Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Credit where Credit is Due

Has anybody noticed that, before Christianity, nobody ever dreamed that there were some things you couldn't do to noncombatants and defeated nations. If you conquered in battle, then the people belonged to you to kill, rape, or enslave as you saw fit. What the ban on, say, the Amalekites does is remove the last two options.

As I pointed out in one of the discussions, the just war theory was invented by Christians. Not secular humanists.

I still consider this an insufficient defense of the Amalekite ban. But people who criticize the Bible should recognize where the ideas come from by which they criticize it.

Of course, people like Dawkins help themselves to these moral ideas as if they were somehow obvious, when in fact they were pretty much unheard of before Christians came on the scene.

145 comments:

terri said...

I don't know that i would agree with your statement.

I'm not sure the Amalekites would feel that wholesale slaughter is somehow preferable to enslavement. Both options stink, but most people would rather be alive, or at least see their children survive.

Secondly, I would like something to back up your assertion about non-combatants. If I recall, Alexander the Great promoted intermarriage and assimilation of the people he conquered.

ANd, if we want to use Biblical examples, Israel's greatest enemies didn't completely slaughter them, either. Babylon took the noble class and carried them back to Babylonia instead of just murdering them all.

I'm not saying that ALexander and Babylon didn't engage in full-blown war, but I do take issue with the idea that every nation, besides Israel, is more ruthlessly and excessively bloodthirsty.

Papalinton said...

A voice [terri's] of sanity and reason. Older civilizations and groups of people practiced various forms of reasonable battle behaviour to their captives even well before christianity was a twinkle in Paul's eye.

Such pie-eyed christian nonsense must be challenged vigorously and often if the true and real story and historical account is to be guarded. After 2,000 years of christian dominance in writing its contrived history, modern biblical scholars are putting the Apologetical sleight of pen to the test; and it has been found grossly wanting. Christian Apologetical history is now being discovered to be simply a sieve with the greatest holes when it came to securing or protecting the truth, a truth based on fact and evidence. Indeed christian truths are unlike any other form of truth as one would normally accept. It is a concept solely based on the paucity of evidence and is entirely a product of unleavened faith.

Walter said...

To loosely quote Edward Babinski: If this world is fallen, it seems to be falling "up."

I'm not sure that the moral progress in the last few hundred years can be credited solely to Christianity, though, perhaps it was a factor? It seems to me that much of our progress was sparked by the Age of Enlightenment beginning in the 18th century by freethinkers, who were willing to challenge established dogmas.

B. Prokop said...

I've been pretty much steering clear of this Amalekite controversy thus far, as I did not want to open up yet another front in the jousting between Ben and me on the historicity of the OT (I personally do not believe that YHWH ever ordered the Israelites to massacre anybody - ever).

But that said, I feel compelled to respond to Papalinton's blatantly anti-historical account of the origin of the Rules of War.

Prior to the spread of Christianity, slaughter, enslavement, and atrocities of and against defeated peoples was the norm throughout the world. Any examples of an army treating those they have conquered with any degree of mercy whatsoever were far and away the exception to the rule - and can almost always be attributed to individual action (such as Alexander's), and not to societal moral qualms.

After the spread of Christianity, slaughter, enslavement, and atrocity (unfortunately) continued pretty much as before. It still does today. But with this one critical, all-important difference - to behave so was now for the first time in history morally and officially unacceptable.

Previously, no one in their right mind felt that a merciless victor was behaving in an inappropriate manner. The defeated people would have done the exact same thing to their conquerors, given the chance. But now in the era of Anno Domini, when a nation behaved cruelly to a defeated populace, there were voices raised against such actions. Strong voices, such as St. Augustine or Daniel Berrigan. Voices backed up with the strength of a coherent moral philosophy that unequivocally sanctioned such behavior.

The outrage that Paplinton so appropriately expresses against atrocities committed by armies and nations in any year ending in A.D. finds its root and its rationale in Christian dogma. It exists only sporadically outside of that indispensable framework. the only reason that Paplinton believes it was wrong to slaughter the Amalekites is because he has been taught to do so by Christian teachers.

kbrowne said...

Judging by what he said in 'The God Delusion' I think Dawkins thinks that our moral rules about the correct way to treat the people of a defeated country are obvious to us. I certainly do not think that he would say they were obvious to anyone at the time of the Amalekites.

Dawkins thinks there has been a steady improvement in morality over the years, with some serious setbacks but overall a steady improvement. I think he might even agree with you in giving some of the credit to Christianity. At any rate, he does to a certain extent admire Jesus.

"Jesus, if he existed ... was surely one of the great ethical innovators of history. The Sermon on the Mount is way ahead of its time. ... It was not for nothing that I wrote an article called 'Atheists for Jesus' .."

But Jesus lived a long time ago and we can do a lot better than Christianity now.

By the way, the fact that Dawkins believes that our moral understanding has improved suggests to me that he believes in an objective morality. You cannot get closer to the good unless there is a good to get closer to, after all.

Plenty of atheists do believe in an objective morality.

BenYachov said...

@Bob

>I did not want to open up yet another front in the jousting between Ben and me on the historicity of the OT (I personally do not believe that YHWH ever ordered the Israelites to massacre anybody - ever).

FYI I do consider it a valid opinion that the Haram statements where not literal & or literally carried out.

Just like when Our Lord says "If they right eye offends thee etc" He is not literally endorsing self-mutilation which we both know is a sin.

OTOH I have defended the Traditional interpretation of the Fathers that God alone may morally take life and we may not take any life without authorization.

So I don't see why you or I should be at odds here?

terri said...

After the spread of Christianity, slaughter, enslavement, and atrocity (unfortunately) continued pretty much as before. It still does today. But with this one critical, all-important difference - to behave so was now for the first time in history morally and officially unacceptable.

Which begs the question..."what is the point?"

If moral ideas don't affect behavior, then how effective are those moral ideas and what sort of worth are we assigning to them?

Gee, I'm sorry I murdered your whole village, but I feel really bad about it, so that makes it less evil.

If genocide was meant to cleanse the land and make it possible for the Israelites to live in a holy way, well that didn't seem to work either, did it?

I don't disagree with you. I also don't believe that God is the type of being to order genocide, either.

Declaring that mercy was always the result of individual leaders seems like wriggling away from the significance of those acts. If someone makes general sweeping statements about the viciousness of every culture before Christianity, and yet wants to discount blatant examples of more merciful practices then they are simply giving in to confirmation bias.

Those individual acts are significant because they come from the highest leadership, leaders who have been raised in certain cultures and educated more than the rest of a country's inhabitants.

How did Alexander come to his conclusions? Probably the same way that you are claiming that atheists use the structure of Christian morality to express their outrage over genocide. If so, that means that there is probably something at work In ALexander's background that lead him to that decision, something in the way he was raised, educated, shaped....which means that he is representing an idea, even if it isn't the most prominent idea at the time.

I tried to learn more about examples of the treatment of non-combatants throughout history. Mostly, the directed killing of non-combatants is perpetrated on men, with women and children being enslaved or taken alive. The point was to decimate the opposing males old enough to pose a threat.

I wonder if this is why Jewishness begins to be derived matrilineally. The Israelites were constantly being conquered and occupied. Jewish women who were taken by the opposing males, and had children by them, probably became the strongest link in perpetuating the Jewish race. In a land where the Jewish men had been decimated through war and persecution, it would have been the only way to rebuild the race.

B. Prokop said...

Dawkins writes: "Jesus, if he existed ... was surely one of the great ethical innovators of history."

Poor, poor Dawkins is merely displaying his appalling, almost laughable ignorance. There is not a shred of innovation in anything taught by Jesus concerning ethics. The identical teachings are found all over the Old Testament. In fact, almost everything Jesus ever said concerning ethics can be read in the Book of Ecclesiasticus (also called Sirach, found in Catholic Bibles, but not in protestant ones). His parables were often lifted, almost word for word, from that text. (See, for example, Sirach 11:18-19, and compare it to Luke 12:16-20.) We should not be surprised by this, since the OT writers were under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.

What Dawkins is afraid to admit is that the only thing unique to Jesus is His claim to be God Incarnate. The Apostles recognized this immediately upon His Resurrection, and it wasn't long before St. Paul was declaring Jesus to be the Creator of the Universe (best example of this might be Colossians 1:15-17).

Tony Hoffman said...

Wow, this post just reads like a proud statement about the author's personal bias and prejudice. Really? Have you done a thorough investigation of wars throughout history and other, non-Christian cultures? Or have you just read a book or a couple of articles written by some apologist authors who purport to have done this study for you? In other words, on what basis do you make such vast and sweeping historical judgments? (Do you have any references for how you've come to this conclusion?) Do you just ignore the fact that "Kill them all; let God sort them out." is as much a part of the Christian legacy of war as expressions about just war?

@ BProkop. I don't think that "turning the other cheek" is in the OT -- I'd say that the opposite is the case. Also, I believe it's a fairly standard historical acknowledgment that Jesus' teachings broke with a model of religious laws that specified what was prescribed and proscribed in a set of laws, replacing those with a set of moral principles that were explained through parables. I don't think that innovative need imply originality (and I agree that all of Jesus's ethical teachings can be found in other, earlier sources) -- I find that innovative typically means a clever arrangement of pre-existing parts in a way that is proven useful and effective. I see no reason to balk at the idea of Jesus' moral teaching being innovative.

BenYachov said...

>"Kill them all; let God sort them out." is as much a part of the Christian legacy of war as expressions about just war?

Some monk named Arnaud Amalric is reported to have said that during the Albigensian Crusade.

But there is no evidence he said it.

According to the liberal Wikipedia.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arnaud_Amalric

QUOTE"On the other hand, the legate's own statement, in a letter to the Pope in August 1209 (col.139), states:

While discussions were still going on with the barons about the release of those in the city who were deemed to be Catholics, the servants and other persons of low rank and unarmed attacked the city without waiting for orders from their leaders. To our amazement, crying "to arms, to arms!", within the space of two or three hours they crossed the ditches and the walls and Béziers was taken. Our men spared no one, irrespective of rank, sex or age, and put to the sword almost 20,000 people. After this great slaughter the whole city was despoiled and burnt...[3

So the thugs under there command acted like thugs while the learned churchmen where trying to act like civilized men in the face of violent fanatic (the Cathars) who where no better than Jihadis of today.

What's your point again Tony?

You are some "expert" on history or something?

Seriously?

Tony Hoffman said...

From "Protection of Civilians Against the Effects of Hostilities undder Customary Internataional Law and Under Protocol I", by Waldemar A. Solf:

"As early as the fourth Century B.C., Sun Tzu's classic, The Art of War, noted that there was an obligation to care for the wounded and prisoners of war. He observed that atrocities infuriated the enemy, stiffened their resistance and increased their fighting ability instead of paralyzing them with terror."

Also, in 634 Caliph Abu Bar informed his troops invading Christian Syria in this way: "You must not mutilate, neither kill a child or aged man or woman.... [Don't ravage the land, and] You are likely to pass by people who have devoted their lives to monastic services; leave them to that to which they have devoted their lives."

So, tell me again how it is that the Just War Theory was invented by Christians?

I don't know what it is; something about Dawkins just gets all you hardcore apologists so twisted up in knots it's like you can't even think straight.

BenYachov said...

>So, tell me again how it is that the Just War Theory was invented by Christians?

But Tony was is Sun Tzu's who influenced the European west or Augustine?

As for Caliph Abu Bar he was post Christian and western.

Stop defending Dawkins. He is an idiot. Your tribalism is silly.

Try reason.

B. Prokop said...

Tony,

I'm not sure who you were referring to when you wrote, "Have you done a thorough investigation of wars throughout history and other, non-Christian cultures? Or have you just read a book or a couple of articles written by some apologist authors who purport to have done this study for you?", but just in case you were writing about me, here are my bone fides:

I am a professional military historian and intelligence analyst (retired). I am the author of "Goalpost, the Battle of Port Lyautey", as well as the author of more abstracts on Soviet military history and strategy than I can count (all of them, unfortunately, still classified). I have extensively studied war and military strategy, philosophy, and "rules of" since the late 1960s. I actively participated in target selection during the enforcement of Iraqi No-Fly Zones in the 1990s, making decisions on whether or not collateral damage might result from a given airstrike.

To sum up: I've done my own research, and have uber-personal knowledge on the subject.

Tony Hoffman said...

Bob: "I'm not sure who you were referring to when you wrote, "Have you done a thorough investigation of wars throughout history and other, non-Christian cultures?"

Bob, I was referring to Victor -- my comment [emphasis added] said, "Wow, THIS POST just reads like a proud statement about THE AUTHOR'S personal bias and prejudice." I thought it was commonly understood that post refers to the OP (original post), the entry for which there are comments (yours and mine). I also delineated that I was then switching over to address your comment by using the @ symbol before your name -- I thought his was common internet parlance for "Now, this comment is directed at [TheNameFollowing]. I'm sorry if this wasn't clear.

B. Prokop said...

Tony,

No problem...

But there's no need to assume that anyone (Victor included) is getting their interpretation of history from "apologetic" writers. Even the most cursory overview of warfare throughout the ages displays an almost unrelieved picture of mayhem and gratuitous cruelty. Any exception to the norm always stands out like the anomaly it is. But there can be no honest questioning of the fact that in the Anno Domini era, there has been an unrelenting (though, sadly, seldom successful) effort on the part of the Church to change this horrible reality.

I'm not talking Pacifism here. I am certainly no Pacifist, though I do hold those who are in the highest regard. (I used to be one myself, many decades ago. C.S. Lewis is responsible for me changing my mind on that subject.) But our widespread and generally assumed default position that combatants ought to behave justly, and not with wanton cruelty, comes straight from our Christian heritage. Its spread to non-Christian parts of the world can be directly attributed to the global influence of Christianity and/or "Christian" nations. The Rules of War (as we understand them today) originated in Europe, and not in Asia or anywhere else, for that matter.

grassAmp said...

Victor you should read some basic history go to a real university accredited and talk to someone.

For god's sake this is ridiculous not worth educating you people..Hoffman is a Saint.

osoprob said...

So Buddhists that want to treat people well, or Hindus, because some of them came after Xianity was founded, got their ideas from Xianity.

This is the fourth dumbest thread I have ever seen at this blog.

B. Prokop said...

Osoprob writes, "So Buddhists that want to treat people well, or Hindus, because some of them came after [Christ]ianity was founded, got their ideas from [Christ]ianity."

I don't know about others, but I did not say that. I wrote that the Christian-based European-bred ideas on the Rules of War have spread throughout the world. You cannot say the same thing about similar Hindu ideas. As for Buddhism, despite its popularity among New Age enthusiasts and certain big name celebrities, you can't seriously claim that it has had any widespread culture-altering influence of any real significance outside of Asia.

Tony Hoffman said...

BProkop: " But there's no need to assume that anyone (Victor included) is getting their interpretation of history from "apologetic" writers."

I didn't assume it. I observed that his statements flew in the face of even a cursory understanding of history and non-Christian cultures. I asked what his sources were. None of these are assumptions.

BProkop: " Even the most cursory overview of warfare throughout the ages displays an almost unrelieved picture of mayhem and gratuitous cruelty. Any exception to the norm always stands out like the anomaly it is."

I'd mostly agree. We also should be aware that historical accounts of wars are highly susceptible to both exaggeration and also whitewashing. It is largely true that truth is the first casualty, and that we live in an unusual era that allows for public disclosure of both the atrocities common in wars and introspection about how it is that we portray those seen as our enemies.

BProkop: " But there can be no honest questioning of the fact that in the Anno Domini era, there has been an unrelenting (though, sadly, seldom successful) effort on the part of the Church to change this horrible reality."

Unrelenting? No. War being what war is, the Church's involvement in Crusades (both against Muslims and what it deemed Christian heretics), for instance, does not conform to an unrelenting effort to discourage mayhem. Protestant leaders could also be particularly bloodthirsty, and they existed in the Anno Domini era. Only an apologist would try to portray Christian efforts to reduce the cruelty of organized violence as unblemished, or conveniently pretend that there is such a thing as a war without mayhem and gratuitous cruelty. Do you really think that the Four Crusades (not to the mention those against Christian heretics) really reduced the amount of mayhem and gratuitous cruelty in the world? Why would you choose to ignore (as your statement above implies) what happened to the residents of Jerusalem in the First Crusade, or to the Crusaders allies when they decided to sack Constantinople, or to the accounts of what happened to the residents of Beziers when the Church-directed army broke its defenses?

BProkop: " But our widespread and generally assumed default position that combatants ought to behave justly, and not with wanton cruelty, comes straight from our Christian heritage. Its spread to non-Christian parts of the world can be directly attributed to the global influence of Christianity and/or "Christian" nations."

I have provided evidence (instructions from Sun Tzu and Abu Bar) that demonstrate your statement above is false. Your subsequent statement reads as if you hadn't seen my earlier comment, or that you chose to ignore it.

terri said...

The point is that Victor is making a rather broad claim about war practices and their evolution, specifically claiming that after Christ things got much better, that there were new ideas that decreased the violence, or type of violence perpetrated against people.

While I think that a case could be made that Christianity had a civilizing influence in many places, and that a current repulsion to genocide could be traced back to the idea that individual humans universally have worth in God's eyes....I think it would be hard to trace the repulsion to genocide only to Christianity. Plato was already addressing some of this and Augustine was greatly influenced by Plato and Cicero.

In the same way, there seems to be an implication in the comments that atheist/deists/non-Christians who object to genocide somehow don't have the right to take what they can from a Christian theology/structure without accepting everything else that goes along with it.

I'd venture that the very impulse to accept everything associated with a particular belief system simply because someone, somewhere in the past of that belief system said it was true is what is making this discussion so absurd.

So what if joshua claims that God ordered genocide? Who says we have to believe it or justify it?

Part of the progression of morals and ethics is recognizing that one thought builds on another and sometimes further on down the line we can see that some of the things we used to think/believe were or are corrupt. Just because it was part of the path to get us where we are doesn't mean that it was right, or that our current view can't exist without that crucial step.

Refining is a constant process. WE try a particular ethic out over time and see what the consequences are. We keep the positive parts and discard the negative.

Instead, it seems like what happens is people, whom I would assume are otherwise normal people, wind up trying to defend the indefensible and come up with crazy reasons to vindicate this story about God .

It's silly.

B. Prokop said...

Tony,

You write: "Your subsequent statement reads as if you hadn't seen my earlier comment, or that you chose to ignore it."

I think I answered your comment in my reply to Osoprob.

(By the Way, I am a Huge Defender of the First Three Crusades, while simultaneously condemning their mayhem. I think the Crusaders have gotten a bad rap from recent historians.)

Tony Hoffman said...

BProkop: "I am a Huge Defender of the First Three Crusades, while simultaneously condemning their mayhem. I think the Crusaders have gotten a bad rap from recent historians."

Ok, Bob. Hard to see how one can say that without sounding like a psychopath. I really don't believe that you wish to defend stuff like this (from Albert of Aix's account of the 1st Crusade):

"At the beginning of summer in the same year in which Peter, and Gottschalk, after collecting an army, had set out, there assembled in like fashion a large and innumerable host of Christians from diverse kingdoms and lands; namely, from the realms of France, England, Flanders, and Lorraine. . . . I know n whether by a judgment of the Lord, or by some error of mind;, they rose in a spirit of cruelty against the Jewish people scattered throughout these cities and slaughtered them without mercy, especially in the Kingdom of Lorraine, asserting it to be the beginning of their expedition and their duty against the enemies of the Christian faith. This slaughter of Jews was done first by citizens of Cologne. These suddenly fell upon a small band of Jews and severely wounded and killed many; they destroyed the houses and synagogues of the Jews and divided among themselves a very large, amount of money. When the Jews saw this cruelty, about two hundred in the silence of the night began flight by boat to Neuss. The pilgrims and crusaders discovered them, and after taking away all their possessions, inflicted on them similar slaughter, leaving not even one alive.

Not long after this, they started upon their journey, as they had vowed, and arrived in a great multitude at the city of Mainz. There Count Emico, a nobleman, a very mighty man in this region, was awaiting, with a large band of Teutons, the arrival of the pilgrims who were coming thither from diverse lands by the King's highway.

The Jews of this city, knowing of the slaughter of their brethren, and that they themselves could not escape the hands of so many, fled in hope of safety to Bishop Rothard. They put an infinite treasure in his guard and trust, having much faith in his protection, because he was Bishop of the city. Then that excellent Bishop of the city cautiously set aside the incredible amcunt of money received from them. He placed the Jews in the very spacious hall of his own house, away from the sight of Count Emico and his followers, that they might remain safe and sound in a very secure and strong place.

But Emico and the rest of his band held a council and, after sunrise, attacked the Jews in the hall with arrows and lances. Breaking the bolts and doors, they killed the Jews, about seven hundred in number, who in vain resisted the force and attack of so many thousands. They killed the women, also, and with their swords pierced tender children of whatever age and sex. The Jews, seeing that their Christian enemies were attacking them and their children, and that they were sparing no age, likewise fell upon one another, brother, children, wives, and sisters, and thus they perished at each other's hands. Horrible to say, mothers cut the throats of nursing children with knives and stabbed others, preferring them to perish thus by their own hands rather than to be killed by the weapons of the uncircumcised."

B. Prokop said...

I will indeed defend the first Crusades as a legitimate, and long overdue, defensive action (a counterattack, basically) against four centuries of unremitting Mohammedan assault against Christendom, which had for far too long gone essentially unanswered.

Don't forget why the infidel was in the Holy Land in the first place - because the Moslem hordes attacked without provocation the Eastern Roman Empire, wresting from it lands that had been Christian for more than six Centuries, and forcibly converting the populace, or putting the stubborn faithful to the sword or enslavement (using those very same enlightened pre-Christian methods of warfare some have been praising on this thread). These same aggressors continued on their path of unbridled rampage, destruction, rape, slaughter, and enslavement of helpless people from Jerusalem to southern France. And they would have kept going, were it not for Christendom finally getting its act together and hitting back where it hurt.

Don't go all Muslim-apologetic on me, Tony, and make the utterly ridiculous claim that the first Crusades were somehow anything other than justified self-defense. The Self-loathing Westerner routine gets old fast.

And please don't start listing Crusader atrocities as some sort of argument. It won't carry any weight, because I already said that I "simultaneously condemn[ed] their mayhem." That already includes any horror stories you might cite. I can easily list countless unspeakable atrocities committed by the Allied Forces during WWII, but that will never cause me to say we were wrong to fight that war!

liter said...

Proskop I think you are losing this one. :O

BenYachov said...

Wow I'm sure Bob is really scared by what you just said liter.

Crude said...

I'm glad to see Bob talking so much exquisite sense here. People seem to get the idea that muslims were just minding their own business when suddenly some Christians decided they were all heretics to had to be put to the sword. The actual history is a bit more complicated than that.

Also, regarding Sun Tzu: I think there's a considerable difference between affirming that all people are children of God and thus are deserving of certain treatment based on that fact alone, and thinking prisoners should be treated decently for strategic reasons.

Mike Darus said...

Got it: War is bad even when it is good.

Hiero5ant said...

"Has anybody noticed that, before Christianity, nobody ever dreamed that there were some things you couldn't do to noncombatants and defeated nations."

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ashoka

veyol said...

Why bother citing facts they will find some hair to split for why he is not a true Scotsman.

Myopia, thy name is Christian.

B. Prokop said...

I'll worry about what Liter says when he learns to spell my name right. (It is from the Greek, by the way, and translates as "The Drawn Sword", so watch out!)

Anonymous said...

Ashoka wasn't an Atheist the he was a Hindu.

How does this support Atheism or negate Stalin or Mao?

Hiero5ant said...

You're right, "anonymous", but you forgot to additionally mention that it doesn't lower one's cholesterol or help solve this week's sudoku.

veyol said...

anon read the original post it was all about christianity supposedly being a font of all that is good and true and wonderful ethically in a previously barbaric and backwards world.

Just like I said. scotsman of the world unite, unless you aren't

veyol said...

"Has anybody noticed that, before Christianity, nobody ever dreamed that there were some things you couldn't do to noncombatants and defeated nations."

Simply ridiculous this blog has been taken over by someone else...undermines argument from reason that's for sure.

Ilíon said...

You know, there is quite a difference between "you would do well to spare non-combatants, so that after the fighting you still have some people to rule" and "you should spare non-combatabts because it is the right thing to do".

Ilíon said...

Since when do Buddhists -- as a matter of morality -- want to "treat people well"? Hell! Buddhism claims that no one even exists!

Ilíon said...

"I think the Crusaders have gotten a bad rap from recent historians."

Didn't the "bad rapping" start with some French socialists, back in the 1800s, after it looked as though Islam had been "tamed", and thus the "liberal" "intellectuals" were about to put out of mind what a centuries-long existential problem Islam had been ... to say nothing of all the unimportant non-intellectuals that the Slaves of Allah had killed and ensleved over the centuries?

Victor Reppert said...

I am sure there were people who were less than brutal to defeated enemies before Christianity. I wonder if there was anyone outside of Christianity who developed anything like a just war theory, which outlined our duties to noncombatants.
In other words, who developed the principles that Dawkins appeals to when he criticizes the attacks on the Canaanites and Amalekites.

Rome, the leading civilization of the ancient world, didn't seem to have anything resembling the Just War.

Papalinton said...

If christianity had any input into how defeated combatants were treated, it was completely by default. Because it was the only religion that was countenanced under threat of death. There was no purposive strategy or deliberate action by christians to institute these changes because they were good. These changes were a result of people's disgust and anger at the sectarian violence perpetrated willingly by the catholics, by Luther by Calvin. By the time of the Enlightenment, it were the decent people over-riding their particular theistic tripe, driven by humanitarian and secular principles, that were calling, "Enough already!"

And Bob Prokop, "Don't forget why the infidel was in the Holy Land in the first place - because the Moslem hordes attacked without provocation the Eastern Roman Empire, wresting from it lands that had been Christian for more than six Centuries, and forcibly converting the populace, or putting the stubborn faithful to the sword or enslavement (using those very same enlightened pre-Christian methods of warfare some have been praising on this thread). "

What a lot of Apologetical balderdash. They weren't Muslim hordes. They were people who took arms for their god to rid the land of christians whose enforcement and enslavement practices over the local populace became simply unbearable. It seems clear that christianity was a dead horse by 600CE and Islam was the new god-force putting paid to the christian nonsense.

But to me, all religions are just 'mob-mentality' clubs for their particular parochial and narrow monoscopic worldview.

And Ben Yachov, the 'Albigensian crusade' is just a euphemism for the wholesale slaughter of people conducted under the command of the Vatican.
"The Albigensian Crusade was directed against Christian heretics in southern France. It was a bitter conflict that had the characteristics partly of a civil war, partly of a persecution, and partly of an invasion. It lasted for twenty years and had repercussions that lasted for far longer. Even though the Albigensian Crusade had little to do with the crusades to the Holy Land, which is the focus of our course, it had an important impact on the theory of crusading and the role of the Church in calling and directing crusades, so it is worth a closer look." http://the-orb.net/textbooks/crusade/albig.html

No amount of christian misconstrual of the historical narrative can wash away the blood on christian hands. No amount of christian weasel-wording will reshape the truth of its bloodied 2,000 years.

I an reminded of Walter P Stacy, former Chief Justice, North Carolina Supreme Court, "It would be almost unbelievable, if history did not record the tragic fact, that men have gone to war and cut each other's throats because they could not agree as to what became of them after their throats were cut."

Ilíon said...

Of course, there is also the fact that mant (or most) modern proponents of just war theory are just plain insane.

B. Prokop said...

Papalinton writes: "If Christianity had any input into how defeated combatants were treated, it was completely by default. Because it was the only religion that was countenanced under threat of death."

But some (myself included) will argue that the historical circumstances of Christianity's rise were divinely planned for His own purposes. It may well be that one of the reasons early Christianity spread under a hostile regime was so that a church-state split would be ingrained in the very bones of the faith, regardless of how often that foundational principle might be violated in the future. so there was no "by default" at work here - it was by design.

Interesting how the Church is always most truly its self when divorced from the reins of state power, and how easily it loses its inner strength and its witness is vitiated when the lines become blurred. The Church itself realizes (guided by the Holy Spirit) that entanglement with the state is an unnatural and unhealthy union.

But Papalinton is incapable of understanding the Meaning of History without the Light of Christ shining on it. The scroll sealed by the seven seals in Revelation could only be opened by the Lamb (the scroll being an account of "what it all means" in history). Without a Christian perspective, all is a meaningless series of disconnected events; "sound and fury, signifying nothing". Gaining that perspective is like a nearsighted man putting on a pair of eyeglasses for the first time. Before, all was a blur; afterwards, everything is sharp and clear.

And the side effects, if I may call them that, of such a clarified vision are remarkable. Events that were otherwise incomprehensible become key pieces of The Puzzle, with defined, interlocking edges. The great evils of history don't become any more palatable or excusable (in fact, they become less so), but you can finally comprehend why they happened at all.

Give it a try, Papalinton. You'd be amazed how good it feels to shed all of that anger and bile that so obviously clouds your reasoning.

Ilíon said...

He continuously choses to assert falsehood (and easily known to be false); thus, he is a fool.

B. Prokop said...

"It seems clear that Christianity was a dead horse by 600[AD]"

Huh? In that case, how in the world is it still here, and more widespread than ever in history, fourteen centuries later? How to explain that its greatest adherents since the Apostles (e.g., St. Francis, St. Dominic, St. Thomas Aquinas, Dorothy Day) lived after that date?

Talk about "[atheistic] apologetical balderdash"!!!

Tony Hoffman said...

VR: " I wonder if there was anyone outside of Christianity who developed anything like a just war theory, which outlined our duties to noncombatants."

I gave you two examples above. There's need to keep on wonderin'.

VR: "In other words, who developed the principles that Dawkins appeals to when he criticizes the attacks on the Canaanites and Amalekites."

Oh, oh! I know! I know! It was (wait for it…) people!

Silliest. Post. Ever.

Tony Hoffman said...

BProkop: “And please don't start listing Crusader atrocities as some sort of argument. It won't carry any weight, because I already said that I "simultaneously condemn[ed] their mayhem." That already includes any horror stories you might cite.”

Examples of Crusader atrocities aren’t an argument – they are evidence against your assertion. Namely, you have argued that: “...our widespread and generally assumed default position that combatants ought to behave justly, and not with wanton cruelty, comes straight from our Christian heritage.” Whether or not you condemn their mayhem (and hooray for so doing, btw) is irrelevant to the fact that the actions of Crusaders do indeed make up part of our Christian heritage. And if merely condemning cruelty against non-combatants was enough, you would concede that Sun Tzu and Abu Bakr both seem to have beaten Christians to the notion that war should be conducted along some morally and officially acceptable lines. (I don't think we should give credit to any individual or group, mind you -- I think we're talking about cultural and moral progress, something that occurs across time and cultures, etc.)

BProkop: “I can easily list countless unspeakable atrocities committed by the Allied Forces during WWII, but that will never cause me to say we were wrong to fight that war!”

Okay. But you seem to be needlessly confusing a just war and just conduct of a war. And I thought your argument here was about the supposed pioneering activities among Christians in the conduct of war against non-combatants. This, for instance, is you chastising Papalinton: “...the only reason that Paplinton believes it was wrong to slaughter the Amalekites is because he has been taught to do so by Christian teachers.”

Well, no. As has been famously pointed out recently, the Christian teacher William Lane Craig would teach Papalinton that slaughtering the Amalekites was indeed the right thing to do. So you might want to break the news to William Lane Craig that he is not a Christian, or ask him to alter his position on the slaughter of the Amalekites.

What I think you mean to say is that some Christians, some of the time, helped develop a set of (still often ignored and more often meaningless) set of rules of combat that seek to reduce the violence and cruelty against non-combatants. That is, of course, true, and we have evidence for it.

Tony Hoffman said...

BProkop: "But Papalinton is incapable of understanding the Meaning of History without the Light of Christ shining on it. The scroll sealed by the seven seals in Revelation could only be opened by the Lamb (the scroll being an account of "what it all means" in history). Without a Christian perspective, all is a meaningless series of disconnected events; "sound and fury, signifying nothing". Gaining that perspective is like a nearsighted man putting on a pair of eyeglasses for the first time. Before, all was a blur; afterwards, everything is sharp and clear."

I've also heard it recommended that if one clicks one's heels together while repeating "There's no place like home," one can receive similar blessings.

B. Prokop said...
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B. Prokop said...

"Well, no. As has been famously pointed out recently, the Christian teacher William Lane Craig would teach Papalinton that slaughtering the Amalekites was indeed the right thing to do."

"Well, no" from my side as well. I basically regard William Lane Craig as a heretic and a schismatic (but still a fellow Christian), who also on occasion might say the right thing and say it eloquently, but certainly not always. WLC's opinions by and large carry very little weight with me.

Tony Hoffman said...

BProkop: "WLC's opinions by and large carry very little weight with me."

Yet you call him a fellow Christian while still maintaining that the only way that Papalinton could determine that it was wrong to slaughter the Amalekites is through the teachings of Christians. Unless they agree with Christians like William Lane Craig.

Curiouser and curiouser.

ancepe said...

If I were a criminal, I'd rather be in a Christian country than a Muslim country. Muslims are crazy-ass savages that parade around the criminals with knives sticking out of their butts. Christians...not so much.

opike said...

ancepe: Which countries now are more savage and backwards, those with a Christian heritage or those with nonChristian heritage?

Jews are a special case, precursors to Christianity so some morals in place already. Almost there, morallyl speaking, just a little Jesus needed to finish the story.

B. Prokop said...

Tony,

Sorry if my tongue in cheek humor came off as too obscure - my fault entirely. I was being deliberately trollish to make a point, which is there is a huge difference between Catholic and Protestant teachings, which is foolish and futile to overlook.

Once one rejects the authority of the Magisterium, you never know what a person is going to say. It's all ultimately personal opinion, and not necessarily "Christian Teaching". As a Catholic, I have to take everything said or written by any Protestant on theological matters with a grain of salt. It has to be weighed against orthodoxy before I can allow for its validity.

So as a matter of fact, the overwhelming majority of what WLC professes is on pretty safe ground, but the problem remains that it will forever lack authority. I can't rely on him.

But as to "curiouser and curiouser", I'm afraid that this rift will continue until such time as it pleases the Holy Spirit to heal the rift in Christendom. Until then, you can't ever take at face value anything professed by a "teacher" outside of the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church.

Fortunately, there are many, many Christian writers who steer so close to Orthodox teaching that what they say is virtually indistinguishable from what the Church professes. These include C.S. Lewis, Charles Williams, the vast majority of teachers from the Eastern Orthodox churches, and many others.

Yet there remains tremendous value to much written by even out-and-out enemies of Catholicism that only a fool would deny. To that list I would include Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress for example - one of my favorite books, with much to commend it. Also of note would be anything by Dostoevsky - one of Eastern Christendom's greatest writers, overflowing with wisdom and insight, despite his explicit hostility to Rome.

Papalinton said...

Bob
""It seems clear that Christianity was a dead horse by 600[AD]"

Huh? In that case, how in the world is it still here, and more widespread than ever in history, fourteen centuries later? ......"

Just another case of selective quoting to substantiate the nonsense that masks as christian ethics. just another usual ploy by untrustworthy christians for god-derived misconstrual. The context for my statement is below:

"It seems clear that christianity was a dead horse by 600CE and Islam was the new god-force putting paid to the christian nonsense."

Bob, you know and I know, that you wouldn't even be able to rustle up enough christians for a game of poker in the area today compared to say around 550CE, before Islam kicked some serious christian butt after 600CE.

Ilíon said...

"I basically regard William Lane Craig as a heretic and a schismatic (but still a fellow Christian) ..."

Sheesh! --

"I basically regard William Lane Craig as a [person who falsely claims to be a Christian, and who leads people astray from true Christianity] and a schismatic (but still a fellow Christian)"

Papalinton said...

Bob
" I was being deliberately trollish to make a point, which is there is a huge difference between Catholic and Protestant teachings, which is foolish and futile to overlook. "

A point I have sought to make many times, particularly with the likes of Morrison, Crude, Yachov etc. What value christianity if the main proponents cannot even agree on the basics let alone the marginal?

Ilíon said...

Walter: "Fact is that none of us can prove our worldviews beyond a reasonable doubt. That is why I consider myself an agnostic first, and a deist second."

Bullshit, on both.

"Mere theism" proven beyond doubt.

You consider yourself "an agnostic first" because you do not want to know the truth. With probably the secondary reason that you vainly imagine that agnosticism (i.e. "It is impossible to know anything") occupies the metaphysical sweet-spot of not needing to be defended.

B. Prokop said...

Paplinton,

With between a third and a half of the world population belonging to Christendom (depending on how you count), how can you possibly expect all of them to agree?

I've said before on this website that my personal definition of what makes a person Christian in belief is whether he can recite the Nicene Creed and mean every word of it. What makes a person Catholic in my eyes, is if he can do the above plus acknowledge the True Presence in the Eucharist. At the end of the day, all else is window dressing.

Now as to what makes a person Christian in behaviour, well, that's another matter entirely... I won't ever presume to go there!

Ilion,

A person can easily be both a heretic and a schismatic and still be a Fellow Christian. I might mention Thomas Cranmer or John Bunyan in that regard, two schismatic heretics I have tremendous regard for, and have learned much from.

Heck, maybe even you can be, too! (But not until you disavow Hell's own constitution, which you have yet to do.)

Walter said...

You consider yourself "an agnostic first" because you do not want to know the truth. With probably the secondary reason that you vainly imagine that agnosticism (i.e. "It is impossible to know anything") occupies the metaphysical sweet-spot of not needing to be defended.

Agnosticism does not mean that it is impossible for me to know *anything*. After all, I can say with dogmatic certainty that you are a nutcase.

And you should have posted this in the Amalekite thread.

Victor Reppert said...

Tony: I'd still want to make a distinction between someone who thinks there is a pragmatic advantage to be had in treating enemy noncombatants nonviolently, and thinking that these people have a right not to be mistreated.

I don't see a just war theory in these statements.

xedsh said...

Ilion assumes that " IF atheism were indeed the truth about the nature of reality, THEN everything which exists and/or transpires must be wholely reducible, without remainder, to purely physical/material states and causes."

But I know atheists who are realists about abstract objects (e.g., mathematical truths).

That is only the first step in Ilion's proof. Not that big a deal, can just modify your argument to apply to atheists for whom the second half of your conditional applies. Which is admittedly probably the majority.

Anonymous said...

"But I know atheists who are realists about abstract objects (e.g., mathematical truths)."

They could have contradictory beliefs.

Ilíon said...

Xedsh, paraphrased: "[I can refute Ilíon's argument without fully engaging my mind, or even without engaging in reasoning!]"

Xedsh, my argument doesn't give a damn about the unmatched mishmash of mututally contradictory beliefs that any particular so-called atheist happens to have put together, imagining that he can hide God behind them. My argument is about atheism, not about so-called atheists.

Further, my argument doesn't merely assume, in the manner you appear to be using the word 'assume', as though it were some vague idea that I pulled out of my ass, that "IF atheism were indeed the truth about the nature of reality, THEN everything which exists and/or transpires must be wholely reducible, without remainder, to purely physical/material states and causes." Rather, that IF-THEN statement is simply a restatement of materialistic atheism; my argument doesn't deal with Buddhism (i.e. anti-materialistic atheism), for Buddhism deals with itself.

Ilíon said...

Walter: "Agnosticism does not mean that it is impossible for me to know *anything*."

Asserting 'agnosticism' is exactly to assert that it is impossible to know anything. As I explain/exlpore here, once one has acknowledges that something does indeed exist (i.e. one has acknowledged that Buddhism, for instance, is false), then the question, "Is God?" is the very first question about the nature of that reality. As I explain: all the further questions one may ask about the nature of reality, and thus the answers/explanations one may propose about reality, depend upon the answer to that First Question; and there are only two possible answers: "Yes" or "No".

'Agnosticism' is the assertion that the First Question about the nature of reality cannot be answered ... and probably cannot sensibly be asked. Thus (as see immediately above), 'agnosticism' is indeed the assertion that nothing at all can be known. And, thus, 'agnosticism' is self-refuting, as one ought to be able to see by understanding of the prior sentence.

Walter: "After all, I can say with dogmatic certainty that you are a nutcase."

Of course you can, in the way that you misuse the term; but then, *everything* you assert is of that nature, for you also assert that knowledge is impossible.

Papalinton said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Papalinton said...

Bob
"With between a third and a half of the world population belonging to Christendom (depending on how you count), how can you possibly expect all of them to agree? "

This is not an explanation. It is an excuse. If christian mythology was a 'universal truth', then I would expect christians to agree. But they don't. And while you may attempt an excuse that on the majority of issues that christians do agree, then I would say that observation is bunkum. For the very fact that there are so many disparate, distinct and arguably antagonistic forms of christianity, protestants including calvinists and lutherans and Methodists etc, and catholics and mormons and jehovahs witnesses etc, speaks resolutely and clearly that the differences are not only foundational but absolutely fundamental in form and sentiment. To claim christians as a homologous let alone a homogenous group is conflatory nonsense at best.

Your third to a half of the world's population being christian is an extraordinarily inflated figure, but then such a claim is no different in character from any other nebulous christian claim about its mythos.

"What makes a person Catholic in my eyes, is if he can do the above plus acknowledge the True Presence in the Eucharist."

The eucharist is a relic of our cannibalistic heritage. Who in their right mind would consider eating the flesh and drinking the blood of a human blood sacrifice as decorum these day. The whole display is bizarre. It's a throwback to a time when societies thought that by carnivorously feasting and imbibing on the flesh and blood of their enemies it would make them stronger. Bob, surely you can see the mythological links with this abnormal and outlandish practice. It is fictitious in the extreme. How does one explain cannibalism as a central feature of christian thought?

B. Prokop said...

The "mythological links" are most assuredly there - by divine design and the inevitable consequence of supernatural intervention in the natural world. Any act by God in His created universe, subsequent to the act of creation itself, can be likened to tossing a stone into a pool. Among the many effects of such act are not only the splash at the impact point, but more to the point in this particular discussion, the ripples which spread out and extend to the furthest reaches of the water (natural world).

The Incarnation can be crudely (and only for illustrative purposes) be considered as the largest of such stones. The effects of this Act are visible in all dimensions, both spatial and temporal. Thus we most reasonably see echoes of the Incarnation in every culture and in all times, even those prior to the event. It would be strange if we did not. This is the true explanation behind the profusion of fertility myths and instances of the "dying god" stories so prevalent in human history. They are faint reflections of the Actual Event (the Incarnation). Christians are far from either being embarrassed or in denial over such stories, as some skeptics like to claim, they embrace these myths as reflections of Reality.

The same goes for the Eucharist. I would be astonished if such a major divine intervention in the natural world were not visible from every furthest corner. The presence of parallel myths around the world are precisely what one should expect. They are an argument in favor of the Truth of the doctrine.

Walter said...

Ilion,

I know I am wasting my time talking to you but...

I use the word agnostic to mean that I tentatively hold to my belief in deism. Further evidence may change my view. I believe that everyone should be somewhat tentative in their metaphysical worldview since there is no way to know with absolute assurance that your "faith" is true. Faith requires some doubt.

B. Prokop said...

Walter,

The problem is that there are multiple definitions for the word agnosticism, which are often incompatible, or even contradictory, with/to each other. For decades, I had considered the correct definition to be the idea that knowledge of True Reality was inherently unobtainable - that humans could never really know anything with certainty.

I have recently learned that that is merely one of several definitions, all of which are championed as the "right" one by various persons.

Many of the definitions are quite sloppy, falling into the "I'm not sure about this" category. I myself use the word in this sense when I say something like, "I am agnostic as to the historicity of Adam", meaning "I just don't know".

Walter said...

That's true, Bob. I have run into difficulty with the agnostic label at atheist sites as well as religious blogs. I should just call myself a tentative or provisional deist.

Tony Hoffman said...

VR: "I'd still want to make a distinction between someone who thinks there is a pragmatic advantage to be had in treating enemy noncombatants nonviolently, and thinking that these people have a right not to be mistreated. I don't see a just war theory in these statements."

The same right that God gave to the Amelikite non-combatants? I can think of few things more pragmatic (and cruel) than the determination by God that the Amelikite infants must be killed because of fear that their survival would somehow diminish his command of the Israelites.

No, there are simpler and better ways to justify minimizing the cruelty and violence of war. Finding their source in (all of) our Christian heritage seems no better, and sometimes worse, than other justifications I can easily imagine.

xedsh said...

Great, Ilion, so you agree your argument only addresses a subset of atheists, just as I said. Good to see you clarify your argument's limited scope. Glad to help.

B. Prokop said...

I am quite certain that YHWH never gave any command to massacre the Amalekites. I refer you to Isaiah 19:25, in which God declares all peoples to be in his favor:

"Blessed be Egypt my people, and Assyria the work of my hands, and Israel my inheritance."

Keep in mind that at the time this was written, all three of those nations were the bitterest of enemies.

Tony Hoffman said...

BProkop: "I am quite certain that YHWH never gave any command to massacre the Amalekites."

Bob, I am happy that your moral intuitions and thinking have led you to renounce those portions of the Bible which are clearly immoral. There's hope for us all with that.

B. Prokop said...

I don't in the least "renounce" portions of the Bible. They simply have to be interpreted in light of the rest of Scripture, and with Tradition.

Tony Hoffman said...

God (from the Bible): "Now go and smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and spare them not; but slay both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass."

BProkop: "I am quite certain that YHWH never gave any command to massacre the Amalekites."

BProkop: " I don't in the least "renounce" portions of the Bible. They simply have to be interpreted in light of the rest of Scripture, and with Tradition."

Well, I think you do in some ways renounce portion of the Bible. This is from the Cambridge dictionaries online edition for the word, "renounce: to say formally or publicly that you NO LONGER own, SUPPORT, BELIEVE IN or have a connection with something."

By the plain definition of the word renounce, you do not support nor believe in the words quoted from the Bible above. If you do support or believe in the words quoted form the Bible above, then I will stand corrected and agree that you do not renounce that portion of the Bible.

BenYachov said...

@Tony

Jesus said "If thy right eye offend thee pluck it out.....better to go into the Kingdom of God half blind then with both eyes be cast into Gehenna".

Taken literally Jesus is clearly advocating self mutilation which is a sin in both Orthodox Judaism and Catholicism. But historically Christians don't take this literally but as hyperbole.

There is no reason why the order to wipe out the Amalekites might not have been the same way.

There is a verse in the OT which calls for cutting off the hand of a woman who pulls the genitals off a man who is fighting her husband.

All the Rabbis teach that cannot be applied literally & the "cutting of the hand" praise is nothing more than a metaphor for pay a harsh fine.

The Canaanites where ordered whiped out & yet the book of Joshua shows many where still alive later on & obviously spared.

I have defended philosophically the literal application of these verse to Walter. But I have never said the figurative meaning isn't true or couldn't be true.

Tony Catholics are not fundamentalists or Protestants who believe in a clear scripture.

You just have to get over that.

Now I will leave you to Bob.

BenYachov said...

Thus I see no reason why young Children might not have been spared along with the Virgin young women.

Given the moral tradition of Judaism.

The text doesn't mention that but perspicuity & Scripture alone is a Protestant device not a Catholic or classical Jewish one.

B. Prokop said...

Nothing whatsoever prevents any Christian who rejects a wooden, literalist reading of Scripture (as I do), and who has no sympathy for the idea of "Scripture Alone" (and I have none), from interpreting the passage in question entirely metaphorically or allegorically.

If you've read C.S. Lewis's The Great Divorce, you will recall that the theme of that book was the necessity to "kill" everything within you that caused you to be separate from God. Now even the Rabbis used the Conquest Narratives in that same fashion (as did, I believe, Paul), likening it to the need for a spiritual rebirth within one's self, and eliminating all traces of the Old Self to become pleasing to God. Alternatively, the Amalekites might be taken to represent anything within a new Christian's life that might be a temptation to fall away from the faith, and therefore emphasizes a need to "clear the ground".

So you see, Tony, I have absolutely zero need to renounce that passage.

terri said...

Bob,

You may have not renounced the passage, but you have certainly turned it on its head. I don't believe that the author of Joshua would have envisioned such a highly individualized allegorical approach to the text.

When the Old Testament refers to enemies and wars and conquests, it generally means it literally. The Israelites were an ethnic group who believed they were divinely chosen among the nations. God's grace to other nations was always predicated on Israel's superiority to those nations.

When Israel was "right with God" then His grace was shown through them to other nations. This was the Israelite view of things represented in most of the Old Testament writings.

Your interpretation, while a common, Christian one, would have had no meaning to an Israelite.

Walter said...

I Samuel 15 seems to be scriptural evidence that the genocidal commands were not meant to be taken as hyperbole.

King Saul was rejected by God and rebuked by Samuel for not killing all that breathes.

B. Prokop said...

Terri,

I stand by what I wrote. I'm not one of those people who, for instance, go on about "original intent" when discussing the US Constitution. I couldn't care less what someone in 1789 was thinking when writing it. What's important is "what does it mean for us today?"

In like manner, it bothers me not if how I interpret the Amalekite text would have never occurred to its author. Not in the least interested. What I want to learn is, "What does that text have to say to the world, and to me personally, today?"

B. Prokop said...

Same objection, Walter. I am not responsible for the soul of Saul. I do have to worry about my own, and those of people who I come into contact with. I will continue to read Samuel to learn what the Holy Spirit has to say in it about Christ.

"Then [Jesus] said to them, "These are my words which I spoke to you, while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the law of Moses and the prophets and the psalms must be fulfilled." Then he opened their minds to understand the scriptures." (Luke 24:44-45)

terri said...

OK.

That becomes a problem when you're trying to assert the historicity, or non-historicity, of any text or have discussions about the intent.

You can't just whitewash the history, or historical attitudes, of a text and claim it for your own just because you feel like it. Well, I guess you can, but chances are what you end up with completely misconstruing the text and the meaning of the text.

That's not a big deal when people are reading a novel, or reciting a poem. People can argue about what it all means without any real consequences if they don't agree.

The problem is that when you treat a text that way and then proclaim an interpretation as factual, you are put in a position of having to provide some sort of evidence for your view.

If I read your comments correctly, you have removed yourself from that requirement in reading the text and the original post in which Victor made a broad, claim about history and treatment of non-combatants.

AS far as I can see, you in some way back up Victor's ideas with an appeal to the Catholic Magisterium's view of things and the faith pre-supposition that it must be so because that's the way God worked things out.

I also have not seen any evidence or links to back up Victor's original point. The goalposts have been moved in relation to that point. Originally, the claim was that before Christ no one claimed that you couldn't or shouldn't do certain things to non-combatants. Now the goalposts have been moved to just war theory, which has to do more with reasons for going to war in general, rather than treatment of non-combatants.

B. Prokop said...

The goalposts haven't moved at all. You're dealing here with at least three entirely different sets of goalposts. Victor apparently believes that YHWH commanded the Israelites to massacre the Amalekites, but thinks they deserved it (if I understand him correctly). Ben Yachov seems to think He did as well, and just says "Too bad about that. God can do whatever He wants." I, on the other (third?) hand, do not believe the command was ever made, and interpret the story allegorically.

terri said...

I, on the other (third?) hand, do not believe the command was ever made, and interpret the story allegorically.

I don't care what your original intent was when you first wrote that. For the purposes of this argument I have chosen to figure out what you said in terms of what it means to me, allegorically speaking, that is.

;-)

BenYachov said...

Or Walter it simply means didn't kill those he was meant to kill.

Walter said...

Same objection, Walter. I am not responsible for the soul of Saul. I do have to worry about my own, and those of people who I come into contact with. I will continue to read Samuel to learn what the Holy Spirit has to say in it about Christ.

Fair enough, Bob. I have to ask though, what kind of spiritual edification do you glean from Joshua and Samuel?

benYachov said...

If your read 1 Sam 15 it seems Saul was condemned for sparing the Amalikite King and sparing some of the booty.

There is no mention of Saul being condemned for sparing children and infants.

In fact this proves Number 31 was hyperbolie since Amalikites are still alive after Moses till Saul.

Epic fail.

Walter said...

Or Walter it simply means didn't kill those he was meant to kill.

Yeah, he did not kill everything that breathes, which included sheep, cattle, and the King. Point was that Samuel rebuked Saul for not following his orders to the letter.

Walter said...

In fact this proves Number 31 was hyperbolie since Amalikites are still alive after Moses till Saul.

Epic fail.


Yes they were still alive later in the book of Samuel. This is because the Amalekites were nomadic and did not have a central kingdom. It still does not change the fact that Saul was tasked in annihilating everything in this one particular location.

You have defended these actions as being okay on philosophical grounds, so I don't know why are attempting to whitewash the passages by claiming hyperbole. As far as you are concerned, if God says kill kids, then you kill kids with nary a hesitation.

"Trust and obey for there is no other way to be happy in Jesus than to trust and obey."

BenYachov said...

>You have defended these actions as being okay on philosophical grounds, so I don't know why are attempting to whitewash the passages by claiming hyperbole.

Because I have no good reason to believe they are not hyperbolie. There is no dogma from the church demanding they be understood in such a way & it seems like a valid interpretation.

So till the Pope says otherwise I can believe a literal reading is not immoral for the reasons you & I already discussed and that this is also a valid reading.

I personally don't believe in Limbo since unlike Purgatory it is not a dogma but I will defend it in principle as valid.

As to your Nomad theory of why there are Amalikites in Saul's time that is remotely plausible but I am to believe the Israelites had an on going Haram order against them they neglected for hundreds of years to the point they allowed the Amalikites to become strong again?

The hyperbolie argument sounds more plausible even if the literal is possible and not immoral.

BenYachov said...

>Yeah, he did not kill everything that breathes, which included sheep, cattle, and the King. Point was that Samuel rebuked Saul for not following his orders to the letter.

I should take "lives and breaths" literally like I should literally pluck out my own eye when I see a pair of awesome tits(instead of look away on a good day)?

Why?

B. Prokop said...

Walter writes, "Fair enough, Bob. I have to ask though, what kind of spiritual edification do you glean from Joshua and Samuel?"

I think I answered that in my comment of 9:44 AM today.

terri said...

Ben,

You keep referencing a New Testament text to a much older text with an entirely different context and equating them. The are not the same.

One is Jesus talking about an if-then in relation to a person controlling themselves and is clearly meant to be hyperbolic, the other is a direct order given to the commander of an army.

One is about an individual's spiritual state and the other is about a planned military conquest.

Genre and the original intent of the author are everything her. No matter how much people want to allegorize texts they don't like, they can't make any headway in dealing with the text that way.

B. Prokop said...

I totally agree with Terri about the importance of genre, but concern over original intent is in no way mandatory. I am quite certain that the OT authors were not thinking about Christ when they wrote what they did, but Jesus explicitly tells us that the OT is all about Him! That alone blows the importance of authorial intent right out of the water.

terri said...

Bob, that is a very sweeping statement. Don't you imagine that when the gospel writers wrote that they had specific passages in mind?

Do you really believe that every verse in the Bible is about CHrist? That's an extreme super-cessionist view.

BenYachov said...

>You keep referencing a New Testament text to a much older text with an entirely different context and equating them. The are not the same.

I am not claiming they are the same gentre. That would be stupid but on the base level I have no reason to believe the OT gentres exlude hyperbolie or allegory in common speech.

The Rabbis don't accept the NT yet they didn't understand the command to "cut off the hand without pity" literally.

The author of the Text is God & you have given me no proof the the hears understood them literalistically.

When my elderly Italian Grandmother of happy memory got made at me for being a Teenage punk back in the day. I never took it literally when she told me to "Go soak your head!". When she wanted me to bath she never used that praise. What she really meant is "Go away & stop bothering me your brat!".

God save the Soul of my Grandma Esther.

BenYachov said...

I'm out of here for now.

Remember people for Catholics fundamentalist presupositions are non-starters.

ACCEPT IT!!!!

Give them Heaven Bob!

B. Prokop said...

Terri,

The "Gospel writers" didn't make that statement - Jesus did! the gospel writers just wrote it down.

terri said...

The Rabbis don't accept the NT yet they didn't understand the command to "cut off the hand without pity" literally.

That is Paul Copan's contention, and it is hardly widely accepted. And, the rabbis referenced are rabbis whose opinions were recorded several hundred years, in some cases closer to 1,000 years after that text was written. Those rabbis lived during a time in which Israel as a nation had been dispersed and had no authority to enforce any such laws in a literal way.

It's a bad, terrible argument to declare that all of those scary violent passages in Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy don't actually mean what they say.

Over time, steps were taken to tame these laws but I don't see how it's possible for anyone to seriously say that when those laws were written they weren't meant to be taken at face value.

And, this is why the intent of the author is important to understanding a text. If you read later commentaries back into the text you can never hope to honestly address the issues at hand.

BenYachov said...

>It's a bad, terrible argument to declare that all of those scary violent passages in Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy don't actually mean what they say.

Catholics don't believe in the Reformation doctrine of Perspicuity which came about 3,500 years after the fact?

Go figure?

Terri if I became an Atheist tomorrow you would still need to give me solid proof they where understood literally.

BenYachov said...

I'm doing the Jewish goodbye it takes a while to leave.

terri said...

I have no interest in whether you become an atheist tomorrow or not. That certainly isn't my motivation in this conversation.

I do however think its important for people to know what the hell they are talking about before making all kinds of assertions with nary a shred of evidence....and that goes for "extra-biblical" assertions.

If you want to appeal to age and authority then you are going to have to go back further than the Catholic Church to deal with these texts, way before the existence of an approved canon and ex-cathedra interpretations of it.

Tony Hoffman said...

BProkop: "Then [Jesus] said to them, "These are my words which I spoke to you, while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the law of Moses and the prophets and the psalms must be fulfilled." Then he opened their minds to understand the scriptures." (Luke 24:44-45)"

Yeah, that's your mistake right there, Bob. Your interpretation of that whole passage needs to be understood in similar way to how you interpreted the passage instructing the destruction of the Amalekites. That whole New Testament is pretty much allegory, as it turns out. :)

Tony Hoffman said...

VR: " Has anybody noticed that, before Christianity, nobody ever dreamed that there were some things you couldn't do to noncombatants and defeated nations."

VR (later): " I wonder if there was anyone outside of Christianity who developed anything like a just war theory, which outlined our duties to noncombatants."

VR (later): " I'd still want to make a distinction between someone who thinks there is a pragmatic advantage to be had in treating enemy noncombatants nonviolently, and thinking that these people have a right not to be mistreated. I don't see a just war theory in these statements."

BProkop: " The goalposts haven't moved at all."

Bob, see Victor's 3 comments above -- that is a classic moving goalpost if I've ever seen one.

Papalinton said...

Bob
To Tony: "I don't in the least "renounce" portions of the Bible. They simply have to be interpreted in light of the rest of Scripture, and with Tradition."

As I say, often, christian morality and ethics is somewhat of a moving feast, the final outcome of which is conditional on interpreting and re-interpreting "in light of the rest of Scripture, and with Tradition", and whatever seems to be currently fashionable at the time.

Look down the list of the re-interpretation of the bible over time:
. blasphemy, once punishable by death
. heresy, once punishable by death
. slavery, once supported under christian logic
. marriage, once a lifetime commitment for which death was the only release
. divorce, unimaginable to remarry
. suicide, excluded one from a christian burial
. homosexuality,
. limbo, for unbaptised babies
. property, personal and legal rights for women

And these are just the social issues that were strongly governed by theocratic principles as interpreted expressly through and from the bible.

These changes did not come about through christian thought. Theists were dragged kicking and screaming into each new social age after the population had had a gutfull of biblical interpretation and cried, "Enough already!". They went for the common sense strategy. Secular and humanist principles have always been the drivers of change in the community. Religious changes only ever resulted from its capacity to rethink its doctrinal and dogmatic position post facto. It is the same with theology's necessary confrontation with science. And this drama has been reflected throughout history. The church has always started from the position of conservativeness, relinquishing nothing until forced to do so. The latest legislation attempt in California for Prop 8 and the successful introduction of decent legislation regarding homosexuality in New State state both clearly demonstrated the conservative christians peals of "slippery slopes", and 'Sodom and Gomorra", and "satan's return" and "the end of morality or the end of the world". In California they won the day. In New York, people were saying, "Enough already! No more christian crap".

C'mon, Bob, interpretative apologetics gets a bit boring after a while.

B. Prokop said...

Sorry, Tony. The New testament is (mostly) literally True. Your "gotcha" falls flat. Thud!!!

(Sometimes the comeback "but that's different!" is the appropriate thing to say.)

BenYachov said...

Just because one part of Scripture is taken figuratively doesn't mean all of it must be.

Besides we have tradition and Church.

Terri,.

Prove to me the hears accepted it literally & the authors intended it literally.

I say this as one who has defended the "morality" of the literal interpretation.

If you can't do it just own up to it.

BenYachov said...

@Bob

Gee brother none of these people seem to get the "We are not Protestant Fundie literalists so your arguments are non-starters we are Catholic" vibe?

Is it us?

Our Lady be with you.

B. Prokop said...

Papalinton,

Talk about moving goalposts! One day you complain that Christians never change and that we quote people from the year 1000, and the next day you complain that every now and then, things change.

There's just no pleasing you, is there? I can't even take your last posting seriously. You're off your game today!

SteveK said...

Paps,
>>> As I say, often, christian morality and ethics is somewhat of a moving feast, the final outcome of which is conditional on interpreting and re-interpreting "in light of the rest of Scripture, and with Tradition", and whatever seems to be currently fashionable at the time.

As Christianity says often, the moral opinion/interpretations of the created beings (including Christians) does not determine the fixed, moral reality.

Make a note of it, Paps.

terri said...

Ben,

Well, let's see, we have book after book of Scripture certainly portraying itself literally on one hand, and then people removed by thousands of years and culture on the other hand suddenly deciding that isn't what they meant.

Seeing as I don't have access to a TARDIS I can't take you back to witness some stonings first hand to "prove" it.

I wonder, though, if you haven't put yourself in a terrible position because Jesus seems to believe that whole "eye for an eye" thing was real and the story of the woman caught in adultery certainly turns on the idea that the leaders assumed they had the right to stone her, a directive from Mosaic Law. I guess whoever wrote the gospel of John just forgot that the Israelites didn't literally think you should stone adulterers.

What an embarrassing mistake to include that!

BenYachov said...

>Well, let's see, we have book after book of Scripture certainly portraying itself literally on one hand,

Book's don't portray anything, they have to be interpreted.

Of course thousands of years from now people like you will insist my Grandmother was really telling me to wash up when she told me to "Go soak your head!" but that is hardly my problem.

>I wonder, though, if you haven't put yourself in a terrible position because Jesus seems to believe that whole "eye for an eye" thing was real and the story of the woman caught in adultery certainly turns on the idea that the leaders assumed they had the right to stone her

I thought we where taking about the Haram extermination passages?

Because I would never say the laws commanding capital punishment for crimes where not literal since I don't believe it.

But of course person treated thus would have been tried by a Bet Din.

Clearly the Pharasees who dragged the woman to Jesus where acting as a Bet Din.

BenYachov said...

terri,

Seriously?

The point of Haram passages is that they might apply taken literally to killing the innocent where as "eye for an eye" refers to retribution against the guilty who have been tried and found guilty on the testimony of two or three credible witnesses.

BenYachov said...

>C'mon, Bob, interpretative apologetics gets a bit boring after a while.

Not as boring as interpretive polemics from Fundamentalist Atheists and Religious Liberals who treat the Graf wellhausen theory as if it where the Second Council of Nicaea.

B. Prokop said...

The "Eye for an eye" passage hasn't gotten the respect it deserves of late. The point of that particular law was not punitive justice, but measured justice.

The Hebrews were living in a world where the norm for a small offense was a disproportionately large retribution. (e.g., You hit me; I kill you.) The Lex Talionis set a limit to punishment at no greater than the crime.

It was way ahead of its time, and a giant step forward to a humane justice system not based solely on revenge and naked power.

SteveK said...

Bob,
>>> There's just no pleasing you, is there?

There isn't. Here we have a summary of all the comments thus far.

Christianity is due no credit for any moral progress where Christians led the way because everyone knew about these moral teachings before Christ came on the scene.

Christianity is due full blame for all moral failure where Christians led the way, even though everyone already knew about these moral teachings before Christ came on the scene.

Christian Morality: heads you lose, tails you don't win.

Victor Reppert said...

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 is 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?

terri said...

Ben,

You are being inconsistent. You were the one who kept bringing up the law about cutting off a woman's hand which is in the same category as "eye for an eye" and stoning people for adultery. You are claiming the passage about hands is figurative, yet seem fine with eye for an eye being literal.

If you have been keeping up with the chatter from Copan on blogs, he has also talked about how an eye for an eye was probably not literal and was "optional"
.

So, though you think I can't be taking seriously, you have not proven yourself very familiar with this topic and some of what Copan has said outside of the genocide passages. Copan is trying to reform the violent portrayal of God in many instances, not simply in the genocidal instances.

terri said...

"taken seriously"

Tony Hoffman said...

SteveK: "Christian Morality: heads you lose, tails you don't win."

Oh, boo hoo. I have more respect for dogged incoherence and proud proclamations of fideism than I do this sort of phony grand-standing.

The OP makes the outlandish claim that it had never occurred to anyone before Christian thinkers that there should be rules about what combatants may do to non-combatants. After this assertion is shown to be false we have attempts to clarify what it actually is that made Christian rules about martial conduct uniquely... good? (Turns out it’s not Crusaders.) When it’s floated that intrinsic value from God might do the trick, it’s pointed out that that can be problematic if one reads the Bible as meaning approximately what it says.

And that, with the usual wandering and heckling, is where we are now.

I will grant that Christians didn’t invent hypocrisy nor psychological projection, but SteveK, some of you guys seem to have perfected it.

Papalinton said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Papalinton said...

Bob
Lex Talionis
This is another case of christianity stealing another society's moral code. The Jews knew about proportionate justice long before christianity was a twinkle in Paul's eye, indeed the simplest form of the concept is in the Exodus 21:23 'eye for an eye' passage. This is not a christian concept. It was appropriated from the Jews. But even theirs was borrowed from an older source: "In the famous legal code written by Hammurabi, the principle of exact reciprocity is very clearly used. For example, if a person caused the death of another person, the killer would be put to death (Hammurabi's code, §230).

Sorry Bob, this is just another example of religious malarkey being fobbed off as 'christian tradition'.

You say, "Talk about moving goalposts! One day you complain that Christians never change and that we quote people from the year 1000, and the next day you complain that every now and then, things change."

Yes Bob. I do complain Christians do not change and they do quote people from a 1,000 years ago. And no Bob, I don't complain that every now and then, things change; what I do complain about is that christians can never or are never able to change of the own volition. They have to be dragged kicking and screaming into each new phase as social norms develop. That is so tiring; it is as if looking after a recalcitrant child. And throughout no changing of goalposts has occurred on my part.

Reason 1: Christians 0

BenYachov said...

@terri

You really need to read me more carefully my dear.

>You are claiming the passage about hands is figurative, yet seem fine with eye for an eye being literal.

I never said we should punish people by literally doing to them what they did to others. I said I support the idea the Bible literally teaches capital punishment for the guilty.

Capital punishment has nothing to do with mutilation. Mutilation is the cutting off of a healthy body part for no good purpose. Which is an intrinsically evil act. Thus it can't be a punishment.

Here is what I said literally since you are focused very heavily on the literal.

QUOTE"Because I would never say the laws commanding capital punishment for crimes where not literal since I don't believe it. October 27, 2011 2:08 PM"

and the next post:

QUOTE" The point of Haram passages is that they might apply taken literally to killing the innocent where as "eye for an eye" refers to retribution against the guilty who have been tried and found guilty on the testimony of two or three credible witnesses.END QUOTE

I questioned you comparing legislature that commanded punishment for criminals with Haram which if taken literally slays the innocent.

>If you have been keeping up with the chatter from Copan on blogs, he has also talked about how an eye for an eye was probably not literal and was "optional".

I agree with him. I merely said the Bible literally authorized the death penalty. You brought up stoning which was an application of the death penalty. Not mutilation or Haram.

>So, though you think I can't be taking seriously, you have not proven yourself very familiar with this topic and some of what Copan has said outside of the genocide passages.

Rather you should read more carefully I think. If I was not clear I am sorry but I stand by what I wrote & there is no contradiction. You are mistaken.

>Copan is trying to reform the violent portrayal of God in many instances, not simply in the genocidal instances.

I have Copan's book and I read it nowhere do I read him ever claiming the death penalty wasn't literally applied to convicted criminals under the Mosaic Law.

After all why would that be in dispute? Also the fact some things might be taken figuratively like Moses telling them the moral equivalent of "I want you to hit them so hard their mothers get a black eye" doesn't mean all things must be figurative.

There is a moral and theological tradition given with scripture. Not scripture alone as the so called Reformers made up 500 years ago.

Papalinton said...

Yachov
"Of course thousands of years from now people like you will insist my Grandmother was really telling me to wash up when she told me to "Go soak your head!" but that is hardly my problem.'

Not even close. This form of ahistorical fraud is solely the modus operandi of Christian Apologetics, one of the 'dark arts' of the faithful. Its continued use has been proven beyond reasonable doubt. Terri, Tony and Walter among others, including me, have been setting the record straight. No longer will christian theo-speak be accorded compliant deference simply because it demands so. Only the good bits will be accepted as bona fide contributions to society. The rest goes on consignment to the mythology section of the library.

B. Prokop said...

Papalinton,

Where in the world did you get the idea I was calling Lex Talionis a Christian idea? Read my post again. I explicitly credited the Hebrews.

And as for borrowing from Hammurabi, heck, I myself have brought up the many connections between Mosaic Law and its Mesopotamian analogs on multiple occasions on other threads. No new news here.

For reasons I have yet to fathom, you persist in thinking that I should somehow regard antecedents to either Jewish or Christian thought as threatening. I don't know what you're trying to prove, but I actually embrace such connections. I seek them out, and shout "eureka" (figuratively) when I find a new one.

You're punching into the wind here.

BenYachov said...

Paps,

So basically your argument boils down to "No it isn't!" & Rah Rah Rah Atheists!


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=teMlv3ripSM

Classic Paps. All blather no argument.

Bored now.

BenYachov said...

I want to quote something Crude said on another thread.

I hope he doesn't mind.

QUOTE"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.END QUOTE

So Paps? Hypocrite much?

SteveK said...

Tony,
>>> When it’s floated that intrinsic value from God might do the trick, it’s pointed out that that can be problematic if one reads the Bible as meaning approximately what it says.

Thank you for confirming what I just said about the comments - that Christianity is due no credit. Nevermind that it's not accurate. Heads we lose.

>>> I will grant that Christians didn’t invent hypocrisy nor psychological projection, but SteveK, some of you guys seem to have perfected it.

Again you confirm that my comments are accurate by adding another example. While Christianity didn't invent this stuff, they are given ample credit in your mind. Not the culture or some preceeding group - but Christian's by name. Tails we don't win.

To make it even more clear, I will copy your comment to Bob below so people can see that in the case of moral progress during war you prefer to credit no particular group. Why don't you credit the culture, rather than Christians, when it comes to the lack of moral progress in war? Didn't the Sun Tzu beat Christian's to that too?

>>> Tony said: And if merely condemning cruelty against non-combatants was enough, you would concede that Sun Tzu and Abu Bakr both seem to have beaten Christians to the notion that war should be conducted along some morally and officially acceptable lines. (I don't think we should give credit to any individual or group, mind you -- I think we're talking about cultural and moral progress, something that occurs across time and cultures, etc.)

Tony Hoffman said...

I sincerely don't follow (I just can't tell what it you're trying to say) most of your last comment.

You did write this:

SteveK: " Thank you for confirming what I just said about the comments - that Christianity is due no credit."

But if that was a fair summation of the comments, you'd have to suffer from either poor reading comprehension or simply be dishonest.

For instance, I wrote this upthread:

Me: "What I think you mean to say is that some Christians, some of the time, helped develop a set of (still often ignored and more often meaningless) set of rules of combat that seek to reduce the violence and cruelty against non-combatants. That is, of course, true, and we have evidence for it."

Thank you for showing us all, I suppose, that there are some things you will remain consistent about. Unfortunately, it seems to be that you are consistent at providing poor summaries and misrepresenting the argument of your opponents.

SteveK said...

Tony,
Okay, you took both sides of the argument. I can do that too if it helps.

Tony Hoffman said...

SteveK: "Okay, you took both sides of the argument."

Ha. My argument has been throughout the that OP is obviously ridiculous (for reasons provided). Feel free to provide me taking the side of the argument where I agree with the OP -- please, do this -- I look forward to you wasting as much time as it seems I do by responding to your attempts to form a "gotcha!"

I'm sure you can do it. After all, you wrote that I took both sides of the argument, and I think you know then that it must be true. So if you don't find it right away, keep on looking.

Ilíon said...

Isn't it amazing -- and amusing -- that persons who *hate* God always seem to imagine that he *owes* them more than he owes those who love him (or, at aly rate, are trying to love him)?

SteveK said...

Tony,
>>> My argument has been throughout the that OP is obviously ridiculous

I'm talking about your rejoinder to my comment about giving credit.

Your argument was that no individual group should get credit. That sums up the first comment I quoted that you later objected to.

Your argument also was that Christians deserve to get some credit. That sums up the comment you just cited in response to me saying the above.

How is that not taking both sides?

SteveK said...

And about the "gotcha" comment, Tony. I try very hard not to do that, although I sometimes do succomb to the temptation.

I can say that I'm not *trying* to do that here.

Tony Hoffman said...

SteveK, I see that you are still having trouble finding evidence for me taking both sides of the argument vis a vis the OP. I'll continue to wait for you to show me that one.

I also see that you are still incapable of understanding what I have written and summarizing it correctly. That and your inability to write clearly make it impossible to have a meaningful discussion with you.

Everyone can learn how to think and write critically, I imagine. I hope that you may someday do so. Keep on trying.

SteveK said...

Tony,
What is your intended disagreement below in your comment to Bob? Is it that Christian's did what they did despite Christianity teaching the opposite, or not teaching anything on the subject, or that Christian's weren't the primarly group leading the way, or ????.

>>> Tony to Bob: And I thought your argument here was about the supposed pioneering activities among Christians in the conduct of war against non-combatants...

>>> continuing...What I think you mean to say is that some Christians, some of the time, helped develop a set of (still often ignored and more often meaningless) set of rules of combat that seek to reduce the violence and cruelty against non-combatants. That is, of course, true, and we have evidence for it.

Tony Hoffman said...

SteveK, look up where I said the first comment you quoted above. The context couldn’t be clearer. Bob mentioned what I thought was a non-sequitur – that the Allies were right to fight in WWII. I agreed with him, but said that I didn’t see how it was relevant to the discussion. I asked him how he thought it was relevant.

My last paragraph in your last comment couldn’t be written any more clearly. I don’t know what to say if you can’t understand it.

I think it might really, really help you if you read the OP. Maybe do it twice or something. I think my statement after that might make more sense to me.

I am still waiting for you to show me evidence of how it is that I have taken both sides of the argument vis a vis the OP. Please do that, and if you can’t, admit that you were mistaken and stop wasting my time.

Ilíon said...

Terri: "Ben, You are being inconsistent. ..."

Even without having followed the exchange between you, I can say that he may well be.

Terri: "... You were the one who kept bringing up the law about cutting off a woman's hand which is in the same category as "eye for an eye" and stoning people for adultery. You are claiming the passage about hands is figurative, yet seem fine with eye for an eye being literal."

At the same time, you appear to be refusing to understand that "an eye for an eye" was not only a vast improvement over prior human concepts of justice, but is also a vast improvement over today's humans, left to themselves and without the witness and moral suasion of Judeo-Christianity, will do while calling it justice.

SteveK said...

Okay, Tony. I was mistaken.

terri said...

Illion,

On what basis do you say that? I haven't said one way or the other about whether "an eye for an eye" was an improvement or not.

You must be thinking of someone else's comment.

Tony Hoffman said...

SteveK: "Okay, Tony. I was mistaken."

Thank you. That means a lot. And I promise you that admitting you made a mistake makes you much more impressive in my eyes.

Ilíon said...

"The Hebrews were living in a world where the norm for a small offense was a disproportionately large retribution. (e.g., You hit me; I kill you.)"

And, without the tutelage of the Bible, humans *still* think and operate that way, or worse: “You (or your cousin) ‘dis’ me; I kill you.

Ilíon said...

Son-of-Confusion: "Gee brother none of these people seem to get the "We are not Protestant Fundie literalists so your arguments are non-starters we are Catholic" vibe?

Is it us?
"

Yes, it's you, you sneer-worthy fool.

Son-of-Confusion, sele-confused:Our Lady be with you.


Let’s see: according to “classical theism”, the human person is the union of physical body and immaterial mind … that is, dead persons do not (presently) exist.

As someone (i.e. you) might say: 'She's dead! get over it', you sneer-worthy idolater.

Steven Carr said...

VICTOR
Has anybody noticed that, before Christianity...

CARR
Don't you mean before Judaism?

I guess Jews just aren't as enlightened as Christians.

Or the Judeo of Judeo-Christian values can be dropped whenever it is no longer necessary to pretend that Christianity is an inclusive religion , which does not regard other religions as barbarism