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Jim Dailey’s Compassionate Lessons on Child and Animal Suffering

Jim Dailey’s Compassionate Lessons on Child and Animal Suffering July 20, 2021

Jim Dailey, the Catholic apologist’s unquestioning best friend, says some real odd things. And by odd, I really mean morally abhorrent.

I was recently talking about the moral obscenity that is the Exodus story, and particularly the plagues, when Dailey attacked my questioning of the morality of the events.

Before I go on to mention some quite unfortunate apologetics, let me recount broadly what happened.

  1. God designed and created the world all of humanity.
  2. God’s creations weren’t very good and, even though he knew this, chose wrong in the Garden of Eden (appropriated story from Mesopotamia).
  3. Still, he let it go. Humans spread from the Cain and Abel time (appropriated from Mesopotamia) and the Tower of Babel (appropriated from Mesopotamia).
  4. But the humans were very bad(ly designed and created by the ultimately responsible Yahweh). So God decided to kill them all in a flood (appropriated from Mesopotamia). Apart from eight. He also hated animals – goddamn he hated those malicious bastards (especially sloths and koalas) because he killed almost all of them. For human sins.
  5. Later, God favoured a particular group of people because… Well, because they got to write the book about themselves.
  6. This group went and did good things, via Joseph (at least somewhat appropriated) in Egypt and hung out there.
  7. Unfortunately, the undisclosed Pharaoh died and another few undisclosed Pharaoah’s took over and seemed to have no knowledge whatsoever of Joseph, the former vizier. An undisclosed Pharaoh decided to enslave the entire Hebrew population of Egypt that had grown from 70 to about 2 million in 480 years. The entirety of Egypt had a population then of 7 million tops.
  8. So, the Pharaoh (Nebulous IV) decided to kill all male Hebrew children.
  9. Moses was born (appropriated from Mesopotamia) and became awesome. Interestingly, so did Aaron in a lot of parts of the story. Fun fact – the P portions of the Torah are the “Priestly” source – Aaronite priests writing their versions. That all feature Aaron. Spliced in. It’s like the Documentary Hypothesis, you know, makes sense.
  10. Anyway, a whole bunch of times, Moses (and “me too!” Aaron) asked the Pharaoh to free the Hebrews, and a bunch of times, he was going to relent. But, a bunch of times, his heart was hardened. By God.
  11. God punished the Egyptians on account of the Pharaoh saying no, which he did because God made him.
  12. Then the Hebrews escaped, after stealing gold and silver from the Egyptians, and the Pharaoh and his army followed.
  13. Then the Pharaoh decided to let them go. Which was nice. But God hardened his heart. Which was less nice. And then God punished the Pharaoh and his entire army (fun fact: God also hardened their hearts!) by killing them in the sea.

And there we are. So, the violence includes:

Death to a whole bunch of children “in all the land of Egypt”. There was also death to adults – women and men – children and the unborn, one presumes (certainly babies). Oh, and “all the livestock of Egypt died”. Oh, and locusts came “so that they may come up on the land of Egypt and eat every plant of the land, everything that the hail has left” and just in case you were unsure: “For they covered the surface of the whole land, so that the land was darkened; and they ate every plant of the land and all the fruit of the trees that the hail had left. Therefore nothing green was left on tree or plant of the field throughout the land of Egypt.”

Just remember, that in doing so, necessarily gazillions of other animals and other humans – men, women, children, babies, unborn (yey, God is sooo pro-life!) – died as a result of this. The scale of destruction would have been worse than any other single event of a similar timeframe in known history.

Fun fact – there’s no evidence of any of this outside of the Bible. None. Nada. Zip. Still, it happened, right? I mean, the mature, rational, thinking person would acquiesce to such unfounded claims because, you know, they were in the Bible, right?

Anyway, this is the lovely story of Exodus, where God shows his mercy and forgiveness – really shows his compassion in “God is love” omnibenevolence by doing all these lovely things.

Because literally every single Egyptian human and animal deserved this. Every single one was evil. Those donkeys? I mean fuck ’em. Evil bastards, the lot of them. And don’t get me started on the camels (that didn’t yet exist in the region as domesticated animals) – total heathen scum.

Putting all of this unbridled compassion aside – for it is but whiny atheisming! – let me bring into play the great compassioner-in-chief, Jim Dailey, who recently kindly added his words of wisdom on this difficult topic:

This whole column is just another atheist whining that God didn’t consult with him first before creating the universe. JP doesn’t like suffering. Boo hoo hoo. Let’s completely avoid the fact that suffering drives humans to make a better world, God is a big old meanie for making us figure it out on our own.

Ummm… YOU don’t appear to have read the story. God sends the plagues so that Egyptians will let the Jews go.

The Egyptians (slow learners – say, you don’t happen to be Egyptian do you?) take a while to figure out Pharoah is not really in charge.

Again, your silly whining is the equivalent of “Why didn’t God consult with ME to figure out the best solution?

Firstly, I just wonder whether he’s as unquestioning of every other worldview in the world…

Of course, this facile whine (itself) rather ignores the huge amounts of rabbinic wrangling over a good few thousand years, not to mention theologians and a whole bunch of defensive Christian apologetics sites. Indeed, Christian apologetics sites do so much on this topic precisely because it is so theologically problematic that they get their own laypeople – not whiny atheists – questioning it.

So, with all due respect, Mr Dailey might need to grow up a little here and stop slinging mud.

Now, I am not slinging mud, but rather am philosophically and theologically attacking a story that is both theologically and philosophically naive. It is so because it was written about a god before the much more sophisticated theologising took place of the last few thousand years. Before Augustine and Aquinas had begun to fathom what the hell was going on with this schizophrenic entity detailed across a whole bunch of books from two different religions. This is a parochial god written about in very much the same ways as the other gods in the region. The book is a fascinating insight, anthropologically speaking, into the people of the time and place. But we should probably leave much of it there.

Particularly the half-baked theology of this story.

Dailey makes essentially the following points:

  1. Who are you to question God?
  2. Boo hoo hoo, massive deaths of children and animals, boo hoo hoo.
  3. This was the best solution (to what problem, and who caused the problem?), such that these deaths were, in some sense, necessary.

As mentioned, Dailey seems to say “You cannot and should not question this god (God), but every other one is fair game.” Double standards are back on the menu.

If I can’t question this god, then I can’t question any god, and so I should believe in all gods, right? I mean, I assume this is Dailey’s approach.

Or, should we be good rational agents and question everything?

On the boo hoo hoo point, I need say nothing other than Jim Dailey is a moral monster. Despicable, uncaring comments.

On the best solution claim, he assumes by implication that this was the best solution.

Just to clarify, it was better for God to harden hearts and then kill Egyptians and animals because of the hardened heart than to…soften hearts? Softening his heart and their hearts would certainly have set a moral exemplar of forgiveness and benevolence… I guess all these children and animals had to die? This was necessary for some greater good. There was literally no better way of God delivering whatever lesson or exhibition without killing all these people and animals?

Just to add a little soupcon of…rationality in here, it is interesting to note that, even given all of this muscle-flexing exhibition of power and glory and mercy (eek?), the Egyptians failed to believe. Indeed, they are still not Jewish. In fact, there is no a significant evidence of Judaism there till almost 1000 years later. That’s an awful lot longer than the US has been a country. Although, it kinda was a home for others before it was stolen off the indigenous population. And there is this:

Oops.

Anyway, Mr D, as someone who thinks this action was necessary for something, can you let me know what all of these deaths of particularly evil children and animals were for? What was the greater good that could not (even with the greatest, most benevolent mind in conception) be delivered in any more benign a way? Because the Egyptians didn’t learn anything – there is no evidence of Jewish practices till immigrants came a thousand years later. The Hebrews even forgot because they got bored when Moses went up Mt Sinai for a bit, and built a golden calf and worshipped it.* And they had just been delivered from Egypt miraculously, and on the back end of a phenomenal amount of death and suffering, and had just been given sustenance in a desert on magical manna. And still they couldn’t learn anything!

Please answer me because, if you don’t, I will continue whining on behalf of the oppressed and murdered children and animals of Egypt that you so abhor.

PS God is love.

NOTES

* There are good suggestions that the golden calf does not represent a false idol, and is not a breaking of that commandment, but is actually a bull to represent Yahweh himself as a way of replacing the then missing Moses as an intermediary. This then breaks the first law of the Covenant Code – making gods form gold or silver – the very first law and what Yahweh gets so upset. I can see both arguments, since the bull also could represent the Baal or Apis. Much can be made of this coming from the E source, as this, though, being indeed a representation of Elohim as Yahweh.


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