The Slaughter of the Canaanites – The Grand Inquisitor Jones
“If the facts are against you, argue the law. If the law is against you, argue the facts. If the law and the facts are against you, pound the table and yell like hell.”
Carl Sandburg, in The People, Yes (1936)
One response to my sixty objections against Clay Jones’s attempt to defend Jehovah’s command to the Israelites to slaughter the Canaanites (men, women, and children), is that my my objections “argue the law” thus betraying a reluctance to “argue the facts”, perhaps because the facts tend to support Jones’s view of the slaughter of the Canaanites (men, women, and children) rather than my view of this matter.
There is some truth to this point. I have indeed focused primarily on “arguing the law”. That is because the laws of Jehovah are Male-Cattle CRAP (indicating that Jehovah was either stupid or unjust or both).
Jehovah’s laws are, in general, VAGUE and would be tossed out in modern courts on the basis of the legal principle of “Void for Vagueness”. Jehovah’s laws, in general, fail to clearly specify the conduct that is prohibited and to clearly specify the punishment that is appropriate for specific violations. Furthermore, although Jehovah’s laws are somewhat clear in specifying the scope of people to whom those laws apply, the scope is, in general, implied to be: the men of Israel, and thus applying these laws to Canaanites (men, women, and children) would be an injustice, and since the punishment in question is SEVERE (i.e. the death penalty), applying these laws to Canaanites (men, women, and children) would be a GREAT injustice.
Clay Jones does not “argue the law” because the law is against him. It is against him, because the laws of Jehovah are sexist, cruel, harsh, and vague. That is why Jones does not bother to “argue the law” and why I have chosen to focus in on the injustice inherent in the laws of Jehovah.
However, the FACTS are not especially on Jones’s side either. Jones actually makes very little effort to “argue the facts”. Jones fails to heed the sound advice of William Lane Craig on this matter:
Far from being easy, historical apologetics, if done right, is every bit as difficult as philosophical apologetics. The only reason most people think historical apologetics to be easier is because they do it superficially. …if we are to do a credible job in our apologetics, we need to do the hard thinking and the hard work required… (Apologetics: An Introduction, p.166, Moody Press, 1984)
In failing to make a serious effort to argue the facts, Jones follows the wide path of INTELLECTUAL SLOTH layed out by numerous Christian apologists for the past several centuries. He and most of his fellow Christian apologists fail to take seriously the need for careful, objective, scholarship when it comes to historical claims. Perhaps this is the consequence of too much “preaching to the choir” by Christian apologists.
Although “arguing the law” was easy for me on the issue of the slaughter of the Canaanites (men, women, and children), Clay Jones has done such a poor and pathetic job of “arguing the facts” that I’m more than happy to shift gears for a bit and to show that Jones’s attempt to justify Jehovah’s command to slaughter the Canaanites (men, women, and children) fails even when the focus is placed on “arguing the facts”.
In response to the potential complaint that I have previously placed too much focus on “arguing the law”, in this post I plan to focus more on factual issues, and put less emphasis on “arguing the law”.
In order to help readers to resist the temptation to think in an overly abstract and cold-hearted manner, I’m going to personalize the discussion here. I will imagine that it is my own daughters (at ages 8 and 18) who are being charged with a sin or crime that Jones believes to be worthy of the death penalty. I will imagine Clay Jones to present the case for convition and for the punishment of death (based on his comments in his article “Killing the Canaanites”), and I will imagine that it is my job to vigorously defend my daughters against the charges and the case made by Jones, to ensure that they are given a fair trial.
To emphasize the human fallibility of Christian religious leaders and authorities, I will refer to the character representing Clay Jones’s views as: GRAND INQUISITOR JONES (or GI Jones). I will refer to myself as: BRADLEY FOR THE DEFENSE (or BFD). The original, historical Grand Inquisitors tortured innocent men, women, and children to get them to confess to various sins or heretical beliefs. In giving the Jones character the title “Grand Inquisitor” I am NOT implying that Clay Jones is so morally corrupt and depraved as to willingly engage in the torture of men, women, or children to extract confessions of sin or heresy from them. I assume that Jones would view such an idea as morally repugnant.
Thus Grand Inquisitor Jones will be a “kinder and gentler” sort of Grand Inquisitor. GI Jones will, in a fair public trial, attempt to present a strong case based on objective empirical/historical evidence and good reasoning that is sufficient to convict my two daughters of the alleged sin or crime in question, like a prosecuting attorney in a criminal trial.
My primary point in giving the prosecutor the title “Grand Inquisitor Jones” is to remind Jones and readers of this post that in the past Christians have practiced systematic terror and torture and murder of innocent men, women, and children for MANY centuries, and that such horrible crimes against humanity were authorized and justified by Christian leaders and Christian theologians for MANY centuries, thus firmly establishing beyond all reasonable doubt that Christian leaders and Christian theologians are fully capable of being morally blind leaders of morally blind Christian followers.
Let’s take a moment to remind ourselves of an important phase in the history of the Christian religion…
Let us imagine a traveler in the city of Rome when the Renaissance was in full flower, a pilgrim or a merchant or a diplomat. He seeks out the chapel near St. Peter’s Basilica where the Pieta of Michelangelo is now on display, and he spends a few moments admiring the sublime depiction of the body of the slain Jesus in the lap of his grieving mother. Pieta means “pity,” and the scene is rendered with exquisite tenderness and profound compassion. …
At the very same moment, however, and not far away, hooded men in dungeons lit only by torches–henchmen of what would come to be called the Roman and Universal Inquisition–are applying instruments of torture to the naked bodies of men and women whose only crime is to have entertained some thought that the Church regarded as heretical. The victims’ cries, faint and distant, reach the ears of the traveler who gazes in prayerful silence at the Pieta… . Yet the torturers are wholly without pity, and they work in the sure conviction that the odor of the charred flesh of heretics is “delectable to the Holy Trinity and the Virgin.” (The Grand Inquisitor’s Manual: A History of Terror in the Name of God, by Jonathan Kirsch, p.1-2, HarperCollins, 2008)
The long history of the Inquisition can be conveniently divided into three phases. The medieval Inquisition, which functioned across western Europe for a couple of hundred years starting in the early thirteenth century, finished off the Cathars and then expanded its scope of operations to include a miscellaneous assortment of accused heretics, ranging from radical Franciscan priests to women accused of witchcraft. The Spanish Inquisition was franchised by the pope in 1478 to detect and punish Jewish and Muslim converts to Christianity (known as conversos) who were suspected of secretly clinging to their former faiths, and remained in formal existence through 1834. And the Roman Inquisition, which aspired to universal jurisdiction but operated mostly in Italy, was created in 1542 as the papal weapon of choice in the crusade against the Protestant Reformation as well as the freshening winds of secularism and scientific inquiry that accompanied the Renaissance. (The Grand Inquisitor’s Manual, p.5)
The reach and sweep of the Inquisition have discouraged historians from treating it as a single institution. …The fact remains, however, that the inquisitors of every nationality and in every age were deputized under the same body of canon law, inflicted the same tortures and punishments on their victims, and devoted themselves to the same terrible mission–the arrest, torture, and execution of any man, woman, or child whom they regarded as a heretic, a term sufficiently elastic to reach any victim who happened to excite their anxieties or greed. Thus, for example, the manuals and handbooks composed in the Middle Ages to instruct the first inquisitors in their day-to-day work were still being consulted by the last inquisitors six centuries later. (The Grand Inquisitor’s Manual, p.6)
Whenever anyone listens to a Christian scholar or theologian defend what appears on the surface to be horrible crimes against humanity, it is quite reasonable, based on historical experience, to approach such arguments with great caution and skepticism.
We MUST NOT BE FOOLED AGAIN by wolves in sheep’s clothing. Mr. Jones might indeed be a sheep, but given the darker pages in the history of the Christian religion, it is reasonable and appropriate, for the purposes at hand, to put wolves’ clothing (i.e. the title “Grand Inquisitor”) on the character representing Jones, to remind one and all that he might actually be a wolf.
Judge: The Grand Inquisitor Jones will now present his case against the accused, and then Bradley For the Defense will present objections and arguments defending the accused.
GI Jones: Thank you, your honor. Ladies and gentlemen of the jury: today I will present to you my case for the charge that Lisa (age 8) is guilty of the horrible crime or sin of IDOLATRY, and for the charge that her older sister Kathy (age 18) is also guilty of this terrible crime or sin, and that because of this horrible sin or crime, they both deserve the penalty of DEATH; they both deserve to have their heads chopped off by a sword-wielding, Jehovah-worshiping soldier of the army of Israel.*
Lisa and Kathy have committed the crime or sin of IDOLATRY. I assure you that both of these wicked girls have in fact worshiped other gods besides Jehovah, the God of Israel. So, you must, on the basis of this fact, deliver a verdict of “Guilty” and condemn these evil and perverse girls to death by beheading. Thank you, ladies and gentlemen of the jury for your attention to my case for the guilt of Lisa and Kathy.
BFD: What the hell! Is this a joke? I was expecting hours of testimony from multiple eyewitnesses, or at least a lengthy presentation of dozens of facts to make a circumstantial case for the guilt of the accused girls. But instead we are offered a ten-second, completely fact-free argument. Grand Inquisitor Jones, have you no shame, sir?
The Grand Inquisitor has failed to cite the law that the defendants have violated, and the Grand Inquisitor has not even hinted at what he means by “the crime or sin of IDOLATRY”, so we have no clear idea of what the defendants are being accused of doing, or whether the law even applies to these beautiful, charming, and intelligent girls. Since the laws of Jehovah were directed to the men of Israel, the presumption is that any such laws do NOT apply to young girls who are Canaanites, not Israelites.
Though GI Jones has utterly failed to make a rational case against the defendants in terms of the alleged law against IDOLATRY, let’s ignore that for the moment, and simply assume the common sense notion that one commits IDOLATRY when one “worships a god by means of an idol representing that god”. Since GI Jones has presented ZERO facts to show that either Lisa or Kathy have ever worshiped a god by means of an idol representing that god, there is no case here to consider. All we have is GI Jones’ personal assertion that Lisa and Kathy have “worshiped other gods besides Jehovah”. But GI Jones does not know Lisa, nor does he know Kathy. He has never met either girl until this very hour when he saw them here in this courtroom. GI Jones has no experiences of these girls to base his claim upon. So, no actual evidence has been presented for the guilt of either Lisa or Kathy.
Suppose, however, we grant the baseless claim made by the Grand Inquisitor. Let us assume, for the sake of argument, that both girls have indeed “worshiped other gods besides Jehovah”. Even if this were true, this tells us NOTHING about whether they have ever used an idol to worship a god, and so it tells us NOTHING about whether they are guilty of the sin or crime of IDOLATRY, given the common sense understanding of the meaning of that word.
Have not many Israelites worshiped Jehovah without the use of an idol? If so, then it follows necessarily that it is POSSIBLE to worship a god WITHOUT use of an idol, without use of a statue or image representing a god. If the Israelites can worship their god without using idols, then certainly Canaanites, such as these two lovely girls at my side, can worship their god or gods without using idols. Therefore, even if we grant the baseless claim of the Grand Inquisitor that these two girls have “worshiped other gods besides Jehovah” this tells us NOTHING about whether they are guilty of the sin or crime of IDOLATRY.
Finally, you may think poorly of these two young Canaanites if you believe that they have engaged in worship of other gods besides Jehovah, the god of Israel. You may think that they ought to instead worship Jehovah, “the one true God.” But even if they are guilty of worshiping some other god or gods, can you seriously consider the imposition of the death penalty on these two beautiful, charming, intelligent girls, girls that love their father and mother, girls that are loved and cherished by their father and mother?
Lisa is only eight years old. She can barely understand the concepts of “religion” and “worship” and “god”. She has never been to a Jewish temple or synagogue. Lisa has never set foot in a Christian church. The only religion she has any real experience of is the religion of her Canaanite parents, which involves the worship of gods other than Jehovah.
When Lisa grows up, she might well get to meet some Israelites who worship Jehovah, or some Christian believers who worship Jehovah. She might go to a Jewish religious service or a Christian religious service, and she might even decide to leave the religion of her parents in favor of a religion in which Jehovah is worshiped. But if you chop off her pretty young head now, there is no chance that she will ever worship Jehovah. She will die without ever having the opportunity to learn about other religions besides the religion she learned from her own Canaanite parents.
Kathy, of course, is older than Lisa. Kathy is a young adult, and she has had a bit more experience of religion than Lisa. She has a better understanding of the concepts of “religion” and “worship” and “god”. But Kathy is still a teenager. She is just now finishing high school. Her mind has been focused on learning math, history, chemistry, French, and other subjects, as well as on friendships and her boyfriend, and cheerleading practice, and applications for college. She has not had much time to study world religions and to contemplate all of her options concerning religion, philosophy, and spirituality.
So, like her younger sister Lisa, Kathy does not have a good grasp of the alternatives to the religion of her Canaanite parents. Kathy may know that there are religions that encourage the worship of Jehovah. Kathy may have been to a Jewish synagogue once, or to a Jewish religious ceremony once, and she has attended Christian church services on a couple of occasions, but she is hardly in a position to have a solid grasp of Jewish faith and practice or of Christian theology and Christian religious practices. Kathy might over the course of the next decade go to college and learn about other religions and philosophies, and it is possible that Kathy might take a serious interest in either Judaism or Christianity and decide that she wants to become a worshiper of Jehovah.
But if you have a big strong soldier of Israel chop off Kathy’s head today, then she will NEVER have the opportunity to gain significant exposure to any religion or philosophy besides what she learned from her Canaanite father and mother. Although Kathy is an adult, it would be EXTREMELY UNFAIR to judge her choice of religion/philosophy at this point in her young life, when she has had very little exposure to and experience of alternative religions and philosophies.
Finally, if we are to impose the death penalty on any person who worships a god besides Jehovah, then we must kill every man, woman, and child in the Greek Civilization, and we must kill every man, woman, and child in the Roman Civilization, and every man, woman, and child in the Phonecian Civilization, and every man, woman, and child in the Egyptian Civilization, and…
In the end, you will have to kill nearly every human being outside of the nation of Israel, because Jehovah was the god of Israel, not the god of the Egyptians, not the god of the Greeks, not the god of the Romans, not the god of the Phonecians, not the god of the… . Surely, such massive worldwide slaughter is unjust and unwarranted. Stop the madness of the Grand Inquisitor now!
Please return a verdict of NOT GUILTY for the two beautiful, charming, intelligent, and loving girls whom you see standing at my side today. There have been no facts or evidence presented showing that they have worshiped a god besides Jehovah, and even assuming that they have worshiped a god besides Jehovah, we cannot draw any logical conclusion as to whether they are guilty of IDOLATRY. Let there be no chopping off heads today; declare Lisa and Kathy NOT GUILTY.
* I do have children, but the names and ages given here are not the actual names and ages of my children.