The professional debater William Lane Craig has been putting on a great show of offense lately that Richard Dawkins won’t debate him, complete with silly stunts like leaving an empty chair on the stage. Dawkins concisely explains why he refused: first, he gets numerous invitations to debates like this; and second, Craig is a morally repugnant individual who doesn’t deserve to share a stage with him:
But Craig is not just a figure of fun. He has a dark side, and that is putting it kindly. Most churchmen these days wisely disown the horrific genocides ordered by the God of the Old Testament… But listen to Craig. He begins by arguing that the Canaanites were debauched and sinful and therefore deserved to be slaughtered.
As Dawkins points out, Craig argues not only that it’s morally acceptable to kill women and children, the elderly and the disabled, but that the most troubling part of the whole story is the psychological trauma inflicted on the Israelite soldiers who were ordered to kill them. Craig not only isn’t embarrassed by this monstrous position; he digs in and defends it:
If you believe in the salvation, as I do, of children, who die, what that meant is that the death of these children meant their salvation. People look at this [genocide] and think life ends at the grave but in fact this was the salvation of these children, who were far better dead… than being raised in this Canaanite culture.“
Let me emphasize this: According to leading Christian apologist William Lane Craig, children are “far better dead” than they would be if they were raised in a culture that doesn’t believe the same things as William Lane Craig.
Now, I have to admit that this is a logical consequence of Craig’s belief system. According to his faith, children who die before the age of accountability are guaranteed salvation, while children who grow into adults have a far greater chance of ending up eternally condemned. That just shows the wickedness and depravity of Craig’s belief system, that it implies that it’s better for children to be violently murdered while young than it is for them to grow up into intelligent, healthy, happy non-Christians.
But the disturbing part is that this viewpoint isn’t just found in the bloody and delusional fantasies of William Lane Craig. Increasingly, I’m seeing that ordinary believers are willing to defend it. I’ve written about this before, and I wanted to bring it up again because, in the comments on the Christian Post article, a commenter identifying herself as Debra Krieger Holliday wrote the following:
If one takes the time to learn about God’s loving nature and mercy, then one can see that He will take children back to Himself (kill them) IF He sees something in their future that is not what He would have them live through. IN THE CASE OF THE CAANANITES, they were sacrificing babies to their god, molech, burning them alive. MERCY SPOKE up in God to direct His people to remove them. I find this the most merciful act of all — to not have a tribe of people that burns children regularly to live on to continue this heinous act every day forever.
Or, to put it more succinctly: God ordered children to be killed to spare them from being killed. (Shades of that infamous misquote from the Vietnam War: “We had to destroy the village to save the village.”)
I have an idea: If it was indeed true that some of the Canaanites were sacrificing children in the name of religion, and God saw this as an evil practice that had to be stopped, why didn’t he just command the deaths of the people who were committing this evil deed, and not go on to also kill all the children who were designated to be sacrificed? If God commands children to be killed, how is he any different from Moloch?
It amazes me that in the twenty-first century, modern, educated people are still defending this. If you asked me what doctrine I could invent to make Christians look as evil as possible, I don’t think I could come up with anything worse than the actual position being advocated by actual Christians: that mass murder and genocide are morally good when God commands them. They don’t even think of mass child-murder as a necessary evil, but as an act of loving mercy.
Excessive religious belief has a disturbing tendency warp the believer’s moral compass, and Christians defending genocide must be the starkest example. Is this a new phenomenon, I wonder – fundamentalists getting more extreme in their beliefs as their backs are up against the wall under atheist criticism? Or have they always thought like this, and it’s just becoming more obvious now that atheists are pointing out how wrong it is?
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