Thursday, 8 December 2011

Theists for Genocide

Religion is an insult to human dignity. With or without it you would have good people doing good things and evil people doing evil things. But for good people to do evil things, that takes religion.

Steven Weinberg
Continuing my theme of religions giving permission to extremists, this is a collection of writing, pictures, cartoons, Twitter tweets and blogs in which religion is used to excuse and even advocate crimes against humanity such as violent persecution, genocide, mass murder against people with different beliefs or none. Things which any decent person with even a modicum of respect for their fellow human beings would look at and say, "That's wrong! And if your religion tells you it's right, your religion is wrong too." (Tweet this)

It is an on-going project and will be added to as more material is gathered. Examples please.

Justifying Genocide: The Role of Professionals in Legitimizing Mass Killing by Alex Alvarez explains how this works.

First, a quote by the Christian apologist William Lane Craig, current darling of the US religious right who seems to have embarked recently on a campaign to make genocide and child mass-murder look like a Christian moral crusade (and I use that word deliberately). The full text may be read here.
According to the Pentateuch (the first five books of the Old Testament), when God called forth his people out of slavery in Egypt and back to the land of their forefathers, he directed them to kill all the Canaanite clans who were living in the land (Deut. 7.1-2; 20.16-18). The destruction was to be complete: every man, woman, and child was to be killed. The book of Joshua tells the story of Israel’s carrying out God’s command in city after city throughout Canaan...

So then what is Yahweh doing in commanding Israel’s armies to exterminate the Canaanite peoples? It is precisely because we have come to expect Yahweh to act justly and with compassion that we find these stories so difficult to understand. How can He command soldiers to slaughter children?...

I think that a good start at this problem is to enunciate our ethical theory that underlies our moral judgements. According to the version of divine command ethics which I’ve defended, our moral duties are constituted by the commands of a holy and loving God. Since God doesn’t issue commands to Himself, He has no moral duties to fulfill. He is certainly not subject to the same moral obligations and prohibitions that we are. For example, I have no right to take an innocent life. For me to do so would be murder. But God has no such prohibition. He can give and take life as He chooses...

So the problem isn’t that God ended the Canaanites’ lives. The problem is that He commanded the Israeli soldiers to end them. Isn’t that like commanding someone to commit murder? No, it’s not. Rather, since our moral duties are determined by God’s commands, it is commanding someone to do something which, in the absence of a divine command, would have been murder. The act was morally obligatory for the Israeli soldiers in virtue of God’s command, even though, had they undertaken it on their on initiative, it would have been wrong.

On divine command theory, then, God has the right to command an act, which, in the absence of a divine command, would have been sin, but which is now morally obligatory in virtue of that command...

But why take the lives of innocent children?... if we believe, as I do, that God’s grace is extended to those who die in infancy or as small children, the death of these children was actually their salvation. We are so wedded to an earthly, naturalistic perspective that we forget that those who die are happy to quit this earth for heaven’s incomparable joy. Therefore, God does these children no wrong in taking their lives.

So whom does God wrong in commanding the destruction of the Canaanites? Not the Canaanite adults, for they were corrupt and deserving of judgement. Not the children, for they inherit eternal life. So who is wronged? Ironically, I think the most difficult part of this whole debate is the apparent wrong done to the Israeli soldiers themselves. Can you imagine what it would be like to have to break into some house and kill a terrified woman and her children? The brutalizing effect on these Israeli soldiers is disturbing.
So here we have a leading Christian apologist telling those so inclined that genocide and child mass-murder is good and it's not their fault when they do it. They are merely obeying a god's command and carrying out its wishes. Why, it would almost amount to a sin; to moral failure even, NOT to kill people who don't share your religion. And don't worry about such scruples as finding child murder distasteful or shocking. It's all to the good, and anyway it's actually good for children - it makes them happy!

And if you're tempted not to believe it, here is William Lane Craig saying it:

Just obey those voices in your head (or more likely, the voices of the right-wing politicians and their dutifully obedient clerics who tell you a god told them to tell you) and you have no responsibilities for the consequences of your actions. You have this on the personal assurance of William Lane Craig - not that HE would do such a thing, of course.

Note the several examples of suggestible and inadequate individuals taking up this theme and now feeling part of a new, exciting movement, in the Twitter tweets defending William Lane Craig's repugnant apologetic. Christians expressing horror at it and taking Lane Craig to task are, naturally, as rare as hens' teeth.

The following illustrates how suggestible amateur apologists then proudly take up this theme, free from any feelings of guilt, on the grounds that anything a god orders is moral, regardless of the consequences, safe in the knowledge that this view is now 'respectable' and somehow reveals a new understanding and insight to be taken up with the zeal of a crusade.

















Here we see Radovan Karadžić at his trial for war crimes, explaining how the Bosnian genocide in former Jugoslavia was good and 'holy'.

What are the odds that his comrade in arms, fellow Greek Orthodox Christians, Ratko Mladić offers up the same justification.

And of course, these people gave permission to, and even participated directly in, the atrocities following the break up of the former Yugoslavia.

"It's not a pleasant job, but somebody has to do it. It's all to the good in the end!"

I wonder how many guards and Kommandants at Treblinka, Dachau, Belson, Buchenwald and Sobibor said that.

Hence I believe I am acting in accordance with the will of the Almighty Creator: by defending myself against the Jew I am fighting for the work of the Lord.

Adolf Hitler
In this blog, (Tosin's Bible Blog) entitled "The Love Of God And Genocide" (No! Really!) also by a Christian we find people being compared to sick animals again, so genocide and child murder are equated to some sort of mercy killing; unpleasant but all to the long-term good. Even an act of love on the part of the perpetrator to whom we should be grateful and sympathetic.

"Not a pleasant job, but someone had to do it".
I guess most people would already know about the 6 million Jewish people killed through Nazism. This last statement is absolutely true, and I will research and post sources to corroborate it. However, this fact does not change the fact that yes, our loving God ordered these massacres, and yes, genocide is a very appropriate term for the massacres He ordered. How do we reconcile this with our faith?...

In the Bible, people are often compared to sheep. You know when the foot and mouth disease hit the UK, or in fact any contagious animal disease hits anywhere, culls of whole animal populations are ordered. Why? To stop the diseases spreading any further. Sometimes farmers are distraught at having to kill so many of their animals, yet everyone knows that if those animals were not killed, then even more animals would ultimately be lost. So it was with those cultures that God ordered to be destroyed. They were utterly saturated with the deadly and contagious illnesses of horrible sin. When foot and mouth strikes, you don’t say “Let’s spare the babies.” You have to systematically kill everything. And yet, the fact that a farmer kills so many of his animals does not mean that he does not love them, especially when he has carefully tended them and invested his very self into them. God invested His own image into all humanity. I know that this was a moral issue rather than a physical illness, so I sometimes think that surely, sometimes the children could have been spared, as they were too young to have imbibed the evil sinful practices and the attitudes of the adults. And in many cases children were spared. And yet in some cases God specifically commanded that even children – even animals were to be totally destroyed. I believe that in these passages God is using these civilisations as symbols for how sin has to be utterly destroyed. Remember that He is God, He is the Creator, He can do that.
My feelings as a Christian points me to my Lord and Savior as a fighter. It points me to the man who once in loneliness, surrounded by a few followers, recognized these Jews for what they were and summoned men to fight against them and who, God's truth! was greatest not as a sufferer but as a fighter. In boundless love as a Christian and as a man I read through the passage which tells us how the Lord at last rose in His might and seized the scourge to drive out of the Temple the brood of vipers and adders. How terrific was His fight for the world against the Jewish poison. To-day, after two thousand years, with deepest emotion I recognize more profoundly than ever before the fact that it was for this that He had to shed His blood upon the Cross. As a Christian I have no duty to allow myself to be cheated, but I have the duty to be a fighter for truth and justice... And if there is anything which could demonstrate that we are acting rightly it is the distress that daily grows. For as a Christian I have also a duty to my own people.

Adolf Hitler, 12 April 1922
Probably little more need be said about this nauseating blog save to point out that "Tosin" seems ignorant of much of history, or at least is hoping his readers are. From the style of writing it would appear that "Tosin" is very young so perhaps the interesting point here is how he/she has picked up the permission to commit genocide currently being promulgated by William Lane Craig and his acolytes.

I hope the relative of the victims of the Holocaust derive some comfort from the thought that their loved ones died as an act of mercy to prevent the rest of us catching their disease, and that their deaths were ordered by a 'loving' god for the good of humanity, or simply because he can.

Interestingly, the only comments to date (10 Dec 2011), apart from my own, have been from Christians complimenting Tosin and thanking him for helping them to reconcile genocide with a loving god. None of them have questioned whether acts of genocide done in its name could actually raise questions about its 'loving' nature, or its existence.

In this blog, entitled "Why does the Bible Condone Genocide" by Christian apologist John Hendryx, at least there is none of the nauseating equation of humans with diseased animals, nor the claim that killing them was good for them; that we're doing them a favour for which they should be grateful, actually.

Instead we are simply assured that the Christian god has the right to do what it wants with humans and just uses believers to carry out its tasks, so freeing them of personal responsibility for their crimes and allowing them the excuse of blaming them on a god. Anyway, they were going to die eventually, so what harm was there? The murderers were just doing their god's work, so are to be admired.

Obviously, to this school of Christian 'morality', human life is of little value, so long as it's someone else's life. Notions of human rights and human dignity are unknown. We are nothing more than the playthings of their capricious and mendacious god and killing people is simply hastening the inevitable a little.
Before we get to Canaan, consider this further point: not only may God take life as he sees fit – he does take the life of every last human on earth (see Heb. 9:27)."...

A couple more points may be helpful to keep the slaughter of the Canaanites in perspective: first, at that time in the OT, God had given the nation of Israel clear civil authority and responsibilities; and as a lawfully-ordained civil government, functioning directly under his control, He commanded them to carry out His just judgment against the idolaters of Canaan...

When it is a judicial act of a properly instituted civil government, taking a life may sometimes be warranted. Apparently, the slaughter of the Canaanites was one such judicial act, carried out by the magistrates of Israel.
Corpses piled up behind the crematorium in Buchenwald concentration camp,
April 1945
So, it's also okay so long as it's done with the approval of the government. No doubt Ratko Mladic will be relieved to know that, though it's a point which, strangely, the jurists at Nuremberg failed to appreciate. It's also a point which those who formulated and signed the Geneva Convention seem to have missed.

"Just obeying orders, yer honour! Anyway, a god told me to do it!"

So we see how religions, which purport to sanctify and value human life, reduce it to a worthless thing, easily extinguished to satiate the blood-lust or territorial ambitions of their followers and to permit the actions they purport to condemn and abhor - when it's expedient so to do.

People who can believe the blood sacrifice of an innocent person can absolve them of personal responsibility for their own sins, have a low regard for life, it seems. Someone else's life only has a utility value to them.

This example of a wanabee genocidist sitting at home casually and anonymously calling for the murder of everyone who disagrees with him, illustrates the point rather nicely I think.

'Keith' clearly feels he has permission to call for this because it is for the good of society and even his patriotic duty (as long as someone else does it, no doubt). No need any longer to bother about such niceties as right and wrong or whether your superstition has any merit; just kill everyone and have done with it, then there won't be anyone to bother you with those annoying little questions.

And dress the whole thing up as a moral crusade. Nowhere in it is there any hint of valuing human life or consideration of human worth. It's all for me and only I matter.


And still they come, though this one is struggling to explain in exactly what context child murder and genocide are right for Christians. Will update when he's decided, if ever.

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7 comments :

  1. On her blog (http://www.tosinsbibleblog.com/blog/2012/gods-love-and-genocide-additions/#comment-452) on 10 January 2012

    'Tosin' claims to have posted the following comment here:

    ---------------------------------------------------
    In case my comment does not get printed, here it is:

    Hello Rosa, this is Tosin from Tosin’s Bible Blog. Please note the correct spelling of my name. Please also note that I am a woman, as would be visible from the comments posted in response to the “Love of God and Genocide” article referenced above. I would like to clarify a few points that you have made above. My post does not in any way give anyone the permission to commit genocide. My point was that in the Old Testament God killed many people and authorised genocide as a reflection of His supreme holiness, people who had committed sins that offended His holiness. That was in the Old Testament. That was a few cases in the Old Testament. This only applied to those cases of genocide which God commanded in the Old Testament. The sacrifice of Jesus for all humanity have now satisfied God’s righteous demands for all time. So since that time God has never, and will never again command genocide in any way, and His commands to us are to love other people, including our enemies. So I in no way justified the Holocaust or described the victims of the Holocaust as suffering from a disease. The people that the disease referred to were the that God killed directly in the flood of Genesis Chapters 6-8 and the people that God commanded the Israelites to kill in those passages of the Old Testament. Now this is strictly isolated to the Old Testament. It last happened more than 2000 years ago. So absolutely nothing that has happened since could in any way be attributed to God’s commands. Since then, God has commanded us to love our enemies. The sacrifice of Christ satisfies God’s holy demands, so that is why He does not require people to go around committing genocide or killing others these days. Prior to your post, I had never heard of William Lane Craig in my life. So to emphasise my points again, I am not condoning genocide. I am not endorsing or explaining the Holocaust. As I made clear in my article (you commented on this) the Holocaust was the result of the atheistic regime of the Nazi’s. My article was written only to explain those passages in the Old Testament where God commands His people to commit genocide. These passages seem to be completely contradictory to the rest of Christianity where God commands only love and forgiveness and I wrote the article to explain this inconsistency. Christianity does not in any way promote or encourage genocide. I wrote the article to explain how these passages of genocide could be in the Bible of love. I trust that I have made my point, if you have any further comments, then please let me know. However, I would be unhappy to have my arguments twisted. I invite your readers to read my article in context.
    ------------------------------------------------------

    ReplyDelete
  2. Tosin.

    You appear to have overlooked a key verse in the Bible:

    Matthew 5:17 Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil.

    But, if, as you seem to now be saying, the OT was wrong then it was wrong about original sin, Heaven and Hell and just about everything else fundamental to Christianity.

    And of course a god which got things so badly wrong that it had to send Jesus to put things right, could not have been omniscient.

    But then we only get the notion of this god from the Bible which you've explained was wrong...

    BTW, I might have been more convinced had you actually withdrawn your obvious equation of human beings with a disease and of genocide with the cure even if they DID live over 2000 years ago.

    Personally, I have a higher regard for my fellow man which is why I don't need an excuse like a primitive Bronze Age superstition for holding otherwise repugnant and inhuman views.

    Thank you for showing the casual barbaric cruelty which masquerades as 'love' under the thin guise of religion.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Here's an example of something rather more recent than the genocide ordered to be inflicted on the Canaanites. This happened in the Crusades. The quote is from Wikipedia (I'm too lazy to go to the primary sources, but this tells it like I remember reading about it originally):

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Catharism#Massacre

    "The crusader army came under the command, both spiritually and militarily, of the papal legate Arnaud-Amaury, Abbot of Cîteaux. In the first significant engagement of the war, the town of Béziers was besieged on 22 July 1209. The Catholic inhabitants of the city were granted the freedom to leave unharmed, but many refused and opted to stay and fight alongside the Cathars.

    "The Cathars spent much of 1209 fending off the crusaders. The leader of the crusaders, Simon de Montfort, resorted to primitive psychological warfare. He ordered his troops to gouge out the eyes of 100 prisoners, cut off their noses and lips, then send them back to the towers led by a prisoner with one remaining eye. This only served to harden the resolve of the Cathars.

    "The Béziers army attempted a sortie but was quickly defeated, then pursued by the crusaders back through the gates and into the city. Arnaud, the Cistercian abbot-commander, is supposed to have been asked how to tell Cathars from Catholics. His reply, recalled by Caesar of Heisterbach, a fellow Cistercian, thirty years later was "Caedite eos. Novit enim Dominus qui sunt eius."—"Kill them all, the Lord will recognise His own." The doors of the church of St Mary Magdalene were broken down and the refugees dragged out and slaughtered. Reportedly, 7,000 people died there. Elsewhere in the town many more thousands were mutilated and killed. Prisoners were blinded, dragged behind horses, and used for target practice. What remained of the city was razed by fire. Arnaud wrote to Pope Innocent III, "Today your Holiness, twenty thousand heretics were put to the sword, regardless of rank, age, or sex." The permanent population of Béziers at that time was then probably no more than 5,000, but local refugees seeking shelter within the city walls could conceivably have increased the number to 20,000."

    There you go. In the name of God, not only are the ungodly massacred, but also those who worship God in the wrong way.

    This piece of casual genocide within a mere 10 lifetimes of our own time was the final nail in the coffin that made me hate, despise and hold in utter contempt the concept of God as understood by xtians (and by extension muzzlelimbs and jooz). Drat him to heck.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for that. I may well use it.

      Delete
  4. Yet another reason I find it absurd when Christians claim to be morally superior because they have a source of "Objective Morality" (the Bible) whereas atheists do not.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Absolutely!

      What Christians are saying when they make that claim is that, so long as they can blame the Bible, they can do what they like, and their morality is placed off limits as a subject for discussion.

      It's what religion does for them and why they cling to it. It provides excuses for otherwise unacceptable behaviour, attitudes and opinions.

      Delete
  5. Yes!
    Haughty John Haught, avoiding the issue of such egregious passages, assures his sheep that not morality but hope runs all through that execrable anthology! Some Yeshua-addicts prattle about a progressive revelation of morality, unwilling to see that no, we ourselves refine our evolved moral sense. They desire to toss that refinement aside as to toss aside the real natural causes for their superstitious one of mystery!
    "Logic is the bane of theists." Fr. Griggs
    Ignostic Morgan Inquiring Lynn Skeptic Griggsy [also Naturalist G. and Rationalist G and Fr. and Rabbi Griggs amongst others for
    Morgan-lynnGriggs Lamberth, that super blogger and poster world-wide

    ReplyDelete

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