William Lane Craig tries to defend Biblical genocides
A few weeks ago I posted a video of a debate between Sam Harris and William Lane Craig. The video made it clear that Craig is no dummy, despite believing in absurdities. He’s been particularly busy recently defending the faith, and one of his latest articles tries to justify the genocide and infanticide in the Bible. It’s pretty messed up, actually:
According to the Pentateuch (the first five books of the Old Testament), when God called forth his people out of slavery in Egypt and back to the land of their forefathers, he directed them to kill all the Canaanite clans who were living in the land (Deut. 7.1-2; 20.16-18). The destruction was to be complete: every man, woman, and child was to be killed.
The command to kill all the Canaanite peoples is jarring precisely because it seems so at odds with the portrait of Yahweh, Israel’s God, which is painted in the Hebrew Scriptures. Contrary to the vituperative rhetoric of someone like Richard Dawkins, the God of the Hebrew Bible is a God of justice, long-suffering, and compassion.
We’ve obviously read a different book. God doesn’t strike me for one second as having any kind of compassion at all. He kills people for burning incense improperly. He commands his “people” to kill all the other tribes who happen to live around them. This whole “God is love” shit is a pretty recent phenomenon. Just ask Pope Innocent III.
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.
In other words, if the commands of an all loving God sound evil, it’s only because good and evil are not really concepts he has to worry about, since he’s not subject to his own moral laws. In other words, if God does something we consider evil, like command the Jews to slaughter innocent people, it only seems that way to us because we’re subject to moral laws, not God.
So the problem isn’t that God ended the Canaanites’ lives. The problem is that He commanded the Israeli soldiers to end them. Isn’t that like commanding someone to commit murder? No, it’s not. Rather, since our moral duties are determined by God’s commands, it is commanding someone to do something which, in the absence of a divine command, would have been murder. The act was morally obligatory for the Israeli soldiers in virtue of God’s command, even though, had they undertaken it on their own initiative, it would have been wrong.
Wow. So if I kill my neighbor, I’m committing an evil act. However if a voice in my head told me to do so, it’s kosher. Good to know!
God taught Israel that any assimilation to pagan idolatry is intolerable. It was His way of preserving Israel’s spiritual health and posterity. God knew that if these Canaanite children were allowed to live, they would spell the undoing of Israel.
Yeah, clearly little children who remember nothing of their parents equally stupid religious beliefs would have been a major threat. Better that they should all be smashed against rocks, right?
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.
See, that’s the kind of ignorant shit that drives us crazy. You’re literally suggesting they were in fact saved by being brutally murdered. That’s just fucking ignorant.
Don’t just take my word for it. Every atheist blogger out there has something to say about Craig’s inane statements. I strongly recommend Greta’s comments about it.
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