Atheists are indeed known for asking tough question. The reason is most of us were theists at some point and are often much more familiar with a given religion than the current practitioners of it. I, as an example, didn’t go easily into atheism, so I did my homework, thinking that I should go to the source rather than trust some Christian’s claims.
My research didn’t work out so well for Christians but it did work out grandly for me since I don’t have to try to excuse a vicious god so I can still cling to the idea that I won’t have to die.
in the following, I’m replying to a Christian who really is afraid of Christian teens finding out that their religion isn’t quite what is presented. The title of his blog post is “Tough Questions From Christian Teens – Was It Right For Israel To Kill Children? (Part One)”
Christian teens do believe in Jesus and in this god of the bible. I was one of them. They often haven’t a clue what the bible actually says. They just accept whatever the priest/pastor/parent tells them, mistakenly thinking that Christianity equals good. I think they all should read the bible, front to back. That is a great way to discard such nonsense.
The author offers many of the common apologetics when it comes to defending a god invented by the ignorant and fearful from a couple of thousand years ago.
The bible has this god repeatedly committing or condoning genocide. It doesn’t start in Deuteronomy, it goes back to Genesis e.g. the magic world-wide 28,000+ foot deep flood. The author mentions Deut 20: 16-20 “16 But as for the towns of these peoples that the Lord your God is giving you as an inheritance, you must not let anything that breathes remain alive. 17 You shall annihilate them—the Hittites and the Amorites, the Canaanites and the Perizzites, the Hivites and the Jebusites—just as the Lord your God has commanded, 18 so that they may not teach you to do all the abhorrent things that they do for their gods, and you thus sin against the Lord your God.”
This is a good place to start. It shows that this god requires genocide *and* this god and its people fail at it. As we know, “it’s the thought that counts”. Those peoples were never destroyed by this god or its people. History does not notice or corroborate the baseless claims in the bible. So, we start off from the point that this nonsense never happened.
But if it did…
There is a difference between war and genocide. Both are quite awful, but I personally know WWII veterans who were part of the freeing of the concentration camps who did know that war, all though awful, was worth stopping what was going on. Genocide is not war. Per the UN, genocide is defined as: “In the present Convention, genocide means any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such: a.Killing members of the group; b. Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group; c. Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part; d. Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group; e. Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.
What the bible god commands is genocide; it is not war. War does not require what genocide does; war is against militaries and economies. Innocents do indeed die but they are not the focus of the conflict.
It is no surprise that our author tries to put quotes around “innocent” when he refers to anyone but his god’s supposed “chosen”. He has no evidence that they are anything but innocent but he must try to imply they are not and somehow “deserve” what this god supposedly does to them.
Our author then mentions the story of the “curse of Ham”. This is just after the flood, where Noah is drunk, and something happens between Ham and Noah. Even scholars aren’t quite sure. The interpretations go from Ham just seeing Noah naked (if this is a sin, I do wonder how Jewish ritual baths worked), to Ham having raped Noah, to Ham having slept with Mrs. Noah. So we have the story of the flood, where this god committed genocide by drowning against all except 8 humans, and this drunkard and his family are the best that he could find. Hmmmm.
Going further in the story, Noah, rather than cursing Ham, curses his son, Canaan to be the slave (not servant) of his uncles. This is a lovely example of how this god has nothing to do with fairness or justice, harming someone who did nothing for the actions of another. To be blunt, this is simply stupid. However, this god repeatedly does this, starting with punishing all humans the actions of two, Adam and Eve, to killing the son of David for what David did, up into the new testament, where this god uses the ‘original sin’ nonsense to condemn all humans that it didn’t allow to accept it. These stories belie the false claims of Christians that their god wants free will, the unfettered ability to choose.
As an aside, the term Canaanite is from the bible and covers many Semtic people in the middle east. The Israelites are considered Canaanites and there is no evidence at all that they were some how separate and came from Egypt after being enslaved. They are just another tribe that tried to make itself important. Canaan is mentioned in historical texts. History doesn’t notice the rest, like the lies about the tower of babel and its supposed effect on linguistics. Even the bible itself can’t get that story straight, with it saying before the tower of babel myth that there were already many different languages.
The maps that our author uses are not quite true, only invented to support the nation building myths of the bible. There is nothing that shows that some god “gave” the rights to a chunk of land to any one people. But they certainly love to pretend it has. “I will bless those who bless you, And I will curse him who curses you; And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” Well, evidently this god wasn’t paying attention during the Holocaust, when this favored people, plus many many others were exterminated in the desire for genocide. It likes genocide, maybe it just didn’t care. (FYI, Christians will often make a claim that since the Jews don’t agree with them, they somehow lost that favored status. Problem is that no one picked it up just as if it were imaginary.)
The author goes onto try toclaim how “evil” other gods were. No evidence of this at all. These gods are as imaginary as Yahweh, the bible god. Unsurprisingly, our author is concerned about sex, and goes onto attack those gods since they were often fertility gods. They were often war gods too, just like a typical mountain god like Yahweh. He forgets that worship of his god was full of violence, sacrifices of animals are violence. And then we have the incest promoted in the bible repeatedly, from the “first” family, Abraham, Lot, etc. The argument will often be that since this god didn’t mention that it was wrong until the whole nonsense with the laws, then it was just peachy. That makes a problem with any claims of objective morality. If a moral is objective, it is always in play.
There’s also no evidence of child sacrifice, at least no more than what we find in the bible e.g. Abraham and Isaac, Jephtha’s daughter, various mentions of dedicating *all* first borns for sacrifice, etc.
Still being concerned with sex, our author has to mention where the term “sodomy” comes from. Yep, it is part of the bible myths, and what our author forgets is that Sodom’s worst sin was being greedy “49 This was the guilt of your sister Sodom: she and her daughters had pride, excess of food, and prosperous ease, but did not aid the poor and needy. 50 They were haughty, and did abominable things before me; therefore I removed them when I saw it. “ Ezekiel 16. It has nothing to do with sex. The only mention of sex in that episode is when Lot offered his daughters, his property, to a violent crowd.
Our author goes on to repeat the baseless claims that this god gives certain land to certain people as an excuse for genocide being fine. One of the more amusing bits of this is that those supposedly awful people, the Midianites fine for Moses to marry into. “But Moses fled from Pharaoh. He settled in the land of Midian, and sat down by a well. 16 The priest of Midian had seven daughters. They came to draw water, and filled the troughs to water their father’s flock. 17 But some shepherds came and drove them away. Moses got up and came to their defense and watered their flock. 18 When they returned to their father Reuel, he said, “How is it that you have come back so soon today?” 19 They said, “An Egyptian helped us against the shepherds; he even drew water for us and watered the flock.” 20 He said to his daughters, “Where is he? Why did you leave the man? Invite him to break bread.” 21 Moses agreed to stay with the man, and he gave Moses his daughter Zipporah in marriage. 22 She bore a son, and he named him Gershom; for he said, “I have been an alien residing in a foreign land.””
Later “6 Just then one of the Israelites came and brought a Midianite woman into his family, in the sight of Moses and in the sight of the whole congregation of the Israelites, while they were weeping at the entrance of the tent of meeting. 7 When Phinehas son of Eleazar, son of Aaron the priest, saw it, he got up and left the congregation. Taking a spear in his hand, 8 he went after the Israelite man into the tent, and pierced the two of them, the Israelite and the woman, through the belly. So the plague was stopped among the people of Israel. 9 Nevertheless those that died by the plague were twenty-four thousand.” Numbers 25 and of course we can’t forget the genocide in Numbers 31. This god certainly needs an editor.
Next we get a common excuse of a Chrsitain for his god, and completely in line with approving of genocide. “It may also be helpful to remember that Amorite children grew up to be Amorite adults whose iniquity would continue to worsen.” NO evidence of this, especially not if there is free will. If there is not, then a lot of Christians have a problem. This argument is that “It’s better to kill the kids since they might be like their parents” aka not like us. This is why genocide often requires the children to be killed or taken away and indoctrinated. Christians tried that with various Native American tribes.
Here’s another excuse “. Using the term ‘children’ in an argument can mislead unless we consider the history of a people, especially in light of how they sinned against God.” Aka, they shouldn’t be considered children since that might make someone question their orders. Hmmm, the same argument is given when a tyrant wants genocide “They aren’t human.”
Our author has caught up with Exodus now. He has that this god will take the Israelites to the “promised land”. Land already occupied, but genocide will work here.
The events in Exodus can also be considered an attempt at genocide. In the same 3 chapter of Exodus, we have this “19 I know, however, that the king of Egypt will not let you go unless compelled by a mighty hand.[c] 20 So I will stretch out my hand and strike Egypt with all my wonders that I will perform in it; after that he will let you go. 21 I will bring this people into such favor with the Egyptians that, when you go, you will not go empty-handed; 22 each woman shall ask her neighbor and any woman living in the neighbor’s house for jewelry of silver and of gold, and clothing, and you shall put them on your sons and on your daughters; and so you shall plunder the Egyptians.””
Nice little bit of mind control there with allowing the Israelites to steal. Now, we have Moses asking for a three day weekend, and this god saying he will do things to Egypt to make the pharoah let the “people” go. However, as the story goes on, this is not this god’s plan at all. He wants to show off, and mind controls the pharaoh so he doesn’t allow the Israelites to go and this god has a chance to keep killing and killing. Men, women, children, animals, who have no control in the situation, killed just so this god can show off. ““Go to Pharaoh; for I have hardened his heart and the heart of his officials, in order that I may show these signs of mine among them, 2 and that you may tell your children and grandchildren how I have made fools of the Egyptians and what signs I have done among them—so that you may know that I am the Lord.” Exodus 10
Christian teens, humans of all ages, do question religious claims and excuses. If your elders have to invent arguments to convince you it is okay to kill kids to take their land, to kill kids as punishment for the actions of others, etc, then your religion has already lost the moral high ground. All you have is might equals right.
Humans are better than that.