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November 12, 2009

Comments

Well, if it's ok with God, who am I to say no?

Of course, I've never seen a baby in a womb. Seen an embryo, seen a fetus, never seen a baby in a womb. Ya think they can crawl back in after they're born?

William,

I genuinely appreciate your patience and courtesy. I was I could say the say about my comments. That said, there’s an irony here, don’t you think? If God has given me a sense of “absolute morality”, it’s that very same sense that has led me away from Christianity, specifically, and organized religion, in general. And given that sense of morality, regardless of its origin, I’m not likely to find my way back. Weird twist, huh?

>>”Of course, I've never seen a baby in a womb. Seen an embryo, seen a fetus, never seen a baby in a womb. Ya think they can crawl back in after they're born?”

I love it. I realize that not having “seen” something leads you think it doesn’t exist, but let me assure you. My wife just gave birth to an amazing baby boy, and the doctor, nurse, and ultrasound tech always said, “your baby” (I acknowledge it is a fetus). Let’s assume the notion that a fetus magically turns into a baby after it travels through the birth canal and is a totally different living thing. I’ll rephrase my original post.

>>”All I see is humans killing humans and saying "God says it's ok". Well, it's not ok. It just isn't. And I can't make my mind say that it is.”

Except dismembering a fetus in the womb - That’s ok.

We can use your terms - fine with me. And no, a baby can’t crawl back in after they’re born. See Joe, newborns can’t crawl either. You know, like a fetus.

Good. Glad we have the terminology straight.

Oh, and the answer is yes and no. It's like killing in the OT. It depends.

>>”Oh, and the answer is yes and no. It's like killing in the OT. It depends.”

Got it. Let’s try this again. I’ll get it right eventually.

>>”All I see is humans killing humans and saying "God says it's ok". Well, it's not ok. It just isn't. And I can't make my mind say that it is.”

Except killing and dismembering a fetus in the womb, which is ok in certain situations – it depends.

Does that get it? Please say yes.

I think that abortion...broadly defined to include any thing from killing a single cell in a dish to a late term abortion...is a very complex, multi-layers issue filled with moral uncertainties and ambiguities. Personally, I've never had to make any decisions with regards to an abortions, and I'm grateful for that.

I simply don't think that saying "it's always right" or "it's always wrong" is going to work. I can't see the bright shining lines that you apparently can see. I don't think that things like flawed "definitions of "human life" are very helpful. And I certaintly don't think that you're going to find the right answer in an ancient text filled with cruelty, horror, stupidity and insanity. It's hard to see how asking WWGD is going to be useful, given the number of divinely-instigated contract killings in the Bible, including divinely-instigated abortions. Good luck figuring out what God's will or God's judgment would mean in any particular decision regarding an abortion, because God has demand that humans commit abortions in the past.

By contrast, if you ask if it's ok to commit genocide or kill people for minor offenses or enslave people or do any of any number of other things ordered or sanctioned by God, then the answer really does seem clearer. It's not ok. Now, if you wish to conclude that I'm "morally confused", be my guest. But before you do that, you might want to ask yourself why you think it's ok to commit genocide, but it's wrong to kill a cell in a dish. Remember, I'm an ungrounded, amoral skeptic. What's your excuse?

I mean, what's your excuse...for your moral confusion.

Brian brings up a good point about the irony. Here's what I'm hearing:

God destroying people as an act of judgment, as an expression of His perfect righteousness and the seriousness of sin in the face of this righteousness, as punishment for the depravity of the culture, and as protection for the rest of the world from the spread of their depravity - BAD.

A woman killing her own unborn child because she'd be financially better off - HUNKY DORY.

I think you've missed the point I've been trying to make about the acts in the OT.

"A woman killing her own unborn child because she'd be financially better off - HUNKY DORY."

Actually, this is something that might be questioned and challenged. No one is claiming that this is an act of God that must be accepted, regardless of it horror. The "correctness" of this action is not protected by dogma. Is it really hunky dory? This can be debated. One can think about it, argue about it, and potentially change one's mind in either direction. Is it right? Is it wrong? We'll see.

"God destroying people as an act of judgment...- BAD"

It's not bad because of what God did, because God didn't actually do it (people just claimed divined approval for their own reasons). It's not even bad solely because of the act itself, although the act is a bad one.

It's bad because the act can not be challenged. It's bad because it's dogmatically protected. It's bad because it's not to be questioned. It's bad because it cynically uses "righteousness" as an excuse for extraordinary cruelty. It bad because it uses God as a cover for the theft of a coveted land. It's bad because one must obediently accept it as part of one's religion. It's bad because the genocide in question MUST be considered morally GOOD. It is a part of a human-created monster that MUST be followed, MUST be accepted, MUST be obeyed. One MUST stop thinking.

That's the point.

>>It's not bad because of what God did, because God didn't actually do it (people just claimed divined approval for their own reasons).

This is what I'm talking about. If you're going to evaluate the God of the Bible, you have to evaluate the God of the Bible. You can't make up your own story and then hold the God of the Bible accountable. You can't say that people just claimed divine approval for their own reasons, therefore the God of the Bible who didn't really command it is bad. If the God of the Bible exists, then your story about "people just claiming approval" is false, and that obviously changes everything when determining whether or not it's bad. Since every time you cite its badness you cite the fact that it's man making excuses and not really God, you know that this changes everything. In the story, it's not man making excuses, so this should change everything for you if you're merely evaluating the story as it is. You still haven't done this.

>>It's bad because the act can not be challenged.

Everything you say about it being bad is bad if it's false, but not if it's true. "Just cover for theft of land"--that's bad. But the story as it's written isn't bad because it's not "just cover for theft of land." You see the difference? It's not that the "genocide" MUST be considered good, it's that the destruction of people is good and just if the motivations for it are what the Bible describes. It's bad in your story about a group of people using the idea of God for evil, but that's not the story of the Bible. Every time you say that the Bible is bad, you're not talking about the Bible, you're talking about a story you made up--a story about a "human-created monster," not the story the Bible actually tells. You have never evaluated the Bible as it is.

Is it the case that I just obediently accept the Bible even though I secretly think it is bad? That's not how it is. How have I stopped thinking? I've thought very carefully through the character of God, the reasons to believe He exists, the reasons for what He did, the holiness of His character, and the need for evil to be destroyed if He's going to be just.

>>The "correctness" of this action is not protected by dogma.

This is just silly. The correctness of any single thing is protected by truth, not dogma. I don't believe the Bible merely because someone told me I must, or else. I actually think it's true. You might as well say this about anything that's true. For example, "Two plus two equals four is BAD because it MUST be accepted, one MUST stop thinking." Ridiculous. If you want to discover what is true, you think about it, you struggle with it, you come to understand it. I have no idea what you mean when you say "one MUST stop thinking." Do you mean you aren't allowed to question? That's funny, because I thought that's what you were doing. Do you mean "nobody can change a person's mind after he believes it"? Well, that's another silly thing to say. It happens to be the case that I think it's true and nobody has convinced me otherwise, though I work through questions all the time. That's no different than how you view evolution. This is no different from any other truth claim. Yes, truth MUST be followed, accepted, and obeyed. Yes. Duh. If you want to be part of reality, then you follow the truth.

So you can't make a blanket statement that something is bad merely because people hold it to be true about reality.

>>It's bad because it cynically uses "righteousness" as an excuse for extraordinary cruelty.

Is it "cynically using righteousness" for the government to put people in solitary confinement for their crimes? Of course not. Oh, you mean it's bad for people to claim they have authority they don't have to do something they have no right to do. Right--you're not talking about the Bible, you're talking about the story you have put together about people making up the idea of God to do bad things. Again, you still haven't evaluated the Bible. I'm going to keep hammering this point until you get it. That's the only way you'll ever hear what the Bible actually says. True or false, there is still something specific that it says that you still haven't heard.

Can't think of anything to say that wouldn't be redundant. You have Truth, I don't. Enjoy.

>>You have Truth, I don't. Enjoy.

So you read that whole thing and you still don't get it. My comment was not to say that I have truth and you don't. I'm fine with us trying to determine which of us has the truth. What I'm not fine with is you misrepresenting the Bible by telling your own, different story (i.e., a story about people making up a God in order to have their way with people) and then pretending that's what the Bible says and asking us to defend the goodness of it. I'm not going to defend the goodness of your made-up story because I don't believe it's good any more than you do.

All I'm asking is that you recognize where the disagreement is. The disagreement isn't whether or not the Bible describes something good, it's whether or not what it says is true and God really is who it says He is. If God is that person, then the rest of it falls into place.

I think I follow. If the Bible is Truth, then the Canaanite genocide is ok. Yes?

If the Bible is right, then the destruction of the Canaanites was a judgment by God enacted only after hundreds of years of their not changing their ways and getting bad enough to be destroyed, in order to change the direction of human cultures for the good and bring the messiah who would be the solution for all the suffering that we have caused in the world. The judgment was not based on ethnicity, it was against behavior. In fact, the Israelites were warned they would also be judged if they did the same things, and they were in fact eventually judged for these things and removed from the land by the Babylonians.

So, if the Bible is Truth, then the Canaanite genocide is justified? Yes? Since I didn't get a yes/no answer, I'm assuming that you didn't like my word "ok".

The judgment of the Canaanites by God through the Israelites was justified. Sorry, I thought that justication would be clear from my answer.

Ok, so the judgment was justified.

So, if I recall correctly, this means that when Israelites killed Canaanite, regardless of the ages of those killed, this was not murder. This is your point, yes?

Amy wins.

Amy wins? Why?

Judgment is not murder. War is not murder.

Which comment are you referring to? My original point was that you can't infer the general principle that killing people whenever you like is okay (unborn or born) simply because people are killed in war and killed in judgment.

I don’t believe that I inferred the general principle that killing people whenever you like is okay (unborn or born) simply because people are killed in war and killed in judgment. I believe that my point was that once God uses humans to kill in judgment, then it’s impossible to if any given killing is the judgment of God or not. Once the precedent is established, any killing could be the judgment of God. Who can tell?

“Killed in judgment”. Well, that’s ok then. So God judged the Canaanites, God used the Israelites to punish the Canaanites, so what the Israelites did wasn’t murder. This is your point, right? I just want to show that I can read what you wrote and understand your point.

But what if there wasn’t a god judging the Canaanites? What if the Israelites believed that there was, but they were wrong? What happens when someone or some group believes that they have the knowledge of gods, but they don’t?

What happens when one believes that one has the knowledge of gods? What happens when one believes that they are instrument of God’s judgment and an arm of God’s righteousness? What happens when one is no longer accountable to one’s fellow humans, but only to God? What happens when one’s beliefs in invisible, supernatural deities makes them deaf to suffering? What happens when one comes to believe that the ends justify the means, and that killing every man, woman and child is justified in the eyes of God?

And what if they are wrong about everything that they believe?

What do you get when you believe that any entire culture is “under the judgment of God”, and that you have that knowledge, and the you are therefore free to act on that knowledge, no matter how cruel or horrific your actions may be? You get an extraordinary amount of suffering at the hands of arrogant, ignorant, dogmatic fools. You get obedient ghosts, tortured ghosts, and apparently, centuries later, apologetics ghost.

I know, I know. If your Truth is the True Truth, it all falls into place. If Hitler was right about the Jews, it all falls into place. I understand the logic of the Holocaust. But what if you’re wrong? Well, not to worry. I’m sure that the Bronze Age tribesmen got it right.

But I did get your point, yes?

Joe,
You are still at this?

"But what if there wasn’t a god judging the Canaanites? What if the Israelites believed that there was, but they were wrong?"

Well if there is no God then would this not just be another case of survival of the fittest? The Jews were more fit, so they won. It is a case of two rival groups competing for limited resources. It is my understanding that evolution holds that it is the process of natural selection that has enabled life to rise from primitive single cell organisms to our much more evolved current state. If this process has accomplished so much it seems to me that we would be utter fools to base a sane moral system around anything else. If there is no God, then how can you say that the ongoing process of evolution is a bad thing? an evil thing? So an inferior culture was whipped out. Big deal, the strong live and reproduce, the weak are eliminated. The resources are needed by the fit, it is the way of natural selection, how could natural selection be evil?

"Nature simply is as we find it. ... Nature contains no moral messages framed in human terms. Morality is a subject for philosophers, theologians, students of the humanities, indeed for all thinking people. The answers will not be read passively from nature; they do not, and cannot, arise from the data of science. The factual state of the world does not teach us how we, with our powers for good and evil, should alter or preserve it in the most ethical manner."

- Stephen Jay Gould, "Non-moral Nature" (Hen's Teeth and Horse's Toes)

"You are still at this?"

If Amy thinks that I've understood her point about "killing in judgment", then I'm gone.

Joe,
Again with this term evil. What do you mean by it? When Christians use the term they are referring to disobedience to God, usually of a drastic form. Obviously though since you do not believe in God you have a different meaning. What is it?
Reason, has to have a basis, if evolution is true then why not base you logic and ethics off of it? What possible arbitrarily invented standard has more merit? If you hope to base morality off of human nature are you not denying that human nature itself merely evolved from this system? Why is your son important to you? Because the process of evolution to date has created a mental framework in your brain to try to protect your offspring so they can have a better chance at surviving to reproduce to pass on your genetic traits.

I don't see why a process that has done so much, taken us quite literally over hundreds of millions of years from a single, living, primitive cell to creatures composed of billions of highly complex living cells, should not give us direction. Your position is irrational. Theologians? If they are just inventing a 'god' to force people to do whatever they want then why in the world should they be considered an important voice in this?

“Nature contains no moral messages framed in human terms”
How do you come to that conclusion? The terms seem quiet simple, the fit survive, the weak die, if this is not the case the species weaken and are on the path to extinction. Life’s objective is to keep from being killed, and reproduce, by doing these things better than others the human species has evolved to reach its current levels. If I, using my highly evolved brain, consider the matter, I have to conclude that I think that the results have been good, that is; it is preferable to be more evolved then less.


I think Amy would agree more readily if you would stop attaching barbs about Hitler, the Holocaust, and lying tribesmen. One would almost thing you wanted to keep drawing this thing out.

Brian,

You're the one who brought up the principle of moral lessons in nature. You're the one who seems to wants this to continue. Don't accuse me of trying to draw this out when this is your doing.

"Using my highly evolved brain."

Yes, that's the key. We can use our brains. Evolution is not a god, it's just a description of how the world works. Evolution is not a god, it doesn't tell our brains what our brains must do. Evolution doesn't demand anything. For example, evolution did not "direct" us to build space shuttles, but we we used our brains and invented them anyway. We can use our brains to invent moral codes, too. The only people who think that we MUST conclude anything are on your side of the aisle, not mine.

(By the way, the idea that there are morals in nature was very popular in early 19th century Christian Britain. Check out Paley's "Natural Theology".)

Both the Holocaust and the Canaanite genocides have the same theme: Ethnic cleansing and the elimination of degraded, immoral, malignant goups which must be destroyed for the greater good and for the salvation of the chosen people. Read Mein Kampf. Count the number of times that Hitler says he's going to do God's work.

But honestly, I'm really trying to wrap this up. Just waiting to hear from Amy. Just want to know if I got her point.

Joe,
“Using my highly evolved brain." Yes, that's the key. We can use our brains.”
Sure we can use them, but use them to do what? To come up with a system of values that undermines what has enabled us to progress to this level? You seem to be suggesting that we are now outside the evolutionary process, no longer bound by its rules. I think that is a flawed assumption. If there is no God then we are still evolving, or else we would be extinct. Yes we built a space shuttle; it has failed to offer evolutionary advantage so we are shutting the thing down. Sure we can invent morals, but they remain just that, an invented set of rules pursuing someone’s ideal of utopia. Those that fail to offer evolutionary advantage will fail. If the failure is too severe the human species will be whipped out leaving space for a new species to evolve in time. If there is no God there is no freewill, our thoughts and actions are dictated by the chemical makeup of our brains, which were in turn formed by the process of evolution.
“The only people who think that we MUST conclude anything are on your side of the aisle, not mine.”
Of course you don’t have to conclude anything, just as you don’t have to be rational. That said: evolution will eventually judge your decisions.
“Don't accuse me of trying to draw this out when this is your doing.”
Joe, you cannot take peoples words and twist them in any shape that you wish and then complain about them. When have I said that I wished to end this debate? I have not. You said “If Amy thinks that I've understood her point about "killing in judgment", then I'm gone.” That indicates to me that you want to end this. To help you reach your apparent goal I offered some good advice; stop putting in stuff you know they don’t mean. I understand quite well that it is what you mean, but weren’t you trying to show you understood her point?
“Count the number of times that Hitler says he's going to do God's work.”
What do I care about how many times Hitler says he’s doing God’s work? Anyone can claim anything. You can claim that you are actually a giant marshmallow, would the number of times you claim it have any relevance upon the truth?

Bottom line: if there is truth we should want to know what it is so we don’t follow around just anyone who claims to speak for God. However this is just as true for any ideal. Communism offered humanity a utopia, and the masses blindly followed the people making the promises. USSR killed more of its own people then did Germany.

You have not offered to tell me what you mean by evil. What is it that makes those things you dislike evil?

"What do I care about how many times Hitler says he’s doing God’s work?"

Well, so much for a careful consideration of the historical evidence.


How did I twist Amy's words? Where did I say that Amy meant something when she didn't mean it?

I believe that I understand Amy's words, pending Amy's agreement. I tried to take what she was saying one step at a time to be sure that I understood. I tried to check my understand of Amy's words as we went along, and I try to correct any mistakes that I made with respect to Amy's words. I'm sure that Amy will correct me if I'm wrong.

But I also understand the consequences if Amy is wrong. That's not twisting her words, that's just considering what happens if she's mistaken. I'm just suggesting that there might be a problem with thinking that you have the Word of God, when really, you don't. I was suggesting that such mistakes have occurred with some frequency in the past, and that this has led to a great deal suffering. And I think that human history clearly supports my conclusion.

Most of the rest of what you said was either irrelevant to anything that I said, shows a failure to understand what I said or demonstrates a misunderstanding of evolution. I could spend a lot of time making correcting your mistakes, but again, I think this has run its course.

Amy? Did I get your point?

Joe,
So I don’t get a definition of evil from you? Ok.

"What do I care about how many times Hitler says he’s doing God’s work?" Well, so much for a careful consideration of the historical evidence.”

What exactly do you want me to carefully consider? That is to say, the historical evidence for what? I am accepting your claim that Hitler said he was doing god’s will. (Which god that might be a different question) I am accepting your claim. I do not accept that he was correct, but there again I don’t believe you were attempting to prove that he was correct. If your point is that unsupported claims of divine instructions have had harmful effects, then I agree with that and said as much. Part of the reason the Canaanites were being judged was because they were inventing their own gods and sacrificing their children to them. Clearly all god claims are not created equal.

“Where did I say that Amy meant something when she didn't mean it?”
Actually I said you were adding stuff in -“I know, I know. If your Truth is the True Truth, it all falls into place. If Hitler was right about the Jews, it all falls into place. I understand the logic of the Holocaust. But what if you’re wrong? Well, not to worry. I’m sure that the Bronze Age tribesmen got it right.”

You are bringing in Hitler. You are bringing in the Holocaust. You are bringing in the Bronze Aged tribesmen whom you keep referring to as the ones who invented the flood myth and committed the Canaanite genocide. You are equating the logic of the Holocaust with the logic of Canaanite issue. I find it hard to believe, that you truly think she will say, ‘yes, you have my point of view down perfectly. I justify anyone who claims god in what they are doing.’

If you are sincere about wanting to get her view down correctly than state your understanding of her view by itself; no barbs, or points of your own in the mix.

“I'm just suggesting that there might be a problem with thinking that you have the Word of God, when really, you don't. I was suggesting that such mistakes have occurred with some frequency in the past, and that this has led to a great deal suffering. And I think that human history clearly supports my conclusion.”
This I do agree with. Of course I believe there is a Word of God to have…

“Most of the rest of what you said was either irrelevant to anything that I said, shows a failure to understand what I said or demonstrates a misunderstanding of evolution. I could spend a lot of time making correcting your mistakes...”
Well, if it is based upon a misunderstanding of evolution I don’t see how. I think my position is quite rational. If there is a moral Creator, and if He commands a people whipped out in judgment, then there seems to have been no moral evil committed. If there is no god, then where is the framework to say what occurred in Canaan was evil? Without an absolute system to measure against all we are left with is moral relativism. I attempted to find a universal system based off of evolution that might work, seeing as evolution would be universal. Obviously you rejected that. You say genocide is wrong, fine, but what would give you the right to try to impose that as a universal principal?

If you realy want to end this discussion with me all you have to do is stop making rebuttals and say, ‘thanks for sharing your viewpoint but I really would like to move on now’.

>>Once the precedent is established, any killing could be the judgment of God. Who can tell?

What does this have to do with whether or not, within the context of the Bible, God is an evil tyrant or a just, righteous God? You can't charge the God of the Bible with being a monster just because someone in the future might claim to be driven by God to do something bad. Nor does your fear about future abuse by human beings change whether or not the Bible accurately portrays God and His motives.

>>What happens when someone or some group believes that they have the knowledge of gods, but they don’t?

Sometimes bad things happen because of this. Who would argue with that? But again, this has no bearing on whether the God of the Bible, as portrayed by the Bible is good or evil. Nor does it determine whether or not the Bible is based on true knowledge of God (and those are two separate questions, of course).

>>What happens when one believes that one has the knowledge of gods?

If they are correct, wonderful, amazing things (e.g., Wilberforce). If they are incorrect, horrible things (9/11).

>>What happens when one is no longer accountable to one’s fellow humans, but only to God?

In many cases, this leads to great goodness. I refer you back to Wilberforce who didn't care how much other people reviled him--he was accountable to the God of the Bible, so he forged ahead to end slavery despite human criticism. Now let's ask the opposite question: What happens when one is no longer accountable to God, but only to one's fellow humans? Look back at the last century and you'll see massive abuses in atheistic countries where there was no God above the state. People sin and can distort either. So you can see once again that the answer to your question depends on "true or false," not on "accountable to God or not accountable to God." And so the answer to your question depends on the God people are accountable to. Accountable to the true, good God? Good things result, even in the face of severe persecution from humans who are bent on evil. Accountable to a false, manmade, faulty God? Watch out.

>>And what if they are wrong about everything that they believe?

Bad things often happen in that case. Who would argue with that? This is why the big question is about what is true versus what is false, not about commitment versus non-commitment, not about strong belief versus relativism, not about accountability to God versus man, not about any other thing. Belief, commitment, accountability to the true, good God leads to good things. But all those things given to a false, evil God leads to bad things. The difference is true and false.

>>Both the Holocaust and the Canaanite genocides have the same theme: Ethnic cleansing

No, I have already explained more than once that this was not about "ethnic cleansing"--that is, it was not because of ethnicity but because of behavior that people were wiped out, and the Israelites were held to the same standard and eventually faced judgment from God through the Babylonian exile when they failed like the people before them.

>>and the elimination of degraded, immoral, malignant goups which must be destroyed for the greater good and for the salvation of the chosen people.

Kind of like what we did to Hitler and the Nazis, eh? You see, even you believe that a group like the Nazis needs to be eliminated--their evil must be removed. Or were you against destroying the Nazis and removing them and their evil from the world? If you're consistent, then you would be against it--no one group should remove any other group because they think that group is bad. But I suspect you were for removing that evil group, which means there is no general moral principle about not removing groups you think are bad--not every instance of this can be compared to Hitler's side in the Holocaust. The evaluation must depend on whether the removed group actually is evil or not. You have the Israelites on the wrong side of the equation here. They weren't Hitler, they were the people removing Hitler.

"You are bringing in Hitler. You are bringing in the Holocaust. You are bringing in the Bronze Aged tribesmen whom you keep referring to as the ones who invented the flood myth and committed the Canaanite genocide."

Well, the logic IS the same. But that's a rebuttal, isn't it? So, I'd better stop right there.

You're right, if I wish to end this, I should stick to the subject. So, to summarize Amy's point, what if I go with...

If Amy is correct that God judged that all the Canaanites, including the babies, deserved to be killed, and if God decided to have the Israelites do the killing, then the Canaanite genocide falls into place. That is, if Amy's Truth is the True Truth, then it all falls into place.

Sound good?

(At the risk of ruining things, since all the information about this event comes from Bronze Age Israelites, like it or not, we have no choice but to hope that they got it right when they claimed that God said to kill. This is not to pick on the tribesmen. This just the reality of the thing.)

Amy,

So, have I accurately described your position in my latest comment?

Just to clarify...

Ethnic: Of, relating to, or characteristic of a sizable group of people sharing a common and distinctive racial, national, religious, linguistic, or cultural heritage.

Note the words "religious" and "cultural", i.e., "behavior". "Ethnic" refers to more that just genes.

Using the words "genocide" and "ethnic cleansing" does not accurately represent the situation described by the Bible. You know very well that those words sneak in connotations that do not apply to the biblical story. Or would you use the word "ethnic cleansing" for the removal of the Nazis?

Genocide: The deliberate and systematic destruction of a racial, political, or cultural group.

But if will make you feel better...

If Amy is correct that God judged that all the Canaanites, including the babies, deserved to be killed, and if God decided to have the Israelites do the killing, then the killing of every living member of designated cultural groups in Canaan falls into place. That is, if Amy's Truth is the True Truth, then it all falls into place.

Better?

Joe,
What do you mean by "it all falls into place?"
Do you mean that the specific event (the judgment of the Canaanites) can be considered justified?
Do you mean that the Bible is completely true?
Do you mean that every crackpot who believes he is told to kill someone by God is justified in his actions?
It's a stretch, but do you mean that every situation where someone believes he has been told to do something by God, carefully tests what he has been told against the character of God, then decides that what he has been told to do is consistent with that character and proceeds to do it is justified in his actions?
Or I suppose there could possibly be other meanings...

Actually, I believe that it was Amy who first used the phrase. That's why I used it when paraphrasing what she said.

Footnote: Removal of the Nazis after WWII did not include killing every man, woman and child in Germany. For that matter, it didn't even include jailing everyone who was once a member of the Nazi Party. But I digress.

Regarding your genocide definition, murder is the deliberate destruction of a person, as well, but when the government does it rightfully, it's not murder, it's judgment. You see the difference? This is why calling it murder, despite the fact that it's "the deliberate killing of a person," is inaccurate. The same is true with the Israelites. Judgment by a judge with the authority to judge is not murder, and, in the same way, judgment is not genocide.

So yes, if God was really judging the Canaanites as a group by destroying them, then that is not wrong any more than it was wrong to wipe out the Nazis.

But it's not just my truth.

So, you're ok with the following? I didn't use the word murder and I didn't use the word genocide.

If Amy is correct that God judged that all the Canaanites, including the babies, deserved to be killed, and if God decided to have the Israelites do the killing, then the killing of every living member of designated cultural groups in Canaan falls into place. That is, if the proposed Truth is the True Truth, then it all falls into place.

I'm comfortable with this: If the Bible accurately represents God and His motives in the destruction of the Canaanites (men, women, and children), using the nation of Israel as His instrument, then the question of whether this is an evil monstrosity or justified judgment falls into place. That is, if you consider the Bible in itself as a story, taking it at face value and not adding your own ideas, the God of the Bible is not a monster.

[End of my restatement.]

If the Bible does not accurately represent God, then the historical act would not be a good thing. But regardless, that would do nothing to change the story in the Bible, which would not be morally bad as a story. In other words, if false, then one might call the Israelites monsters, but not the character of God in the story.

This is ultimately the point I'm making--I'm merely defending the character of God and the morality of the story in the Bible as it's written, and trying to get you to separate the story from what you think "really" happened so that you can hear what the Bible is actually saying and not misrepresent it.

I could respect it if you said that God was justified in the story, but since the Israelites made it up, the Israelites are monsters. What doesn't make any sense at all is saying that the story was all made up by men, therefore the God in the story is evil.

Is the character in the story known as "God" evil or a monster? Well, I guess that depends on how you define the term "just". I understand everything you said about the bad, evil Canaanites, I followed every word of it. But none of these bad, evil things were done by the executed children. To me, though I may be ungrounded and lacking in sophisticated theological training, that will always be unjust. But I don't doubt that you can find justification, and I'm wary of starting anything that will lead to another infinte loop, so I should probably just walk away from this one.

In any event, I believe that my focus throughout this particular comment thread has been on the behavior of humans, and not on the behavior of gods.

I have no idea if the gods have any interest at all in events here on Earth, although I don't see much evidence of any interest. But I know what people can do and how they behave and what they can excuse when they think they know what the gods want. I can see the danger when humans create a character called "God", and then they give this character the power to order humans to kill. It doesn't really matter whether we call that character itself "evil" or "a monster", it's how humans use the existence of the character that matters.

Actual character of God? Who knows? To steal a line from Darwin, when it comes to pondering the mind of God, a dog might as well speculate on the mind of Newton.

But humans? Humans I know about. Humans I can observe. And once they get certain ideas in their heads, humans can be very dangerous creatures. I'm sure about that.

.

Joe,

I think I’m going to take my own advice here and say thank you for presenting your viewpoint, and bow out. While I do not agree with a lot of what you have said, I think there is a value in examining underlying assumption; this is very difficult to do if you only talk to people who agree with you.
If you will accept a parting thought: you still seem to be trying to make your own point while asking Amy if you have her view down correctly. When you are clarifying another person’s position is not the time to score a point for your own side, however tempting that may be. It just isn’t. You are attempting to establish what she thinks, not what you think, nor what you believe to be the obvious flaws in her thinking, simply what she thinks. Even if she is completely wrong, still the objective in this part is to understand the other person. If, after receiving your clarification, you still want to have it out, by all means…

I've received my clarification. Thought I ought to clarify my position. No need to continue.

You know, Amy, if you're still checking this post, I have to ask, I just can't stop myself...what are the criteria by which one determines if a judgement is just?

A punishment is just when it is equal to the seriousness of the crime.

Just punishments both judge the perpetrator and protect those around the perpetrator by preventing further harm against the others. A judgment by God against an entire people group is just when A) the seriousness of their sin and rebellion against God as a culture is worthy of destruction and B) others are protected from the spread of their evil. (And in the case of the OT, the plan was also put into place by which all evil would eventually be conquered and every rebellious person in the world would have a way to be forgiven by God, experience His mercy, and become His friend rather than His enemy. So even in His judgment, God was thinking of how He would redeem and restore humanity. Judgment was not the final goal.)

"A punishment is just when it is equal to the seriousness of the crime."

I can actually agree with this as part of a working definition, but what was the crime committed by the children of Canaan?

"A judgment by God against an entire people group is just when A) the seriousness of their sin and rebellion against God as a culture is worthy of destruction and B) others are protected from the spread of their evil."

Isn't this begging the question?

You've defined God as never unjust, so any time we see a culture destroyed, we have no choice but to assume that it was just. The conclusion that the act is just is contained in the assumptions made about the nature of God.

How do we know that the decision to destroy the culture was just? How do you know that the seriousness of their sin and rebellion against God as a culture is worthy of destruction, especially in light of the fact that many cultures have been far worse than these cultures?

Well, God destroyed, so it must be just. But doesn't this assume that God would not unjustly destroy a culture. How would we know if he did act unjustly? Where are the independent tests or definitions or criteria that do not start with the assumption that God is always just?

And how did aborting the babies of Canaan prevent the spread of evil?


Joe, can I put these questions on hold for now? I have to finish some things up before I leave for Thanksgiving, and I don't think I can get to them today. But these are really good, important questions, and I'll come back to them. Have a great Thanksgiving--you and your family.

Amy,

No problem, I'll check back later, and thanks for picking this up again.

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