Saturday, October 12, 2019

"Sorry Guys, It's Still Immoral" - Response to CMI (part 4)


This blog post is part 4 in a series responding to the Creation Ministries International article, "Is The Bible Immoral?", where I take a rational look at the claims made by one of the more prominent Christian apologetics organisations in its defence that the Bible is not an immoral book.

Previous posts here:

The next section of "
Is The Bible An Immoral Book?" is headed "Is God A Homicidal Maniac?".

So begins the next part of my response. This is a long one, so grab a coffee and a muffin and a comfy seat...


(Note: CMI have a plethora of articles available to peruse over at https://creation.com/qa, including some which may already answer points I have made in this series. Head on over, have a read, compare both sides of the argument!)

-----
The second is based on a false premise:

Yeah? And just what would that false premise be?

That God routinely orders killing, and for arbitrary reasons.

Hahahahahahahahahaha!!!!!!!!

fwfbkek;f;encl2cp'j3dof2

Sorry. I had to pick myself up off the floor after reading that and accidentally hit my keyboard on the way up.

Oh dear! I've come across bad apologetics, but after reading this, I need to question if the author even trying to defend God, or just throwing platitudes out, hoping to squeeze a bad apologetic through an ajar door of doubt.


Please don't read this as an atheist merely being critical for the sake of being critical - I want anyone who accepts, or even espouses, this kind of apologetic to seriously consider just how wrong and how bad it is.

Before I expand further on this topic, I again have to point out what I feel is the author being disingenuous. By limiting the term to 'God's orders to kill', instead of the broader topic 'God role in killing people', she narrows the scope for criticism.

Atheist: I believe God is immoral. See how many thousands of people God has killed!

Cosner: That's a false premise. God does not routinely order killing. God's orders for killing are comparatively rare.

We call this moving the goalposts. By trying to deflect the argument by limiting the scope to God's mere orders to kill rather than all the times God has killed directly, when it is the corpus of deaths associated with God's actions and choices that we want to take in to account to consider God's morality, Cosner wants to minimise the target Bible critics can hit (then claim atheists have it all wrong).

However, this could all be avoided is CMI actually provided the link to the original article they are criticising - then we can truly say the author's rebuttal is accurate.

But even if I consider only the times God has ordered people killed, as opposed to all the times he has actively killed people, I can still come up with a fairly comprehensive list:

1 Samuel 15:2-3 - God commissions the Amalekite genocide.

Numbers 31:1-2 - God commissions the Midianite genocide.

Genesis 19:13 - The angels sent to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah state that they were sent by God.

Numbers 21:33-34 - God commands Moses to kill the king of Bashan and enslave the people.

Deuteronomy 20:10-13 - God tells Israel that when they approach a town in the land whose inhabitants they will dispossess, they are to either make slaves of that town, or kill all the men in the town and take the women and children as captives.

And that list didn't take long to find.

If, as an alternative, you want a comprehensive list of all the recorded instances of God actively killing people in the Bible, RationalWiki have a page dedicated to the topic.

---
In fact, God’s orders for killing are comparatively rare in the Old Testament...


The only way you can truthfully say that is by again moving the goalposts.

"God's not a killer. His orders for killing are rare!"

The point isn't just how many times God has ordered killing - it's also all the times God has commanded killing, such dictating death as punishment and killing people directly, especially when there was no active threat or when God could have averted danger another way instead of killing, that we need to look at

So with that in mind, God's involvement in killing is so comparatively frequent that in the first fifteen books of the Old Testament, there are only two books where God does not either kill someone, order someone killed, pronounce death as judgement on someone, or help Jews kill people (and between the those two books, there is a marked change in theology on one particular topic - first one to correctly tell me what that topic is wins a prize!).

Any god that decides that they wanted to be represented to humanity by the Bible has to accept any criticism that comes their way...

---
...and non-existent in the New

While there may not be any verses in the New Testament where God, directly speaking, orders or demands someone die as punishment, there are three summary divine executions (which could not happen without God's divine foreknowledge and predestination) recorded in the New Testament - which is the exact opposite of non-existent. 
These, however, are all recorded in the Book of Acts - which may indicate a theological slant the author of Acts was trying to bring across that wasn't present in either the gospels or epistles.

But then this all changes when it comes to the last book of the Bible, 
Revelation.
In Revelation 14:19-20, we see God will kill so many people in his winepress of wrath that the blood of his victims will flow for 1600 stadia, which translates to 300 kilometres.

Just how many people need to die for a 300 kilometre river of blood to be produced? A bit over 
83 trillion - or almost 12'000 times the current population of the earth (many thanks to inaweofeverything for the calculation).

So either Revelation is foretelling what is to come, which means God will kill 83 trillion people; or 
Revelation is only metaphorical, which then means the author of Revelation had no problem tying God's character to the violent murder of over 83 trillion people in a fit of rage.


Whichever way you look at it, the people who wrote the correct things about God (because how else would your book make the canon?) had no problem tying him to the murder of trillions of people!

---
But one fundamental principle is overlooked by the atheists: God as the Creator of life has the right to take it.

This, frankly, is bad. To put this apologetic out as a defence of God is frankly admitting defeat, because rather than argue a case that morality ISN'T about maximising human well-being and minimising suffering, anyone who uses the "God has the right to take life" apologetic is basically saying:

"I don't care what my God does, how many people he kills, how many children he kills or how many babies his chosen people murder, whatever reason, in whatever number. I will defend God to the last and for one of two reasons: either I haven't considered the evidence, or I am afraid of what God will do to me if I reach an adverse finding about him.

You know what this is? This is called being in a cult, and any argument made under the influence of emotional manipulation should not be considered valid or honest.

Please. Get out. While you can.

---
Humans are not, therefore can take life only if delegated this duty by the One who owns life.

God owns life and delegates who has the authority to take it? I may have made the point elsewhere, but this kind of statement confirms that Fundamentalist Christianity really does require you to warp your morals to fit in.

Anyone trying to argue Cosner's theology has two problems:

1. Under Cosner's theology, it is entirely possible that I could kill someone, anyone at all, in whatever number and by whatever method, then absolve myself of guilt by claiming 
divine mandate by delegation. I ain't a lawyer, but I can't see that holding up in court.


Imagine both the scenario and the injustice...

"Your Honour, the creator of the universe spoke to me (and only to me) and told me to kill that woman. Sure, I took the opportunity to rape her, steal her car and money while I was at it, and then I dumped the body in a shallow grave as a mark of divine dishonour. But what are you and her family going to do? Argue against God? The creator of the universe personally delegated the responsibility of murdering that woman to me, so 
I was merely doing God's will. You people should be thanking me!"

Divine mandate is something only psychopaths use as a defence.

But even if it wasn't, is God going to come down, walk into a courtroom and testify on your behalf that he indeed did command you do kill someone?

And even if he did, there is nothing in any court of law anywhere on earth that allows God to personally override legislation.

Judge: "Due to the fact that God Almighty has honoured us with his presence in this very courtroom and testified that he indeed did command the defendant to murder the victim, on the count of murder, the state finds the defendant not guilty by reason of divine mandate by delegation...".

Defendant: "Thanks, God! I was getting worried you weren't going to turn up.".

Judge: "...and on the counts of sexual assault, theft of a motor vehicle, theft of property, and interference with a corpse, the state finds the defendant guilty."

Defendant: "Hey, God, aren't you going to get me off those other charges?"

God: "I only told you to kill her. The other stuff is on you, buddy!"

2. For a God who apparently 
owns life, he sure has done very little to ensure that the life he owns goes on for as long as possible and as pleasant as possible.

Vaccines? Advances in medical technology? Preventing terrorist attacks? Providing potable drinking water? Mental health awareness and treatment? Global communications and travel?

All these are done by 
humans. God is neither involved nor needed. He is at best ambivalent.

If God owns life, not only he is completely negligent, but the life he created has actually worked out how to make life work better than actual author could himself.

If God were a project manager, he would be that guy that makes other people do all the word, takes the credit, then gets angry when you don't thank him enough in the client presentation.

---
Failure to understand the Creator/Creature distinction underlies a lot of atheistic fallacies...

This is Fundamentalist tripe. Pure and simple. Sure, there are some versions of atheism that are based on fallacies, but an apparent failure to recognise this Creator/Creature distinction underlies none of them.

But even if you want to push the 
Creator/Creature distinction, you are then admitting that morality isn't about maximising human well-being - morality is just whatever God says.

You've just forfeited the argument...

---
...so it’s important for Christians to understand it.

Thankfully, most of the Christians in my friendship circle have no concept of this dynamic. Some of them even explicitly have problems with all the killing and bloodshed in the Bible.

And I dare CMI to state my Christian friends aren't Christian. I remember one of their representatives once said something along those lines about Dr. Francis Collins because he supports the theory of evolution...

---
Furthermore God has sentenced all of us to death, first as descendants of Adam, and secondly because we deserve it for our sin, and He even took on human nature to suffer this penalty on our behalf.

There are plenty of criticisms of the concept of original sin and of substitutional atonement out there so I won't hash them out, but my understanding of this paragraph is that because of the curse of sin, Jesus had to come and rescue humanity from the curse of death.

I have two things to say:

1. If Jesus came to take the punishment for sin, why did Ananias and Saphira die for their sins in Acts 5?

2. The best summary of the role of Jesus' death and resurrection is as such: 
God sacrificed himself to himself to serve as loopholes for rules - rules he created and that he foreknew wouldn't be able to be kept - in order to stop us going to hell, the very same hell that he personally created and the very same hell that he personally determines the criteria of entry for.

And I've never had a Christian tell me I'm (factually) wrong!


-----

There are two relevant scenarios here: the first is in the course of the conquest of the holy land where they were commanded to go into the land and kill the inhabitants. 
But the Bible teaches that the people had lost their right to the land because of centuries of sin

This just says that, yes, God is a killer, but you don't care.

If you're trying to defend and deflect the charge that God is homicidal, you won't have any success by confirming that God indeed did order his people to kill and dispossess other people.

And once again, the author has the unintentionally confirmed that Christianity is not a morality system where we use a rational understanding to work towards a goal - Christian morality is just a series of decrees by God.

Cosner isn't arguing that morality is about humans living long and prospering, or that the basis of morality is having humanity's best interest at heart - Cosner is just arguing what God says goes and no-one has any right to argue back because it's God word!

But, furthermore, the idea that God dispossessed the original inhabitants of the land of Israel to make way for the Jews to come in is just window dressing - for anyone who wants to defend God, they will find any way to absolve God of culpability.

---
The case of a woman showing insufficient evidence of virginity is brought out as if every woman who was even suspected was stoned. But again, this is the most severe allowable punishment the wronged husband would have the right to accept lesser punishments. And he would be seriously shamed and face economic consequences if he were proved to be dishonest.

Here, again, I feel the author is being quite disingenuous with how they present the scriptures.

The passage that CMI are referring to is Deuteronomy 22:13-21, which are instruction for what a man is to do if he believes his wife wasn't a virgin prior to their marriage.
In these cases, the husband is to take his wife and make the case before the woman's father and the elders. If virginity can be proven, the man is to be fined and punished, but if it cannot be proven, the explicit instruction is to have the wife executed at her father's doorstep.

And this is where the author is misrepresenting scripture. Stoning was not merely the maximum punishment allowed - it was the only punishment allowed. Which means the assertion that execution was the maximum punishment allowed is flat-out wrong, and serves as an example of how, if you don't know to look for them, it is very easy to be deceived by half-truths and the slick sales pitches of modern Christianity.

This whole passage is immoral and goes against any sense of justice and proportionality, for a number of reasons:

1. Despite the fact that it was actually the wife who is being slandered, the 100 shekel fine the husband is mandated to pay doesn't go to his wife - it goes to his father-in-law.

2. Assuming the wife can prove her virginity, the man is then not permitted to divorce his wife.
This doesn't indicate that the wife cannot reciprocally divorce her husband, but given the general lack of support and rights given to women by the scriptures, it could well mean that the woman is trapped in an unhappy marriage - right off the bat, the husband has accused his wife of harlotry, which would make romance a bit of a hard task.

3. The onus is on the woman to prove her virginity, not for the husband to prove the lack of virginity.

4. If marriage is supposed to be solely between the husband and wife, why would the father-in-law be in any position to prove his daughter's virginity?

5. The last line of that passage, "you must purge the evil from among you", actually makes consensual adult sexual contact a moral crime. This should strike anyone with a sense of fairness and proportion as horrifying.

6. The discrepancy in punishments. If the man is found to be wrong, he merely gets fined, or maybe even beaten. But if the woman is wrong, she gets executed. That is so completely fair...

---

Furthermore, the rabbinic commentary on the law...

And this exacerbates one of the issues I have with this article in general - Cosner is relying on interpretation (which is what rabbinic commentary is) given by fallible humans (i.e. the rabbis providing the rabbinic commentary) to try show that the law given by the Almighty God doesn't really mean what we actually read it to mean.

This should strike anyone as strange, especially given the absurd reasoning found espoused modern apologists.

---

The video claims that God orders the murder of children for their father’s sins, but this can only be deduced by ignoring genre. 

Umm, not quite. On more than one occasion, God has either directly killed a child or commanded a child be killed for the sins of its father. My previous post, Five Uncomfortable Facts (Part 2), goes more in to this topic.

But my criticism of this section is based on Fundamentalist's claims that the Bible is literally true.

I don't want to put words in peoples mouths, but  while CMI don't say outright that they're Biblical Literalists, they don't deny that they're not Biblical Literalists, and they say and do all the things that Biblical Literalists say and do.

And one of the problems with Biblical Literalism is this: either the Bible is 100% literally true - but if this is the case, you then can't fall back on the defence of genre because what the text says is literally true - or, the Bible is a collection of texts from a variety of sources and genres, including genres such as poetry and rhetoric - which then means isn't 100% literal, and also means you have to have a heuristic for determining what is literal and what isn't. What is that heuristic, and isn't your heuristic merely personal incredulity, which is just a another way of saying personal bias.

Put it like this - I've never met a Fundamentalist who states, with authority, "In the beginning, God made the heavens and the earth" who then has a cogent and rational explanation for why, one, God (foreknew he would) make a talking snake with legs, only to take those legs away, and two, how they know that snakes had legs and could talk for the Genesis account to be literally true.

---
And the passages that talk about people eating their children are describing circumstances that will come about due to their rebellion—God is not actively causing or advocating it.

A cursory search of the Bible showed me two passages where familial cannibalism is mentioned (though there may be more).

Deuteronomy 28:53-57 (paraphrased below, emphases added) -

Because of the suffering your enemy will inflict on you during the siege, you will eat the fruit of the womb, the flesh of the sons and daughters the Lord your God has given you. Even the most gentle and sensitive man among you will have no compassion on his own brother or the wife he loves or his surviving children...The most gentle and sensitive woman among you—so sensitive and gentle that she would not venture to touch the ground with the sole of her foot—will begrudge the husband she loves and her own son or daughter the afterbirth from her womb and the children she bears...

While this isn't God directly pronouncing cannibalism as punishment, this was all stated by Moses, who was speaking with the authority and the backing of God - so it may as well be God directly speaking. It's not as if God went to Moses and asked him to retract his statement.

But it gets worse. In Ezekiel 5:8-10 (paraphrased below, emphasis added), God does directly endorse familial cannibalism:
Therefore this is what the Sovereign Lord says: I myself am against you, Jerusalem, and I will inflict punishment on you in the sight of the nations. Because of all your detestable idols, I will do to you what I have never done before and will never do again. Therefore in your midst parents will eat their children, and children will eat their parents...

So to say that God doesn't endorse cannibalism is plainly false.

----

So, let's use the data we have to answer the question, is God a homicidal maniac?

Firstly, let us consider, what would a relevant definition be for us to categorise some as a homicidal maniac.

Now, homicidal maniac is more a pejorative, or a social categorisation, rather than a clinical diagnosis.

So let us break it down in to homicidal, and maniac.

Homicidal:
Murderous; Willing to and/or capable of murdering.

So, could we reasonably consider God to be homicidal?


Has God killed people? Yes. Multiple times.
Has God directly commanded other people to kill on his behalf? Yes. Multiple times.
Has God shown a willingness and desire to kill people in future? Yes. Multiple times.
Has God ever shown any repentance or remorse for any deaths he has caused? No. Never (also, is it possible for a God who knows everything to ever regret anything?).

What about maniac?
One exhibiting wild, unstable or violent behaviour.

Let's go through the data:
Are God's punishments in proportion to the offences committed? No. God's punishments often go beyond the harm caused by the initial transgression.
Does God always and consistently respond in a proportionate manner to the situation at hand? Definitely not. God kills plenty of people for merely complaining.
Could God's character be rationally understood to be equivalent to someone who is emotionally healthy? No.
If God was a human, would the actions ascribed to him in the Bible warrant war crimes charges? Yes.
  So, is God homicidal? Yes.

Is God a maniac? Yes.

God is, in my opinion, a homicidal maniac.

The only way Christians could escape that uncomfortable fact is by falling trap to a trilemma:

1. Either the Bible does not accurately represent God (fatal to the Fundamentalist cause).

2. Or participating in mass murder is morally OK (confirming you need to twist your morals to make Christianity acceptable).

3. Or, God does not actually exist (rendering the Bible as pure mythology).

-----

Until next time, stay happy, healthy and positive.

-Damien















No comments:

Post a Comment

Accepting One Theory, Rejecting Another, Hitting A Brick Wall

When a Christian says they accept the big bang as the best explanation for the origin of the universe, but then reject the theory of evoluti...