WILLIAM LANE CRAIG – DEFENDING GENOCIDES
The biblical God orders genocides in the Old Testament. William Lane Craig (in italics) defends these orders as morally justified. I vehemently disagree.
The Canaanites were Extremely Evil – Their culture was absolutely reprobate. They practiced child sacrifice, for example. Their destruction was richly deserved. This was a case of God executing divine justice, through the instrumentality of the Hebrews.
Large groups of people are never ALL evil, every last one of them. That’s not reality. All Nazis might be evil, but not all Germans.
Infants and animals are not evil! Yet your God wants them killed. 1 Sam 3:15 "put to death men and women, children and infants, cattle and sheep"
Furthermore, the biblical God’s plan included the killing of groups that were not so evil. Judges 18:27 “and went to Laish, to A PEOPLE QUIET AND SECURE; and they struck them with the edge of the sword and burned the city with fire.” This passage shows it was standard operating procedure for the Hebrews to take land by force and kill other groups even if that culture was not exceptionally evil. Dt 20:16-18 “… you shall let nothing that breathes remain alive, but you shall utterly destroy them: the Hittite and the Amorite and the Canaanite and the Perizzite and the Hivite and the Jebusite…”
Also, the Hebrews practiced child sacrifice as well. 2 Kg 17:17 “they caused their sons and daughters to pass through the fire.” (The same phrase "pass through the fire" is used to describe the Canaanites sacrificing their children to Molech. Lev 18:21, Jer 32:35.) Why should the Hebrews not have deserved the same utter destruction?
Abraham was quite willing to sacrifice his son Isaac. It’s the same stupid religious extremist mentality.
The Command was to Move them – The order was to MOVE them out, and only kill them if they refuse to move out.
It does not say “move them out”! It says, “you shall let nothing that breathes remain alive” and “you shall utterly destroy them.” (Dt 20:16-17) That implies much more than just moving them out. If the biblical God had meant just move them, then THAT is what He would have explicitly said. It makes no sense to be so lethally ambiguous.
Not a Genocide – This was not really genocide, but a “dispossession of land” from a people.
Whether or not it was technically a genocide, it WAS a God-directed slaughter, was it not?
You stated God’s purpose was, quote, “to annihilate the Canaanite nation-state,” and that fits the definition of genocide perfectly – “the deliberate extermination of a national… or cultural group.”
A Highly Singular Command – “This is not a general command given by God as to how Israel is to prosecute its wars. These are highly singular commands given to Israel during the conquest of the land of Canaan….”
The conquest of the land of Canaan was not a singular war, but a general war lasting hundreds of years involving numerous nation states. So, this WAS a general command, not a “highly singular” one.
Exceptions Do Not Equal Disproof – Exceptions to the general kindness and mercy of God cannot be taken as disproofs of God’s lovingkindness.
Yes, they can. A serious exception to kindness does refute the claim of kindness! Consider this analogy offered by liberal Christian theologian Randal Rauser: A respected pillar of the community is found to have bilked the elderly. Such a serious exception would in fact disprove that person’s kindness. I think ordering genocides, likewise, disproves the biblical God’s supposed lovingkindness, as just empty posturing.
Only Hardened Soldiers Were Killed – It’s reasonable to conclude only hardened combatants remained behind to fight.
It is neither reasonable nor plausible. First, the order was to kill babies also, strongly implying there WERE babies there. And second, the most likely scenario was that the powerful and wealthy fled, but the poor, the old, the infirm, the blind, were the ones left behind.
Killing Infants? – “They will undoubtedly grow up to be a corrupting influence if allowed to live.”
Rauser expresses the exactly appropriate insight here: “My friends, this is what the rhetoric of genocide looks like.”
First of all, you are denying that free will exists, if you assume EVERY infant will grow up to be as evil as the culture around them. Secondly, what sense does it make to be so thorough as to kill all infants who MIGHT grow up to be bad, if you are at the same time being so careless as to freely allow this supposedly horrible group to simply move to a neighboring area?
No Indication Babies Actually Killed – “In fact, there is nothing in the narrative to suggest that ANY women or children were killed. There is no narrative whatsoever, that says anybody other than combatants were killed in this cleansing of the land…”
This is an absolute, self-serving lie on Craig’s part! The 1 Sam 3:15 narrative strongly suggests the killing of women and children when it says "put to death… women, children and infants…" Why delineate the whole range of humans to be put to death, if there were only combatants there to be killed!?
There is “no narrative whatsoever,” that they killed anybody other than combatants? Try this narrative – Joshua 6:21 "And they utterly destroyed all that was in the city, both men and women, young and old…"
God Is Sovereign – It was a theocracy back then. God is sovereign, so it’s His prerogative to order anything He sees fit.
Defending an evil action by claiming God said so, is the rankest of rationalizations. It is essentially saying that ANYTHING WHATSOEVER, no matter how evil, is OK because God said so.
That is a profoundly dishonest defense, because it ASSUMES the God presented is the true God, when the real issue is assessing whether this is the real God speaking in the first place, as opposed to greedy human beings claiming to speak for God!
“Divine Command Theory” – i.e., “Blind Obedience” – is one of the most pernicious ideas in human history. The Inquisition, the Holocaust, 911, were all based on this idea that God’s authority is sovereign, and therefore what might SEEM like evil to us humans, is actually a greater good. The Nazis had “God is with us” inscribed on their belts.
Furthermore, the Bible specifically claims that its God is a God of love. [1 John 4:8 "... because God is love." Psalm 145:9 "The Lord is good to all, And His mercies are over all His works."] In principle, a God of power can order the slaughtering of children, but a God of love, cannot.
God “Takes” Children Early All the Time – It’s a normal part of life that “God takes many children home to Himself” early. It is His prerogative.
“Taking children home” is a dishonest euphemism for wanton butchering of children with swords.
Rauser writes, “Ethical evaluation applies not only to whom you kill but also HOW you kill them.” Massacring children by the sword, is not ethical. We don’t hack to death serial murderers, do we? But your God has no problem with slaughtering entire families like that.
A commenter notes that God is not necessarily a moral monster for allowing children to be slaughtered, but God IS a moral monster for COMMANDING it. “…there is no feasible world… in which God commands such heinous acts to achieve some greater good."
The Children Went to Heaven – “I believe these children went immediately to heaven because people who die in infancy before they reach an age of accountability are to be saved.”
1) How do you know they go to heaven? You have the arrogance to think you KNOW there even is a heaven, when in fact no human being can KNOW such a thing.
2) Given your theological position that humans are all inherently evil, why should your God accept these children into heaven?
3) You’ve already claimed that they would “undoubtedly” grow up to be evil, so, again, why should they go to heaven?
Israel to be Set Apart – It was very important for Israel to be set apart from the other pagan nations.
And this was the only way to do so!? To wantonly slaughter the civilian populations of other peoples? Rauser makes the excellent suggestion that this was an ideal opportunity to set Israel apart by having them do something radically different, like, after defeating the enemy, DON’T slaughter the civilian population!
Might Repudiate Inerrancy, But Not Jesus – “Perhaps the writers in their nationalistic fervor were mistaken that God made these commands; but, that only repudiates the doctrine of inerrancy, not the divinity of Jesus.”
No, it repudiates Jesus, because he fully accepted the Old Testament God as his God. He knew the Old Testament and he did NOT repudiate the barbarism and genocides therein, as he MUST!
This is not FACTUAL errancy; it is MORAL errancy, which is a disproof of your God. Your God – Jesus – issued these immoral commands.
Ezekiel 9:5-6 “… do not let your eye spare, NOR HAVE ANY PITY. Utterly slay old and young men, maidens and little children and women…”
Even if I accept all your phony rationalizations – which I do not – a God who orders the killing of babies WITHOUT PITY, is a false God. At the very, very, very least, a valid God of love would say, “kill them… HUMANELY.” Right? Right? RIGHT?!