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Rationalizing Away the “Canaanite Problem”

Can Christianity justify genocide?Greg Koukl is a polished Christian apologist, but he admitted to feeling inadequate against the problem of evil. He called the Canaanite genocide “the skeleton in our closet I didn’t want anyone to bring up.”

But not anymore. Koukl’s latest newsletter gives his analysis of the Canaanite problem, with a thorough rebuttal to the problem of evil. He concludes, “I am no longer leery of the topic.”

Unfortunately, Koukl’s cheerful new confidence is misplaced.

He begins with Dawkins’ famous line, “The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction.” He notes in passing,

It seems ironic that an atheist who denies the existence of objective morality can overflow so readily with moral indignation.

And I’ll ask in passing, Where’s the difficulty? Objective morality is in your mind only. Dawkins is referring to the regular kind. You think that morality is objective and that we humans can access it? Show us. I’ve seen no evidence.

Koukl then lists some of the bloodthirsty passages in the Bible: God’s command that the Jews “utterly destroy” the tribes they will find in Canaan (Deut. 7:1–5), the command that within the tribes that must be destroyed, “you shall not leave alive anything that breathes” (Deut. 20:16–18), and the command that, for the Amalekites, Israel should “put to death men and women, children and infants” (1 Sam. 15:2–3).

Tap Dancing for the Lord

First up in Koukl’s explanation is the observation that the Bible must be understood in its context. Military narratives of the time were often exaggerated, so we can’t take literally God’s genocidal commands.

That suits me, but where does that leave the Bible as an authority? We know that military narratives of the time are not reliable history, but we also know that religious narratives of the period (the Greek gods, Gilgamesh, the Babylonian creation myth, and so on) are not reliable history. If the Bible’s military narratives can’t be taken literally, the same logic demands the same conclusion for its religious narratives.

Second point: don’t worry too much about God’s demands for genocide, because (despite what the Bible actually says) the fighting must’ve been directed only at military targets and not at families.

No, the issue isn’t how faithfully the Israelites carried out God’s commands; it’s that God himself demands genocide. That the Bible is historically unreliable is secondary to its savage portrait of God.

Koukl concludes:

If God did not command the utter and indiscriminate destruction of men, women, and children by Joshua’s armies, but simply authorized an appropriate cleansing military action to drive out Israel’s (and God’s) enemies—then the critic’s challenge is largely resolved.

So this was just a “cleansing military action”? Later, he calls the conquest, “an exercise of capital punishment on a national scale,” and he calls the death of children “collateral damage.” Ouch—talk about unfortunate euphemisms! No surgical strikes for this ham-fisted God, apparently. He only has the nuclear option.

Sorry—genocide is genocide. And Koukl’s own Bible selections show that God wasn’t “driving out” the inhabitants. Pointing out that the Bible is historically untrustworthy doesn’t get you out of this bind. The issue isn’t what happened, it’s what we learn of God’s personality.

Take 2

Koukl then takes another approach: the Canaanites actually deserved to die.

God was angry. Indeed, He was furious. And with good reason. Even by ancient standards, the Canaanites were a hideously nasty bunch. Their culture was grossly immoral, decadent to its roots.

Koukl lists divination, temple prostitution, homosexuality, transvestitism, and other sins, but the worst is child sacrifice. I don’t care about a god taking offense at a “sin” that hurts no one, but we’re on the same page with the child sacrifice. His source cites evidence that thousands were killed in total.

This rationalization runs off the tracks when we consider God’s remedy to a Canaanite culture that sacrifices children: genocide. Is the irony not obvious? God has every child killed in response to their killing a few children … and then has every other person killed for good measure.

Why does God’s palette of options include nothing more refined than would occur to a king of that time? God couldn’t teleport the Canaanites elsewhere in the world? Make their women sterile 50 years earlier? Poof them out of existence? Turn them into birds? He couldn’t create some new land so the Israelites wouldn’t need to steal someone else’s? God is looking increasingly like a literary device added to justify the story the Jews told about themselves.

And why imagine that God is all that annoyed about child sacrifice? To teach the stiff-necked Israelites who’s boss, God said:

So I gave them other statutes that were not good and laws through which they could not live; I defiled them through their gifts—the sacrifice of every firstborn—that I might fill them with horror so they would know that I am the LORD. (Ezekiel 20:25–6)

That’ll teach ’em a lesson! Child sacrifice wasn’t an inconceivable horror to God but simply a tool.

A Plea for Consistency

Koukl next senses hypocrisy when atheists on the one hand object to God’s brutal sense of justice in the Bible but on the other hand would demand that God act to stop awful events today. How about some consistency, atheists?

Actually, it’s the atheists who are the consistent ones. A “good” god would not demand genocide in the Old Testament and would actively make the modern world a better place. The Sandy Hook school killings? 9/11? The Holocaust? Making God compatible with reality means that he can only be not good, nonexistent, or unjudgeable.

This critique is concluded here.

God, Satan, angels: these were all figments of human imagination.
From now on I could step firmly on the ground that was under my feet
and navigate based on my own reason and self-respect.
My moral compass was within myself,
not in the pages of a sacred book.
— Ayaan Hirsi Ali

Photo credit: WikiPaintings

About Bob Seidensticker
  • http://www.yeshua21.com Wayne

    Obviously, there are no grounds upon which to embrace or defend such a view of God. But that does not mean that any understanding of God– or any view of human beings in relation to the Divine– is equally nonsensical. And the disbeliever, too, is subject to many illusions. I look forward to the next installment!
    http://jeshua21.wordpress.com/2012/12/12/a-spiritual-exercise/

    • Don Gwinn

      With all due respect, what’s your point? The question at hand is not whether Koukl’s scary but basically standard apologetic amorality invalidates all understandings of all gods.

      By the way, I read your link and answered your question there.

      • http://www.yeshua21.com Wayne

        There is a tendency among some atheists to imagine that just because the “God” they disbelieve in is rediculous, therefore any reference to God must be equally rediculous. My point is to caution Bob’s readers against that error. FYI, I have received no new comments on “The Spiritual Exercise” indicated. Please try again–I look foward to hearing your take on it.
        http://jeshua21.wordpress.com/2012/12/12/a-spiritual-exercise/

        • Bob Seidensticker

          And do you think that Koukl’s analysis is ridiculous?

        • http://www.yeshua21.com Wayne

          I must say I got a good laugh out of your remark that, “Is the irony not obvious? God has every child killed in response to their killing a few children and then has every other person killed for good measure.” So yes, perhaps I would (though it is not typically my style to ridicule or, for that matter, to pass final judgement on someones work based on someone elses review).

          Having said that, the problem of evil is THE elephant in the room for conventional, (small “o”) orthodox Christian theology. It has very much been the guiding problem of my studies over the years. In my own “Critical Reflections on Bible Based Belief Systems”, I write:

          The Problem of Evil is not adequately addressed by “orthodox” Christian doctrine.

          Based on Romans Chapter 9 and other relevant passage in the Old and New Testament, it is difficult to deny that God creates the “vessels of wrath” which are said to have been “fitted for destruction.” In Romans chapter 9, St. Paul doesn’t say that anyone has “resisted God’s will”, just that “the potter has power over the clay” and that we aren’t in a position to object.
          Moreover, it must be acknowledged that even if our fall into sin is due in some sense to the free will of human beings (in Adam), it is nevertheless God who, in the beginning, chooses to create in such a way that leaves the door open to the possibility of sin and perdition. It certainly appears that the “good” of creation, from the beginning, necessarily involves the damnation of some— if not most —of the souls thus created. As such, if we accept an “orthodox” account of sin, salvation and judgment, either God’s “goodness” or his “power” must be called into question—i.e. either he was not powerful enough to create as glorious a creation apart from the eventual sin and perdition of many, many souls; OR, he preferred this possible outcome to any other possible alternative that could have been just as glorious, but without any souls being ultimately lost.
          On a related note, it strains credulity to speak of Christ as reconciling the world to God if only a minority of human beings throughout history have been exposed to the gospel. God, it seems, has provided enough light to condemn everyone, but not to save them (see also “Other Religions” below).
          http://jeshua21.wordpress.com/skeptics-corner/critical-reflections-on-bible-based-belief-systems/

          So, as you can see, the problem of evil and the difficulties of theodicy are not new to me. It is rediculous not to face this problem head on.

        • Bob Seidensticker

          Wayne:

          So we’re on the same page here?

          Moreover, it must be acknowledged that even if our fall into sin is due in some sense to the free will of human beings (in Adam)

          Help me understand the Adam thing. He had no knowledge of good and evil (not having eaten the fruit yet), so what sin did he commit? Getting furious at his disobeying a command is like getting furious when a one year old does.

          … it is nevertheless God who, in the beginning, chooses to create in such a way that leaves the door open to the possibility of sin and perdition.

          God made such things inevitable. We sin because God made us that way. Why should we feel ashamed when we act according to our (imperfect) design?

          As Hitchens said, “We are made sick and commanded to be well.”

          It certainly appears that the “good” of creation, from the beginning, necessarily involves the damnation of some— if not most —of the souls thus created.

          Imperfect teachers can have all students pass their classes. Is God so lousy a teacher that he has to fail most of his “students”? And what a ridiculous binary afterlife–no proportional justice, just heaven for those who manage to believe a certain (unbelievable) thing, and an eternity of torment for the rest of us.

        • http://www.yeshua21.com Wayne

          Bob wrote: [So we’re on the same page here?]
          More or less — I don’t see a problem with the first installment of your critique (haven’t read the second installment yet, but will shortly).

          Bob wrote: [Help me understand the Adam thing. He had no knowledge of good and evil (not having eaten the fruit yet), so what sin did he commit? Getting furious at his disobeying a command is like getting furious when a one year old does.]

          I see both Adam and Jesus as archetypes. The sin of Adam represents the formation of the egoic mind and the fall into dualistic thought (the preoccupation with “my good” and “my evil” conceived of as separate from God, from others, and from the whole of creation). The tradition presents this as a “felix culpa” — a “happy fault” — and I don’t disagree. We get lost in thought and in time, for a season, but in the process, the chances are good that we will have opportunity– like the prodigal son –to “come to” and remember the status that even servants have in “our Father’s house.” Paul Tillich also offers some valuable contributions on the concept of sin as “separation”. http://www.religion-online.org/showchapter.asp?title=378&C=84

          Clearly, we “miss the mark” rather grossly at certain points or stages of our life and while it may ultimately be attributed more to a kind of ignorance than to willful disobedience, the concept of sin is hard to abandoned entirely (as much as we may dislike it). However, both the “guilt” of sin and the demands of “the law” (morality) apply to egos. We have the mind of Christ:
          http://jeshua21.wordpress.com/2012/07/21/sin-suffering-grace/

          Bob wrote: [God made such things inevitable. We sin because God made us that way. Why should we feel ashamed when we act according to our (imperfect) design?]

          Indeed, it is very easy to ridicule the conventional understanding, as I said (in light of God’s sovereignty and what are, at best, the severe limitations of our freedom). Nevertheless, we do experience the phenomena of our having “missed the mark” and the accompanying feeling of guilt. And this is not merely the result of Christian indoctrination (it is universal–though, granted, different people and cultures may tend to feel guilty about different things, according to their background, temperament and education). In any event, in addition to “the egoic (or “carnal”) mind”, is it possible that there is something like “the mind of Christ” that can deliver us from the body of this death!? Indeed, there is, but it is not to be found in rational analysis or critques, but in a recognition of that which IS — that which we ARE — prior to (and inbetween) our thoughts. Consistent with the New Testament, I refer to this as the mind of Christ.

          [As Hitchens said, “We are made sick and commanded to be well.”]

          I like Omar Khayyam’s version:

          [108] Ah, Love! could you and I with Fate conspire To grasp this sorry Scheme of Things entire, Would not we shatter it to bits–and then Re-mould it nearer to the Heart’s Desire!

          29 Into this Universe, and Why not knowing Nor Whence, like Water willy-nilly flowing; And out of it, as Wind along the Waste, I know not Whither, willy-nilly blowing.

          30 What, without asking, hither hurried Whence? And, without asking, Whither hurried hence! Oh, many a Cup of this forbidden Wine Must drown the memory of that insolence!

          78 What! out of senseless Nothing to provoke A conscious Something to resent the yoke Of unpermitted Pleasure, under pain Of Everlasting Penalties, if broke!

          79 What! from his helpless Creature be repaid Pure Gold for what he lent him dross-allay’d– Sue for a Debt he never did contract, And cannot answer–Oh the sorry trade!

          [86] Nay, but for terror of his wrathful Face, I swear I will not call Injustice Grace; Not one Good Fellow of the Tavern but Would kick so poor a Coward from the place.

          80 Oh Thou, who didst with pitfall and with gin Beset the Road I was to wander in, Thou wilt not with Predestined Evil round Enmesh, and then impute my Fall to Sin!

          81 Oh Thou, who Man of baser Earth didst make, And ev’n with Paradise devise the Snake: For all the Sin wherewith the Face of Man Is blacken’d–Man’s forgiveness give–and take!

          Bob wrote: [Imperfect teachers can have all students pass their classes. Is God so lousy a teacher that he has to fail most of his “students”? And what a ridiculous binary afterlife–no proportional justice, just heaven for those who manage to believe a certain (unbelievable) thing, and an eternity of torment for the rest of us.]

          Clearly this is an infantile and manipulative conception of God, afterlife, rewards and punishments. But that does not mean that there is not a pearl of great price. Nor does it mean that there is no hellish torment for those who put themselves on the throne of their heart instead of God. Christian modes of discourse (or religious modes of discourse of any kind) are not essential to this insight, but IMO a myth is a story that is true on the inside whether or not it happens to be true in every respect on the outside. You are performing a valuable service by pointing out the logical and methodological flaws in the conventional Christian theology, but those who assume, for that reason, that there is no such thing as “the Way, the Truth, and the Life” — and no possibility of self-distruction in persuit of their egoic goals — have done themselves a diservice, IMO. Omar Khayyam, quoted above, also wrote:

          XLIX
          Would you that spangle of Existence spend
          About the Secret–Quick about it, Friend!
          A Hair perhaps divides the False and True–
          And upon what, prithee, may life depend?

          L
          A Hair perhaps divides the False and True;
          Yes; and a single Alif were the clue–
          Could you but find it–to the Treasure-house,
          And peradventure to The Master too;

          LI
          Whose secret Presence, through Creation’s veins
          Running Quicksilver-like eludes your pains;
          Taking all shapes from Mah to Mahi; and
          They change and perish all–but He remains;

          So, my recommendation is to find out who/what you really are. To those who have been brought up as Christians, I address this question:

          Are you willing to step beyond that which you “think” or “believe” (or disbelieve) and simply and humbly abide in the “I Am” presence which IS Christ-in-you? If so, you’re not far from the kingdom. Whosever will may come and drink of the water of life freely! :)

          http://jeshua21.wordpress.com/jeshua/getting-to-know-jesus-in-the-21st-century/

  • Greg G.

    First up in Koukl’s explanation is the observation that the Bible must be understood in its context. Military narratives of the time were often exaggerated, so we can’t take literally God’s genocidal commands.

    God was angry. Indeed, He was furious. And with good reason. Even by ancient standards, the Canaanites were a hideously nasty bunch. Their culture was grossly immoral, decadent to its roots.

    Why isn’t he consistent? If you can accept that the results of the battle were exaggerated, why not accept that the motivations of the battle were exaggerated? If you are going to accept that the battles were exaggerated, why not accept the archaeological evidence that none of the battles even happened? If you can go that far, why not accept that the Old Testament stories were political spin-doctoring of the priestly sects/political parties of the temple-state that was Jerusalem?

    • Bob Seidensticker

      What’s especially hard for me to understand is why he doesn’t see that he’s simply starting from his conclusion and, using lawyer thinking, picking and choosing arguments to best support that conclusion. If you asked Craig or Koukl, I’m sure that they’d say that they were simply following the evidence where it led.

      Bizarre.

  • smrnda

    William Lane Craig has a far worse response. The problem with many Christian apologists is that they’ve been cheering on their team so far and for so long that stuff like this doesn’t really even bother them; after all, whats’ some collateral damage when the TEAM is so awesome and is winning so much?

    • Greg G.

      Craig uses the Holocaust as a proof of the existence of absolute morality while maintaining that the slaughter of the Canaanites and Amalekites were an absolute good.

      I once saw a test done on Israeli children. They were told the stories of Joshua’s conquests with a different name and they thought it was horrible. When they were told the story with the names unchanged to protect the innocent, the children revised their judgements. So apparently they don’t have to do it all that long.

      • Bob Seidensticker

        An interesting example if someone thinks that only fundamentalist Protestants live in a Reality Distortion Zone.

      • smrnda

        I’m sure Craig’s stance is that genocide is bad when god hasn’t told you to do it, but good when god tells you to do it. That sounds like capricious, subjective morality far more than anything objective. I always thought he followed “Divine Command Theory of Morality” or some other fluff he brings up.

        • Bob Seidensticker

          Andrea Yates drowned her kids because God told her to. Of course, Craig will say that that wasn’t really God. OK–so then how do we know??

          Craig doesn’t want to admit that it all boils down to what’s inside his own head. When he says, “God says you should do it,” it just means that he thinks you should do it.

  • Rain

    “It seems ironic that an atheist who denies the existence of objective morality can overflow so readily with moral indignation.”

    It seems ironic that a theist tosses in the “objective” in front of the “morality” so that the theist can strut his theist feathers, but in the process of doing so, renders his sentence completely nonsensical. Sometimes one must pay the price of incoherence when feeling the uncontrollable urge to strut one’s theist feathers.

  • avalon

    So Koukl rationalizes the slaughter of Canaanites as only against military targets and only after a long history of evil-doing? Perhaps he can start on rationalizing the first slaughter that occurred during the exodus, the killing of “about three thousand men of the people” (ie Israelites) (Ex 32:28) after ONE minor mistake (making a golden calf).

    …and he (Moses) said to them, “Thus says the LORD, the God of Israel, ‘Each man fasten his sword on his side, and go back and forth from entrance to entrance throughout the camp, and each one kill his brother, his friend, and his neighbor.’” The Levites did what Moses ordered, and that day about three thousand men of the people died. (Exod 32:27-28)

    Aaron, Yahweh’s hand-picked priest, ” accepted the gold from them, fashioned it with an engraving tool, and made a molten calf” (Ex 32:4). Then lies about it: “So they gave it (gold) to me, and I threw it into the fire, and this calf came out” (Ex 32:24). But Aaron gets off scot-free.
    Not content with sword-slaughter, “the LORD sent a plague on the people because they had made the calf – the one Aaron made.” (Ex 32:35).

    No Canaanites, no military targets, no long history of evil, just a psychopathic deity killing his “chosen people” over a minor mistake. And Aaron, the guy who led the whole thing, gets to keep his cushy job!
    Rationalize that!

    avalon

    • Bob Seidensticker

      God is furious about the calf but Mo talks him out of even more destruction (Ex. 32:11–14), so the 3000 murders are supposedly a lot better than what God wanted to do initially. (Wow–that dude’s has a serious impulse-control problem.)

      And remember that Moses himself was not allowed to enter the Promised Land as punishment for a trivial infraction decades earlier (Num. 20:12).

      • John Kesler

        Why was Moses not allowed into the promised land? Was it because of his own disobedience (Numbers 20:10-12; 27:12-13; Deut. 32:48-52), or was he punished vicariously because of the Israelites’ transgressions (Deut.1:34-37; 3:21-27;4:20-22)?

        The passages which indicate that Moses suffered vicariously not only don’t mention any culpability on Moses’ part, they explicitly say that Moses paid the price for the sins of others:

        Deuteronomy 1:34-37
        34 When Yahweh heard YOUR [the Israelites'] WORDS, he was wrathful and swore: 35 “Not one of these–not one of this evil generation–shall see the good land that I swore to give to your ancestors, 36 except Caleb son of Jephunneh. He shall see it, and to him and to his descendants I will give the land on which he set foot, because of his complete fidelity to Yahweh.” 37 Even with me Yahweh was angry ON YOUR ACCOUNT, saying, “You also shall not enter there.

        Deuteronomy 3:24-26
        24 “O Lord God, you have only begun to show your servant your greatness and your might; what god in heaven or on earth can perform deeds and mighty acts like yours! 25 Let me cross over to see the good land beyond the Jordan, that good hill country and the Lebanon.” 26 But Yahweh was angry with me ON YOUR ACCOUNT and would not heed me. Yahweh said to me, “Enough from you! Never speak to me of this matter again!

        Deuteronomy 4:20-21
        20 But Yahweh has taken you and brought you out of the iron-smelter, out of Egypt, to become a people of his very own possession, as you are now. 21 Yahweh was angry with me BECAUSE OF YOU, and he vowed that I should not cross the Jordan and that I should not enter the good land that Yahweh your God is giving for your possession.

        • Bob Seidensticker

          interesting, thanks.

    • SparklingMoon

      Aaron, Yahweh’s hand-picked priest, ” accepted the gold from them, fashioned it with an engraving tool, and made a molten calf” (Ex 32:4). Then lies about it: “So they gave it (gold) to me, and I threw it into the fire, and this calf came out” (Ex 32:24). But Aaron gets off scot-free.
      ———————————————————————————————————–
      Aor0n was also selected by God Almighty as prophet to reform Israel and it is impossible that a person who has heard the voice of God should begin to attribute Godly powers to others.How is it possible for a Prophet who has seen God and heard His voice to regard a calf of gold as God? Such misjudgement can not be expected even from an insane person, and Aorn was a Prophet of God. The people of Israel had not seen God nor had they heard His voice. They had heard only Moses and Aaron speak to them and had come to believe in what they heard. So they accepted whatever Samiri taught them about the golden calf. It is impossible, however, that Aaron who had seen God and had heard His voice could be fooled by Samiri and come to regard as God a calf of gold made by human hands ? Is it possible that the Omniscient God Who knows the inmost secrets of human hearts could have appointed for the reformation of Israel a man who was destined to prove as weak as Aaron did according to this account of the Bible ? God knows all secrets and knows more than any man or any king according to the Bible, Yet He chose Aaron and entrusted to him the task of reforming the people and spoke to him and revealed Himself to him. But when Samiri presented his ungodly teaching to Aaron, Aaron submitted himself to this teaching and on a suggestion by his people made a calf of gold. Those who entered their speculations into the Bible must have possessed feeble minds. But the fact that they thought that those who came later would not be able to detect these interpolations defeats comprehension. It remains true, however, that after such serious interferences the Torah could not retain the status of a revealed book.

      According to the statement of the Quran Aoron, instead of being ungodly himself, he restrained his people from this foul tendency : ”And Aaron had said to them before : 0 my people, you have only been tried by means of it (the calf), and surely the Gracious God is your Lord ; so follow me and obey my command .”(20 : 91). From this verse it is evident that even before Moses returned from Mount Sinai, Aaron had warned the Israelites that the calf of gold had been set up to mislead them, that the Lord was the God Who had provided them with all the goods of life even before they were born. He had told them that the calf had been made before their very eyes. It was up to them, therefore, to follow Aaron, to obey him and to shun all forms of ungodliness

      • Bob Seidensticker

        Moon:

        Such misjudgement can not be expected even from an insane person, and Aorn was a Prophet of God.

        It’s a story! You do understand fiction, don’t you? You understand that you don’t really have to clap for Tinker Bell because it’s just pretend, right? That Dorothy really didn’t go to Oz? That Merlin the wizard wasn’t real?

  • arkenaten

    Of course, it never really happened and Finklestein and Herzog have pretty much ‘closed the book’ on this nonsense, though public acceptance is a long way away as such an admission that the Exodus and invasion of Canaan etc was all make believe would have some rather interesting repercussions for Israel and their neighbours.

    I raised similar points about the genocidal tendencies of god on a Christian blog and was rebuffed for insulting the bible. I used the word ‘crap’. I was then summarily banned,leaving the playing field open for the apologists to weave their spells!
    Odd bunch, Christians.

    • Bob Seidensticker

      The Bible says that the Israelites in the desert had 600,000 men (Exodus 12:37), so let’s call that 2M people total. Since the entire generation had to die off before they were allowed to enter Israel, that means 2M bodies buried in Sinai, since the Jews didn’t cremate their dead. We don’t have to have found every single one, but surely some of them?

      Absence of evidence is very clear evidence of absence in this case.

      • SparklingMoon

        The Bible says that the Israelites in the desert had 600,000 men (Exodus 12:37), so let’s call that 2M people total.
        ————————————————————————————————
        It states in Genesis :
        ”Seventy persons of the family of Jacob came into Egypt ” (Genesis 46 : 27) but two hundred and fifteen years later, in the time of Moses,it is written in the Exodus 12 : 37 that they had multiplied so much that the adult males alone were six hundred thousand : And the children of Israel journeyed from Rameses to Succoth, about six hundred thousand on foot that were men beside children. In two hundred and fifteen years a group of seventy people could not grow into two million five hundred thousand. Historical facts also are against this estimate. When Moses migrated from Egypt to Canaan and had to go into the wilderness for forty years, what did this large population of two million five hundred thousand live on ? Could they have found in the wilderness food and drink enough to keep them alive for forty long years ? It is true that they had quails and honey-dew sent to them from heaven’ But even according to the Bible this sustenance from heaven descended only occasionally. How then did this large population obtain their food when it did not descend from heaven ?

        We also learn from the Bible that the tribes obtained water each from one spring. But can we believe that two million five hundred thousand people could obtain water enough for their needs from a few springs. The lands through which they passed contain no streams or rivulets. There are springs here and there, but a spring does not have any large dimensions. How can springs provide water for two million five hundred thousand people? A book which contained such irrational statements could not satisfy human intellect. No doubt it was a book from God. It was written by His Prophets. But it has lost its original character. It has become mutilated and has been changed out of all recognition. To regard a book which has suffered in this way as the very word of God is to invite ridicule against God and religion.

        • Bob Seidensticker

          Moon:

          A book which contained such irrational statements could not satisfy human intellect.

          You’re telling me. But I don’t know why Islam is any more believable. (And you haven’t bothered to inform us.)

          No doubt it was a book from God.

          Uh … yes doubt.

        • SparklingMoon

          But I don’t know why Islam is any more believable.
          ———————————————————————————-
          According to the information of all religions there always starts on earth, a circle or a time of evolution, for human’s spiritual and physical progress and it completes and reaches to its peak in seven thousand years.About six thousand years before the evolution of our recent progress had been started by Prophet Adam who had brought people out of their caves and jungles and taught them to live to gather and that was the start of our present civilization. The next prophets had been sent by God Almighty with new teachings gradually to fulfill the needs of next coming generation.

          According to Islam as there is a process of evolution in every sphere of human society as there is always need in religion also. New religions were needed not only for the sake of restoring the fundamental teachings of older religions which had been mutilated at the hands of man, but also, as society evolved, more teachings had to be added to previous ones to keep up with the pace of progress.

          Quran was revealed at a time when all possible needs had become apparent and all moral and doctrinal and verbal matters and human conduct had been corrupted, and all kinds of excesses and vices had reached their limit. Therefore, the teaching of the Holy Qur’an was all comprehensive. It is in this sense that the law revealed in the Quran is perfect and final, and previous revealed laws are incomplete, as the evils for the reform of which previous revealed Books had come, had not arrived at their climax, but at the time of the revelation of the Quran they had reached their maximum. Now the distinction between the Quran and other revealed Books is that even if those Books had been safeguarded in every way, their teaching being incomplete, a perfect teaching, that is to say, the Holy Quran would have been needed to be revealed; but no other Book is needed after the Holy Quran as there can be nothing beyond perfection.

          The books that were revealed before the Quran were confined to one people each. Books and Messengers appeared among the Syrians, Persians, Indians, Chinese, Egyptians and Romans and they were each confined to one people and were not concerned with the others. Last of all came the Quran which is a universal Book and is not for any one people, but for all peoples. All the previous Books beginning with the Torah and ending with the Gospel are addressed to a particular people, namely, the children of Israel and state in clear words that the directions contained in them are not for the general benefit, and are limited to the children of Israel. Last of all came the The Quran which is a universal Book . The Quran aims at the reform of the whole world and is not addressed to any particular people but states plainly that it has been revealed for the benefit of the whole of mankind and that the reform of everyone is its purpose.

          When mankind increased in numbers still more and communications were established, and means of communication became available, and it became known that different parts of the earth were inhabited by man, and God Almighty determined that they should all be made one people, and should be gathered together after their dispersal, God sent one Book for all regions. In this Book it was commanded that as it reached different parts of the world, it should be accepted and believed in. That Book is the Quran which has been revealed to establish a relationship between different regions.[Ruhani Khaza’in, Vol. 13, pp. 83-85]

        • Bob Seidensticker

          Moon:

          Do you understand the difference between evidence and theology? You’re giving us only theology. Since we’re not in your camp, that does no good–give us evidence instead. Or, if you have none, admitting that would be refreshing.

      • SparklingMoon

        The Bible says that the Israelites in the desert had 600,000 men (Exodus 12:37), so let’s call that 2M people total.
        —————————————————————–
        It states in Genesis :
        ”Seventy persons of the family of Jacob came into Egypt ” (Genesis 46 : 27 ) and two hundred and fifteen years later as is written in the Exodus 12:37 that they had multiplied so much that the adult males alone were six hundred thousand In two hundred and fifteen years a group of seventy people could not grow into two million five hundred thousand. Historical facts also are against this estimate. When Moses migrated from Egypt to Canaan and had to go into the wilderness for forty years, what did this large population of two million five hundred thousand live on ? Could they have found in the wilderness food and drink enough to keep them alive for forty long years ? It is true that they had quails and honey-dew sent to them from heaven’ But even according to the Bible this sustenance from heaven descended only occasionally. How then did this large population obtain their food when it did not descend from heaven ?

        We also learn from the Bible that the tribes obtained water each from one spring. But can we believe that two million five hundred thousand people could obtain water enough for their needs from a few springs. The lands through which they passed contain no streams or rivulets. There are springs here and there, but a spring does not have any large dimensions. How can springs provide water for two million five hundred thousand people? A book which contained such irrational statements could not satisfy human intellect. No doubt it was a book from God. It was written by His Prophets. But it has lost its original character. It has become mutilated and has been changed out of all recognition. To regard a book which has suffered in this way as the very word of God is to invite ridicule against God and religion.

        According to the Quran the people of Israel who fled from Egypt for fear of Pharaoh numbered a few thousand, It says :”Dost thou not know of those who went forth from their homes, and they were thousands, fearing death.” (2 : 244). and this seems true because two million five hundred thousand Jews could not live in fear of small Palestinian tribes.

        • R Vogel

          In two hundred and fifteen years a group of seventy people could not grow into two million five hundred thousand.
          Not defending the biblical account, but that is not strictly true. You don’t realize the power of compounding (just ask Einstein) 70 people probably only referred to males, so that number would have been higher. Given that families were easily 10 or more, the compounding rate would have been enormous. Starting with 140 people, if you simply triple the amount of people per generation, which is probably conservative, you easily reach that amount in 215 years.

      • arkenaten

        It has been estimated that if this amount of people had left Egypt in this fashion, at this time the country would likely have collapsed.
        Unfortunately I cannot find where i read this (probably Wiki) so on the face of it it looks a rather scurrilous thing to say, but the population estimates for Egypt at this time were around 3-4 million.
        Also, the character of Moses is less than credible and many believe he was either fictitious or an amalgamation of figures (Martin Noth)
        This of course bring in the delicious issue of the biblical Jesus making mention of Moses.
        If Moses was not what the bible claimed then Jesus sure as hell isn’t quite the person Christians claim and we have a whole new ball game.
        I have noted over the years that no serious scholarly defender of Christianity a la William Lane Craig mould brings into their debate/discussion the baring/relationship that Moses had on Jesus.
        I am also a bit bemused that among recognized scholars the Moses character and the Exodus are generally believed to be fictitious then how can there be any serious defense of the supposed man-god, Jesus?

        • Reginald Selkirk

          Since the Earth was flat back then, that many people migrating would present a danger of tipping…

  • Michael

    Greg Koukl uses this book as one of his references:
    Clay Jones, “Why We Don’t Hate Sin so We don’t Understand What Happened to the Canaanites: An Addendum to ‘Divine Genocide’ Arguments,” Philosophia Christi n.s. 11 (2009)
    http://www.clayjones.net/wp-content/uploads/2011/06/We-Dont-Hate-Sin-PC-article.pdf

    The headlines reads:
    “We don’t understand sin so we don’t understand what happened to the Canaanites”

    How the hell does that work? If you think god was an arsehole for killing the Canaanites, then you are just plain stupid.

    • Bob Seidensticker

      Well, if we just presuppose that God is good by definition, it all works out pretty easily, right?

  • SparklingMoon

    God : these were all figments of human imagination. 
    ——————————————————————————————
    It is a reality that the teachings of Prophets (about God, Satan, angels etc.)are mostly changed by the followers who appear very late from the time of these prophets. All prophets were physically a human being and the soul message of their divine teachings was to call people towards God Almighty. But unfortunately in later times the person of God is confused either with the human person of Prophet or with worldly objects. The attributes of God and his position is tried by people to give human prophets or the attributes of physical objects are mentioned to explain His spiritual person. This human step turns the light of religion into darkness or in other words destroys the whole building of religion. This worship of people of week human prophet or other worldly objects in the name of God brings nothing more than a journey in a dark jungle. A religion without the true knowledge of God Almighty is as dark as a sun without light therefore It is very important to understand the attributes of God for the understanding of His Person.

    For instance it is always described by all prophets that God is One. The meanings of this Oneness is usually considered as God is a single entity existing somewhere in this universe or His attribute Higher is explained as He is above in a higher place in the sky in a far away place from human beings. He can not be seen by human eyes therefore is imagined by some people as He is also the part of the space of this universe(that’s particles can not be seen by human eye). All such conception about the attributes of God are misleading.God does not exists directly in this universe as the other physical things are and the meanings of the terms Great Higher One etc. totally change when they are used for God Almighty.

    According to religious terms the meanings of Oneness of God is that the Person of God and the Whole universe is One. The existence and life of each and every particles of this universe is dependant to God Almighty because they all has been brought into existence from nothingness by Him alone. The relation of God to this universe is as life giving as the relation of a soul is to human body. He is called the Highest because of the height of His Spirituality. He is the Greatest because of His attributes that have covered the whole universe. The space (that is unseen for our physical eyes) is also a part of this physical world in spiritual term and God Almighty does not directly exist in this unseen space but in a world that is very spiritual and very ethereal and exists inside of this universe. God belongs to that world and that world is opened only through visions or dreams by God for the people of this world. Scientific instrument can not discover that world. The sight of worldly people reaches only to the physical particles of this world and their thinking never crosses and reaches to that world that is working very silently inside of this world. A small seed of a fruit turns into a big tree because of bearing this ability and after sometimes there are again thousand seeds come into existence with the same ability of turning into a tree .Who is there who put this ability in these seeds very silently ? It is God who bestows this ability. It is actually His different attributes are that are working in the whole universe and these attributes are infused through angels (laws of nature) into physical world.

    • Bob Jase

      “It is a reality that the teachings of Prophets (about God, Satan, angels etc.)are mostly changed by the followers who appear very late from the time of these prophets. ”

      Of course you realize that you are even further from these supposed prophets and a mere human being – if you don’t accept what they claim to have said why should I accept anything you now say?

  • Reginald Selkirk

    And I’ll ask in passing, Where’s the difficulty? Objective morality is in your mind only. Dawkins is referring to the regular kind.

    I’ve run into this as well. Apparently some people think that if you don’t believe in objective good and objective evil, you can’t believe in good and evil at all. Makes no sense.

    • Bob Seidensticker

      I have heard atheists argue for objective morality, but I don’t know what they base it on. I’ve heard no good justification for the supposition of objective morality from either atheists or Christians.

  • Pingback: Rationalizing Away the “Canaanite Problem” (2 of 2)

  • SparklingMoon

    Satan, angels: these were all figments of human imagination.
    ————————————————————————————————-
    when we examine the person of Angel Satan etc. in the light of those stories usually mentioned by some people then there is no doubt of their being the production of human imagination. Angels and Satan both are mostly considered and presented as entities. When we examine them in the light of religious teachings we find them totally different and very near to reality and human understanding.

    According to religious informations Angels are the Laws of Nature working in the whole universe according to the will of God. The sanctity and the Holiness of God ‘s spirituality stops Him to make a direct connection to physical universe therefore He has created Angers as a source to transfer His attributes to physical universe. Angeles are spiritual therefore have ability to relate to the Spirit of God and they are created therefore also have ability to relate to the creation of God that are the physical particles of this universe. In simple words angels are the laws of Nature working all over the world according to the order of God Almighty. There are different Laws (Angels)working for different purposes in the whole universe but they are not independent as are controlled by God because the main current of the attributes of God is working inside these Laws. These laws were given the name of Angels in religious books just to explain their works and position. It is people who later have turned them into stories or sometimes are shown in stories a creature with wings.

    Second ,Satan is also not an entity but the name of a force exists in human nature that motivates a person towards evil according to religious information. In man’s nature and composition there have been included two forces and they are both opposed to each other and it is so in order for a person to be tried and tested and, with a successful outcome, to become deserving of God ‘s nearness. Of the two forces, one pulls man towards goodness and the other invites man towards evil. The force that pulls towards goodness is called ‘angel’ and the force which invites towards evil is called ‘Satan’. In other words, you can understand it like this, that there are two forces which work on a person, one calls towards good and the other towards bad.

    Man has been given control and he has the power to do good or bad, to be kind or cruel, to be benevolent or miserly. The two aspects of possible behaviour that we can form an opinion about a particular person being good or bad. Indeed, the essential defining element of the term ‘deeds’ is that a person has the capability of doing the reverse. A person, having the capacity to take revenge but does not do so, has performed an act of good deed. But a person who does not possess a limb with which to retaliate against someone who hits him, would not be in a position to say that he has done a good deed by not retaliating.

    • Bob Jase

      Seriously Moon, can’t you understand that to anyone who doesn’t share your presuppositions your explanations are mere word salad?

    • Phil

      Moon, are you just cutting and pasting your posts? Or are you actually writing this out? If the latter, it seems like you are engaging in phenomenal wastes of time.

  • Larkus

    The Christian philosopher Wes Morriston adresses the typical talking points of the apologists for biblical genocide in this paper:

    Did God Command Genocide? A Challenge to the Biblical Inerrantist
    Philosophia Christi, Vol.11 (2009), No. 1, pp. 7-26.
    “Thoughtful Christians who hold the Old Testament in high regard must at some point come to terms with those passages in which God is said to command what appear (to us) to be moral atrocities. In the present paper, I argue that the genocide passages in the Old Testament provide us with a strong prima facie reason to reject biblical inerrancy – that in the absence of better reasons for thinking that the Bible is inerrant, a Christian should conclude that God did not in fact command genocide. I shall also consider and reject the attempts of two prominent Christian philosophers to show that God had morally sufficient reasons for commanding the Israelites to engage in genocidal attacks against foreign peoples.”

    http://www.colorado.edu/philosophy/wes/DidGodCommandGenocide.pdf

    • Bob Seidensticker

      It’s nice to see a biblical scholar treating the facts honestly. Thanks for the link.

  • John Kesler

    For an excellent rebuttal of Paul Copan’s attempt to defend the massacre of the Canaanites, see Thom Stark’s “Is God a Moral Compromiser?” available at the following address:
    http://thomstark.net/copan/stark_copan-review.pdf

    • Bob Seidensticker

      Great source, thanks.

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