Saturday 12 November 2011

Craig's Law

The following is a description of drowning. It seems to be a particularly disempowering, lonely way to die. To set the scene for this post, imagine 20 million young children drowning altogether like this in a great sea. I'll come back to this at the end.

1. Except in rare circumstances, drowning people are physiologically unable to call out for help. The respiratory system was designed for breathing. Speech is the secondary, or overlaid, function. Breathing must be fulfilled, before speech occurs. 2. Drowning people’s mouths alternately sink below and reappear above the surface of the water. The mouths of drowning people are not above the surface of the water long enough for them to exhale, inhale, and call out for help. When the drowning people’s mouths are above the surface, they exhale and inhale quickly as their mouths start to sink below the surface of the water.3. Drowning people cannot wave for help. Nature instinctively forces them to extend their arms laterally and press down on the water’s surface. Pressing down on the surface of the water, permits drowning people to leverage their bodies so they can lift their mouths out of the water to breathe. 4. Throughout the Instinctive Drowning Response, drowning people cannot voluntarily control their arm movements. Physiologically, drowning people who are struggling on the surface of the water cannot stop drowning and perform voluntary movements such as waving for help, moving toward a rescuer, or reaching out for a piece of rescue equipment. 5. From beginning to end of the Instinctive Drowning Response people’s bodies remain upright in the water, with no evidence of a supporting kick. Unless rescued by a trained lifeguard, these drowning people can only struggle on the surface of the water from 20 to 60 seconds before submersion occurs.
As I said, I'll come back to this at the end of this post. The image of 20 million children dying scared, alone and unable to do anything about it should resonate through the "explanations" and "justifications" that follow.

The recent furore over William Lane Craig's comments on genocide in the Bible made me wonder is he alone in his viewpoint or is it a comment Christian view that genocide is okay as long as God told you to do it.

To recap, Richard Dawkins refused to debate Craig recently on Oxford citing his views on genocide as part of the reason. Craig managed a lot of mileage out of it by putting up an empty chair on stage during his talk for Dawkins.

Before we get on to Craig's comments, here are some examples of god-crimes in the bible:

NUMBERS 31: 7 And they warred against the Midianites, as the Lord commanded Moses; and they slew all the males. 9 And the children of Israel took all the women of Midian captives, and their little ones, … Moses was wroth with the officers of the host, with the captains over thousands, and captains over hundreds, which came from the battle.  15 And Moses said unto them, Have ye saved all the women alive? ... 17 Now therefore kill every male among the little ones, and kill every woman that hath known man by lying with him. 18 But all the women children, that have not known a man by lying with him, keep alive for yourselves.

And in case you're wondering how many young innocent girls were taken forcefully by the Israelite men and presumably raped, having just seen them kill their mothers and brothers and older sisters, Numbers 35 kindly tells us:

And thirty and two thousand persons in all, of women that had not known man by lying with him.
Another one:

Deuteronomy 20:13-15 13 When the LORD your God delivers it into your hand, put to the sword all the men in it. 14 As for the women, the children, the livestock and everything else in the city, you may take these as plunder for yourselves. ...15 This is how you are to treat all the cities that are at a distance from you and do not belong to the nations nearby.

Samuel 15:3 Now go and strike Amalek and utterly destroy all that he has, and do not spare him; but put to death both man and woman, child and infant, ox and sheep, camel and donkey.’” 
You get the idea. God is quite keen on genocide, slavery and the rape and killing of young children. Craig has written specifically about the genocide of the Canaanites:

God taught Israel that any assimilation to pagan idolatry is intolerable.  It was His way of preserving Israel’s spiritual health and posterity.  God knew that if these Canaanite children were allowed to live, they would spell the undoing of Israel.  The killing of the Canaanite children not only served to prevent assimilation to Canaanite identity but also served as a shattering, tangible illustration of Israel’s being set exclusively apart for God. 
Moreover, 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.So whom does God wrong in commanding the destruction of the Canaanites?  Not the Canaanite adults, for they were corrupt and deserving of judgement.  Not the children, for they inherit eternal life.  
So who is wronged?  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.
How can someone argue that we should feel pity for baby-killing fanatics and not their infant victims?  I find it astonishing that someone could write these words and mean them. There is no need to even comment further on them, is there? Words fail me. 

I had a look around the web to see if this is a common viewpoint. It seems to be amongst those that are aware of the atrocities in the bible and in true theological fashion, instead of letting the data inform the theory, tortuously reinterpret the data so as not to have to revise their theory.

A random example is a site called Rational Christianity of all things. The genocide justifications are the same as Criag's but this person has thought about it to a disturbing degree and I just could not read past this bit:

It's worth noting that being killed with a sword (perhaps beheaded) was at the time one of the quickest ways for the children to die (as opposed to suffocation/strangulation, starvation, disease or being torn apart by wild animals

When the discussion has got to the point where you are arguing that God is good because he orders foreign soldiers to kill your children with swords and not by any other brutal method, we have definitely moved into some theological variant of Godwin's Law. Craig's Law anyone?

To finish off and loop back to the bit about drowning at the start of this argument, let's look at the ne plus ultra in God's genocide oeuvre, the Great Flood. If we use Ussher as a date for this event, it apparently occurred in 2348-49BC (we'll forget about how the existing civilizations never noticed it was getting very damp). Calculations of the worlds population vary widely but an number of 66 million is one estimate. If we assume, conservatively in my opinion, that 30% of the population were children, then we have a figure of 19.8 million children killed by God when he pressed the reset button.

But hey, they were innocent so it was alright to kill them! And at least he didn't do them in with wild animals right? This is not a basis on which to build a moral or ethical system, in my opinion.

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