Thursday, 20 October 2016

Justifying Genocide

I came across a series of blog posts by a guy called Clay Jones (D.Min. Associate Professor of Christian Apologetics at Biola University according to his blog) that attempt to justify the destruction of the Canaanite people. It is illustrative of the lengths Christians will go to to rationalise Biblical atrocities.

An issue from the start is how far we trust the Biblical text. The Bible authors clearly had an agenda here; they were themselves trying to justify their conquest of the Canaanite lands. What they were doing was typical of the time; tribes fought each other, and the winner got the land while the losers got slaughtered. Later the Jews were on the receiving end (and it is notable that the Babylonians were considerably more moral by not doing that to the Jews).

Let us suppose, however, that the Biblical account is accurate, since we are supposing God exists here.

God Ordered the Canaanite Destruction Because of Their Sins

The first post says it was not genocide because it was capital punishment:
First, the Lord clearly explains that He ordered the Canaanite destruction because of their sinfulness.
Who said they were sinful? God. What is a sin? Disobedience to God. So what this means is that God ordered the genocide because God said that the Canaaites were disobedient to God.

If Hitler justified killing the Jews using that logic, would we give him a pass? Hitler ordered the genocide because Hitler said the Jews were disobedient to Hitler. Does that wash? Not in my book.

Here is a great quote from the first article:
Israel was a theocracy and in Leviticus 20 the Lord is unambiguous that the above sins were death penalty offenses. (To be clear: I do not think that that any of these sins—except for murdering children—should be capitally punished today.)

So the author freely admits that most of the things the Canaanites were supposedly guilty of should not lead to their death in an article where he is trying to justify their death as punishment for those things.

Here is another damning quote:
The third reason it wasn’t genocide but capital punishment is that God didn’t order the Canaanites’ destruction until their society had become completely depraved.
Why did God not step in earlier to stop the supposed sin? What possible motive could he have for allowing it to get into this state - unless he was planning from the start to wipe them out?

Were There Any Innocent Canaanites?

In the second post, the author claims it was right to kill everyone, because they were all guilty. Or to be exact, he claims:
The answer to that is simple: there weren’t any innocent adult Canaanites!
Adult Canaanites. Interesting choice of words.

What of the children? Remember, this is a guy who thinks of all the crimes the Canaanites were accused of, in his opinion only killing children deserves the death sentence.

And yet, when he considers God's slaughter of the Canaanites, he convenient forgets the children! Well, in fairness, he says he will come on to that.

Why Kill the Canaanites’ Animals?
The Canaanites Had Sex with Animals
The Sexualized Animal Must Also Die
So there you go. The Canaanites had sex with animals, therefore it was only right to kill all the animals. I guess that fits with the Biblical idea that a rapist has to marry his victim.

Presumably this guy thinks children who have been preyed on by paedophiles should be executed? Of course not! That is different, so he will apply a whole different rationalisation in that case. Remember, these guys are not trying to be consistent; there is no hope of that!

Wait, all the animals? Did the Canaanites have sex with every animal they owned? Really?

The article mentions a female gorilla that apparently tried to regularly initiate sex with men, and uses this to rationalise killing all the dogs, all the goats, all the horses and all the mules.

The argument is that all the Canaanite goats, having suffered bestiality so much at the Canaanite hands, will thereafter being constantly trying to have sex with men. Are all these animals sufficiently alike? If a female gorilla behaves like that, can we assume female goats will too? That really is quite a stretch.

Talk about clutching at straws...

The Horror of Canaanite Children’s “Family” Life

The horror the author dwells on is child sacrifice. Does the killing of children justify killing the Canaanite children? Of course not. And the author admits this:
But, as I said, this doesn’t answer why the Lord would command that these children, who themselves were victims of a depraved Canaanite culture, should be killed or how that could be fair. 
No it does not.

Why Couldn’t Israel Adopt Canaanite Children?

The author points out that the Israelite soldiers had three choices, kill the children, leave them to starve or adopt them (clearly God cannot look after them because... er... oh right, he does not exist). But, as he goes on to say, adoption was not an option because "it would corrupt Israelite society". He quotes the Bible:
Deuteronomy 20:16-18: In the cities of these peoples that the Lord your God is giving you for an inheritance, you shall save alive nothing that breathes, but you shall devote them to complete destruction…. as the Lord your God has commanded, that they may not teach you to do according to all their abominable practices that they have done for their gods, and so you sin against the Lord your God.
You see, if an Israelite soldier had adopted a five year old Canaanite girl, she would corrupt him. Clearly this five year old would be a big risk to an all-powerful God, her influence would be greater. Better just to kill her on the spot.

As he says:
There is no logical basis to argue that the children would not have grown up to encourage the Israelites to commit Canaanite sin. If the Lord says, every Canaanite must die to keep Israel from indulging in their sins, then we have no reason to think it would be otherwise.
Turns out that God knew that these children would turn his chosen people away from him, and the only way an all-power God had to avoid that was to kill the lot of them. I guess the end justifies the means when you are God.

So really killing children is perfectly moral if you know they will be sinful in the future. Bear that in mind the next time a Christian trots out the free will argument. God is perfectly happy to curtail your free will when it suits him. Not so much when it is the free will of a rapist about to murder his victim.

Christians often like to trot out abortion when discussing dubious morality of the Bible, and this guy is no different.
Many skeptics will howl over this but it’s important to note that many of the atheists and other skeptics who complain bitterly about the Lord’s ordering the taking of the Canaanite children’s lives are hypocritical when they support abortion for any reason. This stance since 1973 has resulted in the United States suctioning, scraping, or scalding to death over fifty-five million babies!
See? Nothing wrong with the Christian God killing children if abortion is okay. Because a foetus is just the same as a child - well, if you re-label it as a baby. Except that this guy is clearly [i]against[/i] abortion; in his view abortion is morally wrong. So how can abortion make killing children morally right?

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