no one could see me, but I could see what I was doing, I yanked out an entire row of of his crop—I thought that was about what he owed me. [Italians get angry; then they get even!!]

    Now, I’ll use this story as an analogy. All of us are like those plants lined up in rows in that man’s garden, owned by landowner. But, instead, let’s now pretend that it is God’s garden. Now, if God, as landowner, were to ask his steward to pull out a row of the crops, do you think the steward would object, or would he just go ahead and yank out the plants? But what if I were to yank out the plants, would that be just? Would the steward just stand by and let me do it? In other words, what is evil for us to do is not necessarily evil for God to do.

    Now it seems that in the OT God asked Abraham to sacrifice his only son, Isaac. I don’t remember Abraham saying that there’s no way that he would do something like that, and that any God who would ask for someone to do something like that is no kind of God I would follow. In fact, Abraham was ready to do what God has asked him to do. All life belongs to God. It doesn’t belong to us.

    As to the killing of innocent children, the spiritual parallel is this: the non-Jews represented sin, and killing even the last child in a village symbolizes that when we desire to go to God, we must expunge sin from ourselves completely—or else it will take root again. (Notice we’re back to the garden again.) I, too, was once troubled by what we read, but God has given me to understand all of this in a spiritual way. Hope this helps some.

  16. Every time you kill another living thing that isn’t harming you in any way you’re doing something that Christ avoided like the plague.

    But the other disciples came in the boat, dragging the net full of fish. They were only about a hundred yards away from the shore. When they arrived at the shore, they saw a charcoal fire with fish lying on it, and some bread. Jesus told them, “Bring me some of the fish you’ve just caught.” John 21:9-10

  17. “My position is that in the ordering of baby killing God was wrong and therefore cannot be a trusted source of moral absolutes.”

    This is the funniest thing I have heard all day. You are simply begging the question in your favor. You make yourself (not God) the trusted source of moral absolutes, and because God does what you don’t like, God isn’t the trusted source of moral absolutes. Put another way, if God is the trusted source of moral absolutes, then God didn’t do anything wrong.

    And you’re ruining the Darwinists main argument against ID, that’s it’s supported only by a bunch of retarded Christian holy rolling Bible thumpers, and here you are, an atheist, as a contributor to a pro-ID site!

  18. PaV, good point about the owner. It is just for me to destroy what I own and have created, but may not be if I’m destorying what someone else created and owns (without their permission.)

  19. Lets add a look at capital punishment. Right / Wrong because life is sacred – right? Is God for or against?
    Consider it a STRONG command for the governing legislative body to take the life of one who takes anothers’ due to the fact that life IS SO sacred it is to be protected. To argue against capital punishment is to argue that a human life is not sacred enough and interestingly a point of view more from materialistic naturalism that of revelation.

  20. 20
    mohammed.husain

    I know this is off-topic, but given some of the previous posts on Islamo-fasicsm, I can’t help but make some observations.

    No where in the Qur’an does it mention that God ever ordered the killing of babies, and yet the Qur’an is portrayed by many in the West, and even many on this website as being allegedly a uniquely violent scripture. After observing this discussion it seems that this is done more for the sake of fear-mongering and to promote a particular political agenda. Clearly the Bible contains violent passages and yet a double standard is adopted in evaluating it, at least as far as the media and political apparatus of this country is concerned.

    Just war theories in Christianity and Islam are remarkably similar, yet Islam is portrayed as violent and Christianity as peaceful. A perusal of our histories can not be used to justify this portrayal either. Christian civilization was definitely no less violent than Islamic, and post-Christian secular civilization seems more violent than either. It’s time re-evaluate guys. Pazu brings up some important points that are worth consideration. As Western civilization, we have to look at the violence that we are committing all the time and ask ourselves whether the justifications proffered really hold water. Why is it that 500,000 Iraqi’s have died and no one seems the least bit outraged? Was this about democracy, WMDs? Does anyone even remember? Why is it that we are now on the brink of another war and yet few are protesting? Why is that the same false propaganda used to justify the Iraq war is being used against Iran, and yet no one has the historical conscious to remember? Why is it that we only hold Hamas accountable for its killing of civilians but leave the Israeli government’s murder of civilians unchallenged when they are much larger in scale and magnitude? Why do we ignore the profound similarities between Christianity and Islam, in favor of a discourse of the “clash of civilization,” when such a discourse encourages this type of conflict and violence? Is this how Jesus (peace be upon him) would approach things in this day and age?

  21. Off topic, and please delete this if necessary, but could somebody please eviscerate what looks like an error filled propaganda attempt by the NC”S”E entitled “Creationism disproved?” (question mark in origianl title).

    Specifically, it appears that juxtaposing different creatures with different types of eyes proves evolution. Using the new-science™, there doesn’t appear to be a need to demonstrate that the octopus evolved from the marine snail which evolved from the nautilus which evolved from the snail which evolved from the mussel (as their fishy-smelling graphic indicates). And there does not seem to be a need to show the quantitative genetic distance between each stage. No, simple graphics trump math. Also, the term probably is part of how you “prove?” something.

    Also, the great anthropologist and NC”S”E head Eugenie Scott seems to think that a pinhole camera can be focused, when in fact, as any undergraduate who has had optics knows, real pinhole cameras have infinite depth of field.

  22. —–Dave: “Not according to Christ. The problem here is that most Christians talk the talk but don’t even come close to walking the walk. I’m more of a follower of Christ than the vast majority of so-called self-annointed church going Christians. I at least try to walk the walk and know very well when I’m not walking it. Most of rest of you are in deep denial about your own sinful behaviors.”

    Let me first begin with a point of agreement on a related topic that you raised on an earlier thread. Without qualification, I agree with you that cruelty in any form always violates the natural moral law, whether it is directed at animals or humans. In my judgment, this is a self-evident moral truth. I do think, however, that intent matters a lot. While I don’t consider it immoral to kill certain animals for food, I seriously question the morality of hunting for sport. To give you an idea of where I am coming from, I submit that anyone who sponsors a dog-fight would be a good candidate for hell. Obviously, I would also apply that standard to anyone who would “spear puppies.”

    I also agree with you that many Christians do not seem to walk the walk. It is one thing to preach, but it is something else to take your own medicine. What is there to say? There are few things worse than a hypocritical Christian who uses religion to serve his own purpose. Popes, for example, who are called on to be saints, can create untold damage to the Church and the culture at large because they have so much influence. Corruptio optimi pessimum est, says the proverb: ‘the corruption of the best is the worst’. On the other hand, some of the greatest saints and some of the greatest reformers were also popes. Indeed, I think our last two popes have been phenomenal and I submit that most popes have been profoundly beneficial to mankind. It is the same with Christians in general. You always get a mixed bag.

    On the matter of violence, though, I disagree with you that Jesus Christ forbade all killing or that he was a pacifist. If he really believed such things, he had plenty of opportunity to make the point with the Roman soldiers. There is no record of him ever raising an objection about their vocation. Many who read the New Testament labor under the misconception that the phrase, “turn the other cheek” was a Ghandi-like exhortation. But it does not mean that we should never fight. It means that we should control our pugnacious nature. I submit that Christ felt that war was a great evil, but that it is sometimes a necessary evil, especially when the choice is between war and slavery. For my part, he hated all violence, but I think he would have signed on to the proposition that some violence is necessary, in keeping with some have called the “just war” theory.

    In truth, Jesus Christ raised the bar for morality to unheard of levels. Not only may we not commit unnecessary acts of violence, we must avoid all cruelty, even cruelty of speech. Humans can commit little murders with words, causing their victims to sob their way to the grave. But the bar is even higher than that. We may not even allow our anger to get out of control, since even anger itself can be a form of violence. As a general rule, if we are angry for ourselves, we are probably violating the moral law; if, on the other hand, we are angry on behalf of others, including animals, we are probably following the moral law. You will notice, for example, that Christ became furious with the money changers in the temple, and he ran them out by force. On the other hand, when it was his time to offer himself up, he was as gentle as a lamb. What a man does is not nearly as important as why he does it.

  23. 23

    In an effort to avoid getting into a detailed discussion on the Old Testament (which I’m not sure applies for this blog), let me just say this:

    Under a theistic ethic, morality exists within the deity (most of the time) and thus human knowledge of morality is external, that is, imperfect. Subsequently, when the Deity acts in a manner that seems to contradict the human understanding of morality, we can draw two conclusions:

    (1) The human understanding is flawed and therefore in need of revamping

    (2) Morality relies on the idea of justice (the idea that those who violate the moral code will have due punishment for doing so), thus one can assume the Deity is just. In this case, what is a perceived injustice would be just for the Deity to perform because He has a perfect understanding of justice and morality while it would still be immoral for humans to perform (unless specifically guided to by the Deity) because our understanding is imperfect and fallible.

  24. Why is it that 500,000 Iraqi’s have died and no one seems the least bit outraged?

    Mohammed, the best estimates of Iraqi deaths range from 90,000 to 200,000.

    A good deal, if not most, of those dead come from Islamic terrorists targeting Iraqi civilians.

    How do you expect peace to come if U.S. forces leave?

  25. 25
    sagebrush gardener

    Every time you kill another living thing that isn’t harming you in any way you’re doing something that Christ avoided like the plague.

    Just off the top of my head, I can think of (in addition to the example that Atom mentioned above)…

    Jesus causes a whole herd of pigs to be drowned. Luke 8:33

    Paul calls “abstain from meats” a “doctrine of devils” 1 Tim 4:1-3

    God tells Peter in a dream “Rise, Peter; kill, and eat … all manner of fourfooted beasts of the earth, and wild beasts, and creeping things, and fowls of the air.” Acts 10:13

    John the Baptist ate “locusts and wild honey”. Mat 3:4

    And, of course, Jesus fed the 5,000 with “loaves and fishes”. Mat 14:17

  26. On topic: The question seems to be,
    Why did God command the killing of whole groups of people including babies and animals?

    I don’t know. But I have a hypothetical example of an instance where what seems to have happened is incorrect, and the truth of what really happened occurs at a later point in time. I just shared this with my son.

    If my son and I were crossing the street, and all of a sudden he were violently shoved to the ground by me, resulting in road rash on his hands and face, his initial understanding of what was happening might be “My father has committed an injustice.”

    If, as he was getting up he saw me being creamed by a semi-truck doing 70 mph, he would then come to realize that I did not commit a violent injustice, but an act of mercy, and that I had put his safety above my own interests.

    The difference in time between the first and second understandings is short in this case, but it is not too hard for me to imagine that what now seems like an injustice using human reasoning might someday be understood to be an act of love and grace in the future.

    That being said, I am not sure about the value of public disputes by significant members of the same team, when these disputes are unrelated to the purpose of this blog.

    Let’s leave the meaning of the old testament to other sites.

  27. 27

    Joel is correct in 23; our imperfect knowledge of our consequences is limited and does not take into account eternal hell which God would have perfect knowledge of. I would consider hell a much greater “evil” to be avoided for humans, than babies though both are repugnant in their own right. Thus if by babies many more people avoid the pitfall of hell in the “human race’s” future then the action is justified by the evil avoided. To which one would argue why did God allow evil to exist in the first place since he has perfect knowledge of the future, to which I would answer that again, we would have to consider that a much greater good is accomplished through this “allowance of evil”.

  28. Salam Mohammed,

    I agree with what you wrote.
    Back in 9/11, I was a student in northern France and I was staying at a student residence, there were lots of Moroccans there. As we watched the news of the twin towers collapsing and then the revealing of the so-called Al-Qaeda terrorists (one passport of one of the “terrorist” was allegedly found in the rumbles of WTC1 WTC2 WTC7 whereas nothing ales survived except pieces of hardware here and there), all my Moroccans friends rejoiced.

    I did not rejoice of course, and I thought they rejoiced because they were just happy “Christians” died. I did believe whatever the media said that time. Even though my Muslim friends brought some good points, and didn’t believe the official version right from the start.

    Anyway, after the declaration of war on Afghanistan and Irak, a lot of skepticism could be heard in Europe..at first I thought it was anti-american driven, and I thought those wars were justified (well i didn’t know much about geo-politics, but it seemed to me Saddam was evil etc…. even though put at the head of Irak by the US government).

    Mohammed, I think in the name of Christianity a lot of unforgivable things have been committed, but Christianity in itself is not violent. The states of the middle ages, wanted to keep the population illiterate for their own advantage. The state was closely linked to the Church, with all the abuse of power, authorities etc this position would bestowed.

    You are right that in the west we are manipulated by a one sided view of geo-politics matters, and for good reasons. It’s in the interest of the west corporations and banks (who virtually own our banks like the fed, the euro bank in Frankfurt etc…).

    I am hopeful the American citizens will realize that they are not ruled by patriotic and Christians people.

    What the west has done is unforgivable and even though my voice counts for almost nothing, I ask for forgiveness at least symbolically. Our governments destroyed the lives of countless in the name of domination and power. I don’t think it will ever stop though. I even fear the horrors we see in the so-called 3rd world (created by the west, once again), will come knocking at our doors very soon, if not already.

    God bless us, and God bless the innocent.

    PS: this clash of religions is maintained by the media and the politics to instill fear in the population, but I have Muslim friends and I really love them and they never threatened me or anything like that, they love to debate actually on religion and politics matters.

    I am not anti-american, I actually love America, but I do hate the US-governments and I even hate my own government as well as the new super state which is called the European Union.

  29. Pazu

    When any two countries both have a MacDonald’s they never get into a shooting war with each other.

    Food for thought.

  30. 30

    I know many atheists who dislike this immensely and scream injustice and even call God evil, yet God is God and He IS real and we are limited, thus we are the ones who have to adjust our limited thinking. In fact I would argue that God, through the cross, has done everything possible to reconcile man to himself yet many men will not do the least effort to reconcile their thinking to God

  31. 31

    DaveScot, now you are hedging:
    “Every time you kill another living thing that isn’t harming you in any way you’re doing something that Christ avoided like the plague.”

    Wrong, Christ never harmed anyone including those who harmed him. You seem to be making an exception for yourself that Christ never took and making it seem like he did, which is exactly what you are accusing BarryA of doing. Am I wrong?

    Also consider Romans 13:1-4.

  32. JDH

    I don’t have a right to an opinion on Christianity? A culture I grew up in? Spare me.

    Do you have any idea how many deeply Christian sects there are and have been which practice austerity and vegetarianism?

    Stay focused. It’s about Barry’s question of a transcendent moral law. I’m saying all moral law descends from not harming other living things when it can be avoided. Liberty and justice for all isn’t just for selected people and it isn’t just for selected species. It becomes a universal moral code when extended to all living things.

  33. Davescot wrote:

    Dig it: you asked if the bayonetting of babies was wrong in all times and places then you went on to restrict the times and places to those times and places where the God of Abraham didn’t command the killing.

    You can’t have your cake and eat it too, Barry. It’s all times and places, which must by definition include the times and places described in the Old Testament, or it isn’t all times and places.

    Dave, is it your position that these things actually occurred in history, at the command of the God of Abraham? If that is the case, your rebellion is meaningless, as you are are attempting to moralize superior to the One who created you, and your ability to moralize. However if you don’t believe in the historical validity of this command and its source, then you’re arguing against a putative fiction, and merely impeaching the beliefs of your opponents in the debate. That’s ad hominem argumentation.

    Every time you kill another living thing that isn’t harming you in any way you’re doing something that Christ avoided like the plague. No killing of anything is a common thread in many religions including, properly interpreted, Christianity.

    Are you referring to this Jesus, and this Christianity?

    Revelation 19:13-15 (excerpted) He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is the Word of God. ….Out of his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations….He treads the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty.

    Revelation 19:17-18 And I saw an angel standing in the sun, who cried in a loud voice to all the birds flying in midair, “Come, gather together for the great supper of God, so that you may eat the flesh of kings, generals, and mighty men, of horses and their riders, and the flesh of all people, free and slave, small and great.”

    Isaiah 63:3-6 (excerpted) “I have trodden the winepress alone; from the nations no one was with me. I trampled them in my anger and trod them down in my wrath; their blood spattered my garments, and I stained all my clothing. For the day of vengeance was in my heart, and the year of my redemption has come….I trampled the nations in my anger; in my wrath I made them drunk and poured their blood on the ground.”

    Keep in mind that these are parallel accounts of future events, and can’t be relegated to the savage past. This is “New Testament.”

  34. Hi DaveScot,

    -”When any two countries both have a MacDonald’s they never get into a shooting war with each other.

    Food for thought.”

    What do you mean?

    I used to work at McDonald’s, which was fun, but I realize now that it’s also imperialism. They want to conquer the world (which they have successfully), in my small neighborhood I count 3 MacDonald’s in a very short perimeter + other fast-food.

    My problem I have with that, which i didn’t have a few years ago when I was still a teenager, is that it homogenizes countries. Every country now has McDonald’s, Starbucks, KFC… you name it! We are under US domination. But the scary thing is that young people love those, and I like those too, but the problem I am noticing more and more is that, France has just become another US state, there’s nothing much that separates us from Americans, at least culturally (we are still much different). Same movies, tv shows, food, clothes, cars what else?

    Those corporations are so ridiculously rich that they can buy any piece of land in the world, leaving the indigenous people poorer. Look at what Monsanto is doing in Argentina and India (soon in Europe too, but we are opposing strongly GMOs, but we will get there too because Monsanto is so powerful that governments will inevitably succumb to their offer), far more threatening than McDonald’s.

    Anyway, I think the world is worse than ever, and I happen to find me contemplating ancient times as being better.
    Will we ever find ourselves again owning lands? People (at least in France) are confined to small apartments, small houses, because prices are expensive. I would like to own some piece of land, coz I can’t live in a small apartment, but will it be possible? I envy the time when most people here had farms. Greedy promoters have constructed every single parcels left of land in the cities. I am afraid for future generations. And I am “only” 26.

    I have a good life but it seems the future is more unstable every day. Just look at the dollar. How will American face the North American Union? see NAFTA being signed in their back, while they are debating whether Paris Hilton should go to jail?

    Food for thought.

  35. 35

    “There is nothing new under the sun”

    “Do not say, ‘Why were the old days better than these?’ For it is not wise to ask such questions.”

    - Solomon

  36. (soon in Europe too, but we are opposing strongly GMOs, but we will get there too because Monsanto is so powerful that governments will inevitably succumb to their offer)

    What is it with the paranoia on this board in the last week. I haven’t had this much fun since alt.conspiracy on the old UseNet.

    You will get GMOs — just as we will eventually start building nuke plants again. Why? Because they are better and safer than the alternatives, which in the case of GM food would be massive amounts of pesticide and fertilizer or hunger.

  37. 37

    Another thought:

    There was another thing Jesus avoided like the plague: politics. According to John 6:15, Jesus could have become king. In fact, the people intended to make him king by force. But he did not let that happen. Also when asked to make what was essentially a political judgment in Matthew 22:15-22, Jesus artfully dodged the question. (Ironically proving that had he chosen to play politics, he would have wiped the floor not only with the Jewish Sanhedrin but anybody else as well.)

    Do these episodes mean that true follower’s of Jesus should not pursue public office? Does it mean that Jesus felt that government was evil? Of course not! There were a lot of things that Jesus never did. Jesus had a mission, a reason for being on earth in the flesh. That mission was to be a pure, spotless lamb, an unblemished sacrifice. There could be no doubt to anyone, including God, that he was innocent of any wrongdoing. For him to fulfill that purpose, his intentionally tied his hands while he was here in the flesh. However, as the passage in Revelation which Apollos quoted makes quite clear, his hands are tied no longer.

  38. Stephen

    People have to be formed over multiple generations before they will even consider such appeals.

    “People” were all over the world thousands of years before the OT was written. Many of them were peaceful, pagan, earth-momma types who didn’t then and don’t now need any help in knowing right from wrong and playing nicely with others.

    Just because religions of the sword with huge numbers of followers dominate the scene today doesn’t make them right. Might doesn’t make right.

    Anyhow, Barry’s question is about something that could be rightly called a transcendent moral value. I believe that was discovered by many religions, including many Christian sects beginning with the Essenes (Christ’s peer group of Jews), the Nazoreans, and the Ebionites. No unnecessary killing of any living things is still practiced by many Christian sects today. Here’s a decent list of modern ones:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/C.....m#Churches

    The Seventh-day Adventists present a health message that recommends vegetarianism and expects abstinence from pork, shellfish and other foods proscribed as “unclean” in Leviticus.

    The Word of Wisdom is a dietary law given to adherents of the Latter Day Saint movement (also known as Mormonism) which says that meat and fowl “are to be used sparingly; And … that they should not be used, only in times of winter, or of cold, or famine.” Not given as advice, this commandment is reiterated in the same section, “And these hath God made for the use of man only in times of famine and excess of hunger.” [1] (see also animals in the LDS Church).

    All Oriental Orthodox, Eastern Orthodox, and Eastern Catholic monastics abstain from meat year-round, and many abstain from dairy and seafood as well. Laity generally abstain from animal products on Wednesdays (due to a traditional belief that it was a Wednesday on which Judas arranged to betray Jesus Christ) and Fridays (because Jesus was crucified on a Friday), as well as during the four major fasting periods of the year: Great Lent, the Apostles’ Fast, the Dormition Fast and the Nativity Fast. This is not for environmental or animal welfare reasons, but for spiritual reasons. Fasting is seen as purification and the regaining of innocence. Through obedience to the Orthodox Church and its ascetic practices, the Orthodox Christian seeks to rid himself or herself of the passions, or the disposition to sin.

    Roman Catholic monastic orders such as the Carthusians and Cistercians also follow a strict vegetarian diet, and Catholic laity are encouraged to abstain from meat on Fridays and through the Lenten season leading up to Easter.

    Some Charismatics believe raw veganism was the original diet of humankind in the form of Adam and Eve, and if they are ever to return to an Eden-like paradise then they will have to return to a similar diet (see Hallelujah diet). A “diet of Paradise” doctrine also appears in Orthodox Christianity [1].

    Some members of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) practice vegetarianism or veganism as a reflection of the Peace Testimony, extending non-violence towards animals1. Historically, the early vegetarian movement had many Quaker promoters.

    In some Christian communities partial fasting, for example during Lent, resembles vegetarianism since meat and dairy products are forbidden for a temporary period. For some groups, seafood is permitted during these periods of fasting. A basic difference to other forms of vegetarianism is that Lent has spiritual connotation, not environmental or animal welfare reasons. Also, abstaining from meat and dairy products during Lent is intended to be temporary, lasting only until the season is over, not a permanent way of life.

  39. 39

    More accurately his hands are tied till the end of the world.

  40. Pazu

    I share your concerns about the future. Frankly I’m putting my trust in nanotechnology to save the day. Science and engineering (although it’s mostly only engineering now) to the rescue. As usual. Nothing personal but science’ll save a sick kid or increase agricultural yields a lot more reliably than prayer.

  41. Hi tribune7,

    GMOs are not better for health.
    Please watch this European documentary, it is quite enlightening:
    http://www.videosift.com/video.....Foods-Safe

    Don’t be fooled by Monsanto’s “peace and love” motto, i.e. GMOs will eradicate hunger in the world.

    All they are interested in is get a hold of all seeds on the face of the world. Because farmers need to buy seeds every year since those GMO seeds no longer self reproduce.
    Also farmers need to buy huge amount of pesticides. The crops no longer belong to the farmer, but it’s Monsanto’s property.

    Monsanto wants to patent all their GMOs seeds and even porks!!

    You can google it if you don’t believe me. http://newstandardnews.net/con.....items/2240

    It seems you trust blindly the agro industry too much ignoring the real damages to your US economy, and my own economy. For instance in India, a lot of farmers bought GMO cotton believing the nice little video of Monsanto saying that they would produce much more cotton with that GMO.

    After the delusion passed, a lot of farmers went bankrupt and had to move to the city. Most of them couldn’t even resell their destroyed fields, since the pesticides destroyed the soil’s life.

    Anyway it will come in our countries, actually it’s already in the American plates.

    maybe I am wrong, but don’t you think we should have a clear explanation and debate with the people, scientists, and independent critics?

    I think it’s too important for us and future generations to be dismissed. But we are too busy to care about that, and media don’t do their job once again. :(

  42. Appolos

    merely impeaching the beliefs of
    your opponents in the debate

    Ummm… that’s kind of what debate is all about so long as the belief is relevant to the point of contention.

  43. DaveScot: This is not a distraction but rather a fair answer to your original question and ignoring your later contradiction which you imposed when you didn’t know how to respond to that answer.

    Maybe someone could un-censor my posts that Barry censored as a “distraction.”

    Sorry, to cause such a stink, but I didn’t feel it was a distraction to bring up Old Testament evidence to somebody who claims to believe in it.

  44. mike1962

    Comment removal in WordPress is permanent.

  45. Oh well – You made my point, anyway, in a much more direct manner :)

  46. I think that on the Christian world view at least, the babies who are killed at God’s command go to spend eternity with God, which is not a bad place to be. I think what makes such a case of killing babies exceptional is the fact that God commanded it, if people go about killing babies on their own initiative then I think it becomes wrong. One point is that God can at any time restore the lives He has taken, we can’t. I think the most intellectually satisfying response to the problem of “old testament atrocities” that I have heard is this mp3: http://www.rfmedia.org/RF_audi.....cities.mp3

  47. There’s still a thing that is shocking to me when I read it, i think it’s in Leviticus.

    The Israelites were asked to offer every first-born!!

    Does it mean they had to sacrifice the first born?

    I understand this sounds very shocking, I believe it’s a prefiguration of what the Father will do with his Son. And I think nowadays it would be considered unlawful for sure, which it is, unless God commands it. And he only commanded it to His representative people.

  48. Dave,

    The problem is epistemological. If God, being both omniscient and morally perfect, commands me to do something, it seems I ought to do it. However, a problem arises if I’m told to do something that flatly contradicts my rational moral sensibilities (e.g. spearing babies). How do I know it’s God telling me to do it and not some hallucination, malevolent demon, etc.? Moral reason, it seems, ought to trump (supposed) divine command. Go here to read more substantial commentary in favor of this view.

  49. DaveScot wrote:

    I’m more of a follower of Christ than the vast majority of so-called self-annointed church going Christians.

    Especially with that “humility” thing. You’re the most humble person you ever met! LOL!

    Most of rest of you are in deep denial about your own sinful behaviors.

    I wish I could be. Then I’d know I was better the vast majority of so-called self-annointed church going Christians.

    As it stands, I’ve no more guarantee of eternal afterlife than any other miserable wretched sinner. I trust (have faith) that my Saviour will see fit to be my advocate during Judgment, rather than my prosecutor.

    Every time you kill another living thing that isn’t harming you in any way you’re doing something that Christ avoided like the plague.

    Not really. Certain fig trees and herds of pigs were not known to please Jesus.

    You must subscribe to the Hippy Jesus caricature foisted off onto us by the likes of Andrew Lloyd Webber.

    He wasn’t a Buddhist or a Jain. He was a Jew. He spoke like a Jew. He lived where the Jews lived. All of His close friends were Jews. And no doubt, He ate like a Jew. Lamb at Passover, the whole shebang. Sorry.

    I could go for a gyro right about now.

  50. Dave, thanks for your reply.

    Apparently you actually agree with BarryA:

    Anyhow, Barry’s question is about something that could be rightly called a transcendent moral value. I believe that was discovered by many religions, including many Christian sects beginning with the Essenes (Christ’s peer group of Jews), the Nazoreans, and the Ebionites. No unnecessary killing of any living things is still practiced by many Christian sects today.

    So apparently there is a such thing as transcendent moral truth, in your own estimation — and your disagreement is not with this fact, but with either: 1) the identity of the law giver; 2) the scriptural accuracy of the nature of the law giver; 3) that there must be a law giver for there to exist a transcendent moral law. I’m suspecting your disagreement is some combination of 1 and 2, and I’m guessing that you’ve accepted 3. Would this be correct?

    I understood the scope of BarryA’s post was in debating: a) whether there exists a self-evident, transcendent moral code; b) must there be a law giver for such a code to exist. I gathered that his restricting of the Old Testament discussion was to prevent those who would deny his example of absolute truth from running to the tall grass of endless OT debates about God’s motives and prerogatives; and to discourage the faith-minded among us from leaping to God’s defense every time someone misused the OT to change the subject.

    I’ll conclude with a platitude: The Bearded Thunderer loves you, and has a wonderful plan for your life. :wink:

  51. DaveScot @ 9:

    Stephen: We already know that some killing is justified.

    DaveScot:Not according to Christ.

    Yes, according to Christ.

    Christ Himself taught in the parable of the ten minas that His enemies who rejected His reign would be slain.

    Millions if not billions of people will be justifiably killed by Christ upon His return at Armageddon.

    Billions will be killed by God-wrought disasters as foretold by Christ during the Tribulation.

    And ostensibly more during the final days of Christ’s millennial reign.

    Every time you kill another living thing that isn’t harming you in any way you’re doing something that Christ avoided like the plague.

    Christ Himself killed a fig tree because it wasn’t bearing fruit. Christ Himself aided Peter in the catching of countless fish, and further cooked a fish breakfast prior to His ascension.

    Christ Himself taught in the parable of the prodigal son that a fatted calf was killed in celebration.

    God, in a vision, told Peter to “kill and eat” a wide variety of animals that God had “cleansed”.

    Christ did not teach that bodily sustenance was to be found only in “manna”, as it is understood that living things were killed as food for people. It was further understood that killing in self-defense does not equate to murder, although such self-defense of the Christian’s worldly life, however lawful, was neither advocated nor creditworthy.

    I’m more of a follower of Christ than the vast majority of so-called self-annointed church going Christians. I at least try to walk the walk and know very well when I’m not walking it.

    No, you are not. Christ doesn’t grade on a curve, it isn’t a point system, it is pass/fail. You either accept Him as Lord and Saviour or you are not following Him, you will not be known or acknowleded by Him. All of your “walk the walk” is in vain and displeasing to God/Jesus because it lacks the core prerequisite of faith in Christ. All the “so-called self-annointed church going Christians” whom you dismiss, OTOH (if their profession of faith in Christ is real) actually do “walk the walk” however imperfectly, whereas you have yet to take the first step of that walk, and until you do there is no rest of the Christian walk for you to boast in.

    In your opening post you write:

    If the Old Testament is a true accounting of God’s interaction with the world then I have no choice but to conclude that my morals are superior to His.

    There are several different contexts in the bible: literal, figurative, allegorical, symbolic, spiritual, physical, historical and prophetic. They are all true but they are not all illustrative of God’s morals; many are illustrative of human immorality and foolishness, such as your presumption to properly interpret scripture and exalt your morals above God’s.

  52. Hi! I’m here to box with God. Now, you may think my arms are a little too short to box with God, but let me reassure you, I AM REALLY SMART! In fact there are a lot of times when I think I must be smarter than God. Especially when I’m publishing on this blog! And not only that, but I’m a good person.

    (Did I tell you I was a good person?)

    So listen up, you pathetic meat-eating, Bible-thumping intellectual slobs. Your “god” sucks. I mean, just look at all that Old Testament crap. All God ever did was order the murder of innocent little babies. Even I know better than that. I must be smarter than God!

    Don’t you know about those peaceful earth-loving pagans, the Amalekites? Okay, so they attacked the nation of Israel without provocation when they came out of Egypt. All right, so they took every opportunity to attack thereafter. Okay, so they were a bunch of murdering merciless thugs.

    But that doesn’t mean those stinky Israelites had a right to defend themselves! That doesn’t mean there’s any connection between Hitler and Darwin! (Did I tell you there wasn’t any connection between Hitler and Darwin? I don’t know why people keep wanting to connect Hitler and Darwin.)

    Your “god” is a baby killer! He killed all those Egyptian babies! I don’t care if he gave Pharaoh nine chances! I don’t care if the enslavement of the Israelites had become unbearable! I don’t care if in general I feel that slavery is an abomination! This is different! Your God is an immoral God!

    Let me tell you, a good person like me would never do anything like that. (Did I tell you I’m a good person? I really am a good person. Heck, I’m far more Christian than most of you so-called Christians! Jesus is just all right with me! Dig it!)

    No, I haven’t actually read the Old Testament—but I’ve read Sam Harris! And let me tell you, that was enough. I was really steamed up after I read that book. Some day I’d like to meet Sam Harris. He sounds like he’s almost as smart as I am!

    (Did I remember to tell you there wasn’t any connection between Hitler and Darwin? I don’t know why people keep wanting to connect Hitler and Darwin. People like that are really stupid. Hitler, Darwin, Hitler, Darwin, Hitler, Darwin—that’s all they ever talk about! Boy, I sure wish I could get my hands on people like that. I’d show them what’s what. As it is, I’m stuck here on this obscure little blog with all these dim-witted theists. Oh, well; we all do what we can.)

  53. Hi allanius,

    SO you must be anti-abortion then, right?

    First, get a hold of a Bible, read it, and then come back. Thanks!

  54. Pazu @47

    Read Numbers 18:16-19. Its pretty clear. Every first born whether animal or man belonged to the Lord. He purchased it in the passover. The humans were to be redeemed. ( In other words purchased back from the Lord, not sacrificed ). The oxen and sheep were to be a burnt offering.

    God freed his children from the prevalent practice of sacrificing of children. The practice is condemned most violently by God. Anyone who reads this passage and thinks that God is advocating child sacrifice is being willingly ignorant of what it says.

  55. Pazu–

    Anyway it will come in our countries, actually it’s already in the American plates.

    Since at least 1994. No harm here.

    maybe I am wrong, but don’t you think we should have a clear explanation and debate with the people, scientists, and independent critics?

    Absolutely. But remember that those who create demons (agra-business, big oil, nukes whatever), and set themselves up as saviours (documentary makers, politicians) are usually lying.

  56. tribune7,

    -”But remember that those who create demons (agra-business, big oil, nukes whatever), and set themselves up as saviours (documentary makers, politicians) are usually lying.”

    I don’t think those documentaries set themselves up as saviours, they just do their jobs at presenting what causes controversies.

    I am greatly skeptical of the GMOs, especially when it’s patented as a commercial product. That’s outrageous, if it’s not to you, then fine, eat them. But I’ll do my best to avoid them. And I hope France and Europe will forbid them. A lot of people are raising their voices against them.

    Don’t you think we had enough of being robbed our land, resources by multinationals? I think the cup is more than filled.

  57. JDH,

    I read the passage, I think I had misread it or didn’t understand what it really meant by offering the first-born. I was really shocked and disturbed by that first-born offering.

    Thanks for the insight, I feel relieved that the Israelites didn’t have to offer (as in a sacrifice) their first kids! :)

  58. tribune7,

    -”I read it as the imposing of a tax to fund Temple services required by all Israelites upon the birth of their first child.

    Yeah. Sounds like a tax or something like that. :)

  59. StephenB: “We already know that some killing is justified.”

    Dave Scot: “Not according to Christ.”

    Christ accepted the Old Testament as authoritative, “It is written” (passim), “Scripture cannot be broken” (John 10:35). Christ even affirmed the teachings that misotheists like to mock.

    Dave Scot will really need to do better than selectivity about what teachings of Christ he accepts and his squeamish argument from outrage. His opinion about morality is just tha, and I could get the same at any gutter infidels site. What matters is the opinion of the Lord God ???????????.

  60. I don’t think those documentaries set themselves up as saviours, they just do their jobs at presenting what causes controversies.

    I haven’t seen the documentary in question but be as suspicious of a documentarian as you would a spokesman for a multi-national corporation. Those documentarians are getting something out of it. The first question you have to ask is what.

    I am greatly skeptical of the GMOs, especially when it’s patented as a commercial product.

    Oh, there are issues I’ll grant you that. But the frankenfood thing is tragically overblown.

    Don’t you think we had enough of being robbed our land, resources by multinationals? I think the cup is more than filled.

    You said you wanted land of your own and feared you would never be able to get it. I suspect that is more of a result of French law rather than international economics. Look at who is setting up the multinationals as bogeymen. Then get mad and start a French libertarian party.

  61. Pazu -

    Thanks for reading it. I am sorry if I came off a little strong, its just I get so tired of people saying things like, ” do you know the Bible says…” when quite often it states nothing of the sort or the opposite. Just like some of Dave Scot’s claims above. They just do not follow logically from actually reading the text. Many people read into the Bible what they want to see.

  62. Blast, what’s with the rejection of the Greek letters of “pantocrator”.

    Of course, Dave, Of course, Christianity teaches pacifism. The Bible says (NPV (New Pacifist Version)

    Luke 3:14– “Soldiers also asked him [John the Baptist] , “And we, what shall we do?” And he said to them, “Do not extort money from anyone by threats or by false accusation, and be content with your wages,” and above all, you must leave the army immediately.”

    Acts 10:47–”Then Peter declared, ‘Can anyone withhold water for baptizing these people [Cornelius, family and close friends] , who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?’

    “‘Nay Pater, thou mayest not, because Cornelius is a centurion in the Italian regiment. He must first resign his commission because war is wrong under all circumstances.‘”

    Seriously though, Jesus praised peacemakers not “pacifists”. He praised a Roman centurion, already highly regarded as a lover of God’s people, for having greater faith than anyone in Israel, without the slightest hint that his military calling was wrong (Luke 7:1-9).

    Jesus even presented an illustration of a king with 10,000 men facing a king with 20,000 men, and the former would try to seek peace terms (Luke 14:31-32). So He affirmed that a strong national defence can prevent war. Churchill and Reagan, consciously or not, advocated this policy. Churchill was not heeded, and Britain nearly lost to Hitler as a result. Reagan got his way and thus won the cold war.

    Paul affirmed that the Government does not bear the sword in vain (Romans 13). This is a clear metaphor for the right of the government to kill wrongdoers and invaders. And there was no hint that believers shouldn’t become part of this, otherwise there should be no Christian policemen or prison warders either.

  63. In response to Dave’s original post, the New Testament presents OT Israel as typological of the new people of God and the land of Canaan as typological of the new heavens and new earth.

    Thus, the invasion of Canaan is a prefigurement of Judgement Day. What happened to the Canaanites is what we all justly deserve. Let us all weep in repentance!

    “And I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse, and He who sat on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and wages war. His eyes are a flame of fire, and on His head are many diadems; and He has a name written on Him which no one knows except Himself. He is clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God.” (Rev. 19:11-13)

  64. Wow, this is a great discussion :-)

    DaveScot, I really appreciate your comments on most things, but I think you are mistaken on this one.

    So tell me … how do you know that “…all moral law descends from not harming other living things when it can be avoided.”

    Is this your moral law? How do you know it is true? Did you discover it? Was it revealed to you?

    Cheers.

  65. DaveScot @#9 -
    The problem here is that most Christians talk the talk but don’t even come close to walking the walk.
    We agree on this.

    I’m more of a follower of Christ than the vast majority of so-called self-annointed church going Christians.
    A bit self-righteous, are we?

    I at least try to walk the walk and know very well when I’m not walking it. Most of rest of you are in deep denial about your own sinful behaviors.
    And you are sure of this because you’ve talked to most of the rest of us individually and know our life histories? I doubt that very much. At this point in your post, you sound more like a Pharisee than a Christian.

    Every time you kill another living thing that isn’t harming you in any way you’re doing something that Christ avoided like the plague. No killing of anything is a common thread in many religions including, properly interpreted, Christianity.
    Was Jesus wrong in eating the Passover lamb?

    Was Jesus wrong in feeding the crowds with fishes and loaves?

    Admit that your animal desire to eat the flesh of other animals is, in the modern world where you have no problem (it’s very healthy in fact) subsisting on fruits and vegetables, a hedonistic practice. Stop lying to yourself that it’s anything other than hedonistic animal behavior.
    I absolutely agree that vegetarian diets are very healthy. However, a scripture or two that you’ve obviously missed in your cherry picking, sorry, reading of the Bible:

    Genesis 9:3,4: “Every moving animal that is alive may serve as food for you.”

    God-fearing people see in animals part of God’s generoous provision for human welfare. Animals have served man as burden bearers, sources of food and clothing, as sanitation agents, and helpers in vital activities such as plowing and harvesting.

    Their variety of form and color delights the eye. Their habits and instincts have been and are an extensive field for inquiry into God’s creative works.

  66. sagebrush

    All I want to say to the bible quotes you provide is I can easily give counter examples for all of them. You can quotemine the bible to support whatever you want.

    In the modern world there’s no need to eat flesh for nutritional purposes. In fact for health reasons it’s usually considered something better avoided. All it really leaves for a reason is that you enjoy it. It’s an animal desire with roots deeply seated in the pleasure center of your brain. Hedonistic and nothing more.

    If you think Christianity is about hedonism ahead of compassion then you’re just very sadly mistaken. I suggest you pray about it in deep earnest.

  67. Utterly amazing how vociferously Christians defend the animalistic practice of killing things and eating them.

    Barb:

    Methinks the lady doth protest too much. ~Wm.Shakespeare

  68. jasondulle

    It would be immoral for us to take life because we are not the author of that life, but God is.

    Exactly my point. Yet you somehow manage to convince yourself that you have special dispensation to take life needlessly for no reason other than to pleasure your tastebuds.

  69. DaveScott
    You appear to be using “moral” language derived from transcendental law while applying it to a materialistic worldview.

    Do not murder (“Do not kill”) is transcendental law. Applying it to non-human biotic systems (“taste buds”) is frivolous.

  70. I’m disappointed that you didn’t answer my questions, Dave. You argue that Jesus Christ “avoided like the plague” killing other living things yet he cosumed lamb and fish.

    Just so I’m clear, are you advocating a complete vegan lifestyle (no animal products ever, i.e., no leather shoes, no fur, etc.) or just vegetarianism (no meat)?

  71. We have here all kinds of interesting side-discussions about vegetarianism, the proper interpretation of the Old Testament and New Testament, who is and who is not a genuine Christian, and so on. However, if people don’t mind, I would like to deal with the proposition Barry actually set forth. It was:

    “A soldier amuses himself by ripping a baby from his mother’s arms and tossing it in the air and catching it on a bayonet.

    “Resolved, it is self-evident that the soldier’s action is wrong in all places and at all times.”

    Barry wants this questions discussed in terms of traditional moral philosophy, not the Bible. His request is not unreasonable. The Bible does not operate under the premises of traditional moral philosophy, but under the premises of revealed theology, and the two sources of moral principles (philosophy and theology) must be discussed separately. I will therefore co-operate with Barry’s intentions, rather than trying to thwart them by bringing the Bible into the discussion.

    I will not comment on “self-evident”, since that term can be tricky. However, I will state my view, which is that “the soldier’s action is wrong in all places and at all times”. Given that Barry has set up the case so that there can be no mitigating circumstances (e.g., he’s said directly that the soldiers aren’t killing the baby because they know it will grow up to be Hitler, as someone suggested, or for any other “utilitarian trade-off” kind of reason, but out of sheer cruelty), then obviously their action is wrong. Cruelty is wrong. Killing is wrong, too, except in cases where it is necessary to prevent greater evils.

    Can I prove this? Not to everyone. If someone with no moral sense, i.e., a sociopath, demanded an “objective” proof, from first principles, I could not do it, any more than I could prove the existence of something called “color” to someone born blind. I could, however prove it to someone who accepted a certain basic description of human nature, derived from our empirical experience of life as human beings. Classical political and ethical philosophy (Plato, Aristotle, Cicero, etc.) is quite up to that task. But such a proof would only be useful in polemical contexts, against people who are being stubborn or hypocritical, and know that standards exist, but won’t acknowledge them, hiding behind phoney justifications. Normal, everyday people, parents and non-intellectuals, intuitively know evil and cruel acts when they see them, and have no hesitation in declaring them wrong. All fully human people, i.e., all non-sociopaths (or others whose minds and souls are damaged by biological conditions) have these intuitions, and they can be trusted.

    Are these soldiers sociopaths, i.e., have they no moral sense at all, or are they people who know full well what they are doing is wrong, but do it anyway, to humiliate and torment the parents of the baby, perhaps for political reasons? We don’t know, because Barry doesn’t tell us. But whether the soldiers are amoral (sociopaths) and hence don’t perceive their action as wrong, or whether they are immoral and do know it’s wrong, the action is equally wrong.

    I further believe that Barry’s point in raising this example was not to get into the massive quarrel over religion which has led to hundreds of posts, but to get people to notice that EVERYONE, deep down (except possibly sociopaths, if their moral sense is literally biologically inactive), knows that this action is wrong, that EVERYONE knows that in this case the truth is not “relative”, and that EVERYONE knows that this action violates a universal moral norm.

    I agree with Barry. To be sure, even for those who believe in universal moral principles, there can be dispute about when and where to apply them. But there is none in this case, which is crystal clear.

    Those who deny universal moral principles are simply turning a blind eye to the truths revealed by simple introspection and observation. Everyone everywhere hates tyranny, bullying, humiliation, having their loved ones tortured or slaughtered, having their goods stolen or vandalized, losing a job because of one’s skin color or one’s sex, being lied to by people they trusted, being betrayed by a friend, etc.

    Academics, of course, can argue in sophisticated fashion against moral norms, and build nice careers doing so, but it is all a lie; those same academics would be the first to scream “unfair” if they were denied tenure or a research grant for what they deemed “political” reasons, and the term “unfair” in that context is meaningless unless some universal notion of justice is being invoked, i.e., that all hiring and financial support should depend on objective merit rather than political favoritism. They do not in fact live out what they preach, and that is proof that they do not, at the deepest level, believe it. (Modern academics are about the most dishonest people I know — far worse than politicians or unscrupulous businessmen.)

    What I’m not sure is where Barry is going with this. How does the existence of moral universals, which only sociopaths, hypocrites and silly, pompous professors deny, tie in with Darwinism, evolution and intelligent design? What is the lesson we (or perhaps atheist Darwinists?) are to draw from the fact (which I accept) of universal moral law? Maybe Barry said it a couple of hundred posts ago, on one of the earlier threads, but I’ve lost it in the clutter, so if he would jump in and restate his original purpose, I’d be grateful.

    T.

  72. DaveScot @ 68:

    Utterly amazing how vociferously Christians defend the animalistic practice of killing things and eating them.

    Not half amazing as your attempts to move the goal posts.

    Your original assertion was:

    Every time you kill another living thing that isn’t harming you in any way you’re doing something that Christ avoided like the plague. No killing of anything is a common thread in many religions including, properly interpreted, Christianity.

    You purport to properly interpret Christianity and it is clear you don’t the first thing about it.

    You further made false statements about what Christ avoided like the plague, and that Christianity has a common thread of not killing anything. You can’t seriously expect to make such blatantly false statements and not get some push back.

    Frankly, your uninformed distortions are as bad as those who mischaracterize Intelligent Design as creationism. We all know how inane are those critiques. Your criticism herein of the biblical strawmen you erect are no less inane.

    Disagree with Christianity and the Bible all you like, but at least get your facts straight about with what you disagree.

  73. 74
    Vladimir Krondan

    [CN] So tell me … how do you know that “…all moral law descends from not harming other living things when it can be avoided.”

    Perhaps it was revealed by the prophetess Ayn Rand.

    But there is no doubt about his sincerity. I for one, am firmly convinced that he eats the minimum number of organisms necessary to keep himself going, and not more.

    I remember a coversation I had with a western buddist who was giving me the “truly enlightened beings do not harm flies” line. In the course of this conversation I noted that, like Ivan’s theories in Karamazov, this theory does not apply to actual people.

    As the conversation developed we naturally spoke of good and evil and all that, and I learned, to my surprise, that there are no such things. Well, there is only one evil, and that’s making judgements about people. Hitler was not evil, but I was evil for saying Hitler was evil.

    Hitler unleashed a series of karmic events between Germany and Russian and such, and one thing lead to another, and poof, Vladimir Krondan owes his existence to Hitler. So if Hitler is evil, I am evil. And so on. When I asked about the communists, my buddhist friend informed me that they actually did a lot of good putting 100,000 clergy in the Gulag. Relgion and religious people are a bad thing, you see.

    Near the end of it I asked if it would be OK if I hard-tacked the little old lady sitting near us, and rob her purse. Now that was an unfair and loaded question, my Buddhist friend, who does not dream of hurting flies, replied.

  74. DaveScot:

    “All I want to say to the bible quotes you provide is I can easily give counter examples for all of them. You can quotemine the bible to support whatever you want.”

    More likely, your understanding of basic historical-grammatical hermeneutics is on a par with that LePage moron in his recent New Scientist diatribe against creation, ID and the Bible.

  75. DaveScot: “When any two countries both have a MacDonald’s they never get into a shooting war with each other.”

    Interesting thought, Dave, but with a little thinking … well, I note that Israel and Lebanon have McDonalds, Pakistan and India have McDonalds, Argentina and England have McDonalds …

    With a little more research, well: 1989′s United States invasion of Panama and the 1999 NATO bombing of Serbia make a nonsense of the idea.

    And, on a personal note, Australia and New Zealand both have McDonalds and there was a massacre on the footy field last night: 28-12 win to Australia. (ha ha ha)

    So DaveScot,
    1. The “Golden Arches Theory of Conflict Prevention” is not a good theory on to which to rely AND;

    2. Meat tastes good.

    Go have a steak.

  76. DaveScot, you have ignored my questions at #65.

    I think you noted above that you were brought up in a Christian saturated culture Dave. Problem seems to be that you have imported that morality while rejecting the origin for that morality. Thus your case appears to be ultimately devoid of basis.

    Still, I enjoy your other comments :-)

  77. 78

    Personally, I am in no way a religious person. Like others, I have many opinions/questions myself regarding the Bible, especially the OT. DaveScot simply points out the logic he feels are discrepancies, rightfully so as well. However, I find after all the “if” conditions, the agreements and disagreements, the justifications for such reason etc…, one question always and most certainly still remains:

    Is there a God or not?

    So it loops back to point A every single time. If there is a God, and that God most closely matches the God of the Bible, then there is nothing to argue about, nothing to agree or disagree upon, the complexities of the “issue” boil down to nothing.

    The reverse is true if there is no God.

    What will remain true is truth itself, an ultimate purpose to life or no ultimate purpose. If yes, then the Bible is probably the way we mortals should go about living it (ie: moral principles etc…), if there is no pre-set intended purpose then anything goes and at the same time nothing at all.

    Just my 2cents

  78. AussieID, that was low. You may have won, but we are still the best!

  79. Sorry CN,

    So sorry that CN may stand for – Championships Nil.

    ’til we meet again … and you thrash us at Rugby.

    PS. Go and have a lamb steak.

  80. CN

    I direct you to the unnamed picture in my newer post which will lead to answers to some of your questions. If you don’t recognize the painting or artist that’s okay. That will come out in good time in the comments. In the meantime just take a look at it.

  81. At least we don’t spell beer XXXX :-)

    http://www.australianbeers.com/beers/xxxx/xxxx.htm

  82. jonathan safarti

    I don’t care for your tone in that last comment. Goodbye.

  83. AussieID

    Okay, you got me with at least Lebanon if you can show me there’s really a McDonald’s there.

    Still though, given the long list of countries McDonald’s claims to have a presence in, the number you can show that have been in a shooting war with another while both had a McDonald’s franchise is so small that it becomes no more than the exception which proves the rule.

  84. 85

    Dave,
    I saw expelled last night and at the end of the movie Stien asks Dawkins “So you don’t believe in any Visnu Brahma Allah etc..etc..?” Dawkins responded that he had thought he had made that quite clear. Stein said he was just trying to be absolutely clear about Dawkins beliefs. But in retrospect with the knowledge that I know you are privy to, I think that question can be applied to you in a different manner, that is to say since you seem to have much trouble with the Judeo Christian God which other God, or what is your personal version of God, do you think did the designing of the universe and all the carbon based life in it?

  85. DaveScott at 83
    I found jonathan safarti to provide some of the more substantive links and comments on this blog. What’s the “beef”?

  86. God absolutely has the right to kill if He so wishes. We, on the other hand, do not. We are not morally capable to justly decide who should die when, not to include things such as self defense, etc.

    God, however, can know perfectly when it is right and just to kill. Death is nothing but a door. We walk out of this life and into the next. Eternal life doesn’t mean eternal existence. Everyone has eternal existence.

    When a man kills another for unrighteous causes he doesn’t snuff out the victim’s eternal existence, he snuffs out his existence in this present realm only. It’s wrong on our part because we are not superior to other men. God is.

    God is totally justified to kill, just as we are if He were to tell us to carry out His will.

  87. 88

    God is totally justified to kill, just as we are if He were to tell us to carry out His will.

    Just wondering: what if God orders a paranoid schizophrenic to kill babies?

  88. Lormy

    Just wondering: what if God orders a paranoid schizophrenic to kill babies?

    Yeah, that’s a problem, isn’t it?

    Glad you brought it up.

    Someone who believes God can order baby killing and it’s okay as long as God orders it is just one small step away from hearing the voice of God in his head telling him what needs killing.

  89. DLH

    I don’t care if Sarfati is the Pope. In fact he’s a 144-hour creationist and when one of those calls me the moron the results aren’t going to be pretty if I respond in kind. So I removed him from the situation before it got worse.

    He’s got AiG or wherever to say what he wants. I’m not sure why he was even here in the first place.

  90. ba77

    I’m an agnostic. That means I don’t believe there’s enough evidence to determine the nature of the creator. I believe there’s enough evidence to make a reasonable design inference for both the universe and life on earth but I don’t have the first clue about the source. It would seem a designer of universes is outside the universe so that isn’t really investigable for science. A designer of life on earth, however, seems to not need to exist outside the universe or be able to do things that violate any of the laws of physics as we currently know them. So that IS investigable by science so long as we bound the designer by the laws of physics.

  91. Dave,

    Let me begin by saying that until a few years ago, the slaughter of the Canaanites and Amalekites was one of my principal objections to Christianity. I have a great deal of sympathy for your position.

    Unlike some contributors, I do NOT think it is intellectually proud for someone to reject a religion because its holy books sanction behavior which he or she believes, with good reason, to be intrinsically immoral. Each of us has to follow his or her conscience, fallible though it is. After all, without our conscience, how can we judge right and wrong? And without conscience, how can we judge whether some alleged revelation – be it a message from above or a claim made in the scriptures of some religion – is to be trusted? God gave us the gift of reason. I’m sure God expects us to use that gift.

    It distresses me greatly that many of the Christian contributors to this post who have defended the slaughter of the Canaanites and Amalekites in the Old Testament have used bad arguments to justify their position. I do not disagree with their conclusion; it is their premises that I object to. I list the following posts as examples of this mistaken way of thinking:

    As the Creator of life, God has the right to take it. (Jonathan Sarfati.)

    God absolutely has the right to kill if He so wishes. (Brent)

    If God is the creator of life, he can do with that life what he wills. If he wants to take that life he can do so… God, as creator, has prerogatives that his creatures do not. It is comparable to parents and children.
    (Jasondulle)

    I’ll start with Jason first. The comparison with parents and children does not hold. Parents do NOT have the right to dispose of their children merely because they created them. On the contrary, the law (rightly) decrees that parents bear a unique responsibility for their children’s welfare, precisely because in choosing to bring these children into existence, they accepted full responsibility for their future well-being, until such time as they can take care of themselves. The killing of a child is a wicked deed; but it becomes even more wicked, not less, when done by a parent. Christians believe God is our Father. That makes God a Parent. He was a Parent of the Canaanite children too. Therefore He had a duty of care towards those children.

    Someone is sure to jump in with the objection that human parents are merely procreators and not Creators of their children, and that God, as God, has special privileges. However, this disanalogy does not help; indeed, it makes matters worse for those wishing to deny that God had any responsibilities towards the children of the Canaanites.

    First, on purely logical grounds: it does not follow from the premise:

    (1) A created B;

    that

    (2) A is morally justified in doing whatever he or she wants with B.

    Brent’s contention that “God absolutely has the right to kill if He wishes” is therefore a non sequitur. Ditto Jonathan Sarfati’s claim that “As the Creator of life, God has the right to take it.”

    I should add that the argument proves too much. Ask yourselves this. Would God have the right to not only kill but also annihilate a newborn baby, if He so wished, simply because He is the Creator of the universe? Let’s go one step further. Would God have the right to roast a baby in flames for a while, before annihilating the baby, if He wished to do so? Let’s push the argument to the limit. Would God have the right to roast the baby forever, if He wished?

    I know that Christian readers will want to object: “But God could never wish such a thing. God is by nature perfect, and He could never want to do that, in the first place.” Agreed! But my point is that regardless of whether God could want to do that or not, it would be wrong anyway. We all know that.

    And yet the argument that a creator has the right to do whatever he or she wants with his or her creation exerts a strong sway over a large number of people. I have to ask myself: why do so many people continue to accept such an argument, even though it is logically invalid? I suspect that it is because the argument seems intuitively plausible in one special case: where B is an artifact. An artist is free to destroy her creation if she so wishes. But as we move up the Hierarchy of Being, the conclusion becomes less and less plausible. We do not have the right to do as we will with genetically engineered organisms, for instance – especially if they are animals. Rather, we are morally bound to take their welfare into account. Why, then, should God have the right to do anything He wishes to people, simply because He created them? Surely God, too, is bound to take our welfare into account.

    I should add that whereas human parents sometimes fail to fulfil their responsibilities because of circumstances beyond their control (e.g. a food shortage which makes it impossible for them to feed their children), God, as Creator of the cosmos, can never fail to do anything He is obligated to do. As Creator with a capital C, God has no “out” when it comes to meeting His responsibilities to His children – Canaanites included.

    Here is my position on the slaughter of the Canaanite children. I maintain that IF God decrees the killing of innocent children, it can ONLY be because He (being omniscient and loving) knows for a certainty that an even worse fate would befall them if they were NOT killed. In the case of the Canaanites, the worse fate would have included child abuse, and growing up in a depraved culture where they themselves would have become abusers. God knew for a certitude that this would happen. It is no mystery that God, as a Parent, would have wished to spare His children that fate.

    We, on the other hand, are not omniscient, and we don’t know for a certainty what the future will bring. The answer to the question, “Would Hitler’s contemporaries have been morally justified in killing Hitler as an infant?” is “No, because they would have had no way of knowing what kind of person he would turn out to be.”

    Some may ask why God couldn’t have saved the children by miraculously transporting them to an uninhabited area – e.g. the middle of the Sahara. My answer is: and then what? As a Parent, God would have to then miraculously feed these children, AND educate them in right and wrong, AND protect them while they are growing up. Too many miracles are required. Wouldn’t it be simpler for God to take their lives and then care for them in the hereafter?

    What about the fear and dread the children must have experienced as they were put to the sword? Is this not a hellish thing for a benevolent God to ordain? But the Bible does not says that the children experienced any fear or dread. I would argue that if God is truly good, then He must have seen to it that they did not – e.g. by numbing their senses in their final moments, so that they experienced no anguish. Likewise, God must have seen to it that the Israelite soldiers killing these children experienced no subsequent trauma from doing so. (These “psychic interventions” would have required some special Divine acts, but at least they would have been one-off interventions, and hence not too messy.)

    Finally, it may be asked why God, being all-loving, does not rescue ALL children who are being abused, by ending their lives, as He did the Canaanites. Good question. But that’s NOT the question Dave asked at the beginning of this thread, which is how a just God could command the killing of babies. That’s a different question: the problem of evil. I’m not going to attempt to answer that here. I’ll just say that David B. Hart wrote an article, entitled “Tsunami and Theodicy,” in “First Things,” (March 2005), which is about the most honest essay I’ve seen on the subject. The address of the article is: http://www.firstthings.com/art.....he=tsunami

    I’d like to finish by making a philosophical point. Many contributors to this post have asserted that God has the right to do whatever He wants. I agree with this statement, so far as it goes, but I would add: God is by nature perfect. By nature, He cannot want anything bad.

    As regards God’s obligations to His creatures, I would say: God does indeed have the right to do whatever He wants to His creatures, but NOT simply because He created them. Rather, it is because, being perfectly good, He cannot do anything but want what is best for His creatures. Thus it is God’s GOODNESS, and not his POWER, which gives Him the right to do as He wills to His creatures.

    It is not immoral of God to command the killing of babies in order to save them from a worse fate. God is, however, obliged to kill them humanely, and then provide for them in the hereafter, as an Omnipotent, All-loving Parent should.

  92. Dave:

    “Someone who believes God can order baby killing and it’s okay as long as God orders it is just one small step away from hearing the voice of God in his head telling him what needs killing.”

    First, the point you made here is an epistemological point (how do I know what God wants?), NOT an ethical point. However, you opened this post by asking an ethical question: how could a benevolent Deity command the slaughter of innocents? This is a different question.

    OK, let’s return to your epistemological question: even if there is a good reason for God to ordain the killing of an innocent child, how do I, as a fallible human being, know that the voice I’m listening to, telling me to do that, is the voice of God?

    If it were up to me, as a PRIVATE individual, then I agree it would be impossible to rationally conclude that the voice I was hearing was indeed the voice of God. We lock away people who think like that, and with good reason. But the command addressed to the Israelites was not a private but a PUBLIC one, given to a people who had witnessed NUMEROUS PUBLIC signs and miracles attesting to God’s power, His goodness, and His concern for the weak and downtrodden. You and I have never witnessed miracles like that. It is hard to put ourselves in the shoes of people who have had such an experience. However, supposing the accounts of the miracles in the book of Exodus to be true, then I cannot think of any convincing argument as to why the Israelites should NOT have listened to the voice of God. A Being who could work such wonders might reasonably claim the right to be listened to and obeyed.

    But as for bayonet tossing, I wouldn’t have a bar of it, signs or no signs. If the killing of the Canaanite children was commanded by God, then it must have been quick, clean and solemn. Any Being that told me to toss an infant in the air before impaling it on my bayonet would not deserve to be listened to, no matter how many wonders he or she worked. Bayonet tossing is an act which is, by its very levity, utterly incompatible with an attitude of respect for life. A Being which told me to do that would not be a Deity, but a devil.

    Then how do we know the God of the OT was not a devil? My answer: read the book of Deuteronomy – not once, but a few times. Judge for yourself.

  93. Since we are still on this subject, let me see if I can boil it down for DaveScot.

    The soldiers BarryA mentions are evil because they performed these actions for their own enjoyment.

    The Israelites in the OT were ordered to defend themselves. It would have been much easier for them to surrender and be enslaved and/or assimilated (and slowly annihilated), but this was not what God wanted.

    Why not?

    Because such a thing would have meant God would need to replay the entire Noah scenario all over again, except this time there might not have been a Noah.

    Which is more tragic, the genocide of two nations of people or the devolution and extinction of all humanity?

    This is similar to what the U.S. faced with Japan in 1945, if you remember. Destroy over 100,000 men, women, children, elderly, etc. and threaten a nation with annihilation, or waste over 1,000,000 American and Japanese lives while the atomic bombs sit languishing in a hangar. We chose the former – this no doubt makes us evil, right?

    The Israelites didn’t have a nuke, so the killing was not as antiseptic. Such is life.

    Also, had God magically done all of the killing for them, other tribal peoples would not be afraid to attack the Israelites, thus causing even more death (albeit more directly from the hand of God). If stories of the magical death of the Egyptian firstborn didn’t deter these nations, then obviously some Pythonesque foot-from-the-sky wasn’t going to do much good either.

    But the most important thing to come from these supposed atrocities was that people who knew of God survived. When knowledge of God is in danger of vanishing from the hearts and minds of mankind is when God must interfere. This is why the Israelites experienced what they did. This is why Jesus appeared when he did and not millenia earlier or later. This is why we Christians are called upon to spread the word and tell the good news, whether it is received immediately or not.

  94. Comments are closed on this thread.