Sunday, December 11, 2011

Spare the Rod, Spoil the Child

The bible is littered with truly awful verses, but some of the worst have to be the ones in which god condones or explicitly requires the killing of children... I think we can all agree that this is morally inexcusable under any circumstances, but here are some examples:

Isaiah 14:21 Make ready to slaughter his sons for the guilt of their fathers; lest they rise and possess the earth, and fill the breadth of the world with tyrants

Hosea 9:11-16 The glory of Israel will fly away like a bird, for your children will die at birth or perish in the womb or never even be conceived. Even if your children survive to grown up, I will take them from you. It will be a terrible day when I turn away and leave you alone. I have watched Israel become as beautiful and pleasant as tyre. but now Israel will bring out her children to be slaughtered. O Lord, what should I request for your people? I will ask for wombs that don't give birth and breasts that give no milk. The Lord says, All their wickedness began at Gilgal; There I began to hate them. I will drive them from my land because of their evil actions. i will love them no more because all their leaders are rebels. The people of Israel are stricken. Their roots are dried up; They will bear no more fruit. And if they give birth, I will slaughter their beloved children.

Ezekiel 9:5-7 Then I heard the Lord say to the other men, "Follow him through the city and kill everyone whose forehead is not marked. Show no mercy, have no pity! Kill them all- old and young, girls and women and little children. But do not touch anyone with the mark. Begin your task right here at the temple." So they began killing the seventy leaders. "Defile the Temple!", the Lord commanded. "fill its courtyards with the bodies of those you kill! Go!" So they they went through the city and did as they were told.

Exodus 12:29-30 At midnight the Lord killed all the firstborn sons in the land of Egypt, from the firstborn son of Pharaoh, who sat on the throne, to the firstborn son of the captive in the dungeon. Even the firstborn of their livestock were killed. Pharaoh and his officials and all the people of Egypt woke up during the night, and loud wailing was heard throughout the land of Egypt. There was not a single house where someone had not died.

Jeremiah 51:20-26 "you are my battle-ax and sword, " says the Lord. "With you I will shatter nations and destroy many kingdoms. With you I will shatter armies, destroying the horse rider, the chariot and charioteer. With you I will shatter men and women, old people and children, young men and maidens. With you I will shatter shepherds and flocks, farmers and oxen, captains and rulers. "As you watch I will repay Babylon and the people of Babylonia for all the wrong they have done to my people in Jerusalem," says the Lord. "Look, O mighty mountain, destroyer of the earth! I am your enemy," says the Lord. "I will raise my fist against you, to roll you down from the heights. When I am finished, you will be nothing but a heap of rubble. You will be desolate forever. Even your stones will never again be used for building. You will be completely wiped out.

Leviticus 26:21-22 If even then you remain hostile toward me or refuse to obey, I will inflict you with seven more disasters for your sins. I will release wild animals that will kill your children and destroy your cattle, so your numbers will dwindle and your roads will be deserted.

Isaiah 13:15-18 Anyone who is captured will be run through with a sword. Their little children with be dashed to death right before their eyes. their homes will be sacked and their wives raped by the attacking hordes. For I will stir up the Medes against babylon, and no amount of silver or gold will buy them off. The attacking armies will shoot down the young people with arrows. They will have no mercy on helpless babies and I will show no compassion for the children.

Psalms 137:9 How blessed will be the one who seizes and dashes your little one against the rocks

Deuteronomy 20:13-18 When the Lord you God delivers it into your hand, put to the sword all the men in it. As for the women, the children, the livestock and everything else in the city, you may take these as plunder for yourselves. And you may use the plunder the Lord your god gives you from your enemies. This is how you are to treat all the cities that are at a distance from you and do not belong to nations nearby. However, in the cities of the nations the Lord your God is giving you as an inheritance, do not leave alive anything that breathes. Completely destroy them - the Hittites, Amorites, Canaanites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites - as the Lord your God has commanded you.

Numbers 21:35 So they smote him, and his sons, and all his people, until there was none left him alive: and they possessed his land.

Numbers 31:17-18 Now therefore kill every male among the little one, and kill every woman that hath known man by lying with him. But all the women children, that have not know a man by lying with him, keep alive for yourselves.

Deuteronomy 2:33-34 And the Lord our God delivered him before us; and we smote him, and his sons, and all his people. And we took all his cities at that time, and utterly destroyed the men, and the women, and the little ones, of every city, we left none to remain.

Joshua 6:21 And they utterly destroyed all that was in the city, both man and woman, young and old, and ox, and sheep, and ass, with the edge of the sword. (Joshua goes on to slaughter the people of Jericho, Ai, the Gibeonites, the people of Makkedah, Libnahites, people of Lachish, Eglonites, Hebronites and Debirites as well.)

Judges 9:45 And Abimelech fought against the city all that day; and he took the city and slew the people that was therein, and beat down the city, and sowed it with salt.

Judges 21:10-12 And the congregation sent thither twelve thousand men of the valiantest, and commanded them, saying, Go and smite the inhabitants of Jabeshgilead with the edge of the sword, with the women and the children,

1 Samuel 15:3 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.

2 Kings 2:23-24 And he went up from thence unto Bethel: and as he was going up by the way, there came forth little children out of the city, and mocked him, and said unto him, Go up, thou bald head; go up thou bald head. And he turned back, and looked on them, and cursed them in the name of the Lord. And there came forth two she-bears out of the wood, and tare forty two children of them.

Isaiah 13:18 Their bows also shall dash the young men to pieces; and they shall have no pity on the fruit of the womb; their eyes shall not spare children.
Hosea 13:16 Samaria shall become desolate; for she hath rebelled against her God: they shall fall by the sword: their infants shall be dashed in pieces, and their women with child shall be ripped up.

Not to mention:

God kills every living thing in the Great Flood

God kills every living thing in Sodom and Gomorrah

God tests Abraham by getting him to almost murder his own son

The bible is awash with this type of butchery... smiting, destroying, plundering, pillaging, raping, plagues... all in Gods plan. How can this be? Children can't possibly deserve this type of treatment, can they? From an all-powerful, loving benevolent God? I would not even think to wish this on the children of our worst enemies. Why does god seem to hold grudges for the supposed sins of the previous generation or generations? Are we not supposedly in this debacle in the firstplace because of the sin of adam and eve? It seems to me that if god is all powerful, couldn't he come up with some other form of punishment for those that did him wrong? Or show some mercy in stead? If he's capable of hardening hearts like he did with Pharaoh, couldn't he also melt them to change them for good, meaning the children of god's enemies could be used for his good instead? What's the point in murdering children who had nothing to do with it?

Most christians probably don't even know these verses are in the bible, it's certainly not something you hear on sunday. I think most reasonable people would agree that this type of evil is not tolerable under any circumstances, and that should really make you think. I have a problem with people who try to find excuses for this behavior as necessary, or something that should be praised even because it was done by god. This is the exact reason why Richard Dawkins will not debate William Lane Craig, a christian apologist. Craig really does some mental gymnastics to work his way around this topic to try to see it in a light that could seem reasonable, but fails epicly:

"But why take the lives of innocent children? The terrible totality of the destruction was undoubtedly related to the prohibition of assimilation to pagan nations on Israel's part. In commanding complete destruction of the Canaanites, the Lord says, 'You shall not intermarry with them, giving your daughters to their sons, or taking their daughters for your sons, for they would turn away your sons from following me, to serve other gods' (Deut 7.3-4). […] God knew that if these Canaanite children were allowed to live, they would spell the undoing of Israel. […] Moreover, if we believe, as I do, that God's grace is extended to those who die in infancy or as small children, the death of these children was actually their salvation. We are so wedded to an earthly, naturalistic perspective that we forget that those who die are happy to quit this earth for heaven's incomparable joy.  Therefore, God does these children no wrong in taking their lives."
"So whom does God wrong in commanding the destruction of the Canaanites? Not the Canaanite adults, for they were corrupt and deserving of judgment. Not the children, for they inherit eternal life. So who is wronged? Ironically, I think the most difficult part of this whole debate is the apparent wrong done to the Israeli [sic] soldiers themselves. Can you imagine what it would be like to have to break into some house and kill a terrified woman and her children? The brutalising effect on these Israeli [sic] soldiers is disturbing."
"I have come to appreciate as a result of a closer reading of the biblical text that God's command to Israel was not primarily to exterminate the Canaanites but to drive them out of the land.[…] Canaan was being given over to Israel, whom God had now brought out of Egypt. If the Canaanite tribes, seeing the armies of Israel, had simply chosen to flee, no one would have been killed at all. There was no command to pursue and hunt down the Canaanite peoples.
It is therefore completely misleading to characterise God's command to Israel as a command to commit genocide. Rather it was first and foremost a command to drive the tribes out of the land and to occupy it. Only those who remained behind were to be utterly exterminated. No one had to die in this whole affair."

Wow, god was doing the children a favor by killing them all in horrific fashion, and oh the poor soldiers whose duty it was to kill them, they are the ones who suffer in this! And if they had just fled their home towns, they wouldn't have been exterminated. Come on. This is so absurd, and to try to justify it in this way is nothing short of evil as well. Stop trying to make excuses for your god, read these passages and realize that this is simply wrong and immoral behavior by your all-loving god. Think about it, absorb what is happening, picture these gruesome acts directed by the almighty and you may start to have a completely different opinion of him. And if you can justify it like Craig does above, then I think there is something seriously wrong upstairs.

Here is Dawkins' reaction to Craig's take on the genocide in Deuteronomy:

Richard Dawkins - Why I Refuse To Debate With William Lane Craig

There is another tangent we can take from Craig's position, and it goes into something a little more current and highly polarizing, and that is the debate on abortion in this country. By Craig's own admission, children and the unborn who die are given eternal life automatically by god. How he can claim to know this for sure is a debate for another day, but he excuses the action as a necessary means. The children dying horrible deaths  at the hands of savage warriors are actually the winners in this because they get to go straight to heaven and endure eternal bliss, a minor cost to pay for an eternal seat in heaven in the grand scheme of things. If this is really all that matters, the total number of souls who make it to heaven, no matter how they get there, then children who die or are killed will get them a 100% return on souls. This would seem to make christians in a position to be for abortion, or at least indifferent to it. If the children live and grow into adults, there is no way they could get better than that 100% on those same souls (but then they wouldn't get their tithes as adults!). The same could be said about starving children in 3rd world countries. They would be better left to starve to death, a minor inconvenience eternally, than getting necessary food and medicine to become healthy adults, a sizeable number of whom would not be christian and thus sent to eternal damnation instead. As I said before, mental gymnastics for sure.

Is this really how we want to rationalize this? We are better than this as a species. We understand that the lives of children should be paramount, especially in war. (We can debate when human life "begins" in the womb, and it's a good scientific debate to have). We do not wish to see children suffer senselessly, and yet this is what we read in the bible over and over again. Capricious behavior from on high. We hold a higher standard of life than god does, and that shows you something of the utmost importance. That you and I, our modern society, humans in general have a much higher moral compass than the god of the bible, especially so in this particular case. And it's not even close.

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