So Bob's written this little "we wuz only following orders" apologetic, which he's entitled, "I could never worship a God like that!"
In the Bible God commanded King Saul to attack the Amalekites and completely wipe them out, every last one of them. He was also commanded him [sic] to destroy all the animals. However, the king disobeyed the Lord and spared King Agag. He also spared a number of animals ostensibly to use them as sacrifices to the Lord.
In the Bible, there's a story of conquest, in which we are shown that Saul was either a slightly more merciful person than his god or more practically minded, less wasteful person.
No doubt Saul thought it was good to spare the animals in order to sacrifice them to the Lord but Samuel, the prophet, rebuked him stating that obedience was more important than sacrifices. (You can read the whole account of this in 1st Samuel chapter 15).
Samuel, however, turns out to have been a mindless, morally bankrupt follower of orders.
Opponents of the Bible point to this (and many other Biblical accounts of God ordering the mass slaughter of people) as a means of attacking God. What kind of being, they say, could be so cruel as to make such an order?
May I just point out that I'm not an opponent of the Bible? The Bible is a useful record of the myths, religious beliefs and moral outlook of the Israelite/Judean people of that era and probably works as a fairly decent guide to the general worldview of the lands surrounding those two nations. What I am opposed to is the idea—and who I am opposed to are those who promote the idea—that society should not have examined, changed and refined its moral outlook during the several thousand years since those documents were written. That what was good enough for Samuel and Saul should be good enough for us. That the Bible is anything but an interesting historical document.
There are several things wrong with this line of reasoning. Firstly, God's ways are not our ways (Isaiah 55 v 8) and when He gave these commands He had His reasons for it – however much it may seem repellent to our humanistic society which extols the "goodness" of human nature.
I don't understand brain surgery, but that doesn't mean I'm going to let a brain surgeon drill bloody gert holes in my head without first convincing me that there's a pressing need to take a Black & Decker to my bonce. "I have my reasons, mwa-ha-ha-ha-haa!" is not going to convince me. And nor would it convince me that wholesale slaughter is necessary or justified.
Secondly, the pagan nations were a constant source of temptation to the Israelites. The Israelites had been chosen by God to be a monotheistic nation – that is, to worship one God, …
Actually, though the dates for the narrowing focus of their religion seem to be somewhat vague (Is there a historian in the house…?), they would appear, at that time, to have been henotheists. That is, they would have acknowledged the existence of other gods, but would have worshipped only their tribal god, Yahweh.
…but the pagan nations were idolatrous. In order to keep the chosen race pure from sin it was necessary to wipe them out. The disobedience of the Israelites in letting them live led directly to snares being put before God's people, and their being led astray.
Uh. The "chosen race" which must be kept "pure," and so they must kill the impure. Is this ringing any bells with anyone?
Mr Godwin to aisle three please…
Look, I have no problem, particularly, with the passages of the Bible describing god-sanctioned massacre. Stripped of all the mumbo-jumbo, such behaviour was, sadly, pretty much par for the course at that time and in that place, and it doesn't surprise me a bit that those who ordered it would dress it up as a command from on-high in order to persuade the Sauls of the world that it was necessary, or that "God told us to do it" would be used as excuse after the event.
I do have a huge problem with those who, thousands of years later, claim that the god who was alleged to have ordered it, did actually order it and yet is to be considered a loving, merciful, being. Proverbs 20:11:
Even a child is known by his doings, whether his work be pure, and whether it be right.
Even the Bible hits the occasional nail squarely on the head.
But it is not, as people like Bob appear to think, that I have a problem with the non-existent god in question. My problem is that people like Bob think genocide is okay, if only they can convince themselves that their god sanctions it. Yeah; I have a huge problem with that, what with it being a very horrible and very scary thing, an' all, having to live in a world where such people are able to influence public opinion.
Moreover, when people rail against God in this way we need to remember the words of Romans 9 v 20 "Who are you, o man, to answer back to God".
If I'm being ordered to do something, then it is up to me to decide if that order is legal and moral. "Just following orders" is no excuse. And if I weigh your god on the moral balance you claim he equipped me with, whose fault is it if I find him wanting?
Bob then finishes with a typical "You'll find out when you're dead, nyer nyer!" and an assertion that he and his ilk "ARE on the victory side." Weird, isn't it, how this oh-so-pious effort to save people is so often presented as a war which the self-declared "saved" will win against the very people they claim to be trying to help. It's almost as if they're indulging in that gloating we keep being told they're not doing!
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