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Christianity Can Rot Your Brain

There’s a lot of killing in the Bible—the honest and wholesome kind. The God-commanded kind.

What are we to make of this violence? Apologist William Lane Craig takes a stab at justifying “The Slaughter of the Canaanites.”

Craig’s entire project is bizarre—trying to support the sagging claims of God’s goodness despite that deity’s passion for genocide—but he gamely has a go. Craig responds to the question, “But wasn’t it wrong to kill all the innocent children?”

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.

What’s this supposed to mean?? Does it mean that Andrea Yates was actually right that she was saving her five children from the possibility of going to hell by drowning them one by one in the bathtub? Does it mean that abortion is actually a good thing because those souls “are happy to quit this earth for heaven’s incomparable joy”? I hope none of Craig’s readers have followed up with this route to salvation.

It’s hard to believe that he’s actually justifying the killing of children, but there’s more. Let’s fillet Craig’s next paragraph:

So whom does God wrong in commanding the destruction of the Canaanites? Not the Canaanite adults, for they were corrupt and deserving of judgment.

I thought that genocide was wrong. Perhaps I was mistaken.

Not the children, for they inherit eternal life.

Yeah, right. Killing children is actually a good thing. (Are we living Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four, where “War is Peace, Freedom is Slavery, Ignorance is Strength”?)

So who is wronged?

Wait for it …

Ironically, I think the most difficult part of this whole debate is the apparent wrong done to the Israeli soldiers themselves. Can you imagine what it would be like to have to break into some house and kill a terrified woman and her children? The brutalizing effect on these Israeli soldiers is disturbing.

Uh, yeah. That was the big concern in my mind, too.

Can you believe this guy? My guess is that he is a decent and responsible person, is a good husband and father, works hard, and pays his taxes. But he’s writing this? It’s like discovering that your next-door neighbor is a member of the Ku Klux Klan.

This brings up the Christopher Hitchens Challenge (video). Hitchens challenges anyone to state a moral action taken or a moral sentiment uttered by a believer that couldn’t be taken or uttered by an unbeliever—something that a believer could do but an atheist couldn’t. In the many public appearances in which Hitchens has made this challenge, he has never heard a valid reply.

But think of the reverse: something terrible that only a believer would do or say. Now, there are lots of possibilities. Obviously, anything containing variations on “because God says” or “because the Bible says” could be an example.

  • “The Bible says, ‘Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live.’”
  • “Despite the potential benefits to public health, we should avoid embryonic stem cell research because it’s against the Bible.”
  • “God hates fags.”

Or, as in this case, “God supports genocide.”

This reminds me what physicist Steven Weinberg said: “Religion is an insult to human dignity. With or without it, you’d have good people doing good things and evil people doing bad things, but for good people to do bad things, it takes religion.

In other words: Christianity can rot your brain.

(This is a modified version of a post originally published 10/24/11.)

Photo credit: Wikimedia

About Bob Seidensticker
  • baal

    I once (fairly recently too) was asked why I choose the most offensive posting Nym ever (baal). I was confused so I ask the guy why. His response, well, Baal was the god of the Canaanites and everyone knows how horrible they were. And that, noone in their right mind would want to be associated with atrocity like that.

    I’m sort of waiting for actual Jewish folks to ratify this bit of insanity because I don’t mean to associate myself as some sort of friend of the Canaanites (or any other bronze age tribe). But also the word ‘baal’ (as the scholar that guy claimed to be would know) is a generic term for ‘lord’ or ‘master’.

    JT hits this topic with some regularity when various children die from treatable ailments (infections or diabetes etc) or from christian ‘biblical’ discipline programs. I’ve stopped reading those, however, due to the emotional impact.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

      If you’re a partisan of Yahweh, I guess Baal or Molech or Chemosh or any of the competing Canaanite gods might seem pretty offensive, but it doesn’t sound any deeper than a Red Sox fan hating the George Steinbrenner (former owner of the Yankees).

    • http://avoiceinthewilderness-mcc1789.blogspot.com/ Michael

      Yeah, Beelzebub is the full title of Baal-Lord of the Flies. That’s how the novel came to use it. What’s funny is they speak of how terrible Baal was, and Molech, for wanting human sacrifice. Here we have an entire nation slaughtered. That isn’t human sacrifice to Yahweh?

      • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

        And if you want literal human sacrifice, you have this bizarre passage:
        “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

        • http://avoiceinthewilderness-mcc1789.blogspot.com/ Michael

          I seem to recall that passage. Not to mention, of course, that Yahweh sacrificed every Egyptian firstborn to make Pharoah let his captive Israelites go, who paint sheep’s blood on their doors so the angel of death would “pass over” their houses, hence the Jewish holiday celebrated to this day. It’s clearly a blood magic ritual. How was that even necessary, if Yahweh were all powerful? Except he clearly wasn’t, then, and even gets depicted as more or less a huge man in the sky with super powers, but no omnipotence, not much different from the Greek gods and others.

  • Greg G.

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

    Why didn’t God off kill off the adults when they were children so they wouldn’t become corrupted and deserving f judgement?

    Ironically, I think the most difficult part of this whole debate is the apparent wrong done to the Israeli soldiers themselves. Can you imagine what it would be like to have to break into some house and kill a terrified woman and her children? The brutalizing effect on these Israeli soldiers is disturbing.

    God directly killed lots of people and their babies with the Flood, with fire and brimstone in Sodom and Gomorrah, the Angel of Death in Egypt, and sent many plagues to kill thousands at a time. Why would he command the Israeli soldiers to do the dirty work this time?

  • RichardSRussell

    I often refer to the Bible as the “Big Book o’Horrors” because of just this kind of thing. Lately, however, I’ve taken to mixing in references to the “Manual for Masters”, because hardly anything in it is geared toward servants, slaves, or females. Take the parable of the workers hired in the late afternoon who end up getting paid the same as the workers who’d been at it since early morning, for instance. Do you suppose it was a worker who benefitted from that lelsson? Hell, no, it was a master — an owner! Same deal with advice on how often and how brutally to beat your slaves. Notice that there’s no advice at all to the slaves on what to do after having the crap beat out of you.

    As Sam Harris wrote, “As a source of objective morality, the Bible is one of the worst books we have. It might have been the very worst, in fact — if we didn’t also happen to have the Koran.” —The End of Faith: Religion, Terror, and the Future of Reason

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

      there’s no advice at all to the slaves on what to do after having the crap beat out of you.

      “Suck it up?”

      My recollection of the New Testament’s comments about slavery are that it counsels that one’s state isn’t important since the end is around the corner.

    • raquel

      Actually, there are references in the bible to slaves and wives. It’s not only to the masters. There is a book in the New Testament written specifically to a slave (Philemon). There Paul tells the runaway slave how to treat his former master.

      Also, in the Old Testament, when God was dictating the rules to the Jews, there are specific rules to slaves and their masters. And get this, it says that they should be treated with respect and that after a couple of years, the slaves have the right to choose whether to stay or leave.

      There are sections in the Bible that are towards wives. Such as Ruth, and Esther. They were wives and the books deal with their relationships to their husbands.

      However, their culture is a very patronly culture and that is why the majority of the rules are towards men. But they teach men how to treat the slaves and their wives. And it wasn’t to beat the crap out of them.

      • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

        raquel:

        And get this, it says that they should be treated with respect and that after a couple of years, the slaves have the right to choose whether to stay or leave.

        You’re thinking of Jewish slaves.

        In America, we had indentured servitude (limited bondage for fellow Europeans) and slavery (slavery for life for people who didn’t look like us). And in the Old Testament, same thing. It is confusing, because Christian apologists like to pretend that OT slavery was only indentured servitude. Yeah, for Jews it was. Not so for foreigners.

        Look up “slavery” on this blog for more.

      • Greg G.

        Deuteronomy 15:12 If any of your people—Hebrew men or women—sell themselves to you and serve you six years, in the seventh year you must let them go free. 13 And when you release them, do not send them away empty-handed. 14 Supply them liberally from your flock, your threshing floorand your winepress. Give to them as the Lord your God has blessed you. 15 Remember that you were slaves in Egypt and the Lord your God redeemed you. That is why I give you this command today.16 But if your servant says to you, “I do not want to leave you,” because he loves you and your family and is well off with you, 17 then take an awl and push it through his earlobe into the door, and he will become your servant for life. Do the same for your female servant.

        Notice who is specified in verse 12.

        Exodus 21:2 “If you buy a Hebrew servant, he is to serve you for six years. But in the seventh year, he shall go free, without paying anything. 3 If he comes alone, he is to go free alone; but if he has a wife when he comes, she is to go with him. 4 If his master gives him a wife and she bears him sons or daughters, the woman and her children shall belong to her master, and only the man shall go free.5 “But if the servant declares, ‘I love my master and my wife and children and do not want to go free,’ 6 then his master must take him before the judges. He shall take him to the door or the doorpost and pierce his ear with an awl. Then he will be his servant for life.

        So he his choice might be to leave his wife and kids or be a slave for life. The Bible is a how-to manual for the masters. I left out the following verses that say the female does not go free but protects her from being sold to foreigners. The master has options when it comes to following the law.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Greg: And I’ll add one more fun Bible quote:

          [God said:] Your male and female slaves are to come from the nations around you; from them you may buy slaves. … You can bequeath them to your children as inherited property and can make them slaves for life … (Lev. 25:44–6).

        • Greg G.

          When I was doing some internet genealogy back in the 90s, I found the will of one of my ancestors that had phrase with similar language. Something like, “I bequeath my slave, Sam, to be the property of my wife for the rest of his life.” A chill shuddered through my body. A few years later I read that verse and it made me mad.

  • Mick

    I’ll bet Craig gets a little bit stiff as he contemplates the idea of rampaging through a town killing anybody and everybody he meets and then, instead of being punished, god praises him for being a brave little soldier in the army of the lord.

  • http://avoiceinthewilderness-mcc1789.blogspot.com/ Michael

    By the standard Craig gives, we could say that abortion is definitely good. Another blogger argues exactly that, based on this reasoning. http://sight66.com/2013/03/01/fetus/ Of course apologists such as Craig don’t argue that, because Yahweh didn’t order it I suppose (although one presumes a lot of Canaanite women were pregnant when slaughtered by the Israelites in his little story). To spin off Gloria Steinem-if Craig is right, abortion should be a sacrament. Better yet, sterilization to prevent yourself conceiving anyone who might wind up going to hell someday. Or, you know, God could just not do that. I guess that one would be too much to ask, though…

    • Alice

      I’ve always wondered this, even when I was a die-hard fundamentalist. Also, many Christians believe in an “age of accountability” (whenever that is), so by the same standard, the death of young children should also be seen as a good thing. One could even justify murdering children because the brief pain and terror they would feel before entering the eternal paradise would be nothing compared to them dying as adults and suffering eternally in hell. Religion can be used to justify any atrocity.

      • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

        Israelites stealing land through genocide is right, but abortion for the purpose of giving the mother a better life is wrong.

        God works in mysterious ways.

        • Kodie

          We take the bible at its word that the Canaanites were wicked enough to deserve to be obliterated, as a nation or society – every one of them, no matter what. God commands the Israelites so they don’t have to do any asking or thinking about who was who and if they were bad (as deemed by god) or not.

          I have a couple things to say about that – Craig and others don’t think their god is evil for commanding such and even if it’s the Israelites writing the story from their view, it seems that whatever god wants to do is ok with them. It’s not ok if the story goes that the Israelites wanted that land and decided themselves the Canaanites were bad people (just for being Canaanite), although we still believe in holy wars, and sending young Christian soldiers to obliterate Muslims as best they can. I have lost track what these wars are really about anymore, but I know for some people, it’s about wiping out Muslims from their own land, and following god’s command to do so, at least to hear some talk about it.

          Secondly, related to the first part, extremist Muslims hate a lot of the same things about the US that extremist Christians do. It’s because of “they started it”.

          And thirdly, these extremist Christians often fight against things like abortion and marriage equality using the fear to motivate them – the fear that’s related to their belief this is a Christian nation. If they do not protect Christian values in the US, then god will abandon the whole nation, just like he did with the Canaanites. He will one day stop with the warnings – the hurricanes and tornadoes, and call us all wicked, and never determine which ones are particularly, just let the rest of the world mow us down, whoever wants our land, which seems to be the Muslims most recently. I don’t know what they are trying to destroy about America, but I know they are not the only ones in the world who hate the US and have bad things to say. I saw a vandal sticker one time about abortion and not because it’s wrong and should be outlawed, but because god would give up and abandon the US if we continue to allow it.

          I really think when they excuse the Canaanite genocide, they are thinking this is something god occasionally does – call for obliterating whole nations, even those innocent Christians who did everything to warn others and try to keep science out of schools and halt progress. They are just really worried it’s going to happen to us before Jesus returns. They don’t hold him accountable, still. They blame humans who sin unrepentantly by allowing gays to marry and promoting abortion for not cowering under the threat of their abusive father, who loves us, and wants us to come live with him in heaven. We have to appease him before he comes to the conclusion that none of us are worth it.

          I want to end this about others who vocally despise the US. I hear a lot of unfiltered language in which people despise America, the whole of it, and deem us all as unworthy. I don’t like to hear that because I don’t live in an America that resembles the remarks. There are loud voices here but they don’t speak for all of us. You all are real, and I would like for you to not write off the whole US as if we are homogeneously dysfunctional or uneducated, like a fucking asshole god would. I don’t hate your country, so shut the fuck up when you want to generalize mine.

          Thx.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          about abo rtion and not because it’s wrong and should be outlawed, but because god would give up and abandon the US if we continue to allow it.

          I imagine there was the same handwringing within the South when slavery was being critiqued. Or civil rights for all.

          Progress–we’ve got to figure it out for ourselves and not try to please an Iron Age Canaanite god.

    • Rain

      He could always pray for God to abolish Hell altogether. Nobody ever does though, which seems kinda odd. It leads one to suspect that deep down they think it’s all a bunch of malarkey as much as atheists do. Another thing is they never wonder how miracles work. Is it magic photons or something? Nobody seems to care. Maybe because deep down they suspect it’s all baloney.

      • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

        Rain:

        He could always pray for God to abolish Hell altogether. Nobody ever does though, which seems kinda odd.

        Good point. That would be the ultimate unselfish request.

        they never wonder how miracles work. Is it magic photons or something? Nobody seems to care.

        Sean Carroll argues that if there were something supernatural, we’d know about it by now. I talk more about that here.

      • tgoyer

        Just wanted to point out one small note.

        According to Christian orthodoxy, Hell was never created for people. It was created to punish Lucifer and his fallen angels. Humans end up there when they decide to rebel against God, just as Lucifer did.

        Praying for God to abolish Hell would be pointless since it was never meant for humans. The proper course of action for true Christians would be to try and explain the concepts of salvation to as many people as possible so they can avoid that fate for themselves.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          T: But Rain’s point still applies. Hell means endless torment for billions of humans, and the ultimate unselfish prayer would be for God to get rid of it.

        • Rain

          Well everything else is predetermined with a purpose too. So it makes about as much sense as praying for anything else. So if it’s the thought that counts, then I say go for it. Or at least pray to free all the people stuck in there. Let my people go! :D

        • HermesParsifal

          Yeah, explain salvation: god incarnated as a human and his own son in order to be brutally tortured and murdered as a blood sacrifice to himself so that he could be persuaded to forgive his creation for being the way he made them. Huh?

        • tgoyer

          The Christian concept of salvation is simple. God is the source of all life. Sin leads to separation from that source of life and thusly to death. That death-penalty has to be paid somehow; God sent his son in the flesh to pay that price for us.

        • ajginn

          Simple, huh? So where does sin come from? And why does sin have to be paid for? And if God has foreordained and has divine foreknowledge isn’t he ultimately responsible for sin?

          There’s nothing simple (or logical) about the orthodox Christian notion of sin or salvation.

        • tgoyer

          Sin is an archery term meaning “to miss the mark”. But in reality, it’s more than that. According to Christian teaching, Humans are in a state of rebellion. We aren’t just “missing the bulls-eye”, we are aiming everywhere except the target; shooting at the sky, shooting into the audience, etc.

          God knows all things, but we also have free will. Just because He knows one is going to shoot into the audience doesn’t mean He desires it. That is a logical leap that falls well short of the mark (so to speak :)).

          Most sin, if not all sin, is not sin against God. God is a big boy. He can take care of himself. Most sin is against fellow humankind. Sin has to be paid for because God is a just judge.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          If God is a big boy, why is blasphemy one of the 10 Commandments? Why is praise such a big part of worship?

          I can appreciate how wronging someone can require payback, but why does God get involved? If I wrong you, then tell you about it, and then make satisfactory restitution, who cares what God thinks about it?

          Do you have any evidence that would convince us that your Christian beliefs are correct?

        • ajginn

          God knows all things, but we also have free will.

          Nonsense. There is no such thing as free will in a theological system in which there is an omniscient, omnipotent god. If god knows everything that will happen, and god is the original source of life for all created things, then he is responsible for the actions of all his created beings. How can you be held responsible for something that god saw you were going to do from the beginning of time? How can you ever have done anything different?

          Man is not living in rebellion. He is being what god made him to be. Or didn’t make him to be since there is no evidence that god exists.

          I’m well aware of the notion of sin in orthodox Christianity having been an evangelical Christian for over three decades. My point is that the idea of sin is malarkey. A god who would punish humans for eternity for being exactly what he made them to be is not good or just in any meaningful sense.

          Let me ask you a simple hypothetical. Suppose there was born a person who never sinned in his entire life except for a lie he told to someone. IN all other things, he has been the model citizen in terms of loving his neighbor and providing for the needy. He does good his whole life and many people’s lives have been positively impacted as a result of his actions. According to orthodox Christianity, he is guilty enough because of that one lie to spend an eternity in hell. Does this seem like justice to you? Does eternal punishment seem appropriate for ANYTHING someone can do in the course of an 80-year lifespan? Don’t give me the doctrinal answer. Be honest with me. Be honest with yourself. How can that be justice in any sense of the word?

          Now if god has made man is his own image, how can our sense of what constitutes justice be so at odds with god’s supposed sense of justice? If you were god, would you really construct a universe that follows such rules of justice? I believe if you are truly honest and search yourself deeply, you will see that the notions of sin, free will and hell are nonsense. Free your mind of them and live in peace.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          It’s simply the case that God isn’t just as that word is defined in the dictionary. Christians can call God unjudgeable or say that we can’t understand him. But to say that we can understand him, and that he’s just, is simply to throw the dictionary in the trash.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          OK—it’s simple. Doesn’t make it sensible.

          We come out of God’s factory imperfect. God demands that we be perfect to get into heaven (or roast forever otherwise). The test for heaven: You must believe something that, for most people, is unbelievable.

          Color me unimpressed.

  • Rain

    Craig:

    If we believe, as I do

    The very definition of subjective morality. So William once again disproves his entire life’s work. Way to go William… Keep it up…

    • http://avoiceinthewilderness-mcc1789.blogspot.com/ Michael

      It’s always claimed to be objective, absolute morality…until we get to stuff like this, where it all gets surprisingly culturally relativist suddenly.

  • King Dave @ Newsvine

    Hi Bob … Great stuff as always. I love these debates vs Hitchens and Harris.
    I’ve shared this article, and got some interesting comments from our religious friends.

  • http://vedatyami.blogspot.com/ haga

    God commands killing in many religions.. In fact holy men speaking on His name command it.. I sometimes think Atheists may be right on some issues..
    see their new monument..
    http://vedatyami.blogspot.com/2013/06/ateizmin-ant-olur-mu.html

  • avalon

    “Christianity Can Rot Your Brain”

    The two main methods of brain rot for Christians seem to be revelation and intuition as ‘knowledge’.

    Here’s a Christian article that gives advice on how to rot your brain:

    http://www.cwgministries.org/How-to-Receive-Revelation-Knowledge

    It says:

    “You do not have a mind to use, but a mind to present to God so He can use it and fill it with anointed reason and divine vision. If you use your mind yourself, it is a dead work.”

    and

    “Realizing that the revelation came from the indwelling Holy Spirit, give all the glory to God for what has been revealed.”

    Christians also see their intuitions as accurate knowledge from God that does not require any further reflection or inquiry.

    http://www.wjh.harvard.edu/~jgreene/GreeneWJH/Shenhav-Rand-Greene-JEPG11.pdf

    “…the extent to which one believes in God may be
    influenced by one’s more general tendency to rely on intuition versus reflection. Three studies support this hypothesis, linking intuitive cognitive style to belief in God.”

    ” Intuitive responses were also positively correlated with self-reported belief in immortal souls, and with reports of experiences that convinced the participant of God’s existence,”

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

      avalon: That first source is pretty scary. Just check your brains at the door.

      I suppose “Yeah, but what if you picked the wrong religion?” wouldn’t go very far with that group.

      • avalon

        This can be very frustrating for non-theists who don’t understand how theists think. Everyone has intuitions and everyone has conscious thoughts. The difference is how you view them.

        Scientists see intuitions as hypothesis which need to be confirmed or denied by critical examination. Their intuitions can be overruled by rational thinking (ie. Einstein’s intuition about a static universe). But theists see intuitions as “accurate knowledge”. In the words of Peter Kreeft, “the voice of God”. Not only are intuitions accurate human knowledge, they’re accurate DIVINE knowledge. This means, for them, there is no reason to doubt their intuitions or subject them to further critical scrutiny.
        In fact, Greene’s research indicates that people who rely primarily on intuitive knowledge are unmoved by reasoned thought. Just the opposite happens, the intuitionalist tends to cling more tightly to their intuitions when confronted with well-reasoned arguments to the contrary.

        This is why theists often describe atheists as arrogant. They claim you’re using “mere human reasoning” to overcome your ‘God-given’ intuitions.

        It’s also why you won’t get very far with a theist by reasoning with him. Those reasons just can’t trump their own intuitions which they view as accurate, primary, and from a divine source. You can’t just give reasons, you have to change the way they think about intuition. And it has to be done intuitively, not by deductive reasoning. No easy task….

        • smrnda

          I noticed this, particularly among charismatic and pentecostoal Christians. They have lots of ‘intuitions’ about correct moral stances or theological issues, and they say “I just feel like I’m getting an intuition from god on that one” and have no rational case.

  • rob

    who ever wrote this doesn’t have a clue..pathetic

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

      Hey, rob: around here, we appreciate evidence. Drive-bys just kinda make you look foolish.

      Give me that clue. Show me why I’m wrong–I dare you.

  • TJW

    I’m an agnostic (to be honest, I’m atheist 95% of the time) and I’m not defending Craig but I think he’s being misrepresented here. The quote offered includes the qualification “Therefore, God does these children no wrong in taking their lives.” He is reiterating that God’s will is causally and specifically linked to their deaths. That means that inferring that the killing of all children, including the examples offered, in which God provided no authorisation, is unreasonable as they come outside the scope of Craig’s justification.

    And the smart ass manner in which you present your arguments might impress the like minded (and surely has) but it does nothing to convince those who are looking for an intellectually sophisticated critique of Christianity.

    • Greg G.

      Yes, that’s Craig’s “Divine Command Theory”. That makes his absolute morality just God’s whim of the day. Is it really necessary to be more sophisticated than that?

      Just because someone has the power to kill or have someone killed does not give that someone the right to do so, be they a man or a god.

      Yahweh drowned millions with a flood, killed thousands in Sodom and Gomorrah, killed thousands of first-born children, killed people by the thousands with plagues, all by supernatural means. Why would God contract Hebrew assassins to eliminate the Canaanites? Doesn’t it sound more like the Canaanites occupied land the Hebrews wanted so they produced propaganda about them and justified it by blaming it on God’s wishes?

      Just how does one come to know that God wants certain people killed, people in a group killed indiscriminately, or people killed en masse? Isn’t having such ideas a sign of mental instabilty rather than a real divine message? How can we differentiate them in religious people?

      The best we can do is to try to make moral decisions based on the expected outcome according to general principles. When people throw Divine Commands that are outside their moral principles into their decision-making process, the results will be irrational.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

      TJW:

      Small point: I’m both an atheist (I don’t believe in a god) and an agnostic (I don’t know).

      Do different rules apply to God and to people? I thought the same moral rules applied.

      And the smart ass manner in which you present your arguments might impress the like minded (and surely has) but it does nothing to convince those who are looking for an intellectually sophisticated critique of Christianity.

      Why is that? Because all Christians are quite familiar with the Canaanite genocide and already know the arguments on both sides of the issue?

  • MNb

    “for good people to do bad things, it takes religion”
    Daniel F has thoroughly debunked this last May 12th.

    “The vast majority of evil done in the world can be attributed to the garden variety misperceptions, miscalculations, ignorance, weakness of will, and/or self-deceptions of basically good and usually well-motivated standard issue human beings acting normally. Were these only problems when religions got a hold of them!”
    Indeed I don’t see any reason why atheists should be more resistent to misperceptions etc. than theists.

    • Greg G.

      Indeed I don’t see any reason why atheists should be more resistent to misperceptions etc. than theists.

      There are many ways a human can be wrong but there are many wrong things an atheist is resistant to that theists are not. Anyplace where Divine Command Theory differs from common moral principles, for example.

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