In case anyone is wondering why I do the work that I do, I direct you to this comment, posted by Brad in response to my piece How Religion Contorts Morality: Respected Theologian Defends Genocide and Infanticide.
Hmm, I don’t think “Enjoy!” is quite the right tone for your link to the original article ;) Extremely thought-provoking, disturbing even, but hardly “enjoyable”.
I’m a lifelong evangelical in the middle of what might end up being a deconversion, and arguments like you’ve posted here are profoundly persuasive.
When you start with the presumption that the Bible is inspired, infallible, and inerrant, then rationalizations like this are so easy and natural (and necessary when dealing with difficult passages). It’s only when you allow yourself to step outside that presumption for a moment can you see and understand all the problems.
The use of the Israelite soldiers as the “sword” of judgement is somewhat unique to this specific passage, but the overall theme isn’t out of character for the God of the bible:
* Destruction of 99.9999% of humanity through Noah’s flood
* Destruction of entire populations of Sodom and Gomorrah
* Prophecies of widespread death and destruction at the “end times” in the book of Revelation
Not trying to justify, mind you, just showing how someone inside this mindset (from which I am slowly emerging) might find it easy to lump this “judgement” of the Canaanites with other similar passages.
To Brad: Thank you for having the courage to seriously question your ideas and consider whether they’re defensible. I know — from personal experience, and from what I know of others’ experience — that this can be difficult, and I applaud you for doing it. If you have any questions or ideas you want to bounce off of us, I hope you’ll feel free to bring them. And if you need any emotional or practical support in your process, please don’t hesitate to ask.
And to everyone else reading this: Atheist activism works. Making arguments against religion works; coming out as atheist works; creating atheist communities works. If a lifelong evangelical like Brad can question and possibly let go of his religious beliefs, we should never assume that it’s a waste of time.