Thursday, October 27, 2011

Amalekites, Canaanites, theo-utilitarianism, and skeptical theism

No, I do not hold that YHWH commanded the slaughter of the Amalekites. I hold that either God didn't do that, or there are unknown reasons why He did. I can see some reason why God might have commanded such a thing, so that in my view the case against it isn't a slam dunk. So I would not call someone a moral monster who thought that God had given such a command, I think it morally possible that God might have done so, but on the other hand treating someone anyone as outside the pale of moral consideration strikes me as problematic and not in accordance with what I know about God in the New Testament. In other words, I don't see how these actions could be justified without putting some limits on who is my neighbor, and the parable of the Good Samaritan says we can't really draw such limits.

I'm not committed to a theory of inspiration that would require me to defend such a thing. In another part of Deuteronomy, the Blessings and the Cursings, it indicates that people will get earthly blessings if they are obedient to the Covenant, and earthly cursings if they are not obedient. But you only have to look as far as Job and Ecclesiastes to see that that's questionable even within the Bible.   People as conservative theologically as the Flannagans don't try to defend the Amalekite/Canaanite ban as morally acceptable.

We are considering the possibility that God had a reason for doing something that seems to go against the grain of morality. Someone who feels committed to a sufficiently high view of inspiration and inerrancy to think that a moral defense of the passages must be available. I think if I were to make such a defense, it would have to be pretty much along the lines of skeptical theism, although, because of the need to preserve monotheism, I can see some of the reasons for it.

Part of this has to do with how much of a consequentialist you are. Does the possibility of good consequences that maybe God can see and we can't justify God in telling someone to slaughter a whole nation of people. I suppose if I were a theo-utilitarian, the possibility would be open that God could command an action, atrocious in itself, which would be justified by its consequences. Never Ever Bludgeon Babies? But what if you know that the baby is Baby Hitler?

I don't concur with Craig's position on this, but I think that it's easy to be too simplistic and glib in criticizing him.

89 comments:

Anonymous said...

two issues: is there any possible way God's apparent command could be morally justifiable. A utilitarian can answer yes--really anything in principle is possibly morally correct if the situation is sufficiently bizzare.

But given what we know, is there a plausible morally sound justification for the command. Hell no.

unkleE said...

Vic, I think I pretty much agree with what you say here - I cannot find a justification for these commands, but I don't know everything.

I suggest another possible defence lies in Jesus' comment that God gave Moses permission to allow divorce because of their "hardness of heart" (Matt 19:8). On this view, God's will was not to kill the tribes, but he allowed it, or they thought he allowed it, because the Jewish nation hadn't yet reached a stage in their moral evolution to live up to (say) the Sermon on the Mount.

I don't feel happy with that explanation either, but I feel it gets closer to something I could live with than the "It was God - get used to it" defence.

BeingItself said...

"there are unknown reasons why He did"

Suppose you had the opportunity to prevent a genocide. Would you intervene and stop it?

Why?

Maybe God has good reasons for the genocide to occur.

Crude said...

Why?

Maybe God has good reasons for the genocide to occur.


And maybe God has good reasons for stopping the genocide. We also have commands from God that, lacking some specific revelation to the contrary, impel us to stop genocide.

Not to mention - doesn't that depend on the genocide? Sam Harris, Peter Singer and others can seemingly name situations and conditions under which genocide is permissible. Would you say that genocide is never, for any reason, ever acceptable?

PhilosophyFan said...

Job did get earthly reward in the end...

But on this issue, I don't see why anyone would focus on it versus, say, eternal hell as punishment. Slaughter is finite pain. God could have wiped away their pain afterwards...

Crude said...

For the record, I think Victor's position here is a very reasonable response. Similar to mine, but in the opposite direction - I think the Amalekite command isn't problematic, but I can certainly see why others would take it to be so.

BeingItself said...

Crude,

Suppose I commit a genocide, because I think God revealed that I should, then I'm off the hook.

In a universe where God privately reveals that we commit genocide and/or has private reasons to allow genocide, then everything is permitted.

Crude said...

Suppose I commit a genocide, because I think God revealed that I should, then I'm off the hook.

In what sense? Legally, morally?

In a universe where God privately reveals that we commit genocide and/or has private reasons to allow genocide, then everything is permitted.

No, not everything. Only what's consistent with God's nature and commands. What's the problem with that? Especially if you come at this question from an atheist/materialist perspective, where everything is permitted anyway.

Again, back to Harris and Singer and company finding justifications for everything from infanticide to genocide. It's okay for Harris to determine that a nuclear first strike wiping out some group makes sense, but for God such a thing is off limits even in principle?

Walter said...


In a universe where God privately reveals that we commit genocide and/or has private reasons to allow genocide, then everything is permitted.

No, not everything. Only what's consistent with God's nature and commands. What's the problem with that?


How can we know what is not consistent with God's nature? If God told you to rape and kill every Muslim that you meet, would that be consistent with God's nature? And if not, what is the difference between that and the Amalekite situation. When is a command too terrible to possibly come from the good god of the Ontological Argument? Or is no command too terrible because we can never know if there are mysterious but sufficient moral reasons for the atrocity that we have been ordered to commit?

Do good soldiers just follow orders and never balk?

BeingItself said...

It is part of God's nature to endorse genocide. And to endorse rape.

Don't you believe the Bible?

Crude said...

Walter,

How can we know what is not consistent with God's nature?

Philosophy, theology and reason go a long way.

When is a command too terrible to possibly come from the good god of the Ontological Argument?

What makes you think the deciding point is the command, rather than eternal results and outcomes?

Would a good God let what happened to Anne Frank, happen? But what happens if we haven't seen the end of Anne Frank's story?

Do good soldiers just follow orders and never balk?

Maybe if you could tell me how you yourself determine the good, and what grounds the objective values you believe in, we could explore this.

But on the other hand, this question is flat out duplicitous. As if there hasn't been tremendous amounts of investigation and consideration about these questions by Christians (and other theists) for thousands of years. Give that much credit, please. The very fact that theodicy is engaged in for as long and as deeply as it has deflates this sort of line.

I keep pointing to Harris and Singer, but I do it for a reason. I see a lot of outrage about the very idea that a Good God could justify the death of a child, for example. But apparently, it's okay for Singer or Harris or company to justify it. That's when I start to question the sincerity of the line of inquiry.

And I don't think it does good, as one wag did, to say "Well Singer is just talking about it, God did it!" Because unless Craig committed some genocides when I'm not looking, the 'talking versus acting' bit apparently didn't mean much.

Crude said...

It is part of God's nature to endorse genocide. And to endorse rape.

Don't you believe the Bible?


Not the Bible as you understand it, most likely.

But no, we're informed about God's nature by far more than the Bible. Still, what do you think of infanticide? Is anyone who justifies it, or who finds justifying it reasonable, a monster?

Victor Reppert said...

The literalism of some atheists puts W. A. Criswell (who wrote a book entitled "Why I Preach that the Bible is Literally True.") to shame.

Walter said...

It's a simple question, Crude; is there any command that is so terrible that it would make you question the goodness of the source? Where is the line in the sand that Yahweh would not cross?

And I am not Peter Singer nor am I Sam Harris, so please stop with the irrelevant tu quoque.

BeingItself said...

Visctor,

You are the one who thinks the slaughter of the Amalekites is literal history.

Victor Reppert said...

Beingitself: Can't you read?

I said: No, I do not hold that YHWH commanded the slaughter of the Amalekites.

Papalinton said...

What a mash of insouciant drivel. Read the equivocations:

" God's will was not to kill the tribes, but he allowed it, ..."

"There are unknown reasons why He did"

"Maybe God has good reasons for the genocide to occur."

"Suppose I commit a genocide, because I think God revealed that I should, then I'm off the hook."

"It is part of God's nature to endorse genocide. And to endorse rape.
Don't you believe the Bible?"

"What makes you think the deciding point is the command, rather than eternal results and outcomes?"

Christian thought, christian morality, christian understanding, all over the place, inconsistent, self-contradictory, unfounded, an old coat still looking for a hook to hang itself on. after 2,000 years. A veritable moving feast.

Anonymous is right when "given what we know, is there a plausible morally sound justification for the command [god's command for genocide that is]. Hell no."

And I say not under any circumstance.

Steven Carr said...

Craig continues his systematic campaign of explaining why children should be killed for their own good, earning rounds of applause from Christians delighted to have somebody on their side at last.

An American in Oxford

Crude said...

Walter,

It's a simple question, Crude; is there any command that is so terrible that it would make you question the goodness of the source? Where is the line in the sand that Yahweh would not cross?

Prior to Christ? I would need to see more than the command. I would need to see the results - particularly the same results that Yahweh sees. That's the elephant in the room here: The command is not the real issue. The results of the command, is.

After Christ? I'd be very skeptical of any commands even roughly similar to the one delivered against the Amalekites, barring some extraordinary circumstances.

And I am not Peter Singer nor am I Sam Harris, so please stop with the irrelevant tu quoque.

My question doesn't require you to be either - it requires you to judge their point of view, like you're judging mine, and like others have judged Craig's.

It's not an "irrelevant to quoque". It's an equally simple question - is defending infanticide justifiable? I'm sitting here being told in no uncertain terms that whatwas done to the Amalekites was absolutely unjustifiable, and one of the most stirring things done to them involved infanticide. The topic that originally fired all of this off were particular commands God supposedly gave in the Old Testament - not hypothetical acts a person wonders if God could potentially give.

So I'm asking a fair question: Is infanticide something no good being could command or justify? Why is this question being sandbagged?

I know why it is, and you know what it is. And that's why I keep on asking it.

Truthoverfaith said...

And then Jesus said, "Here ye, here ye. What in the hell is this bullshit I'm hearing about me being some kind of human sacrifice!? Who in the hell came up with that Neanderthal bullshit!? Human sacrifice!!!! Are you out of your fucking minds!!???"

And his disciples responded, "Umm, what 'choo talkin' 'bout, Willis?"

unkleE said...

Walter said: "It's a simple question, Crude; is there any command that is so terrible that it would make you question the goodness of the source?"

I think this is a reasonable question, and I don't suppose everyone will agree with my answer.

CS Lewis, who this site commemorates, once said words to the effect of If God and truth seem to be diverging, follow truth, and you'll find that was where God was all along.

The apostle Paul said something similar, that any action not done in faith is sin.

So I believe we are called up to make moral judgments about these things, and if I believed something wasn't right and godly, I hope I wouldn't do it. The problem with making a judgment in the Amalekites case is that it was 3 millennia ago, we weren't there, we cannot understand the situation and we are not called upon to make this sort of judgment.

Victor Reppert said...

On the other hand, if there is no God, then no one will be held accountable for the genocides that have been perpetrated throughout history. Does that bother anybody?

Crude said...

On the other hand, if there is no God, then no one will be held accountable for the genocides that have been perpetrated throughout history. Does that bother anybody?

I'll go one further. If someone rejects objective morality, then any complaints about the 'evil' of the most literal interpretation of the Amalekite genocide become statements of personal whim, not the stuff of good and evil. I think even Lewis had something to say about this sort of thing.

Crude said...

unkleE,

One problem I'm having here is that a number of critics want to passionately condemn the command against the Amalekites - but when we dig deeper and ask which acts they engaged in that were particularly reprehensible, the crowd starts to thin.

Because if the move is 'You can never justify infanticide!', then some uncomfortable questions get asked about Harris, Dawkins, Singer - and about the subject of abortion in general.

But if the move is, 'Okay, infanticide is justifiable... but not killing adults!', then it's going to sound funny. Really, killing hostile enemies is beyond the pale?

And if the move is, 'Okay, killing children and adults is alright. But the entire Amalekite *culture* was wiped out! That's just wrong!', everyone will just roll their eyes.

BeingItself said...

Victor,

I say:

"You are the one who thinks the slaughter of the Amalekites is literal history."

And you respond with:

"No, I do not hold that YHWH commanded the slaughter of the Amalekites."

LOL! WTF? Who cannot read? My comment did not mention YHWH.

Do yourself a favor. Accept the obvious fact that the bible is just a bunch of made up myths. It would make your ad hoc theology a much easier project.

BeingItself said...

Victor asks:

"On the other hand, if there is no God, then no one will be held accountable for the genocides that have been perpetrated throughout history. Does that bother anybody?"

Not at all.

The desire for retributive punishment is a sure sign of a immature juvenile mind.

Crude said...

LOL! WTF? Who cannot read? My comment did not mention YHWH.

"It is part of God's nature to endorse genocide. And to endorse rape.

Don't you believe the Bible?"

Steven Carr said...

VICTOR
On the other hand, if there is no God, then no one will be held accountable for the genocides that have been perpetrated throughout history. Does that bother anybody?

CARR
Well, if it bothers you, then don't believe it.

You are quite free to choose what to believe in.

Cancer bothers me, so I have decided not to believe in it.

Crude said...

Cancer bothers me, so I have decided not to believe in it.

You don't believe in your own blog comments? ;)

Steven Carr said...

VICTOR
'No, I do not hold that YHWH commanded the slaughter of the Amalekites.'

CARR
Well, why not debate Craig on the subject?

Oh I forgot, Craig will not debate the topic of the reliability of the Bible.

I'm sure there is a reason why Craig ducks all debates about the reliability of the Bible, but I can't put my finger on it.

Crude said...

I'm sure there is a reason why Craig ducks all debates about the reliability of the Bible, but I can't put my finger on it.

Considering he's debated Bart Ehrman on the question of the historical evidence of the resurrection of Jesus, I'd say the problem lies with more than your finger. ;)

unkleE said...

Crude said: "One problem I'm having here is that a number of critics want to passionately condemn the command against the Amalekites - but when we dig deeper and ask which acts they engaged in that were particularly reprehensible, the crowd starts to thin."
Well I don't want to passionately condemn anyone here. I just think:

1. As a christian, I am troubled by the Amalekites story, and I think 'easy' answers are not helpful. I think it better to not try to explain it, but let it remain as a troubling story. There are enough strong reasons to believe in Jesus that a troubling OT story isn't enough to change that.

2. I agree that Harris, Singer et al deserve criticism for their beliefs, which, unlike Craig's, could actually lead to people today being killed. But this doesn't (for me) soften the problem of the OT killings.

I don't want to dwell on a problem here, but I do think we christians should honestly face problems and not try to avoid them or explain them away.

BeingItself said...

Crude,

You seem incapable of following a simple conversation.

Victor accused certain atheists of taking the bible too literally. I simply pointed out to Victor that his original post stems from his own literalism.

Victor then responded with a non sequitur. Then you weighed in with a non sequitur of your own.

There is an obvious solution for any Christian to the 'problem' of the slaughter of the Amalekites. You have no good reason to believe it occurred. The bible is not a history book.

I realize taking that obvious and reasonable path may cause fatal problems for your world view.

Let it be.

BenYachov said...

BeingItself,

You contradicted yourself and Crude caught you.

At least be a man and own up to it.

Anonymous said...

Skeptical Theism responses to morally monstrous assertions about the will / of God actions be better termed 'Theistic Nihilism'.

toddes said...

Perhaps some Christian brother or sister can help me in my understanding of this.

Genocide as a crime is a modern convention. It was created in response to the atrocities of the Holocaust. What we seem to be doing here is projecting our modern concepts back onto an ancient society.

The Amalekites preyed on the weak and defenseless members of the Israelites from the time of the Exodus until the Kingship of Saul (approx. 35 years).

At this point GOD commands a punitive action that to our modern eyes is veiwed as genocide (though how a punitive action can be regarded as genocide is difficult for me to grasp.) In giving this command, GOD did not reward or give reparations to the Israelites for what the Amalekites had done to them but was strictly a punishment. Everything was to be destroyed. Also it was not directed at the weakest members of the nation, that is, the stranglers at the end of the Exodus or those inhabitants on the borders of Israel, but against the center of the Amakelite nation, the city where the King resided.

Of course others will argue that GOD should have only punished those who were directly involved in the actions. Who would that involve? All the able bodied men of military age? 90%, 80%, 70%? Let's say 70%. Now you have a community deprived of 70% of its active defenses as well as a significant portion of its providers (they can't fight all the time). What happens to the rest of the population? How do they defend and provided for themselves? Take away all the modern conveniences from life in the modern-day Middle East and I imagine it's a rather hard scrabble, day-to-day existence for most of the population. Sounds like a slow and lingering death to me or easy prey to the surrounding nations. Of course all this is hypothetical, just like most of our discussion.

The opinions on this matter seem to fall into two camps:

1. Genocide is evil therefore God is evil for commanding it.

2. GOD is good therefore His reason for commanding such an act is good.

For myself, given what little information we are provided and our distance from the event, I'll focus on the events of the Cross and take option two.

BeingItself said...

Ben,

My comments are on 2 different issues. Crude quote mined me from the first topic and inserted into my second.

I realize that's SOP for YEC'ers and so on. Please don't sink further to that level.

Crude said...

My comments are on 2 different issues. Crude quote mined me from the first topic and inserted into my second.

No, I pointed out that contrary to your claim, you did bring God into the topic - and that's part of what motivated Victor's response to you. Now you're going off on Victor's "literalism", despite Victor both expressing a problem with literal readings of the Bible and - from the start - noting that he personally rejects such a strict, literal view of the Amalekite ban in this case. Just check his OP to see that.

But really, go ahead and snarl and swing frantically and namecall some more in response. I mean, it's not as if emotional, panicked responses like that from you highlight the mistake you made: we all know that progressively getting more and more furious is a sign of a cool head and logical thought.

Tony Hoffman said...

Crude: "…I pointed out that contrary to your claim, you did bring God into the topic…"

But BeingItself's claim was very clear. He wrote: "My comment did not mention YHWH."

And that is obviously true. BeingItself's entire comment is so brief it's easy to reprint entirely right here -- and this is BeingItself's comment that VR responded to and that began the exchange:

BeingItself's Comment: " Visctor [sic], You are the one who thinks the slaughter of the Amalekites is literal history."

Referring to this comment and Victor's response, BeingItself points out " My comment did not mention YHWH." This is true. His comment does not mention YHWH. I can see that all at once when I read his comment and its non-mentioning of YHWH throughout.

So, Crude, how is it contrary to BeingItself's claim that his comment did not mention YHWH when his comment did not mention YHWH?

I find this bluster especially ironic when it's accompanied by accusations that, based on this false charge, the subject is supposed to be "emotional, panicked" and "furious."

Irony, anyone?

Victor Reppert said...

I thought I was very clear in not claiming that the order to kill the Amalekites was literal history. Where did I say it was?

Walter said...

toddes says:

At this point GOD commands a punitive action that to our modern eyes is veiwed as genocide (though how a punitive action can be regarded as genocide is difficult for me to grasp.)

Some of us have a problem with the notion of corporate punishment, believing that a fair and just god would only punish those that are directly guilty for whatever crime has brought on the punitive action. Corporate punishment was the norm in that culture and time period, but we have a more evolved sense of justice nowadays, i.e. an individual should only be punished for crimes that he/she are responsible for. You don't receive retribution for something your grand-daddy did. On this note, many skeptics feel that a good and just god would not punish the innocent among the Canaanites right along side the guilty. An example of the innocent would be extremely young children. Even if you accept that the Amalekites were incorrigibly evil as a society, it is a bit of a stretch to claim that small children belong in that category.

With all that said, what these conversations really reduce down to is whether one accepts divine-command metaethics or not.

Mike Darus said...

Observations about I Samuel 15:
1) There is a tension of the greater evil between worshipping other gods and killing people. This text values worshiping the true God over any other moral question.
2) There is a tension between the authority of the prophet to discern God's will over the authority of the king. In this text, the authority of the prophet wins. In our terminology, the church rules the state.
3)This account is an exposition of the question whether God can command a person to do something that he thinks is wrong. We usually reject (rightly) that a person who engages in a murderous rapage because "God told him to" is insane. This account explores the question, "But what if the Macy employee really is Santa Claus?" This account acutally serves to establish the principle that it is not OK to kill non-combatants by appealing to this extreme contingency.
4) This is a sentence of the ultimate international court for wrongs done in the past. Therefore it does not fit the definition of genocide unless you reject the legitmacy of the court.

How about we actually read the text?

Ilíon said...

Are novelists wicked? Was JRR Tolkien, as a prime example (or Stephen King, as another), wicked -- morally evil -- for placing his characters in the situations in which he placed them?

Crude said...

Tony,

But BeingItself's claim was very clear. He wrote: "My comment did not mention YHWH."

And I pointed out the prior comment in the same conversation: "It is part of God's nature to endorse genocide. And to endorse rape.

Don't you believe the Bible?"

Victor made a comment about the literalism of some atheists after this comment.

Further, you can consult the original post to see Victor mentioning the problems that can come with particular views inerrancy and inspiration - views that he doesn't take himself. You can see Victor's comment criticizing literalism, and you can see him again saying he rejects the claim that the command to kill the Amalekites is literal history.

So, Crude, how is it contrary to BeingItself's claim that his comment did not mention YHWH when his comment did not mention YHWH?

The conversation goes beyond the single comment: I quoted the comment in his exchange where he mentioned it being part of God's nature to endorse genocide and rape. BI responded to this trying to push the literalism charge back on Victor, and Victor pointed out - as he did in the OP - that he's not taking the literal reading of the passage.

I find this bluster especially ironic

Ahh, there we have it. The 'You pointed out a flaw now in someone on My Team, so I am duty bound to point out the flaw in you evne if it's imaginary!' move. But read the thread - BI quickly devolved into namecalling, ranting, and histrionics. I haven't called any names, I haven't ranted, and I don't think pointing out BI's behavior qualifies as histrionics.

BI made a pretty simple error in reading. That's no big deal - the fact that he snapped after having it pointed out? Well, that's still no big deal, but it's still worth noting.

Crude said...

Walter,

Some of us have a problem with the notion of corporate punishment, believing that a fair and just god would only punish those that are directly guilty for whatever crime has brought on the punitive action.

Let's grant that the Amalekites were all wiped out - genocide. Why should it be taken that this was itself a punitive action again each and every one of them?

Ilíon said...

No computer program will ever be a mind, an agent, the moral equivalent of a human being; for, given what a computer program is and is not, it is logically impossible for a computer progam to think, realson, know, understand, etc.

However, most of the silly persons (some of whom are outright fools) whinging in this and the related threads over the past few weeks *refuse* to understand that, and why, no computer program will ever be the moral equivalent of a human being.

SO, if per impossible, if a computer programmer were to write a computer program which is a mind, a self -- a person -- would it be immoral for him, or any other human person, to turn it off? It erase it? And, on what grounds?

Walter said...

Let's grant that the Amalekites were all wiped out - genocide. Why should it be taken that this was itself a punitive action again each and every one of them?

Assuming, arguendo that the killing of kids happened at God's command, are you saying that God had other reasons for ordering there execution besides retribution? Are you assuming that it might have been necessary to mercifully kill them to spare them a lingering death because their parents were no longer alive to care for them?

Mike Darus said...

Answer to Ilion:
pushing the analogy, we would grant an author the right to destroy his one and only written transcipt but any other person would not have that right.

Tony Hoffman said...

Crude, I just read your whole comment. I see that you still cannot back up your claim.

Crude: "BI made a pretty simple error in reading. That's no big deal - the fact that he snapped after having it pointed out? Well, that's still no big deal, but it's still worth noting."

You have not shown that he has. The fact that you spent 10 paragraphs trying to disguise this fact is no big deal, but it is worth noting.

BenYachov said...

@Tony
>So, Crude, how is it contrary to BeingItself's claim that his comment did not mention YHWH when his comment did not mention YHWH?

So Tony you don't believe the "God of the Bible" & "YHWH" are synonymous?

*eyes rolling*

Seriously?

Walter said...

Here is enough debate on the subject to cover almost every argument ever given, pro and con.


The Debate on Biblical Genocide

BenYachov said...

So in Tony's weird universe if I say "The Current President of the USA" I am clearly not taking about Obama if I don't literally say "President Obama"?

**Eyes rolling**

Seriously?

BenYachov said...

Not every argument.

There isn't a single Classic Theist or Thomist in that list Walter.

There aren't even any strict Reformed Theologians.

Fail.

Tony Hoffman said...

Ben, please find the word YHWH in this comment: "Visctor [sic], You are the one who thinks the slaughter of the Amalekites is literal history."

Either way I win; either you must admit that the word YHWH is not in that comment and your last two comments are idiotic, or you will refuse to admit that the word YHWH is in that comment and you will look idiotic.

I look forward to your next response as few I ever have.

Walter said...

Not every argument.

There isn't a single Classic Theist or Thomist in that list Walter...


I don't know of any Classic Theists that discuss the topic, do you?

Fail

There is no reason to sound childish.

BenYachov said...

Hector Avaros suck arse as a philosopher.

http://ochuk.files.wordpress.com/2011/01/omelianchuk-everyone-is-a-moral-relativist-2011.pdf

Ken Pulliam has a PhD in Baptist theology & Randel knows modern philosophy but are there any classical philosophers in this list?

BenYachov said...

>I don't know of any Classic Theists that discuss the topic, do you?

I cited some in our last discussion.

McCabe, Davies, Thrakis etc....

It's not childish it's just a brute fact you didn't give us every argument imaginable.

Crude said...

Tony,

You have not shown that he has.

Sure I have, Tony. That you haven't been able to understand BI's mistake - or at least, haven't been able to admit to it - is not a concern of mine.

Here's a hint: This isn't about a single comment. It's about a conversation.

But hey, keep on swinging. ;)

BenYachov said...

You said "almost every argument" not every.

I was wrong. I apologize.

Crude said...

Walter,

Assuming, arguendo that the killing of kids happened at God's command, are you saying that God had other reasons for ordering there execution besides retribution? Are you assuming that it might have been necessary to mercifully kill them to spare them a lingering death because their parents were no longer alive to care for them?

I'm doing none of the above here.

I'm simply asking this: Is it possible for someone to die, or even be killed, but for it not to be a punitive action against them?

Ilíon said...

Mike Darus: "Answer to Ilion:
pushing the analogy, we would grant an author the right to destroy his one and only written transcipt but any other person would not have that right.
"

As a side note, I'm not sure whether you're speaking only about my post concerning an author and his works, or if you're also recognizing that the question about (the logically impossible) computer progran which-is-a-person is covering the same ground.

That said, to say that "we would grant an author the right to destroy his one and only written transcipt but any other person would not have that right" is literally to assert that "we" are the source of the author's right, and "we" are the source of the denial of that right to any other person. However, to say "we would *recognize* an author's right ..." is to say something very different.

And, this lead to a further though -- which happens to illustrate that my two theoretical questions (about authors and their characters, and about computer programmers and their programs) are the same --

The characters in a story do not "live" in or on the physical medium by which the story is spread from human person to human person -- whether a hand-written manuscript, a printed book, the spoken word, or any other means. Rather, they "live", and their world "exists", only insofar as one or more human persons *knows* their story ... knows them and their history. THUS, when of one judge a story to be not worthy of recalling -- much less of nring passed on to another human person -- then we are willing the "death" of the story's characters and the destruction of their world. When all of us make that choice about some particular story, then the death of the characters is complete; at the same time, so long as there exists a physical record of the story, the characters *may* be "resurrected" at some later time if someone were to read it.

Ilíon said...

Crude: "I'm simply asking this: Is it possible for someone to die, or even be killed, but for it not to be a punitive action against them?"

You mean, as in Coventry, or Dresden, or Hamburg, or Berlin, or Tokyo, or Hiroshima, or Nagasaki?

Dr. Evangelicus said...

At least the Israelites had an excuse: they thought YHWH commanded genocide. Stalin and Pol Pot's atheist hordes have no such excuse for their far far greater genocide two and a half millenia later.

Mike Darus said...

Ilion said, "When all of us make that choice about some particular story, then the death of the characters is complete..."

An atempt to follow...

When one us deletes the program or shelves the book or forgets the story, there is an incremental wounding of the impact of the character. Depending on the worth of the character, this could be a loss or a gain to the user.

Victor Reppert said...

Where did I commit myself to literalism about the Amalekite ban. The Israelites didn't carry out the ban, so what is at issue is whether YHWH issued it. If you can't pinpoint where I said that, then my complaints about reading accurately are vindicated.

It's no more difficult than that.

BeingItself said...

Tony,

Thanks for the help.

I've been a few rounds with Ben before, at it really is just a pointless waste of time.

He is completely unmovable, even in the face of obvious overwhelming evidence. There is just no point in trying to converse with someone like that.

Tony Hoffman said...

Crude: "Here's a hint: This isn't about a single comment. It's about a conversation."

No. You chose to make this about a comment when you said that when BI wrote “My comment did not mention YHWH” he was making a false statement. (Accusing someone of making a false statement, when they did not, is counterproductive in discussions, and I’ve found it’s best to nip it in the bud before moving on.)

You see, if I say “Contrary to your statement, the sky is blue,” I should be able to show that you made the statement, Crude: “The sky is not blue.” Let’s be clear again: BI wrote: “My comment did not mention YHWH.” He did not say, “I didn’t mention YHWH, or God, ever.” He said, “My comment did not mention YHWH.” You have, for some reason, stuck to the absurd idea that you are correct in calling this statement false. But it is not false, because his comment did not mention YHWH.

You have all kinds of other options to try and further the discussion. You could have asked for clarification, you could have said that you thought YHWH was somehow relevant to the comment in question, etc. But I think it’s telling that you have so far dug in and insisted that black is white because that is what you wrote the first time.

I’ll give you the same options as Ben (who it appears has shown the surprising good sense to just avoid further digging on his own behalf on this topic altogether). You can admit that wrote hastily and should not have accused BI of making a false statement (in fact it was you who was mistaken), or you can grab the shovel and show us all that no matter what, you just won’t admit that you can make a mistake.

BenYachov said...

Tony,

>I’ll give you the same options as Ben (who it appears has shown the surprising good sense to just avoid further digging on his own behalf on this topic altogether). You can admit that wrote hastily and should not have accused BI of making a false statement....

I apologized to Walter for misstating his position. I manned up, said I was sorry & owned up to my mistake.

You & BeingItself should try it sometime.

Crude caught BeingItself in a contradiction. Trying to parcel a distinction between "YHWH" vs "the God of the Bible" is asinine.

If I mention "the God of the Koran" every intelligent person with an IQ larger then 3 knows I am Taking about the Muslim ALLAH.

BeingItself was wrong & your defense of him is asinine.

I used to think you where reasonable & at one time you where.
But now you have degenerated to the level of Paps.

It's really sad.

BenYachov said...

>Ben, please find the word YHWH in this comment: "Visctor [sic], You are the one who thinks the slaughter of the Amalekites is literal history."

Victor in October 27, 2011 9:16 PM was clearly responding to Beingitself October 27, 2011 7:55 PM

What proof do you have he was responding to the post immediately before that one?

Well?

Plus how does BeingItself post in October 27, 2011 8:40 PM unsay what he wrote in October 27, 2011 7:55 PM?

What is the the Atheist version of supercessionism?


>Either way I win; either you must admit that the word YHWH is not in that comment and your last two comments are idiotic, or you will refuse to admit that the word YHWH is in that comment and you will look idiotic.

Rather your trollish sophistry & kneejerk Atheist tribalism stops you from seeing what any sane rational person can see with his two eyes.

What has happened to you Tony?

You where so reasonable once.

BenYachov said...

Victor writes:
>Where did I commit myself to literalism about the Amalekite ban. The Israelites didn't carry out the ban, so what is at issue is whether YHWH issued it. If you can't pinpoint where I said that, then my complaints about reading accurately are vindicated.

So rather then discuss this Beingitself throw out a Red Herring he didn't write the word "YHWH" even thought he referenced "the God of the Bible" issuing the Ban.

For some reason Beingitself and Tony think that Victor wouldn't consider "YHWH" and the "God of the Bible" synonymous?

For some other reason they both think the statement "You are the one who thinks the slaughter of the Amalekites is literal history" abrogates the post "It is part of God's nature to endorse genocide. And to endorse rape.

Don't you believe the Bible?"

We could have some really challenging discussions with thought Atheists & skeptics on this subject. Only if some would show up to do it**

**san Walter, terri and others I might have failed to mention who are taking this seriously as it is clear neither Beingitself or Tony are not.

Crude said...

Tony,

You have all kinds of other options to try and further the discussion.

Uh, look who I'm talking to. There's no "furthering the discussion" with BI regardless of his error - he's established that he's prone to meltdowns at slight provocation. You? Take a look at your own performance here - bent out of shape and twisting reasoning left and right as you try to be a good comment warrior. Conversations won't be very productive with either of you.

BI was wrong. He was suggesting that Victor took the Amalekite biblical passage as literal when he clearly does not - he certainly does not "hold that YHWH commanded the slaughter of the Amalekites". I'll give you your options: You can keep on spin-doctoring in BI defense. Or you can skip it. Or you can devolve into namecalling, or you can give a good recipe for poundcake. Given your track record at this point, I'm going to be about as interested in all of them equally.

Assuming your cooking skills match the reasoning I'm seeing here, anyway. ;)

Crude said...

Ben,

Don't sweat 'em too much. Such is the way of the Cult of Gnu. There's more reasonable folks to engage.

Ilion,

You mean, as in Coventry, or Dresden, or Hamburg, or Berlin, or Tokyo, or Hiroshima, or Nagasaki?

Possibly, but I think the situation with God is distinct for obvious reasons. What I'm suspecting here is 'God commanded the death of X' being taken as absolutely involving the claim 'God is punishing X'. I'm not so sure that's right.

BenYachov said...

Crude,

I was wrong to say to Walter "
It's not childish it's just a brute fact you didn't give us every argument imaginable."

I was wrong to say that to Walter.

Walter didn't say every "argument imaginable". I was in fact being childish to him.

I feel bad because he has been taking this conversation seriously & in my opinion he has been making a good faith effort to ask challenging questions(I'm including the discussion you & I had with him on the other tread).

I am sorry Walter if you read this.

But BI and Tony OTOH.......WTF!

I'm going to go watch the rebroadcast of THE WALKING DEAD episode 2 season 2.

Some good Zombie movies might clear my head. Then I will pray then play some video games and neosh.

Cheers.

Tony Hoffman said...

Ben and Crude,

I see that you have both chosen option 2. Sadly, I'm not surprised. Here's a tip I'll give to you both openly, although I'm equally sure you'll ignore it: Arguments presented from those who can modify their position when it is found to be untenable are much more persuasive than arguments from those who cannot. I'll leave you both to figure out if it's better to hold on to a losing argument or to face the changes that come from modifying your position.

@BeingItself: "Tony, Thanks for the help. I've been a few rounds with Ben before, at it really is just a pointless waste of time."

Yeah, I refrained from responding and agreeing with this because I find it so rude when others share remarks like this openly. But seeing as how the wonder twins are having their time together I thought I'd make this exception. Yup, roger all that.

Tony Hoffman said...

VR: "I thought I was very clear in not claiming that the order to kill the Amalekites was literal history. Where did I say it was?"

Victor, I think the distinction about literal (meaning, roughly, "really)" is in two parts: Did God literally order the killing of the Amalekites? and were the Amalekites really killed? You seem to be ambivalent about the former, but confident (literally) about the latter.

What I think BI is saying is that there is a certain level of literalism in accepting that the killing of the Amalekites even happened. I don't really follow this topic that closely, but I think I recall that there might not even be evidence (outside the Bible) that there was even a widespread killing of the Amalekites. If that were the case, then not only God's orders but the purported mass killing itself are not to be understood literally as described in the Bible.

Crude said...

Tony,

Yeah, I refrained from responding and agreeing with this because I find it so rude when others

Right - this is all about politeness and civility, and promoting civil debate. That's why you turn a blind eye both to BI's routine mental spasms, as well as his manifest - if modest - error in this situation. An error I pointed out with utter civility until he burst into ranting. You're just all about the rational debate. ;)

Here's a tip you should absorb: Your act gets more takers at blogs run by gentlemen who wear cowboy hats. Outside those warrens, your game is obvious. But don't let me stop your unintentional entertainment - it livens the night up!

Crude said...

Ben,

Absolutely - I've seen you more than once happily praise multiple atheists for putting up a civil discussion, and make admissions like those when warranted. Not to mention happily granting retractions like these. You're more level-headed than most give you credit for.

Enjoy the movies and games - sounds like a plan for me to copy as well! Team Fortress 2 has some events on after all.

Victor Reppert said...

But Saul didn't carry out the Amalekite massacre! The Bible doesn't say there was an Amalekite massacre, it says that God wanted there to be one, and was angry with Saul for not having carried it out.

The Flannagans, if I recall correctly, argue that, given undue Canaanite influence on the Hebrews leading them to idolatry, concluded that what the conquerors should have done was kill everyone.

BenYachov said...

@Crude,

Tony has pulled crap like this before. He's all bravado but when you smack him down with logic and facts he beats a retreat then claims victory. Something to the effect of I could answer you but you are not rational blah blah blah!

@Victor,

Have you ever read Brian Davies THE REALITY OF GOD and THE PROBLEM OF EVIL or any of his essays on the subject matter?

If so what do you think of his solution to the Problem of Evil(that is he neatly dodges it by showing that God cannot coherently be described as a Moral Agent unequivocally compared to a human moral agent. Or another way to put it God is Goodness Itself, Ontologically & Metaphysically good but not morally good.)

Seems to me it has implications in regards to God Commanding Haram.

BenYachov said...

BTW where are my manners?

Thanks for the complement Crude.

Walter said...

But Saul didn't carry out the Amalekite massacre! The Bible doesn't say there was an Amalekite massacre, it says that God wanted there to be one, and was angry with Saul for not having carried it out.

Not exactly. Samuel was a little peeved about Saul sparing the King and some of the livestock. The massacre seemed to have occured (assuming the historical reliability of the text--which I do not)

1 Samuel 15:3 Now go, attack the Amalekites and totally destroy[a] all that belongs to them. Do not spare them; put to death men and women, children and infants, cattle and sheep, camels and donkeys.’”

7 Then Saul attacked the Amalekites all the way from Havilah to Shur, near the eastern border of Egypt. 8 He took Agag king of the Amalekites alive, and all his people he totally destroyed with the sword.

Anonymous said...

Considering the Amalekites are still causing problems later in the book--see I Samuel 30--I think it's safe to say that within the context of the narrative no, the genocide of the Amalekites did not happen. Whatever positions we take on inspiration, inerrancy, etc., the text itself is absolutely clear that Saul does not wipe out the Amalekites from the earth (even though he says he did, with the exception of Agag). Where we go from here interpretively is another question, but the claims of the text are clear.

Rob

BenYachov said...

Is "all his people he totally destroyed with the sword" the OT equivalent of the NT "pluck out your eye" I wonder?

Just saying.......

@Walter

Did you read my apology to you?

No hard feelings I hope.

Anonymous said...

@Ben

It's a common way to take it. The Amalekites make a return later in the text without much fanfare, and then David is neither commissioned to fulfill Saul's failed punishment nor is he condemned for allowing Amalekites to escape. There was a paper on the "hyperbole of the ban" circulating several months back.

My own view (such as it matters) is that Saul is tested by God's command to punish the Amalekites the same way Abraham is tested with the destruction of Sodom and the sacrifice of Isaac. Abraham passes the covenant mediator test, proving his God-like wisdom. Saul fails and does to the Amalekites exactly what the Amalekites tried to do to Israel centuries earlier. Hence David, who passes his test (dealing with Saul) brilliantly and becomes the covenant mediator in II Samuel 7.

Rob

Walter said...

Did you read my apology to you?

No hard feelings I hope.


No hard feelings, Ben. I also get a little too adversarial at times. It just means that you are passionate about the subject.

BenYachov said...

Wolterstorff's argument that the Haram Command is Hyperbole.

With some archeological backing by Kenneth Kitchen via Matt F's blog.

http://www.mandm.org.nz/2011/01/god-and-the-genocide-of-the-canaanites-i-wolterstorff%E2%80%99s-argument-for-the-hagiographic-hyperbolic-interpretation.html

I read threw a blog post from the late ex-Christian Ken Pulliam which attempts to answer this argument.

All that I can say is if I believed in Sola Scriptura, Perspicuity & rejected the Augustine principles of interpretation I might be moved by the argument to take it literally.

But as Crude once said the arguments of ex-Christian Protestant fundamentalists and Evangelicals vs Protestant Christian fundamentalists and Evangelicals are non-starters for a Catholic.

Thought I believe it could go either way or be rationally explained either way.


@Walter

Cheers man.

Ilíon said...

"Is "all his people he totally destroyed with the sword" the OT equivalent of the NT "pluck out your eye" I wonder?"

Frequently. It often means no more than "he destroyed the kingdom (political entity) of Such-and-Such."

Steven Carr said...

'But what if you know that the baby is Baby Hitler?'

Craig has this one covered.

Craig on Hitler being part of God's plan 'Craig actually said that God has the right to commit murder, and that God allowed the Nazi holocaust in order to get the nation of Israel refounded in 1948.'

BenYachov said...

So Steve you are quoting Carrier directly but you are not quoting Craig directly.

Why?

Quote his exact words directly so the rest of us can judge.