Tuesday, February 5, 2013

The View of Love and Violence from the Lazyboy

Dr. Enns has been showcasing Seibert's view of violent texts in the Old Testament. His final installment, which has, in my opinion, been horribly superficial can be found here:





Seibert's conclusions mimick those of many in the past few years, the most recent being Thom Stark's suggestion that we use such violent texts as texts we should condemn as counterexamples.

However, I'm curious how a pacifist like Seibert answers the following dilemma:

The children of the Canaanites will grow up and look to put the children of the Israelites to death due to the implementation of ancient Near Eastern thinking that children are bound to maintain familial vendettas in order to avenge the deaths of family members.

What I don't think such superficial thinking takes into consideration is the condundrum:

If God does not command the Israelites to wipe out the children of the Canaanites, then he is ensuring the death of the children of the Israelites.

Now, here is the moral dilemma, and why "loving" your way to an acceptable answer doesn't work.

If we understand that loving someone means that we must protect them from the violence of others, then the only way to do that is often to use violence to fulfill that goal.

For instance, I travel through a foreign land with my children. Out walks a local who is intent on murdering my children, for whatever reason (perhaps, he thinks my family is a threat to him by our entering his land). I have a gun. He has a gun. I can choose to allow him to murder my children by doing nothing and "loving" him. But by doing so, I am making a choice to not love my children more than I love the murderer. I let them be murdered even though I have the ability to stop him by killing him first.

Conversely, if I kill him before he murders my children, I am loving my children, but not loving him in that instance by killing him.

Both of these premises assume that loving someone means that you protect them from violence and do not allow them to be murdered (I assume every rational person with even a minute moral compass would agree with that).

Hence, this is the dilemma for Seibert.

If God, and we joining with Him, really loves His children in the situation, then He can only do one of two things: Let the Israelites be murdered, or let the Canaanites, who are under His judgment for their sins, be executed both by Himself (the text actually says that He kills more Canaanites than the Israelites do) and by His people He is training to act as a self-defending nation among other nations in the world.

So here is my question for Siebert: "If you were God, what would you do in that situation?" "What is the most loving course of action in your estimation?"

While we're on that, what is the most loving course of action for the Tutsi when the Hutu man enters their huts intent on slaughtering their families? What if the same spirit of vendetta ruled the hearts of moderns? Would not allowing the children of those who will indeed rise up to murder your children not be an act that sentences your children to death?

You can't merely use our modern context as a backdrop to the divine judgments concerning women and babies in the Old Testament. It's not our world. It's easy to say, "Ooh, I don't like icky violence and condemn the whole lot of it," while you sit safely by the fire in your Lazyboy, sipping your cup of coffee, watching your kids play with their favorite Tonka Toys on the floor. You don't have to make those choices. You can just dumb love down to sympathy toward all people, but that definition of love isn't biblical nor is it practical in the real world of choices when the violence of the world turns in on your children.

I have said many times that God's acts here are acts of love, real-life love, not the pixie dust love of liberal theorists speaking from the safety of their ivory towers. God saves His children by killing the Egyptian children because He loves, not despite of it. God saves His children by killing the Canaanite children because He loves, not despite of it.

Is that our situation? Not in America for the most part (although there are occasional instances where some of us are tested with such a choice to kill a killer and save our loved ones). But we have no voice of God telling us to do so. We have only His example that true love doesn't lay down when one's children are in jeopardy. Only the most hateful and worst element of humanity speak of love for one's enemy when their children's throats are being slit. And that's not even considering that God is timeless, seeing all future events as though they were present---seeing those helpless babies grow up and murder His people all in one moment. What's a loving God to do, Mr. Seibert? What's a loving God to do?

26 comments:

  1. Another apologist for genocide.....

    Does becoming a true Christian mean believing that all the harm and violence commanded by god in the Bible was all perfectly justified? If so, count me out. I'd rather keep my dignity.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Another atheist apologist who would rather let murderers kill his children than defend them.

    Does becoming a true atheist mean believing that all the defense and violence to secure life commanded in the Bible was never justified? If so, count me out. I'd rather keep my common sense.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. If so you're just a moral relativist who thinks morals like genocide are condoned depending on people, time, place and situation. I remember somewhere someone saying that we should love our enemies and do good to them.....who was that? Damn I forgot. It'll come to me eventually.

      Delete
    2. 1. You would commit what you're calling "genocide" a hundred times over given certain circumstances, and I can prove that to you.

      2. As usual, you've made no argument. Instead, you just make accusations and unwarranted assertions.

      3. I've addressed the misuse and abuse of the Lord's teaching on the subject in two recent posts that surround this one. A little context would be enlightening for you.

      4. The irony and hypocrisy of someone who calls himself "The Thinker" and yet displays terrible reading and cognitive thinking skills, along with simply blindly following unthoughtful ideas that are certainly culture bound--thus displaying that your "thinking" skills are limited to the box in which you evidently cannot think outside of--seems to be lost on you.

      All of this to say, I'm always open to hear an argument. You just never give me one. Hence, as I said before, I have no time for those who posture like a peacock, but have no ability to defend their assertions. It's waste of both our time. You aren't willing to learn, and I'm not willing to teach someone who doesn't want to learn.

      Delete
    3. btw, it is begging the question to refer to what happens in the Bible as "genocide." That's a favorable term by atheists in order to frame the discussion and poison the well (another logical fallacy of course); but from the Christian perspective "genocide" is the murder of an entire ethnic group of people. God cannot murder, since murder is the unauthorized killing of another human being (God is always authorized, as He is the one has the authority over life and death). Hence, God cannot be accused of genocide. That charge would only be true if people killed in the name of God without His command to do so. Hence, you beg the question as to whether He did command it in order to make the charge. If God is guilty of murder and genocide by ending the lives of the creatures He made, then that is true for His ending of all life at all times, not just in these particular instances within the Bible. But you gain your morality concerning the issue from a theistic worldview, and seek to judge God by a standard that only God can consider evil in the first place.

      Delete
    4. I'm not saying that it is never wrong to kill, clearly some circumstances warrant it. But when it comes to genocide it is a little different. The mass killing of an entire ethnic group is hard to justify even under the most pressing situations.

      But if you can only find your justification of it under divine command, as you seem to, then the morality itself is virtually meaningless and the only thing that is meaningful is whether god commanded it.

      If something is immoral on its own and only becomes moral if god commands it, or vice versa, then the only factor separating the morality or immorality of the action, is god’s command. In other words, the actual morals themselves are meaningless – god’s commands are the only thing that counts. This also means that god cannot be following a consistent and non-arbitrary morality. If something is right because god commands it, it must also be right if you do it on your own. But if performing these morals on your own wouldn’t be right unless god commands it, it means you take the first horn of the Euthyphro Dilemma, that something is good because god commands it.

      In other words, you subscribe to a "might" makes "right" morality system whereby anything - slavery, fathers selling their daughters into slavery, indentured servitude, forcing underage girls into marriages with older men, stoning to death all homosexuals, adulterers, witches, unruly children, those who worship false gods, those who work on the Sabbath, allowing the rape of female captives in war, throwing war captives off cliffs, and on and on - can all be justified, if god commands it - or if someone claims god commands it.

      That's why I find the ease at which Christians rationalize away genocide so disturbing. It's an appeal to authority, not to reason.

      Delete
    5. "But if you can only find your justification of it under divine command, as you seem to, then the morality itself is virtually meaningless and the only thing that is meaningful is whether god commanded it."

      I made no such argument. My point is that there are things over which only God has the right. God receiving worship is only right for God. It is not right for me to receive worship. It is only right for the Creator of life to take a life. It is not right for me to take a life unless I am acting as His emissary, and I would only know that via revelation.

      So this isn't a "might makes right" argument. It falls under the idea that what is right for God does not always correspond to what is right for a human, precisely because the human is not to take upon himself the position of God. That's what is morally wrong with murder. It takes God's authority as one's own without any expressed permission of such. That's the Christian view of it. Hence, government has rights to execution because the Scripture says it gives them the sword for it. It has the right to defend itself because God gives it that right. But no one has the right to overstep that boundary and act like his authority equals God's when it hasn't been given to him.

      "I'm not saying that it is never wrong to kill, clearly some circumstances warrant it. But when it comes to genocide it is a little different. The mass killing of an entire ethnic group is hard to justify even under the most pressing situations."

      No, you're wrong. If you admit that killing is right in certain situations then you're just arguing numbers and identities. If an entire ethnic group, all situated as a tribe in a small localized area, got ahold of a nuclear weapon and aimed it at your family, you would be a fool to not protect your children by aiming one at that tribe and hoping that you wiped it out before they got a chance to fire that weapon at you and your family.
      If three people (a man, a woman, and a seven year old boy) attacked you on the road when on a trip with your children, and they were the last of an ethnic group, it would be absurd to argue that killing them in self defense would be an evil merely because of their identities.

      (cont.)

      Delete
    6. So identity and number is irrelevant to the morality of the matter. And if God has the right as God over all life, and according to the Bible He decides how, when, and at what time every human life will be taken, then God cannot be judged by an immorality only possible to humans.

      Hence, "genocide," by which I'm sure you mean the murder of an entire ethnic group, cannot be committed by God, nor can it be considered immoral for God to take their lives, since He takes all life as God, and always has the authority to do it.

      Now, you may not agree, but that is the argument with which you must reckon. Simply defining everything differently than the Bible does only creates a strawman argument, and you leave the God of the Bible and its justifications untouched.

      Delete
    7. "That's why I find the ease at which Christians rationalize away genocide so disturbing. It's an appeal to authority, not to reason."

      I've been doing nothing but appealing to reason. You're the one appealing to authority by just assuming that you defining X in such a way and considering it wrong makes it wrong. You are not a deity, and hence, not the authority. So you need to deal with the reasonable arguments I gave you instead of appealing to your personal opinions as authoritative for this discussion.

      Delete
    8. I don't think that it's an appeal to reason to do what is immoral because you heard a voice in your head saying it's ok to do it. I never said I was god or any kind of authority, but you, in seeing god as a deity and an authority, think it is moral to do what he says *because* he's an authority figure. That's an appeal to authority, not to reason. Muslims killing in the name of god, are appealing to scriptures in the Koran that justify killing infidels. You are following in their train of thought, albeit with different scriptures.

      You have not escaped your appeal to authority, I'm sorry. If something is unnecessarily harmful or immoral but "is right for God" and you do it, that's an appeal to nothing but authority.

      On the genocide issue, we could send in seal team 6 to kill just the people in power to stop them from detonating the nuke, we don't have to kill the whole tribe, that's exactly why we're having the debate over drone strikes today. We want to mitigate collateral damage and decide if it is even moral to allow it. That's an appeal to reason.

      Now I gave you a short list of things god has commanded people to do earlier. Please give me your best shot to justify their morality using reason alone without an appeal to god's authority (or should I say the Bible's authority) if you can.

      Delete
    9. And to expound on your last point so I'm not accused of begging the question, when you said "you defining X in such a way and considering it wrong makes it wrong" that's incorrect.

      You said yourself it would be wrong for the Jews to have taken up the slaughter of the Canaanites on their own, or for a person to decide to murder on his own. We agree that is immoral, I'm not deciding it is immoral like I'm some moral authority. Case in point, "It is not right for me to take a life unless I am acting as His emissary, and I would only know that via revelation."

      So the wrongness is not my "opinion" as you accuse me of, you admitted it's wrong. But then it becomes right when god commands it, so his authority is the only thing making the immoral action right. That's an appeal to authority once again, not to reason.

      Delete
    10. I've already refuted you and you don't even know it because you're shadowboxing with strawmen. What I argued above is not an appeal to authority. You're not reading again. What I said was that what makes murder wrong is that humans take the authority of God. What makes murder wrong today is that an average joe takes the authority of the government to execute someone. That's not appeal to authority. It's an appeal to a reasoned definition of what makes murder murder. Read my argument again.

      Your fixing of the scenario is avoiding the question. You've not dealt with the conundrum if you don't have time to send in Seal Team 6. What if you find out ten minutes before it's going to happen? What if you and your family make up the last of an ethnic group as well. That's the equivalent scenario with Israel. They can be wiped out in Egypt, by the Amalekites, or by the Canaanites or God can have them escape the Egyptians, destroy the Amalekites, and destroy the Canaanites in order to survive. You've offered nothing by way of a refutation that solves the problem, nor addressed the fact that Christians believe that God has the right over life and death, and kills every day.

      "So the wrongness is not my "opinion" as you accuse me of, you admitted it's wrong. But then it becomes right when god commands it, so his authority is the only thing making the immoral action right. That's an appeal to authority once again, not to reason."

      No, it isn't. You don't understand what an appeal to authority is. An appeal to authority is when someone says that such is true or right because someone says its true or right. I'm arguing that God has the authority over life and death by His very sovereign nature, as a king has power over the lives of His subjects. He can command an army. The average Joe doesn't have that power, so for the average Joe to command the army is to usurp the authority of the king. You're confusing something being right because of one's authority with an appeal to authority. You're failing to grasp what I'm saying because of this equivocation.

      Delete
  3. "And to expound on your last point so I'm not accused of begging the question, when you said "you defining X in such a way and considering it wrong makes it wrong" that's incorrect."

    Actually, it's right on the money. You are defining genocide/murder according to your own definitions. The Bible defines it differently (and so does the US government and every other society on the planet btw). But you're employing you're own definition in order to suit your argument better. But that begs the question as to what murder is in the first place. You cannot disprove the biblical view of murder by merely appealing to your own opinion as an authoritative redefinition.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You're just trying to escape what you know is inevitable. We're not arguing over what makes murder wrong. I'll even agree with you that murder is wrong because "humans take the authority of God" or "the authority of the government to execute someone". We're arguing over what makes murder or genocide right in spite of the fact we agree it's wrong. And by genocide here, I'm talking about killing a lot of people like in the Bible, not one last surviving tribesman.

      And your justification to murder and genocide is because god commands you, hence you said "It is not right for me to take a life unless I am acting as His emissary, and I would only know that via revelation."

      Why does it become right when commanded by god? Because of his authority! You even say so in your "refutation" of me: "God has the authority over life and death by His very sovereign nature, as a king has power over the lives of His subjects."

      If the king can command the deaths of others, like god can, the army doing the killing is justified only in their appeal to the king's authority and power to do so. If they acted on their own, they'd be held criminally responsible. That's an appeal to authority once again in your own words.

      If one guy represents an ethnic group and he has to be killed in self defense, than so be it. Call it genocide if you will. But you're arguing that during a genocide, everyone down to the last baby must be killed so there's no chance they can grow up and avenge their parent's slaughter. You ask "If you were God, what would you do in that situation?" "What is the most loving course of action in your estimation?"

      If I were god, given the situation you described, since I have infinite resources, I could just poof the Canaanites out of existence saving everyone from war and slaughter. I could send in a prophet to teach them of my existence and educate them on their ways. I could appear to everyone and demand they compromise. I could move the Canaanites to a parallel Earth where they could still have the land with no conflict from the Israelites. I could not intervene at all and let things just happen as they would have.

      Bottom line is I could do a million things other than command genocide and the killing of babies that could solve the problem if I were god. Why would I chose the one way that requires the most amount of violence? I'd have to have a particular lust for bloodshed.

      Delete
  4. "You're just trying to escape what you know is inevitable."

    No, I'm trying to appeal to reason, something you seem to lack. You're attempting to deflect having to deal with the argument I made because you know that inevitably, it is you who will accept that killing off an ethnic group is justified in certain circumstances--hence, negating your original statements.

    "We're not arguing over what makes murder wrong."

    Of course we are. That's the whole point. If murder is the usurping of God's authority when taking a human life, then God can never be guilty of murder, and hence, He can never be guilty of genocide. That's obvious to everyone else, but you it seems.

    "I'll even agree with you that murder is wrong because "humans take the authority of God" or "the authority of the government to execute someone"."

    Then you conceded my entire point. The problem is by what you say next, you evidence that you don't understand what you're talking about.

    "We're arguing over what makes murder or genocide right in spite of the fact we agree it's wrong."

    No, murder and genocide are never right, no matter what. My point is that God cannot commit murder/genocide because of the above definition of what murder is. It's like accusing God of trespassing when He owns everything. He can't trespass because He owns everything in the first place. That's not an appeal to authority. It's appeal to proper definitions. I'm not saying trespassing is OK because God says so. I'm saying that due to the nature of trespassing and what God owns, God cannot trespass in the first place. It's contradictory. The same goes for ending the lives that He made. He owns them. People don't own them. Hence, only He has the right to do whatever He pleases with the lives that He owns. People don't. That has nothing to do with the logical fallacy of appealing to special authority. You're reading and cognitive skills, as I've said many times before to you, are atrocious. You end up slandering your opponents without cause due to your own inability to understand the issues.

    "And by genocide here, I'm talking about killing a lot of people like in the Bible, not one last surviving tribesman."

    That's completely irrelevant to what I'm arguing. It doesn't matter if you have two people or two thousand. It's not the number or the identity that makes a thing more right or wrong, but whether it commits a crime or not. In the case of the Canaanite Conquest, there is no crime committed by the people or God, because the people have the authority of God to carry out what He has a right to do, and God cannot commit the crime of which He is being accused, as per above.

    ReplyDelete
  5. "If one guy represents an ethnic group and he has to be killed in self defense, than so be it. Call it genocide if you will. But you're arguing that during a genocide, everyone down to the last baby must be killed so there's no chance they can grow up and avenge their parent's slaughter."

    Then you've conceded my point yet again. You would commit genocide in issues of self defense. And in the ancient Near Eastern world, self defense includes guarding one's children from being killed by vendettas, which is not merely a possible, but an absolute future.

    "If I were god, given the situation you described, since I have infinite resources, I could just poof the Canaanites out of existence saving everyone from war and slaughter. I could send in a prophet to teach them of my existence and educate them on their ways. I could appear to everyone and demand they compromise. I could move the Canaanites to a parallel Earth where they could still have the land with no conflict from the Israelites. I could not intervene at all and let things just happen as they would have."

    In other words, you would change the situation, but I didn't ask you that. I asked you what you would do within that situation. Christians believe that God has chosen the best possible world to accomplish what He desires (to destroy evil that comes into the world by making moral agents and saving His people). Hence, they believe that what happens is what is the best possible world of situations that must happen in order to accomplish that goal. Hence, if you are going to make an argument with Christians, you need to argue with what is, not what other world and situation you would create, because your knowledge and goals are not equivalent to God's. So I'm not saying what world you would set up if you were God. I'm assuming as a Christian that this is the best possible world for His purposes and then asking you within this world, within that situation, what you would do as God. If you can't answer that, or know you need to avoid it, then there is no point in continuing this conversation, since you're dodging at this point.

    " I could not intervene at all and let things just happen as they would have."

    That means you would let the Israelites, descendents of a man you promised that you would protect his children and that they would be as numerous as the sands of the seashore, be annihilated. To do nothing is an act of love toward the oppressor and an act of hatred toward the victim. As God, you would betray your promise to protect the innocent and hate them in order to not get involved and love the guilty and the wicked? I'm glad you're not God.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You're missing the point entirely. I'm not focused on whether genocide is right or wrong for GOD to do, I'm focused on whether or not it is right for MAN to do it. You said "murder and genocide are never right, no matter what." If so, it wasn't right for the Jews to do it, or anyone else. You've just conceded your entire argument that it's right if god commands YOU to do it.

      When I said I'll agree with you on the definition of murder, I was doing it for argument's sake, I actually don't agree with you. No concession there.

      All I hear you arguing is that the big boss up there owns everything, so he can do whatever he pleases and it can never be wrong. That sounds a lot like how brainwashed slaves and subjects justify why their master beats them - it's an appeal to power and authority. It is slavishly masochistic.

      Also, if god is above the law and is not subject to the laws he gives to us, he is not perfect. For if his laws and morals reflect a perfect morality and failure to comply with them results in imperfection, god failing to comply with them results in his imperfection as well. We don't allow policemen and judges to break the same laws they enforce, only slaves under dictators find ways to justify the unnecessary harm caused by their masters. But I reckon you are a slave to god.

      Now let's look at my alleged concessions. I never said genocide was always wrong, I just said that "The mass killing of an entire ethnic group is hard to justify even under the most pressing situations." And here I'm not even talking about a single individual, I'm talking about a group. So I haven't conceded a thing.

      "And in the ancient Near Eastern world, self defense includes guarding one's children from being killed by vendettas, which is not merely a possible, but an absolute future."

      Does that still apply today? Can we still kill down to the last baby as your capricious god commands? Or have we morally and culturally progressed passed that point where we've figured out better options without the need for god? If so, morality is relative to people, place, time and situation and you're a moral relativist.

      If I were god I obviously would do things completely different, so let's not get into hypotheticals. For one thing, I would have made slavery wrong - something your god forgot. I certainly wouldn't be fixated on the foreskin of one tribe of mostly illiterate desert dwellers like your god is. That's just perverse and unnecessary.

      Let me leave this with a little exercise for you. Please answer with a yes or no:

      1. Is it morally right if a group of people decide to kill an entire ethnic group they strongly believe has a vendetta against them down to the very last baby? Yes or no?

      2. Would this same act become morally right if god commanded they kill all the people in the other tribe? Yes or no?

      Now justify your answers, particularly if you answered "yes" to no.2 why god's commandment makes it right.

      Delete
  6. "You're missing the point entirely. I'm not focused on whether genocide is right or wrong for GOD to do, I'm focused on whether or not it is right for MAN to do it. You said "murder and genocide are never right, no matter what." If so, it wasn't right for the Jews to do it, or anyone else. You've just conceded your entire argument that it's right if god commands YOU to do it."

    This is pretty incoherent, and ignores what I've said throughout this entire conversation. First, I made the statement that God can never "do it" (i.e., commit genocide/murder) because murder is the usurping of His authority. Second, if God has the right over life and death, and He gives that right to others (e.g., self defense, carrying out justice, etc.) then they cannot commit genocide/murder either, since they are not usurping His authority. It has been given to them. By the very definition the Bible gives to murder, then, neither God, nor His emissaries when doing exactly as He commanded in carrying out a taking of human life, can commit murder/genocide. This isn't an argument that says it's right because God makes it right. It's an argument that says that if you're going to try and condemn the biblical conquest accounts as contradictory to the biblical understanding of murder, then you're going to fail, precisely because it doesn't meet the biblical criteria of what is considered "murder/genocide." I've further argued that it is not always wrong for a human being to do what was done in the Canaanite conquest because it is a matter of self defense and preservation in the midst of chaotic agents.

    (cont.)

    ReplyDelete
  7. "When I said I'll agree with you on the definition of murder, I was doing it for argument's sake, I actually don't agree with you. No concession there."

    I'm well aware that you, as an atheist, don't agree with the biblical definition of murder. That wasn't my point is saying that you conceded my entire point. Whether arguendo or not, it doesn't matter. To concede the point, for whatever reason, is to concede my whole argument. You seem to think I'm arguing for more than I am.

    "All I hear you arguing is that the big boss up there owns everything, so he can do whatever he pleases and it can never be wrong."

    That's because you're always arguing with someone else, not me. You think you can coast on your pat answers to lesser educated Christians. Well, I'm not making those arguments, so you're going to have to clean out your ears and listen to what I'm actually saying.

    "Also, if god is above the law and is not subject to the laws he gives to us, he is not perfect. For if his laws and morals reflect a perfect morality and failure to comply with them results in imperfection, god failing to comply with them results in his imperfection as well. We don't allow policemen and judges to break the same laws they enforce, only slaves under dictators find ways to justify the unnecessary harm caused by their masters."

    Neither I, nor most Christians I know, would ever make an argument that there is a moral code above God or that He just makes it up. God's nature is good, so we define good by it. He acts in accord with His nature. Hence, God cannot lie. He cannot do logically contradictory things either, like trespass, murder, make a rock so big that even He cannot life it, or make a square circle.

    ReplyDelete
  8. "I never said genocide was always wrong, I just said that "The mass killing of an entire ethnic group is hard to justify even under the most pressing situations." And here I'm not even talking about a single individual, I'm talking about a group. So I haven't conceded a thing."

    You're moving the goalpost, but that's fine with me. Let's deal with that statement then. Under the situations I've argued here, the killing of an entire ethnic group is justified. God is justified in doing so because He is defending His people in the best possible world to accomplish His salvific goals for them, and in the process He is justified for bringing evil to justice, and the people through whom He has decided to bring about some of this are justified because they are neither usurping His authority to deal out justice or act in self defense of their nation.

    "Does that still apply today? Can we still kill down to the last baby as your capricious god commands? Or have we morally and culturally progressed passed that point where we've figured out better options without the need for god? If so, morality is relative to people, place, time and situation and you're a moral relativist."

    This is a rabbit trail but I'll answer it anyway.
    1. Morality isn't relative because you apply the same principle to different situations differently. Relativism is that the principle itself changes due to the circumstance and opinion of the person or group. So this doesn't apply to what I'm saying.
    2. Does it apply today? I'm going to assume you by that should we make this standard fare in warfare today. I would say that we live in a world that largely does not carry vendettas out as the ancient world did. However, if you had such among some third world countries and primitive tribes, then self defense of your children may dictate it. The missing element here, however, is that God hasn't specifically commanded it as a judgment upon the people. In the conquest accounts you have both aspects of self defense and judgment going on, which makes it quite a unique situation in history, even within the history of Israel itself. But there is no moral relativism there. The original situation didn't make the principle good or evil anymore than another situation would. The principle of preserving innocent life in self defense and judging chaotic agents who would work to destroy that life remains good in every situation. It's a matter of working out the best way to do that and be faithful to all of God's revelation to us at the same time.

    ReplyDelete
  9. "If I were god I obviously would do things completely different, so let's not get into hypotheticals."

    LOL. This reminded me of Jim Carrey attempting to play God in "Bruce Almighty." You would do things differently, yet you lack omniscience, so how exactly do you know you would do things differently once you had omniscience and weighed all of the factors? Maybe you would end up doing everything the same. I, as a Christian, believe God did the best of everything due to His omniscience, so you're statement just comes off to me as silly.

    "For one thing, I would have made slavery wrong - something your god forgot."

    He forgot slavery? And what would you have done in its stead? Let everyone starve to death and die of exposure? Another great call on your part from the Lazyboy. Yes, slavery certainly would be a bad thing in a culture where you don't need it. We certainly don't need anyone owned by a company or the government.
    But rather than impose your subjective cultural ideals on ancient and other cultures, you might want to look into why it existed, as most slaves in the ancient world were not gained from war, but were sold by their families or themselves in order for that slave and their families to survive. The Bible puts stipulations on it, rather than do away with it, precisely because it could save many lives by keeping it. Instead, it puts stipulations on it, where the slave can gain his freedom if he desires after a period of time and/or that the slave is to be treated well and not poorly. But that's probably not good enough for your Lordship. You might want to be the great liberator of slaves and see them all lie dead in the desert as free men, women, and children. Good call.

    "1. Is it morally right if a group of people decide to kill an entire ethnic group they strongly believe has a vendetta against them down to the very last baby? Yes or no?"

    There is not enough for me to answer this question. Maybe the vendetta is right to have, maybe it isn't. If there is a vendetta on a larger ethnic scale, that means that one ethnic group is going to kill off the entirety of the other no matter what. So is it OK to defend one's own group from this by doing the same? I would go back to my nuclear warhead illustration. If TRIBE A had a nuclear weapon pointed and ready to fly at TRIBE B that would completely wipe out TRIBE B, does TRIBE B have the right to fire off a nuclear weapon at TRIBE A and wipe out TRIBE A before it wipes out TRIBE B? Of course it does.

    "2. Would this same act become morally right if god commanded they kill all the people in the other tribe? Yes or no?"

    No, because nothing becomes morally right because God commands it. He commands it because it is morally right and in accord with His nature. That's what you seem to miss completely. What God commands reveals what is morally right. It doesn't make it morally right. Hence, it can be morally right, as in the situation with the nukes above, before God commands anything specifically, since He has already given authority to government for self defense and executing justice. We just wouldn't necessarily always know if it was absolutely right about a particular instance of attempting to use that authority unless God revealed it.






    ReplyDelete

  10. This is interesting. Your justification of slavery in the ancient world I've heard many times before, I just wanted to see if I could get you to say it, and you did. I've also heard Christians say slavery in the American South was mercy too because the poor Africans otherwise would not know how to make a living for themselves. *tears*

    How can you rationalize slavery in the ancient world when some slaves were obtained through the spoils of war, and the Bible says non-Jewish slaves can be held forever? Also to say you needed slavery, would be like saying the poor in third world countries today need to traffic children as sex slaves otherwise they'd all starve. And to argue that "The Bible puts stipulations on" slavery and this somehow makes it OK, is like trying to argue that regulating how often and severe a pimp can beat his prostitute makes it morally acceptable. Theists are just kidding themselves, they really are. I think it is psychologically difficult for many theists to come to the acknowledgement that their god could be capable of the type of cruelty that atheists accuse him of.

    1. Also if you must justify why killing down to the last baby was ok only with a nuclear threat analogy, that's pretty weak. Your only justification of the biblical genocide seems to be through god's judgement and commandments. All I hear is silly hypotheticals involving nukes and the last surviving member of an endangered tribe.

    2. "it is morally right and in accord with His nature." His nature must be that of slavery, indentured servitude, genocide, land stealing, child killing, and perhaps even killing unborn fetuses all vicariously through other people. I think you've just proved here that the god of the Bible is "jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully"

    I see no argument from you refuting this description other than to just "define" god as perfect while ignoring the facts. And who get's to define "perfect"? The Jews do? It's just like the Nazis defining themselves as perfect and the Jews and inferior.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Here, let me help you start to make an actual argument.

      Placing a man who is going to die under your ownership and protection by giving him food and shelter, hence saving his life, is wrong because . . .

      You go ahead and finish that sentence for me, and then you'll at least be attempting to present an argument I can actually address. Beyond that, you've got only assertions and assertions aren't arguments, they're opinions (and rather myopically-challenged ones at that).

      "And to argue that "The Bible puts stipulations on" slavery and this somehow makes it OK, is like trying to argue that regulating how often and severe a pimp can beat his prostitute makes it morally acceptable."

      And to argue that "The atheist puts stipulations on" labor laws and this somehow makes it OK to support the existence of employer-employee relationships, is like trying to argue that regulating how often and severe a pimp can beat his prostitute makes it morally acceptable.

      There, see I can make equally absurd analogies that create strawmen too. Unfortunately, that's all your argument is. The Bible doesn't permit cruelty at all, so you have to make the argument that the actual institution of saving someone's life using slavery is cruel of and within itself. But if that were so, why did so many slaves in the ancient world sign on to stay and love the families they served? Hmm.

      "1. Also if you must justify why killing down to the last baby was ok only with a nuclear threat analogy, that's pretty weak."

      Also if you must condemn the killing down to the last baby as not ok without considering the nuclear threat analogy, that's pretty weak.

      See, yet again, I can make assertions too. Too bad assertions are conclusions and not supported premises to an argument.

      "Your only justification of the biblical genocide seems to be through god's judgement and commandments."

      This is why I'm not going to address you anymore. If you don't get why my argument has nothing to do with this by now, then you never will. Maybe you can have a more educated atheist friend, who actually knows what the appeal to authority is, explain it to you.

      "His nature must be that of slavery, indentured servitude, genocide, land stealing, child killing, and perhaps even killing unborn fetuses all vicariously through other people."

      His nature is life-giving and works toward the creation and preservation of His true humanity against chaotic agents. Hence, His nature is love toward His people. So, yes, He's going to employ anything and everything that will preserve their souls and destroy anything that will ruin their souls. What else would a good God do? Oh, I forgot, He would just let the Egyptians, Amalekites, and Canaanites murder all of His people and let chaos and evil rule the world, because that's what a good atheist would do. No thanks.

      Delete
    2. "No, because nothing becomes morally right because God commands it. He commands it because it is morally right and in accord with His nature. That's what you seem to miss completely. What God commands reveals what is morally right. It doesn't make it morally right."

      I think we have another contradiction here. So X is not morally right if god commands it, but "What God commands reveals what is morally right." How so? X is not right, but when god reveals X, it is morally right? You make absolutely no sense. If "What God commands reveals what is morally right", and that command is X, then how is X also not morally right "because nothing becomes morally right because God commands it"?

      I told you appealing to god's authority is not a smart move to justify moral rights and wrongs. You seem to be saying X is always was morally right, but we all know the bible contains moral abrogations. How are these rationally reconciled if they are always right or if they are or aren't right when god commands them? Because you seem to be saying that killing other tribes that threaten you down to the last baby is always right even in the absence of god commanding it. If so, we should be doing that now. And if not, why not? Is it because we have better options? If so, you'd agree with me that we can have moral progress regardless of whether it is specifically commanded in any holy book. If not, you appeal to god's authority once again.

      Also, God "has already given authority to government for self defense and executing justice." Really? All countries? The Taliban, Communist governments, secular and theocratic dictators and war lords? Governments differ on their idea of justice, so god must think each government has its own right to execute what it thinks is justice. Either that or you just uttered another non-sequitur.

      Delete
    3. I think I know why you're an atheist now. When you don't understand something, you blame the other person. Instead of giving the benefit of the doubt that you might not get it, you condemn what the other person is saying. That's a dangerous game, as it assumes your intellectual superiority, even when speaking to people who are more educated than you are subject.

      "So X is not morally right if god commands it, but "What God commands reveals what is morally right." How so? X is not right, but when god reveals X, it is morally right? You make absolutely no sense."

      You're problem is the premise "X is not right," not my argument. My argument is that X is right for God. Read my latest post concerning our argument here and maybe you'll begin to understand (or maybe not--I really can't hold out for much hope that you'll care to open your ears to actually hear what I am and am not saying).

      "You seem to be saying X is always was morally right, but we all know the bible contains moral abrogations. How are these rationally reconciled if they are always right or if they are or aren't right when god commands them? Because you seem to be saying that killing other tribes that threaten you down to the last baby is always right even in the absence of god commanding it. If so, we should be doing that now. And if not, why not?"

      Nope, that's not what I'm saying. You seem to not be able to grasp the idea that a principle that seeks to protect humanity by judging destroyers of humanity can be applied in a variety of ways and therefore can be revealed as moral in a situation where we know judgment is to be applied and not necessarily in a situation where we don't know it. As I also said before, the situation in which Israel finds itself is unique even within its own history, so I would not apply it to us because we're not threatened by that same situation (i.e., nations wanting to kill us and vendettas fulfilled by their children to finish the job, along with God's patience coming to an end for a people for whom He waited thousands of years to repent).

      " If so, you'd agree with me that we can have moral progress regardless of whether it is specifically commanded in any holy book. If not, you appeal to god's authority once again."

      Of course you can have moral progress without appealing to a holy book. I never made such an argument. I don't think you have an objective basis for moral progress, but you can still have it. Of course, only those of us with holy books would know that it actually is moral progress, since morality is subjective and relativistic in an atheistic system, no matter how much you and Harris like to dream otherwise. But you guys can go on assuming theism in order to make your "objective" appeals.

      "Also, God "has already given authority to government for self defense and executing justice." Really? All countries? The Taliban, Communist governments, secular and theocratic dictators and war lords? Governments differ on their idea of justice, so god must think each government has its own right to execute what it thinks is justice. Either that or you just uttered another non-sequitur."

      Um, I've uttered no non-sequiturs in this conversation, and I'd like you to point out one. Second, saying that the institution of government is given authority for self defense and justice is not the same as saying that every government then uses that authority rightly and is approved by God to abuse it. If you give your son authority to take care of your dog, that doesn't mean that you sanction the use of that authority to beat your dog.

      Delete
    4. "You're problem is the premise "X is not right," not my argument."

      X here is the killing of the Canaanites by the Jews.

      But you also said "No, murder and genocide are never right, no matter what." So it is not right for man to do on his own, according to you, but right for god.

      "No matter what...." This contradicts your analogy of the nuke threat or the last surviving tribesman. Also, remember the Jews are physically killing the Canaanites, not god. Your only defense seems to be that it is actually god killing the Canaanites via the Jews. But that's absurd. If god kills, he can do it on his own. If he commands others to kill, the people he commands physically do the killing under the authority of god. That's the central argument here. By what authority do the Jews have in taking the Canaanite's land and exterminating every last one of them, if it weren't for god's commandments to do it?

      Your quote is telling "a principle that seeks to protect humanity by judging destroyers of humanity can be applied in a variety of ways and therefore can be revealed as moral in a situation where we know judgment is to be applied and not necessarily in a situation where we don't know it." You make little sense here I'm sorry.

      So if we know judgement is to be applied [by god's command of it] on another tribe, it can be revealed as moral, but not if we don't know the tribe is to be judged. (???) So it's not moral if god hasn't judged them? This does not get you out of the appeal to authority. If Israel is justified in killing the Canaanites because they are a total threat to their entire existence, than god's commandments are irrelevant. Just like I don't need god to tell me it's right to kill the home intruder bent on killing me - reason tells me it's right. But that still doesn't get you out of baby killing and the conquest in the first place. You are totally confused on divine command theory.

      "Of course, only those of us with holy books would know that it actually is moral progress, since morality is subjective and relativistic in an atheistic system"

      Excuse me but where does it say slavery is now wrong in the bible? No where! Almost no theists actually practice their morality according to their "holy" books anyway because of moral progress and the ones that do we call barbarians in this day and age. Your moral foundation is subject to the whims of an invisible god whose commands we must take at face value from "prophets". Another example: Most Jews, Christians and Muslims agree that it would have been immoral for Abraham to have decided on his own to sacrifice his son for god and what made it moral was solely determined by god’s command.

      Delete