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One More Reason Religion Is So Messed Up: Respected Theologian Defends Genocide and Infanticide

A respected, mainstream theologian is seriously arguing that as long as God gives the thumbs-up, it’s okay to kill pretty much anybody.

William lane craig “Respected Theologian Defends Infanticide.”

Why did this story not make headlines?

In a recent post on his Reasonable Faith site, famed Christian apologist and debater William Lane Craig published an explanation for why the genocide and infanticide ordered by God against the Canaanites in the Old Testament was morally defensible. For God, at any rate — and for people following God’s orders. Short version: When guilty people got killed, they deserved it because they were guilty and bad… and when innocent people got killed, even when innocent babies were killed, they went to Heaven, and it was all hunky dory in the end.

No, really.

Here are some choice excerpts:

God had morally sufficient reasons for His judgement upon Canaan, and Israel was merely the instrument of His justice, just as centuries later God would use the pagan nations of Assyria and Babylon to judge Israel.

and:

Moreover, if we believe, as I do, that God’s grace is extended to those who die in infancy or as small children, the death of these children was actually their salvation. We are so wedded to an earthly, naturalistic perspective that we forget that those who die are happy to quit this earth for heaven’s incomparable joy. Therefore, God does these children no wrong in taking their lives.

and:

So whom does God wrong in commanding the destruction of the Canaanites? Not the Canaanite adults, for they were corrupt and deserving of judgement. Not the children, for they inherit eternal life.

I want to make something very clear before I go on: William Lane Craig is not some drooling wingnut. He’s not some extremist Fred Phelps type, ranting about how God’s hateful vengeance is upon us for tolerating homosexuality. He’s not some itinerant street preacher, railing on college campuses about premarital holding hands. He’s an extensively- educated, widely-published, widely-read theological scholar and debater. When believers accuse atheists of ignoring sophisticated modern theology, Craig is one of the people they’re talking about.

And he said that as long as God gives the thumbs-up, it’s okay to kill pretty much anybody. It’s okay to kill bad people, because they’re bad and they deserve it… and it’s okay to kill good people, because they wind up in Heaven. As long as God gives the thumbs-up, it’s okay to systematically wipe out entire races. As long as God gives the thumbs-up, it’s okay to slaughter babies and children. Craig said — not essentially, not as a paraphrase, but literally, in quotable words — “the death of these children was actually their salvation.”

So why did this story not make headlines? Why was there not an appalled outcry from the Christian world? Why didn’t Christian leaders from all sects take to the pulpits to disavow Craig, and to express their utter repugnance with his views, and to explain in no uncertain terms that their religion does not, and will not, defend the extermination of races or the slaughter of children?

*

Thus begins my latest piece for AlterNet, One More Reason Religion Is So Messed Up: Respected Theologian Defends Genocide and Infanticide. To read more about Craig’s grotesque pronouncement, why its grotesquery isn’t really that unusual, and what its grotesquery says about the nature of religion and why it’s inherently harmful, read the rest of the piece. Enjoy!

Comments

  1. says

    Must… not… read… comments……
    GAH.
    Good article Greta, and thank you for contrasting this with the “atheism means you can murder people!” slur.

  2. Sean says

    The funny thing is that Craig’s statements don’t surprise me at all. I’ve known that this was a common type of argument among apologists since I was maybe ten. And yet I strongly suspect that it will be news to believers.

  3. Doug Kirk says

    The comments at alternet are awful.
    There were at least ten each of: “God doesn’t have to answer to you;” “You’re not criticizing the RIGHT theologian. LIBERAL theologians are much more sophisticated;” “Not every religion is based on texts, therefore your criticism is meaningless in every circumstance ever!;” and “I completely agree with WLC, so that makes your argument invalid.”
    I face palmed so hard I lost consciousness for a bit…..

  4. RJMorgan says

    RE: “God’s grace is extended to those who die in infancy or as small children, the death of these children was actually their salvation.”
    Uuuh…so why are Christians so up-in-arms over abortion, then? Maybe Willy can answer that one.

  5. says

    Uuuh…so why are Christians so up-in-arms over abortion, then? Maybe Willy can answer that one.
    HA! I SO want to post that over there.

  6. Lawliet says

    I’m new to this blog as of today (someone linked me to the apparently infamous “Atheists and Anger” article), and I’d just like to say that I fucking love it.
    Interestingly enough, I’m not an atheist. I have been, and eventually ended up coming to the conclusion, based on observation and science, that I believe God exists (I know, that sounds extremely stupid without an explanation, but mine is quite lengthy). I’m still not sure how to interpret what I think the qualities and characteristics of that God are, and I’ve currently got very conflicting views on religion. Your logic and rationale appeal to me, and I think this blog and its listed sources and related literature are going to become a staple in my readings and ponderings about life.

  7. Marsha says

    I’ve been enjoying your posts on Alternet for some time. This article, following closely the recent William Craig-Sam Harris debate, delighted me immensely! Thank you for your boldness and honesty!

  8. says

    Hey Greta,
    I just read your post and it’s so full of win it hurts.
    I hope you don’t mind if I post the entire thing verbatim (with canonical links and credits of course) on my blog since it says everything I want to say but so much more eloquently than I think I can manage.
    You and this post are the most awesome.
    If I had one wish it would be for anybody wanting to argue about religion to read this entire post first.
    Keep letting the awesome flow!
    Shawn

  9. says

    I hope you don’t mind if I post the entire thing verbatim (with canonical links and credits of course) on my blog

    Actually… I do mind that. If I don’t protect my copyright, I lose it. I’m fine with publishing excerpts and a link to the full piece, but please don’t re-post the entire text of the piece. Thanks.

  10. says

    I love your article, and William Lane Craig is completely ridiculous and a bit scary.
    That point about ordering infanticide to prevent infanticide was something I’d also noticed as a contradiction. You made a good point in bringing up that the same people defending genocide are the same ones absurdly telling others that they need God to be moral.
    What I also noticed was that Craig characterizes the Christian God as all-loving and the Muslim God as only loving Muslims, even though both gods have similar rules about favoring only the people who follow the “right” religion. It seems a good example of something horrible not only being justified when God does it, but only justified when their God (and no one else’s) does it.
    The first few comments at AlterNet seem to immediately have jumped into the “Which group (religious people or atheists) have done more bad things” when that wans’t even the point of the article.
    In that Daylight Atheism post you linked to, I was one of the people in the comment thread and it really shocked me that there was actually someone calmly defending genocide when done by God, asking us (the other commenters and myself) to accept his unfounded premises and assumptions, as a way to pretend that only his answer could be the one that’s correct.
    Again, great article, and I love reading your blog!

  11. says

    In case anyone doubted it, this problem isn’t limited to Christians: I recently asked Rabbi Moshe Averick, who has a book out about the confused worldview of atheists. In our email exchange, he justified genocide using arguments roughly similar to Craig’s.
    I’ve asked him several times what God could do that Averick would consider immoral, but so far no answer.

  12. Michael says

    I assume that there are also many respected atheists who would argue that the practice of euthanasia is acceptable. There might also be some who would argue that capital punishment is justifiable. If I were to take a moral high ground and say that the taking of any human life is morally wrong, I could then claim that atheism is “messed up” because of the opinions of those atheists. However, I don’t want to make such a sweeping generalization about all religion or all atheists based on what I think is the faulty reasoning of a few. I don’t think you should either.

  13. says

    Any apologist who defends the idea of an Infinite Being directing His wrath at finite beings for eternity, should have no trouble defending a little genocide. Piff piff.
    Personally I think that any infinite Being that thinks it’s their duty to punish me for eternity, should switch to decaf.

  14. says

    THE CANAANITE MASSACRE
    SECOND TIME ROUND
    Puritan preachers referred to Native Americans as “Amelkites and Canaanites” — in other words, people, who, if they would not be converted, were worthy of annihilation.
    On average two thirds of the native population were killed by colonist-imported smallpox before violence began. This was a great sign of “the marvelous goodness and providence of God” to the Christians of course, e.g., the Governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony wrote in 1634, as “for the natives, they are near all dead of the smallpox, so as the Lord hath cleared our title to what we possess.”
    Although none of the settlers would have survived winter without native help, they soon set out to expel and exterminate the Indians. Warfare among (North American) Indians was rather harmless, in comparison to European standards, and was meant to avenge insults rather than conquer land. In the words of some of the Pilgrim fathers: “Their Wars are far less bloody,” so that there usually was “no great slaughter of either side.” Indeed, “They might fight seven years and not kill seven men.” What is more, the Indians usually spared women and children.
    In the spring of 1612 some English colonists found life among the (generally friendly and generous) natives attractive enough to leave Jamestown–”being idle…did run away unto the Indians”–to live among them. “Governor Thomas Dale had them hunted down and executed: ‘Some he appointed to be hanged Some burned Some to be broken upon wheels, others to be staked and some shot to death.’” Such were the measures reserved for fellow Englishmen “who wished to act like Indians.” But “for the native people of Virginia” methods were different: “When an Indian was accused by an Englishman of stealing a cup and failing to return it, the English response was to attack the natives in force, burning the entire community” down.
    On the territory that is now Massachusetts the founding fathers of the colonies were committing genocide in what has become known as the Peqout War. The killers were New England Puritan Christians, refugees from persecution in their own home country England. When however, a dead colonist was found, apparently killed by Narragansett Indians, the Puritan colonists wanted revenge. Despite the Indian chief’s pledge they attacked. Somehow they seem to have lost the idea of what they were after, because when they were greeted by Pequot Indians (long-time foes of the Narragansetts) the troops nevertheless made war on the Pequots and burned their villages. The puritan commander-in-charge, John Mason, wrote after one massacre: “And indeed such a dreadful Terror did the Almighty let fall upon their Spirits, that they would fly from us and run into the very Flames, where many of them perished…God was above them, who laughed his Enemies and the Enemies of his People to Scorn, making them as a fiery Oven…Thus did the Lord judge among the Heathen, filling the Place with dead Bodies.” So “the Lord was pleased to smite our Enemies in the hinder Parts, and to give us their land for an inheritance.” Because of his readers’ assumed knowledge of Deuteronomy, there was no need for Mason to quote the words that immediately follow: “Thou shalt save alive nothing that breatheth. But thou shalt utterly destroy them…” (Deut. 20) Mason’s comrade Underhill recalled how “great and doleful was the bloody sight to the view of the young soldiers” yet reassured his readers that “sometimes the Scripture declares women and children must perish with their parents.” Other Indians were killed in successful plots of poisoning. The colonists even had dogs especially trained to kill Indians and to devour children from their mothers breasts, in the colonists’ own words: “blood Hounds to draw after them, and Mastiffs to seize them.” In this way they continued until the extermination of the Pequots was near. The surviving handful of Indians “were parceled out to live in servitude. John Endicott and his pastor wrote to the governor asking for ‘a share’ of the captives, specifically ‘a young woman or girl and a boy if you think good.’”
    Other tribes were to follow the same path. Comment the Christian exterminators: “God’s Will, which will at last give us cause to say: How Great is His Goodness! and How Great is his Beauty!” “Thus doth the Lord Jesus make them to bow before him, and to lick the Dust!” Moreover, “Peace treaties were signed with every intention to violate them: when the Indians ‘grow secure upon (sic) the treaty’, advised the Council of State in Virginia, ‘we shall have the better Advantage both to surprise them, & cut down their Corn.’”
    In 1624 sixty heavily armed Englishmen cut down 800 defenseless Indian men, women and children. In a single massacre in “King Philip’s War” of 1675 and 1676 some “600 Indians were destroyed. A delighted Cotton Mather, revered pastor of the Second Church in Boston, later referred to the slaughter as a ‘barbecue.’”
    To summarize: Before the arrival of the English, the western Abenaki people in New Hampshire and Vermont had numbered 12,000. Less than half a century later about 250 remained alive–a destruction rate of 98%. The Pocumtuck people had numbered more than 18,000, fifty years later they were down to 920–95% destroyed. The Quiripi-Unquachog people had numbered about 30,000, fifty years later they were down to 1500–95% destroyed. The Massachusetts people had numbered at least 44,000, fifty years later barely 6000 were alive–81% destroyed. These are only a few examples of the multitude of tribes living before Christian colonists set their foot on the New World. All this was before the smallpox epidemics of 1677 and 1678 had occurred. And the carnage was not over then. All of the above lay only at the beginning of European colonization before the frontier age actually had begun. A total perhaps exceeding 150 million Indians (of both Americas) were destroyed from 1500 to 1900, on average two thirds by smallpox and other epidemics, that leaves some 50 million killed directly by violence, bad treatment and slavery.
    Reverend Solomon Stoddard, one of New England’s most esteemed religious leaders, in “1703 formally proposed to the Massachusetts Governor that the colonists be given the financial wherewithal to purchase and train large packs of dogs ‘to hunt Indians as they do bears.’”
    Massacre of Sand Creek, Colorado 1864: Colonel John Chivington, a former Methodist minister and still elder in the church (“I long to be wading in gore”) had a Cheyenne village of about 600, mostly women and children, gunned down despite the chiefs’ waving with a white flag: 400-500 killed. From an eye-witness account: “There were some thirty or forty squaws collected in a hole for protection; they sent out a little girl about six years old with a white flag on a stick; she had not proceeded but a few steps when she was shot and killed. All the squaws in that hole were afterwards killed.”
    In the 1860s in Hawaii “the Reverend Rufus Anderson surveyed the carnage that by then had reduced those islands’ native population by 90 percent or more, and he declined to see it as tragedy; the expected total die-off of the Hawaiian population was only natural, this missionary said, somewhat equivalent to ‘the amputation of diseased members of the body,’”
    Kelsos, “Victims of the Christian Faith” at http://www.geocities.com/Athens/5195/victims.html
    (Most of the above information was derived from D. Stannard, American Holocaust, Oxford University Press 1992)

  15. says

    The Bible never really provides a logical rationale as to why fetuses, babies, and children must be punished for the sins of their parents and others. Some would suggest that for God to kill unborn babies for their parent’s sins is somewhat misdirected retribution.
    Note that in the Bible the prophet Hosea pleads with God to punish the Israelites by aborting their unborn babies:
    As for Israel, their glory shall fly away like a bird, and from the womb, and from the conception…Give them, O Lord: what will Thou give? Give them a miscarrying womb… they shall bear no fruit.
    – Hosea 9:11-16
    Asking God to abort was also something the Psalmists did:
    Their fruit shalt Thou destroy from the earth, and their seed from among the children of men.
    – Psalm 21:10
    The wicked are estranged from the womb: they go astray as soon as they are born… let every one of them pass away: like the untimely birth of a woman, that they may not see the sun.
    – Psalm 58:3,8
    Of course I suppose God could have simply made the Canaanites sterile for a generation, not even any abortions needed, so that after the generation in the wilderness the Israelites could have conquered Canaan in a less barbaric fashion.

  16. says

    What’s also funny about WLC’s anachronistic retelling of the Canaanite massacre, is that each generation had its own apologetics. Even today different Christians have different “answers” when it comes to the Canaanite question.
    Calvinists are not troubled by God creating human beings just to destroy some and show favor (grace) on others. It’s all determined/predestined. The answer to every question is simply, “God did it that way, now keep your head bowed and praise Him, even if your wife, son, daughter, father, mother, best friends, are being punished in hell forever. You just keep your head down, the answer to all your questions is to worship God in terrified flattery for eternity.”
    A small Danish (Protestant) sect went around killing as many newly baptized infants as they could discover, thereby preserving them from sin, from the miseries of this life, and from hell, and sending them infallibly to heaven. In the light of their beliefs they were acting rationally, but they did not secure Voltaire’s approval: “These charitable persons omitted to consider that most fathers and mothers are sufficiently worldly to prefer having their sons and daughters with them than to see them slaughtered as a passport to Paradise.”
    – A. J. Ayer, Voltaire
    “[T]he extermination of the Canaanite children [by the Hebrews as commanded by God and described in the book of Deuteronomy] was not only an act of mercy and love to the world at large; it was an act of love and mercy to the children themselves.”
    – R. A. Torrey [one of the contributors to The Fundamentals, a series of tracts published in the 1920’s that helped popularize "fundamentalist" Christianity. Torry argued in the above case that slaughtering the children was an act of infinite mercy because it ensured them eternal paradise.]
    Some (Catholic) Spaniards in Mexico and Peru used to baptize Indian infants then immediately dash their brains out; by this means they secured that those infants went to heaven.
    – Bertrand Russell, Has Religion Made Useful Contributions to Civilization?
    One might compare with the above cases the Inquisition’s history of attempting to “save” a person’s soul via torture and confession followed by execution. Moreover, according to towering Catholic theologians like Saint Augustine, an unbaptized infant was a “limb of Satan”:
    Infants, When Unbaptized, are in the Power of the Devil… The Christian faith unfalteringly declares that they who are cleansed in the laver of regeneration (i.e., the baptismal font) are redeemed from the power of the devil, and that those who have not yet been redeemed by such regeneration are still captive in the power of the devil, even if they be infant children of the redeemed … From the power of the devil … infants are delivered when they are baptized; and whosoever denies this, is convicted by the truth of the Church’s very sacraments, which no heretical novelty in the Church of Christ is permitted to destroy or change, so long as the Divine Head rules and helps the entire body which He owns–small as well as great. It is true, then, and in no way false, that the devil’s power is exorcised in infants, and that they renounce him by the hearts and mouths of those who bring them to baptism, being unable to do so by their own; in order that they may be delivered from the power of darkness, and be translated into the kingdom of their Lord.
    – Saint Augustine, On Marriage and Concupiscence, Book 1, Chapter 22
    Some Catholic saints even experienced “spiritual visions” that depicted little children suffering in hell. Saint Fulgentius in the sixth century taught that “little children who have begun to live in their mother’s womb and have there died, or who, having just been born, have passed away from the world without the sacrament of holy baptism must be punished by the eternal torture of undying fire.”
    Later, the church settled on a more merciful destination for unbaptized infants, “Limbo,” which was kind of like “Hell Lite.” But recently the Catholic Church has even abolished “Limbo,” and stated that unbaptized infants who die go directly to heaven. (Ironically, that’s the “heretical novelty” that Saint Augustine expelled so much hot air arguing against!)
    Even as late as 1890, at least one approved Catholic work continued to depict young children suffering in hell, Rev. J. Furniss’s, Tracts for Spiritual Reading, designed for First Communions, Retreats, Missions, etc. (New York: Excelsior Catholic Publishing House, 1890). The Reverend wrote, “See the little child in this red hot oven. Hear the fire! It beats its head against the roof of the oven. It stamps its little feet on the floor. You can see on the face of this little child what you see on the faces of all in hell–despair, desperate and horrible.”

  17. rainy says

    Wow…just wow. How do people rationalize calling WLC a ”sophisticated” theologian when he says things like this. It baffles me that people fall for his charisma but don’t listen to what he’s actually saying. I guess that’s what happens with charismatic people like him. People decide they like him and he can get away with more and more idiocy. I see the same thing happen with politicians.
    All the arguments of theists seem to be another phrasing of ”God works in mysterious ways”. Don’t think about it, just trust that god knows what’s best. I think this is a particularly dangerous way of thinking because it shuts off any accountability in people.
    I think this is a wonderful article Greta! It shows even the so called Sophisticated theologians have messed up ideas. Theists should stop using the argument ”thats not my form of the same religion”. Even moderates can have scary ideas like this and that should be opposed vigorously.

  18. alargemammal says

    Unless you can give some logical reason why his argument is wrong, your ranting about it is all just emotional blather and to be dismissed out of hand.

  19. says

    I think I was about 12 years old when I first began to suspect that God was really just a convenient ‘Great Oz’ who really just commanded whatever his ‘followers’ wanted him to command. You want to inflict some nasty shit on those other people but you know you really can’t justify it? No problem – God commanded it.

  20. says

    I will second Doug Kirk in saying that the Alternet comment sections are truly amazing sometimes. I love the one by kogwonton about how agnostics are the only ‘true’ atheists. What incomprehensible nonsense. There’s much worse than that one, though, if you have the stomach to actually read them all. I tend to give up for fear of reducing my brain to mealy mush. (The threaded response system with mandatory indentation doesn’t help.)
    I imagine there are a lot of lurkers who read and agree with your posts, though, Greta. Many of the hostile commenters probably troll a lot of similar sites, whether for personal fun or because they have an explicit agenda.
    “Actually… I do mind that. If I don’t protect my copyright, I lose it. I’m fine with publishing excerpts and a link to the full piece, but please don’t re-post the entire text of the piece. Thanks.”
    Speaking as an informed citizen who read most of Title 17 of the U.S. Code last week, that’s not the case. You own your copyrights regardless of whether you try to enforce them. Indeed, you own them even if you fail to register them, as soon as the work is recorded into a fixed medium. This is true even though registration is technically mandatory; very few people seem to abide by this part of the law. It’s very impractical to register every last piece of writing one publishes. Strictly speaking, I would need to register this comment, even.
    Since there are no penalties for failing to register copyrights, the only firm reason to actually do so is if you need to file a civil lawsuit. Your claims won’t be allowed in court until the relevant copyrights have been registered with the copyright office. If the registration predates the infringement, it also serves a prima facie evidence in your favor.
    What you were probably thinking about in terms of mandatory defenses is patents or trademarks, which are quite separate from copyright.
    Feel free to consult an IP lawyer or a scholar to confirm this information; I’m quite confident it is correct.

  21. says

    @alargemammal So, you’re one of those that agree with genocide? I suggest you pack your sad little self into a plane and go visit central Africa for a while.
    I suspect you wouldn’t be coming back here to sprout idiocies about ‘logical’ reasons for arguments for genocide and infanticide after that.
    It’s so easy for blinkered first world citizens to be idiots about atrocities and gloss over the horror.
    Spend some time with children who have had their limbs chopped off while watching their parents being tortured to death and being gang raped. Your god apparently loves that stuff. You should give it a try, really experience the things that your loving god likes.
    And like Makyui said, read the freaking article first before trying to defend the indefensible.
    Either way, you disgust me.

  22. John the Drunkard says

    I recall the same moral claim being made by Al Qaeda apologists: any Muslims inadvertantly killed in terror attacks would get the same Martyrdom Benefits as their killers–hence kill away boys!
    Some whacko Haridi rabbi made the same claim about the Shoa: god used the Germans to slaughter the Jews of eastern Europe because German Jews weren’t sufficiently Orthodox (no kidding).
    Can any religious group generate an improved morality by SYSTEMATIC criticism of their books? Have any argued for, or tried to define, a practical standard by which the tribal/apocalyptic/genocidal morality is refuted, and the warm-fuzzy sermon-on-the-mounty stuff is retained?

  23. Matt says

    Honestly, this article didn’t surprise me at all. As, an atheist I’ve often wondered why “good Christians” fear death. There’s some strange disconnect between what is preached and what seems to be inherently believed. If you follow the logic that is taught in Christianity (not in the Bible itself because, let’s face it, there’s almost never one consistent view on any important issue in the Bible) then dying as a good Christian sends you straight to Heaven. The views expressed by Craig actually make sense within the framework of Christian logic (not that I agree with him), and I’m surprised I don’t hear these arguments more frequently. Wait…no I’m not; that would require more Christians to actually think about what they believe…

  24. says

    “Thus begins my latest piece…”
    Just begins? That stands as a solid article on its own, and it’s just the opening salvo? Nice!

    – emc

  25. says

    Craig is the reason why people like Phelps have a forum. He may not be considered a nut, but a legitimate debater, in mainstream circles. He shouldn’t be. He should be shunned as all the other nuts. Our people should no longer debate him.

  26. Andrew T. says

    Greta, do you always repost your AlterNet pieces on your own site after a few days? I ask because I often hold out and wait to read them here, and debate whether to leave my comments in the first or second thread around.
    I’ll agree with the other commenters that I find Craig’s abominable arguments utterly unsurprising…

  27. says

    William Lane Craig:
    “I think that a good start at this problem is to enunciate our ethical theory that underlies our moral judgements. According to the version of divine command ethics which I’ve defended, our moral duties are constituted by the commands of a holy and loving God. Since God doesn’t issue commands to Himself, He has no moral duties to fulfill. He is certainly not subject to the same moral obligations and prohibitions that we are. For example, I have no right to take an innocent life. For me to do so would be murder. But God has no such prohibition. He can give and take life as He chooses. We all recognize this when we accuse some authority who presumes to take life as “playing God.” Human authorities arrogate to themselves rights which belong only to God. God is under no obligation whatsoever to extend my life for another second. If He wanted to strike me dead right now, that’s His prerogative.
    “What that implies is that God has the right to take the lives of the Canaanites when He sees fit. How long they live and when they die is up to Him.”
    Shorter William Lane Craig:
    “God is bigger than we are and can beat us up. Therefore, it is right that we worship Him and praise His Holy Name and give Him our lunch money and accept that sometimes He will take our lunch money and beat us up anyway just because He wants to.”

  28. says

    Unless you can give some logical reason why his argument is wrong, your ranting about it is all just emotional blather and to be dismissed out of hand.

    My logical reason: Craig is basing his argument on faulty premises. The first is that the Bible is factually true and that both the historical facts and the purported conversations with God reported in it are reliably accurate. (This is a faulty premise for a number of reasons — the fact that the Bible is loaded with internal inconsistencies and historical/ scientific errors is only one.) The second is that the God character described in the Bible is, by definition, good — not only good, but the apotheosis of good.
    And because Craig is starting with faulty premises that he is unwilling to give up or even reconsider, he has led himself to a terrible conclusion — namely, that genocide and infanticide are defensible.
    There is, as I pointed out in the piece, a fundamental problem with having a world view based on a premise that (a) is untestable and (b) you are not willing to question. It cuts you off from reality checks — not only about reality, but about morality.
    And finally: If you think that moral revulsion against genocide and infanticide are, quote, “ranting” and “just emotional blather” which can be “dismissed out of hand”… then shame on you.

  29. Atheist Momma says

    So why don’t christians kill their own children? By WLC’s reasoning it makes perfect sense.
    I love my children more than anything. If I truly believed in heaven and hell and I truly believed that if my children died before they were old enough to become BFFs with Jesus they would get an automatic, guaranteed, one-way ticket to heaven, then how could I possibly even consider allowing them to grow into adulthood? It would not be worth taking the risk of them turning out to not want to be BFFs with Jesus. I mean we are talking where they will spend eternity here. ETERNITY!!! I would gladly risk my own eternal soul and my earthly life/freedom in order to ensure the ETERNAL well-being of my children.
    Wow, just think of all those supposedly christian parents out there who don’t murder their children. Surely they must all be terrible parents who don’t really love their babies.

  30. says

    Concerning why Craig’s reasoning doesn’t lead Christians to mass abortions and infanticide, it’s pretty straightforward and Craig admits as much himself. They’re authoritarian.
    That is, they get all of their moral authority and guidance as to correct behavior through a hierarchy of pre-established authorities. God is at the top of this pyramid.
    Of course, God is not real, so there’s the slight problem of the hierarchy having no proper source. Beyond that, there’s also the rather large issue of what to do when the church leaders become corrupt and order mass slaughter. They’re the agents of God, right? How can we question their rectitude?
    From this principle every crusade the world has ever known arose. The first step toward enlightenment is the acceptance that knowledge and truth are not derived from authority.

  31. Scott Russell says

    Enjoyed your piece on Craig on Alternet. There are more interesting fish to fry (John Milbank and radical orthodoxy) but Craig is a nice home grown egoist. I found his syllogism interesting and for his flock a deception. He focuses on premise 2 when it is premise 1 that was blown out in Plato’s Euthephro. I remember reading that Joshus stuff as a kid and being horrified at the scope of the violence. I wondered and still wonder how it was that the Israelites knew they were not being deceived, but were in fact following god’s orders. There isn’t anything in the text to suggest this question. There is also, interestingly, some dispute (archaeology lacking it is claimed) about that part of the bible story happening. So Craig and his crew could have an out if they wanted. What is interesting is that they prefer (or cannot help but) to take the book literally: it enables them to do stuff in the future of course. And that is the real worry. Did you check out the Alternet piece on Bart Erhman? Erhman would give them an easy way to challenge the book as something more human than divine in places. But that would defeat the purpose, a means by which to justify what some groups would like to do to the rest of us.

  32. says

    In a recent Sunday school lesson at my wife’s LDS church, the teacher said that Elijah’s slaughter of 420 priests of Baal must have been justified because of their extreme wickedness. Yes, belief in God requires many believers to become experts at rationalizing immorality.

  33. says

    Loved the full article. Out of a perhaps misplaced sense of fairness, I also read Craig’s full post. Bringing up his final bit of illogic would have merely cluttered up your argument, but it seems worthy of mention in its own right. He seems to be claiming that the slaughter of the Canaanites is in no way comparable to Islamic Jihad because…um…HIS god really talked to the Israelites, but Allah didn’t really talk to the Muslims.

  34. addicted says

    So basically, Craig’s only problem with Bin Laden is that he read the wrong fairy tale…

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