Below is a debate about the ethics of the Canaanite
described in the Bible:
Human Wickedness Mistaken for God's
Don't Call Mercy "Wickedness"
Rebutting Aspersions on God
The Biblical God Good?
The Canaan Connection
(Investigator 132, 2010
extermination of an ethnic group ever right? What if it:
- Follows the
of war of the target population and treats them
as they treated others?
and health worldwide?
by saving billions of people from religious
prostitution, idolatry, enslavement, human sacrifice, sexually
transmitted disease and poverty?
- Gives the
race opportunity to prevent its extinction?
- Gives the
population 400 years to give up their evil?
didn't sympathize with prevailing standards?
- Saves from
another ethnic group through whom benefits
to "4" would largely come?
reasons 1 to 4 is commanded by God?
setting was Canaan after the Israelite "Exodus" from Egypt:
for the towns of these peoples that the LORD your God is giving you as
an inheritance, you must not let anything that breathes remain alive.
You shall annihilate them — the Hittites and the Amorites, the
Canaanites and the Perrizites, the Hivites and the Jebusites…
carried out when the Israelites moved into Canaan. (Joshua 10:28-40;
the outskirts of planned Israelite settlement areas were
offered peace terms:
your terms of peace and surrenders to you, then all the people in it
shall serve you at forced labor.
Women as "booty"
to marriage, which proceeded after the women had mourned the loss of
their parents for a month. (21:10-14) Critics speak of "rape" because
the women had little choice, but if lifelong union is intended it's
marriage. Even today in much of Asia and Africa women don't decide whom
they'll marry — parents or guardians decide for them.
does not submit
you peacefully, but makes war against you, then you shall besiege
it … and put all its males to the sword.
may, however, take
your booty the women, the children, livestock and everything else in
the town, all its spoil…
you shall treat
the towns that are very far from you, which are not towns of the
nations here. (Deuteronomy 20:10-15)
marked for destruction were the Amalakites (desert nomads south of
Canaan), and Midianites (east of Canaan).
"struck down" stragglers during Israel's Exodus from Egypt
(Deuteronomy 25:17-19) and launched unprovoked attacks. Therefore, "I
will blot out the remembrance of Amalek…" (Exodus 17:8-16; Deuteronomy
25:19). "Blot out" did not necessarily imply extermination but could be
by assimilation or emigration subject to their future actions.
Israel settled into Canaan, Amalakites regularly raided,
destroyed crops, killed or stole livestock, and made Israelites
fugitives. (Judges 3:13; 6:3, 33) They were also slave traders,
kidnapping people to sell into slavery. Amalakite "plundering" (1
Samuel 14:48) continued for centuries, during which any peaceful
Amalakites could settle in Israel. (Leviticus 19:33-34; 24:22; Exodus
finally came when King Saul was commanded to kill, "man and
woman, child and infant, ox and sheep, camel and donkey." (1 Samuel
15:1-3) Some Amalakite clans survived and continued their terrorism:
"They had attacked Ziglag and burned it down and taken captive the
women and all who were in it, both small and great." (1 Samuel 30:1-3,
wars women and children were killed along with the men
whenever peace treaties, resettlement or enslavement were impractical.
Amalakites, for example, could not be neutralized by capturing cities
since they were nomads, and survivors simply continued plundering.
generation of Amalakites adopted the predatory lifestyle of
previous generations and therefore to finally stop the cycle meant
killing the children. It would have been suicidal strategy for Israel
to raise them and produce another generation of enemies since raids by
Philistines and trans-Jordan tribes were at their height and other
Amalakite clans remained. That left a choice between death in the
desert or death by sword. The livestock were ordered killed because
this was judgment, not war for plunder.
women and children were initially spared. (Numbers 31:9)
them: "Have you allowed all the women to live? These women
here…made the Israelites act treacherously against the LORD in the
affair of Peor, so that the plague came among the congregation of the
LORD. Now therefore, kill every male among the little ones, and kill
every woman who has known a man by sleeping with him, keep alive for
yourselves all the young girls who have not known a man by sleeping
with him. (31:15-17)
became wives as explained above, or servants. The boys were killed for
the same reasons as Amalakite children. Non-virgin women were killed
because of "the affair of Peor" and "the plague" when many Israelites
succumbed to their prostitution. (Numbers 25) Any Israelite leaders
involved with prostitutes were executed too (25:4) Due to rampant
prostitution the plague was probably sexually transmitted and execution
halted further spread.
Amalakite king was informed: "As your sword has made women
childless, so will your mother be childless among women." (I Samuel
15:33) The Amalakites got the treatment they had dished out for
centuries, a fulfillment of, "The one who curses you I will curse."
similar principles still operate today. In WWII Germans
bombed, displaced or killed whole populations, then got similar
treatment. Hundreds of thousands of German women and children were
killed and 10,000,000 Germans were displaced
ethnic group, the Kenites, was spared:
to the city of the Amalekites, and lay in wait in the valley. Saul said
to the Kenites, "Go! Leave! Withdraw from among the Amalekites, or I
destroy you with them; for you showed kindness to all the people of
Israel when they came up out of Egypt." (1 Samuel 15:2-8)
THE PUNISHMENT ON CANAAN?
is … because of the wickedness of these nations the LORD your God is
dispossessing them before you, in order to fulfill the promise that the
LORD made on oath to your ancestors, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to
Jacob." (Deuteronomy 9:5)
as Baal worship and sex with daughters, sisters, sons and animals
would, unless stopped, contaminate Israel:
yourselves in any of these ways, for by these practices the nations I
am casting our before you have defiled themselves. Thus the land became
defiled; and I punished it for its iniquity, and the land vomited out
its inhabitants. (Leviticus 18:24-25)
worse than the Greco-Roman world of which Boswell (1995) says:
"Exploitation of males owned or controlled by other males was
widespread; it was both a common act of aggression against defeated
foes to rape them, and a very ordinary use of slaves." Barber (1973)
writes that Greeks not only condoned "Homosexual love of an older man
for a younger boy…but idealized it."
shall be found
among you who makes a son or daughter pass through fire, or who
practices divination, or is a soothsayer, or an augur, or a sorcerer,
or one who casts a spell, or who consults ghosts or spirits, or who
seeks oracles from the dead. For whoever does these
things is abhorrent to the LORD; it is because of such abhorrent
practices that the LORD your God is driving them out before you.
had dispossessed previous cultures and were in turn dispossessed.
Humans, not God, invented war but neglected to enact a Geneva
Convention. Therefore, when empires declined they got treated as they
had treated others. By default that was the law: "Woe to the guilty…for
what their hands have done shall be done to them!" (Isaiah 3:11)
perpetual civil war. (Numbers 33:55) This aim failed because the
Canaanite annihilation was not done thoroughly, centuries of war
followed, and Israelites repeatedly adopted Canaanite depravity. (Psalm
of Canaanite depravity; few towns had even ten decent people. Abraham
indeed sweep away the righteous with the wicked? Suppose there
are fifty righteous within the city; will you then sweep away the place
and not forgive it for the fifty righteous who are in it? Far be
it from you…to slay the righteous with the wicked… Shall not the
judge of all the earth do what is right? (Genesis 18:23-25)
The reply was:
sake of ten I will not destroy it." (18:32)
7 — ALL NATIONS BLESSED
sacrifice is impressive and free sex enticing. If Israel with
laws condemning such practice still succumbed, it's evident such
worship would, if Canaan wasn't extinguished, eventually have merged
with similar worship of Africans, Celts, Pacific Islanders, Aztecs and
others producing a world of barbaric rituals and sexually transmitted
according to the Bible, wanted something better:
The New Testament
the "blessing" comes through Jesus Christ:
- In you
the families of the earth shall be blessed. (Genesis 12:3)
a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall be
blessed in him. (18:18)
- …and by
offspring shall all the nations of the earth gain blessing for
themselves. (22:18; 26:4; 28:14)
are the descendants of the prophets and of the covenant God gave to
your ancestors, saying to Abraham, ‘And in your descendants all the
families of the earth shall be blessed.' So God raised up his servant,
he sent him first to you, to bless you by turning each of you from your
wicked ways. (Acts 3:25-26; Galatians 3:8-9, 29)
To be "blessed"
happiness from possessing or anticipating salvation, prosperity,
righteous government, security, health and peace.
blessing is firstly theological — friendship with God and salvation
by Jesus Christ. (John 3:16)
are the "works" by Christianity. Jesus said, "The one who
believes in me will also do the works that I do, in fact, will do
greater works than these…" (John 14:12)
A few of
the great "works" that followed are:
Many people don't
appreciate modern prosperity as the "blessing of Abraham" and work to
destroy the foundation — the Bible. If the above great things began
with minorities against the tide, imagine the achievements if the
"tide" supported them!!
infanticide in the Roman Empire (315CE).
"games" — 700,000 had died in the Colosseum
limited work hours and endorsed education.
- Founding of
scientific disciplines, bringing prosperity
against infanticide, widow burning, and the
caste system in India and other lands.
hospitals and schools — in Australia alone Catholic
agencies run 21 public hospitals with 9500 of the nation's 89,000
systems, universities and libraries.
charities around the world. East Timor, for example,
has the Timor Children's Foundation which sponsors orphans, Mary
Mackillop East Timor Mission (healthcare and education), Friends
and Partners of East Timor (education and health), Alola
Foundation (children's and women's health and handicrafts), and
rights — Eve was Adam's "helper as his
partner" (Genesis 2:18) hence his equal, therefore early Christianity
was radically pro-women.
laws including pensions for ordinary people
(1 Timothy 5:9) can be traced to the Bible.
8 — HUMANITY'S PRESERVATION
for Canaan's apocalypse is by implication, not direct
statement. It's to give humans the opportunity to prevent the end of
and burning stone" that destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah can be
explained as a small comet (similar to Tunguska, 1908). The New
Testament says this was an "example of what is coming" upon the whole
world. (2 Peter 2:6; 3:10-12) By about 1990 some astronomers even
declared it inevitable.
however, states, "Nothing that they propose to do will now be
impossible for them." (11:6) And if nothing is impossible then
could potentially stop comets from hitting Earth. The "blessing of
Abraham" could therefore, by leading to Christianity and modern
technology, stop the end of the world.
Canaanite religion had stayed intact and Abraham's blessing
cancelled, idolatry, ritualized sexual abuse, human sacrifice,
infanticide, homosexual rape, and slavery would have dominated the
world perpetually until blasted into extinction by "fire" from Space.
hopeless at selecting the best future. For example, "In 1619
a ship arrived in Jamestown and brought a curse of injustice and
violence that lasted for centuries." (Demaris 1970)
was 20 Negroes. These weren't lifelong slaves but could work
off their "indentures" and gain freedom. However, many White
"gentlemen" of Jamestown hated manual work. As more Negroes arrived the
Whites made slavery the solution and changed Negro status from
indentured servants to slaves for life.
slavery was institutionalized. Slave owners considered Negroes
animals and bred them for profit, branded them, cropped their ears, and
whipped them. Slavery led to the American Civil War that killed 600,000
followed by the racist Klu Klux Klan which committed terrorist acts
eventually numbering millions.
events, in contrast to Jamestown, showed long-range
foresight. Judged by blessings gained, principles followed, and horrors
minimized they suggest guidance by a supernatural intelligence that
cares about us.
writes: "God's solution is not one we would expect from an
all-wise being… It could easily have initiated massive social reform
programmes aimed at eliminating the social and moral evils...."
we need a brief "theodicy", an explanation of why humans
suffer if God exists and is good. The answer is humanity's "knowledge
of good and evil." (Genesis 3:5) This is the subjective feeling of
being right and good which everyone has and which everyone puts ahead
of God's standards. This "knowledge" is being tested by humans being
allowed to invent their own ethics, institutions, governments, and
religions and experience the consequences until it's established that
humans need God. And for the "test" to be unbiased requires God's
absence so humans aren't pressured. (See Investigator 104)
for any reforms, therefore, was on the Canaanites by them
adjusting their "knowledge of good and evil" and reforming themselves.
if reform programs make evil people good, why didn't
England initiate reform programs in 1940 rather than fight WWII? South
Korea tried to "reform" North Korea away from its atomic bomb project
with a "Sunshine Policy" of billion-dollar payments. North Korea simply
accepted the payments and continued its project.
modern prosperity, and reform programs everywhere, 20th-century
immorality produced 1,500,000,000 cases of sexually transmitted disease
with 200,000,000 deaths; 1,000,000,000 cases of child sexual abuse;
plus countless infanticides and sex-selective abortions:
than 100 million women are now missing in Asia, not just in China and
India, but also in Bangla-desh, Iran and Pakistan, according to…the
United Nations Development Program." (The Weekend Australian, April
10-11, 2010, p. 5)
consequences are so terrible that God becomes a "God of war" to stop
it. (Exodus 15:1-3). Children have parents and that's a blessing since
without adult care they'd die, but the downside is that children often
suffer for parental crimes.
parameters for Canaan's judgment (see opening paragraph) have never
recurred, and therefore all genocides stand condemned. It also followed
the principle: "For with the judgment you make you will be judged…"
had instituted their "knowledge of good and evil" and
produced barbarism. Their destruction has allowed wide-scale tryouts or
tests of other human ideas of good and evil such as Roman Emperor
worship, divine right of kings, witchcraft and witch-hunts, atheism,
Nazism, Communism, etc. A thorough test of human ideas of good and evil
requires that all be tried rather than a few.
had perished instead of Canaanite culture, then idolatry,
human sacrifice, slave raids, infanticide, routine sex with relatives
and animals, homosexual rape, pederasty, and resultant diseases would
have continued perpetually. Such practice would eventually have merged
with similar practice in Africa and America creating worldwide networks
of barbaric evil not moderated by "Abraham's blessing" in the form of
Christ, Christianity and modern science.
1973 The Penthouse Sex Index, p. 195
J. 1995 The
Marriage of Likeness, p. 54
America The Violent
Newcombe, J. 1994 What If Jesus Had Never Been Born?
When Human Wickedness is mistaken for God's
(Investigator 133, 2010
the Bible portray God acting in a reprehensible manner more
consistent with a cruel and merciless dictator than a being considered
the epitome of moral virtue. I have no doubt that most Christians are
sensible enough to see these passages for what they are - merely
examples of the Biblical writer's own prejudices projected onto God,
rather than a true reflection of a morally perfect divinity.
fundamentalists see the Bible as being unerringly true —
every word of it. Therefore, if God is portrayed as ordering the
killing of children (I Samuel 15:2-3), then they unquestioningly
believe it happened, and believe that such acts of savagery are
this quite disturbing, for if believers think that God sanctions
such barbarous acts, then they may come to believe that extreme
violence is righteous when authorized by divine command.
sound merely academic. However, recent history shows the
tragic results that can happen when people come to believe their
questionable actions are supported by supernatural fiat, and proceed to
act on such assumptions:
George Bush has claimed he was told by God to invade Iraq
and attack Osama bin Laden's stronghold of Afghanistan as part of a
divine mission to bring peace to the Middle East, security for Israel,
and a state for the Palestinians.
President made the assertion during his first meeting with
Palestinian leaders in June 2003, according to a BBC series which will
be broadcast this month."
Told Me to Invade Iraq.
invasion was both unnecessary and unjustifiable is now
acknowledged by most people. Estimates of the number of civilians
killed vary — 100,000 to over a million. That the war has caused
immense suffering is beyond doubt:
years after Bush and Tony Blair launched the invasion of Iraq
against the wishes of a majority of UN members, no one knows how many
Iraqis have died. We do know that more than two million have fled
abroad. Another 1.5 million have sought safety elsewhere in Iraq. We
know that the combined horror of car bombs, suicide attacks, sectarian
killing and disproportionate US counter-insurgency tactics and air
strikes have produced the worst humanitarian catastrophe in today's
world. But the exact death toll remains a mystery.
What is the
Real Death Toll in Iraq? www.ardian.co.uk/world/2008/mar/19/iraq
God (if such a thing exists) order the invasion knowing in
advance (if It is omniscient) the appalling suffering that would follow
as a direct result the war's destabilizing effects on Iraq?
order the killing of thousands? Would God consider it
acceptable to have children blown to pieces by bombs or, in more
primitive ages, to have their throats slit by rampaging Israelite
warriors? Some Christians may ague that God would. But I think that
most would not, and I am surprised that no Christian subscriber to Investigator
has written an article countering some of the
the affirmative which have been published in this magazine.
have done so to date I find myself (an Atheist) in the unusual
position of playing the role of theologian and producing a counter
argument from a Christian perspective, which is probably going to be
more comprehensible to people who share that particular view than any
non-theistic objections I can raise.
begin my counter argument with an appeal to the Bible (Revised
Standard Version), which shall then be followed by some philosophical
objections based on the nature of God.
1 John 4:8
says "He who does not love does not know God; for God is
love." If God is defined as love, then what is love? 1 Corinthians 14
gives the following exposition:
If I speak in
the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am
a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and
understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so
as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away
all I have, and if I deliver my body to be burned, but have not love, I
is patient and
love is not jealous or boastful, it is not
arrogant or rude. Love does not insist on its own way; it is not
irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrong, but rejoices in
the right. Love bears all things, believes all things, endures all
never ends; as for
prophecies, they will pass away; as for our
tongues, they will cease; as for our knowledge, it will pass away. For
our knowledge is imperfect and our prophecy is imperfect; but when the
perfect comes, the imperfect will pass away. When I was a child, I
spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child;
when I became a man I gave up childish ways.
now we see in a
mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in
part; then I shall understand fully, even as I have been fully
understood. So faith, hope, love abide, these three; but the greatest
of these is love.
5:17 has God command "you shall not kill," and Jesus is
reputed to have said "Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you,
bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. To him who
strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also" (Luke 6:27-29).
light of these quotations what, dear reader, is more likely that
God (who is Love) would order the killing of children, and
George W. Bush to invade Iraq, or that misguided and delusional men
have subconsciously attributed their own desires to God in an attempt
to justify the unjustifiable?
concluded my theological protests I shall now move on to some
philosophical objections, which are based upon the Ontological Argument
of St. Anselm of Canterbury (1033-1109 AD).
argument in its original form is extremely difficult to
understand. The following restatement, however, may make thing a little
By the term "God" is meant a being than which none
greater can be conceived.
affirm or deny the existence of God, a being
than which none greater can be conceived exists in the understanding.
3: It is
possible to conceive of a being than which none
greater can be conceived existing not only in the understanding but in
reality as well; and this is greater.
therefore, a being than which none greater can be
conceived exists only in the understanding, it is not a being than
which none greater can be conceived.
a being than which none greater can be
conceived exists also in reality.
Page 124 in
Halverson, William H A: A Concise
Philosophy, Random House, New York, 1976.
Anselm is arguing is that we can't deny the existence in
reality of a being than which none greater can be conceived without
contradicting ourselves. Now, if we define God as a being than which
none greater can be conceived, it follows (at least in St. Anselm's
view) that God's existence is necessarily true.
considered the creator of the universe. If this is true then God
must necessarily possess a degree of intelligence and power far greater
than that of human beings. But when the Bible is examined we find God
resorting to killing children as a solution. This is a very primitive
and barbaric way of dealing with a situation, and is not in keeping
with a God so ingenious that He, She or It could devise a universe as
complex as ours.
Now, I can
conceive of a God so intelligent that He can solve problems
without resorting to killing people — either directly or by proxy
through His followers, and since this conception of God is ethically
greater than that of the Biblical god then it follows by St. Anselm's
proof that it is this more moral divinity that actually exists.
Therefore, God would not resort to killing children.
Don't Call Mercy "Wickedness"
#132 I showed that the Bible portrays the
Israel-Canaanite conflict as God's judgment on Canaan. As explained,
(Investigator 134, 2010
of war for those times (except
for buggering the defeated and raping the women) and treated the
Canaanites as they had treated others.
based on moral grounds (Deuteronomy 9:5;
delayed 400 years to give opportunity for
preceded by warnings (e.g. Sodom and Gomorrah,
Ten Plagues of Egypt).
demonstrated opposition to
a step to bringing "blessing" (i.e.
monotheism, salvation, prosperity, morality, health, peace) to "all the
nations of the earth" (Genesis 22:18).
the human race opportunity to prevent its
- Saved from
another nation (Israel)
through whom the "blessing" would commence.
- Condemned —
the above criteria include
some that are impossible-to-copy — all mistreatment of populations
the 400-year delay, was itself merciful but included another
mercy — when a great grandson of Abraham predicted poor harvests and
organized the stockpiling of grain. (Genesis 39-42) This saved Egypt
and Canaan from famine and was a foretaste and validation of the
prediction that Abraham's descendants would bring "blessing" to all
nations (Point "6").
the "blessing" eventually improved billions of lives,
Straughen (#133) says, "No". Better than Canaanite boys being killed
mercifully, the Israelite children should instead have been sexually
mistreated by Canaanites and/or sacrificed to idols, and Israel
exterminated, and the "blessing" cancelled". Monotheism, improved
morality and science would then not have flourished, and Canaan's cults
would eventually have merged with cults elsewhere producing a world of
barbaric rituals, infanticide, institutionalized sexual abuse, and
CHILDREN and RETRIBUTION
not God, invented war in the unrecorded past. And
involved children — Assyrians, Egyptians, Romans, etc — probably
Children were part of the economy, therefore
Kings owned the people who therefore were
legitimate targets to reduce his power.
Children were possessions of fathers, therefore
shared their fate.
not killed, children without parents would die
from exposure or wild animals — therefore killing them was merciful.
Children often fought alongside parents and would
later seek revenge if spared.
point 5: The Weekend Australian reported a "schoolboy
in Kashmir with "street battles between stone-throwing boys, some as
young as eight, and security forces". (July 17-18, 2010, p. 19) When I
was five my parents got into fights with their landlord and his wife
with kicks, fists and stones. I joined in, not incited to do so, but
simply copying my parents. If mere example makes a 5-year-old fight,
then incitement and indoctrination with training would make even
younger boys dangerous.
evil in ancient times threatened to prevent the future
"blessing to all nations" such evil had to be stopped. And when
stopped, the standards of right and wrong of the perpetrators were
applied to them and sometimes their families — the rule was "judged as
600BC the Scriptures indicated a change — that children should
not suffer for parental evils:
TO THE CHILDREN
prophet Ezekiel wrote that retribution should be individual, each
person should be punished for his own sins:
2 What do you
mean by repeating this proverb concerning the land of
Israel, "The parents have eaten sour grapes, and the children's teeth
are set on edge"?
3 As I
live says the
GOD, this proverb shall no more be used by
you in Israel.
that all lives
mine; the life of the parent as well as the
life of the child is mine; it is only the person that sins that shall
child shall not
suffer for the iniquity of a parent, nor a parent
suffer for the iniquity of a child… (Ezekiel 18)
This principle was and
widely ignored. In World War II, for example,
5-10 million children died and Muslim terrorists today often murder the
families of critics.
principle nevertheless became central in modern law — and is
part of the "blessing to all the nations of the earth."
abortion and infanticide although illegal has produced a
sexual imbalance of 100,000,000 in Asia (See #132). In ancient times,
therefore, with infanticide institutionalized, the infant death toll
must have been staggering.
kids in Rome who were found by strangers were routinely put
to work as beggars but first mutilated to make begging more profitable.
Roman philosopher Seneca (4BC-65AD) even argued that such children had
no cause for complaint since their own parents didn't want them.
however, got infanticide banned in the Roman Empire (See
#41) and eventually world-wide because:
1. The Bible
"Sons are indeed a
heritage from the LORD, the
fruit of the womb a reward." (Psalm 127:3)
Jesus said, "Let the
little children come to me,
and do not stop them." (Luke 18:16)
So when I
write of Abraham's "blessing" saving and improving "billions"
of lives, as New Testament standards increasingly permeated the world,
I'm not exaggerating.
"blessing" to begin, required that Canaanite religion with its
fertility rites, human sacrifice, child sexual abuse, and sex between
close relatives and humans with animals, not become the worldwide norm.
(#134) compares Canaan to the 2003 intervention in Iraq.
discussed Iraq in #119. Most of the killing was done by Sunni
terrorists seeking to re-establish Sunni minority-rule, and Al Qaida
terrorists seeking to destabilize Muslim states to create a worldwide
of Iraq have democracy and increasing prosperity; the rest of
Iraq is progressing also. Shiites, Kurds and Kuwaitis gassed, starved
or tortured by Saddam's regime are glad he's gone.
and rule of law often require violence to achieve. Consider
cases where international intervention delayed or failed:
massacred in 1994.
The Congo —
died in civil war.
North Korea —
2,000,000 died from famine; another
2,000,000 languish in gulags.
dismantled their own country,
even pulled out cables, railway lines and water pipes, and produced
millions of refugees and thousands of pirates.
economy is crippled and the army
stacked with cronies to keep the president in power: "…nearly 6 million
people desperately need emergency food aid … Zimbabwe's troubles …
an absolute failure of the international system, which is based on the
division of the world among sovereign governments…and…a right of non
interference… (D. Flitton, Zimbabweans pay dearly for world's failure,
The Age, December 12, 2008, p. 17)
writes: "A government's ultimate purpose is to ensure the
physical safety of its citizens."
has the responsibility to protect when governments act like
gangsters? Flitton, citing "academics and international jurists", says:
"Where a local regime fails in that duty, the responsibility to act and
protect human rights, by military force if necessary, passes to the
demise benefited the human race; and the intention for
toppling Saddam's regime was superficially similar. I don't see further
of Christian ministries fulfill Jesus' prediction that his
followers will do greater deeds than he did. (John 14:12) Again, it's
part of Abraham's "blessing".
example, Heidi and Rolland Baker went to Mozambique in 1995.
Beginning with 80 diseased, malnourished children in a rundown
orphanage they later provided for 10,000 children.
8.5 million children die yearly from pneumonia, diarrhea, and
malnutrition. Micah Challenge is a coalition of Christian
save these children. The name comes from the prophet Micah who wrote:
"He has showed you what is good. And what does the LORD require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God." (6:8)
Scientist reported that 270,000, children died from AIDS
and there are "15 million AIDS orphans worldwide". (November 22,
AIDS is tackled by governments, but Christians help with orphanages and
by teaching biblical morality — in Africa AIDs is spread by immorality
more than by drug-injection.
Straughen's misrepresentation of God discouraged just one
Christian ministry. His supposed concern for ancient children would
then hurt many children alive now!
couldn't "God", if He exists and has unlimited power, have judged
Canaan without killing children?
answer this query via Theodicy. "Theodicy" examines why evil
exists if God is both good and powerful.
Tsunamis and Evil (# 104) I quoted Bible verses to
all humans reject God's standards of good and evil and follow their
own. God permits this as an experiment until humans learn from
experience that they need God's guidance. The human race has the
capacity to achieve virtually anything — even go to the stars. (Genesis
11:4, 6) Unlimited potential plus freedom to choose would be
inconsistent with forced submission; therefore God does not compel
compliance. Instead, His strategy is to let humans try out all the
ethical theories, governments, values and religions that they think of
and experience the consequences. In the meantime God arranges a
"savior" to save humans from the punishment they deserve.
scenario requires that God stays away as if non-existent; so
that humans aren't intimidated by His power. To intimidate humans would
bias their decisions in what sort of governments, religions, ethics,
and laws they set up, and would be inconsistent with permitting
independence in the first place.
to be incognito explains why communication is by prayer, why
miracles seem in short supply, why suffering children don't get
miraculous rescue, and why God uses people as proxies to act on his
missed the point, here it is again: Ongoing, large scale,
miraculous invention would be obvious to everyone and could not be
hidden. God's cover would be blown, and prevent unbiased evidence of
what happens when humans ignore God.
1930s the nations could have stopped Nazi plans for world
conquest at a cost of 50,000 lives. But they didn't, and then it cost
portrays God as looking ahead to eternity and from that
perspective doing what's best.
situated near the confluence of three continents, in the
middle of the world. Whatever values and religion thrived in Canaan
could potentially spread worldwide. The Bible implied as much by
stating that God gave Canaan to Abraham and that via Abraham's
offspring "all the nations of the earth will be blessed."
than Canaanite standards dominating the world, we have Jesus,
monotheism, science and technology.
Rebutting Aspersions on
I was hoping that
a Christian would offer some rebuttal of Anonymous'
position on the "Canaanite Holocaust" since his claims seem to cast
aspersions on the concept of a loving and merciful God.
(Investigator 135, 2010
like to think this deafening silence is not because the
majority agree with what to me is a debased and evil theology.
I find the
situation worrying. The world already has enough fanatical
Muslims who believe people should be killed for one reason or another.
It is all
very well for skeptics such as myself to point out that
religious violence is wrong, but do you know of any Christian minister
willing to write an article rebutting Anonymous' claims?
just a point scoring exercise. What happens if Anonymous'
writings influence impressionable minds and lead them to believe God
sanctions violence against children?
arguing for a more balanced view that is representative of
mainstream Christianity rather than that of a fanatical minority.
I reassure Kirk
Straughen (Letters, #135) that his writing on the
‘Canaanite Holocaust' has not gone unheard.
John H Williams
(Investigator 137, 2011
have "a fundamental belief that the Bible is the Word of God"
are inclined to rationalise its horrors, part of the all-encompassing
YHVH/Yahweh/Jehovah myth, and attempt to justify the morally
of some parts of the OT will dispel the idea of a "jealous"
deity that Israelites believed was theirs alone was "loving and
merciful": instead, it sometimes behaved in a ruthlessly cruel way,
much like the survivalist, then aggressive and expansionist Jewish
culture which conveniently sanctioned the idea of justifiable genocide
through the anthropomorphism of its god.
victors wrote their history subjectively, with nil dissent from
rival tribes they made extinct, a retrospectively written defence of
invasion and conquest. In the words of Yehuda Bauer, Professor of
Holocaust Studies at Jerusalem's Hebrew University, "As a Jew, I must
live with the fact that the civilisation I inherited encompasses the
call for genocide in its canon."
a 1960 major court case, brought under the UK's Obscene
Publications Act (1959), which put on trial Penguin's unexpurgated
edition of DH Lawrence's Lady Chatterley's Lover (1928). I
considering what I'd learnt about the lethal and violent happenings in
the Bible, why children were encouraged to read and accept supposedly
true unexpurgated mayhem, while a story about a fictional illicit love
affair was regarded by some as obscene.
"deafening silence" that Kirk decries will continue, as the hideous
reality can only be sanitised by the most dexterous air-brushing: the
‘I Am That I Am' god, which evolved to become the mythical Christian
god, ‘was', at times, amoral and genocidal, apparently ‘approving' the
erasure of Baal-worshipping Canaanites.
"Christian minister" Kirk mentions, if one can be found, may
theodicise, unless he or she happens to be a Jack Spong or an Honest to
God liberal like John Robinson, James Pike and Don Cupitt. There's a
wide political spectrum: so too with Christian ministers, and liberal
thinkers are outnumbered by fundamentalists, conservatives and
needn't fret about those "impressionable minds", since they first
have to believe in a supernatural being, and many don't; some
indoctrinated, literal-minded, misled and misinformed youngsters
eventually grow up and realise that all demons, ghosts, (eg the Holy
Ghost), gods, fairies, angels, jolly seasonal visitors and the like are
fictional stories some adults like to tell their young.
transmitting these memes, part of children's enculturation, one
generation helps prepare the next for a mendacious world, reinforced,
in my case, by Sunday school, church and a bible reading, prayer and
hymn every school day, in incomprehensible Welsh on Fridays, my lot for
seven years, plus a steady diet of my Dad's platitudinous lies, such as
"The devil makes work for idle hands …" and "Cleanliness is next to
opinion, Kirk's many cogently and dispassionately argued articles
in this magazine have been influential and valuable.
Is the Biblical God Good?
#133 Kirk Straughen argued that a good God
reconciled with the God of the Bible, especially the God of the Old
Testament. Worst still, the Bible creates precedents for people or even
political leaders to make silly decisions that may have disastrous
(Investigator 138, 2011
quotes 1 John 4:8, where it states that God is love. In other
words, love is God's essential nature. Kirk then quoted 1 Corinthians
13, which is Paul's exposition on the nature of love. This chapter is
essentially targeted at human love, rather than God's love. However, it
is fair to assume that it should also be mostly applicable to the
nature of a loving God. Kirk then considered Anselm's Ontological
argument. If God exists, He must be the greatest conceivable being,
which must include love. Kirk's arguments so far are quite fair.
can a God of love be reconciled with the violent God of the
Old Testament? Kirk cites the case from 1 Samuel 15:1-3,
said to Saul, "I am the one the Lord sent to anoint you king
over his people Israel; so listen now to the message from the Lord.
This is what the Lord Almighty says: ‘I will punish the Amalekites for
what they did to Israel when they waylaid them as they came up from
Egypt. Now go, attack the Amalekites and totally destroy everything
that belongs to them. Do not spare them; put to death men and women,
children and infants, cattle and sheep, camels and donkeys.'"
quite horrific. How can we reconcile this with a loving God?
However, before we leap into judgment, we should consider the context.
first contact with the Amalekites was at Rephidim while they
were wandering in the Sinai desert. The Amalekites attacked and killed
the stragglers; the Israelites then defeated them in a battle (Exodus
17). Deuteronomy 25:17-19 states,
what the Amalekites did to you along the way when you came
out of Egypt. When you were weary and worn out, they met you on your
journey and cut off all who were lagging behind; they had no fear of
God. When the Lord your God gives you rest from all the enemies around
you in the land he is giving you to possess as an inheritance, you
shall blot out the memory of Amalek from under heaven. Do not forget!"
of Judges records at least 3 occasions where the Amalekites
attacked Israel when they allied with other nations during the times of
Ehud, Gideon and Jair (Judges chapters 3, 6 and 10). After the period
of the judges, Saul became the first king of Israel. He was given the
task of fulfilling the command given so many years before in
Deuteronomy 25. In fact the key factor in Saul's rejection as king was
his failure to completely fulfil that command. He spared king Agag and
the best of the animals!
obviously didn't do a thorough job, as the Amalekites reappear
later. While David was staying with the Philistines, David pretended he
was attacking Israel but in fact conducted raids against the Amalekites
as well as other enemies of Israel. He didn't want his true activities
to be known to the Philistines, and so he didn't leave any survivors!
The last mention of the Amalekites is in 1 Chronicles 5, where the
Simeonites invaded and occupied their territory during the time of
Hezekiah (715-685 BC), thus fulfilling the prophecy of Deuteronomy 25.
primary reason for the ban on Amalek was the judgment of God for
the event recorded in Exodus 17. However, other factors should also be
considered. Israel and Amalek were often at war and their relationship
was violent. In the Ancient Near East, there were no rules of war or a
United Nations Organization. War was a fact of life. Each nation had to
be prepared for war or it would not survive. The slaying of women and
infants is horrible, but understandable. The infants of today are the
enemies of tomorrow; and women breed infants. Israel was probably
relatively civilised compared with other nations. There is no evidence
of sadism or torture. Compare this with the Neo-Assyrian annals of
Asshurnasirpal (tenth century BC), which take pleasure in gruesomely
describing the flaying of live victims, the impaling of others on
poles, and the heaping up of bodies for display.
more civilised; we don't do that anymore, or do we? Most
national borders have been decided by acts of war. We Anglo-Saxon
Australians occupy Australia through violence and power. The aboriginal
population has been decimated. We fortunately live in a time of peace,
but we sanitize the basis for our occupation. We can smugly enjoy the
benefits of the dirty work done by our forbears. The problem with the
Bible is that it is too transparent.
is dependent on time and situation. What was right then is not
right now and what is right now was not right then. Israel was a nation
in transition. They started off as nomads, became slaves in Egypt and
then were formed into a theocratic nation via the leadership of judges
and kings. They spent time in exile and then returned to their land
under the control of foreign powers. After their rebellion against
Rome, the temple was destroyed, their sacrificial system was ended and
Israel was scattered to the nations. The specific details of the laws
and rituals of the Torah are largely inapplicable to modern Judaism or
Christianity. They were mainly applicable to the pre-exilic times of
the Judges and the Kings. The Torah is still of value, but it must be
analysed in the context of the times in order to extract principles
that have more general application. You should not quote a passage and
assume it has universal application.
1 Corinthians 13? This letter was primarily written to a
local church in the city of Corinth? Does it have wider application? It
certainly does, but its original context must be taken into account.
Where 1 Corinthians 13:7 states, "[Love] always protects, always
trusts, always hopes, always perseveres", this may be fine in a church
or family setting, but I can easily imagine some situations where it is
not appropriate. The point is that the Bible must be interpreted in its
context. You can cherry pick quotes if you like, but this method is
vulnerable to error.
was one of the first books of the Bible that I read to my
children. It has wonderful stories that children (and adults) enjoy. It
certainly has its fair share of violence. However, strangely, my
children were not damaged by the experience. My children are not
violent at all. It is not their life's ambition to kill Amalekites or
anyone else. They somehow managed to intuitively understand the stories
and their meaning and also perceive something about the nature of God
and the morality that is applicable to them.
So far I
have covered understanding of the context and determining
applicability, but can 1 Samuel be reconciled with a loving God? The
Bible provides very little in the way of explanation or justification
for some of these statements. We are expected to think it through for
ourselves. Paul recommended, "Behold both the kindness and severity of
God" (Romans 11:22). "Behold" means "Look"! The God of the Bible is
multi-faceted and nuanced. He is not a doting, sentimentalist whose
greatest desire is for our happiness. The God of the Bible addresses a
wide range of life's issues. This includes love, mercy and forgiveness
as well as death, evil, suffering and judgment.
of the typical believer are pertinent. When a believer
encounters an issue such as this, it may puzzle or perplex them to some
degree, but not sufficiently to "knock them off their perch". The
reason is that they have a perception of the total character of God
from the whole Biblical narrative. There are some things that they do
not understand, but they have overall confidence in the character of
God that He can work it out and resolve all loose ends. Christians
believe in a final judgment where God will judge everyone according to
their deserts. In the face of the impending doom of Sodom and Gomorrah,
Abraham asked, "Shall not the judge of all the earth do right?" Indeed
is quite vulnerable to misrepresentation, misinterpretation
or misuse. You need to study it carefully in order to interpret it in a
reasonable manner. Romans 9:33 says, "I lay in Zion a stone that causes
men to stumble and a rock that makes them fall". So, stumble if you
must. No one will stop you, for God has given you both the
responsibility and dignity to make choices that have eternal
THE CANAAN CONNECTION
claims that my exposition of the Bible's account of Canaan
was an attempt to "rationalize its [the Bible's] horrors" and "justify
the morally indefensible".
(Investigator 138, 2011
obvious lesson from the Old Testament's account is that:
Only God has the right to command the extermination of certain peoples;
Only on moral/ethical grounds for the good of the entire world;
Only if the targeted population itself practiced, and so approved of
Only after giving the target population several centuries to repent.
criteria condemn all massacres of populations in history and
declare all genocides wrong. And that is not a "horror" or
was that Canaan occupied the "centre of the world" and
standards that prevailed there would become the worldwide norm. Those
standards included sexual intercourse of everyone with anyone including
children with parents and animals with people, human sacrifice, slave
raids, religious prostitution, mutilation of captives, buggery of
replacing Canaan's population with Israel the result would
eventually be "blessing to all the nations of the earth". (Genesis
refers to contentment/happiness resulting from such benefits
as peace, prosperity, equality in justice, good relationships, long
lives, good health, security, etc.
mediated to all humankind through Judaism and Christianity
and benefiting the modern world include an end to, or reduction in, the
Slave raids and slavery;
Mutilation of children to make them effective beggars;
Mutilation, enslavement and buggery of prisoners of war;
mediated include the establishment of:
The principle that children should not be punished for crimes of
Freedom as distinct from slavery;
Pensions for ordinary people;
Hospitals and healthcare for the general population;
Thousands of charitable ministries;
Modern science and technology.
benefits include the end of death and pain (Revelation 21:4),
human rule of the Universe (Hebrews 2:5-9), and the power to make
everything imaginable possible. (Genesis 11:6) The Canaanite way of
idolatry would have left the human race in permanent degradation and
misery until extinguished by asteroid or comet impact. (2 Peter 2:6;
military operation to replace the Canaanites also followed the
rules of war the Canaanites believed in (except for rape of women and
buggery of the defeated) — a case of judged as they judge.
his accusation of "biblical horrors" Williams needs to
praise and justify the practices listed in the first list, and badmouth
the benefits listed in the second.
further detail the reader should read the entire debate commencing
Investigator #132. Williams did not read it carefully for he is
implying that Israel should have been exterminated instead of
Canaanites, producing a world dominated by barbaric evils.
Skeptics versus the
Bible on this website --
hundreds of articles; dozens of debates: