bookmark_borderWas Joshua’s Slaughter of the Canaanites Morally Justified? Part 2: Locker Room Talk

TRUMP’S “LOCKER ROOM” TALK
Let’s take a quick trip down memory lane… to October 7, 2016:
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The Washington Post has obtained an extremely crass recording…on which Donald Trump converses with Access Hollywood host Billy Bush about women aboard a bus on the set of Days of Our Lives. Among the things Trump says:
“I moved on her like a bitch, but I couldn’t get there, and she was married. Then all of a sudden I see her, she’s now got the big phony tits and everything.” …
“I’m automatically attracted to beautiful [women]—I just start kissing them. It’s like a magnet. Just kiss. I don’t even wait. And when you’re a star they let you do it. You can do anything … Grab them by the pussy. You can do anything.
[from a SLATE article, emphasis added:
Trump Was Recorded in 2005 Bragging About Grabbing Women “by the Pussy”]
==============
This infamous video recording made it appear that Donald Trump was a sexist, a Male Chauvinist Pig, to be precise.  But “the Donald” disagreed.  He respects and admires women, and treats them as equals to men.  His words quoted above were just “locker room” talk, he protested.
However, it was obvious to anyone with two brain cells to rub together that Donald Trump was indeed a sexist and a Male Chauvinist Pig, and that this was exceedingly clear long before the video tape became public knowledge.
The video recording was simply a very graphic and disturbing reminder of what was already known about Trump and his attitude towards women.  Nobody but a complete fool would believe that his comments were just “locker room” talk, and that his comments did not reflect his disgusting sexist attitude towards women.
 
JEHOVAH’S “LOCKER ROOM” TALK
Let’s go back a bit further in time, to after the Israelites had left Egypt, and were on their way across the desert headed for the Jordan river.
Jehovah had some advice for his people, the Israelites, before they entered the land on the other side of the Jordan river, and Moses delivered Jehovah’s advice to them:
1 When the Lord your God brings you into the land that you are about to enter and occupy, and he clears away many nations before you—the Hittites, the Girgashites, the Amorites, the Canaanites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites, seven nations mightier and more numerous than you—
2 and when the Lord your God gives them over to you and you defeat them, then you must utterly destroy them. Make no covenant with them and show them no mercy.  Deuteronomy 7:1-2  (New Revised Standard Version, emphasis added).
According to the book of Joshua, Joshua and the army of Israel followed the above guidance from Jehovah:
19 There was not a town that made peace with the Israelites, except the Hivites, the inhabitants of Gibeon; all were taken in battle.
20 For it was the Lord’s doing to harden their hearts so that they would come against Israel in battle, in order that they might be utterly destroyed, and might receive no mercy, but be exterminated, just as the Lord had commanded Moses.   Joshua 11:19-20 (New Revised Standard Version, emphasis added)

Joshua Commanding the Sun to Stand Still upon Gibeon by John Martin

 
Jehovah wanted the Canaanites to be “utterly destroyed” and “exterminated” and shown “no mercy” by Joshua and the army of Israel.  But to “utterly destroy” and “exterminate” the Canaanites would mean killing men, women, teenagers, children, and babies!  Surely, the loving and merciful Jehovah would never command such a horrible mass-killing of civilians.
According the book of Joshua, that is exactly what Joshua proceeded to do, with the help of the army of Israel:
15 On the seventh day they rose early, at dawn, and marched around the city [Jericho] in the same manner seven times. It was only on that day that they marched around the city seven times.
16 And at the seventh time, when the priests had blown the trumpets, Joshua said to the people, “Shout! For the Lord has given you the city.
[…]
20 So the people shouted, and the trumpets were blown. As soon as the people heard the sound of the trumpets, they raised a great shout, and the wall fell down flat; so the people charged straight ahead into the city and captured it.
21 Then they devoted to destruction by the edge of the sword all in the city, both men and women, young and old, oxen, sheep, and donkeys.  Joshua 6:15-16 & 20-21 (New Revised Standard Version, emphasis added)
21 When Joshua and all Israel saw that the ambush had taken the city [Ai] and that the smoke of the city was rising, then they turned back and struck down the men of Ai.
[…]
24 When Israel had finished slaughtering all the inhabitants of Ai in the open wilderness where they pursued them, and when all of them to the very last had fallen by the edge of the sword, all Israel returned to Ai, and attacked it with the edge of the sword.
25 The total of those who fell that day, both men and women, was twelve thousand—all the people of Ai.
26 For Joshua did not draw back his hand, with which he stretched out the sword, until he had utterly destroyed all the inhabitants of Ai.   Joshua 8:21 & 24-26 (New Revised Standard Version, emphasis added)
Jericho and Ai were not the only cities where Joshua and the army of Israel “utterly destroyed” and “exterminated” all of the inhabitants, “men and women, young and old”.  Chapter 10 of the book of Joshua gives us a laundry list of other cities and towns where Joshua led mass-killings by the army of Israel:
28 Joshua took Makkedah on that day, and struck it and its king with the edge of the sword; he utterly destroyed every person in it; he left no one remaining. And he did to the king of Makkedah as he had done to the king of Jericho.
29 Then Joshua passed on from Makkedah, and all Israel with him, to Libnah, and fought against Libnah.
30 The Lord gave it also and its king into the hand of Israel; and he struck it with the edge of the sword, and every person in it; he left no one remaining in it; and he did to its king as he had done to the king of Jericho.
31 Next Joshua passed on from Libnah, and all Israel with him, to Lachish, and laid siege to it, and assaulted it.
32 The Lord gave Lachish into the hand of Israel, and he took it on the second day, and struck it with the edge of the sword, and every person in it, as he had done to Libnah.
33 Then King Horam of Gezer came up to help Lachish; and Joshua struck him and his people, leaving him no survivors.
34 From Lachish Joshua passed on with all Israel to Eglon; and they laid siege to it, and assaulted it;
35 and they took it that day, and struck it with the edge of the sword; and every person in it he utterly destroyed that day, as he had done to Lachish.
36 Then Joshua went up with all Israel from Eglon to Hebron; they assaulted it,
37 and took it, and struck it with the edge of the sword, and its king and its towns, and every person in it; he left no one remaining, just as he had done to Eglon, and utterly destroyed it with every person in it.
38 Then Joshua, with all Israel, turned back to Debir and assaulted it,
39 and he took it with its king and all its towns; they struck them with the edge of the sword, and utterly destroyed every person in it; he left no one remaining; just as he had done to Hebron, and, as he had done to Libnah and its king, so he did to Debir and its king.
40 So Joshua defeated the whole land, the hill country and the Negeb and the lowland and the slopes, and all their kings; he left no one remaining, but utterly destroyed all that breathed, as the Lord God of Israel commanded.     Joshua 10:28-40 (New Revised Standard Version, emphasis added)
Chapter 11 of the book of Joshua provides us with more mass-killings by Joshua and the army of Israel:
1 When King Jabin of Hazor heard of this, he sent to King Jobab of Madon, to the king of Shimron, to the king of Achshaph,
2 and to the kings who were in the northern hill country, and in the Arabah south of Chinneroth, and in the lowland, and in Naphoth-dor on the west,
3 to the Canaanites in the east and the west, the Amorites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, and the Jebusites in the hill country, and the Hivites under Hermon in the land of Mizpah.
4 They came out, with all their troops, a great army, in number like the sand on the seashore, with very many horses and chariots.
5 All these kings joined their forces, and came and camped together at the waters of Merom, to fight with Israel.
[…]
8 And the Lord handed them over to Israel, who attacked them and chased them as far as Great Sidon and Misrephoth-maim, and eastward as far as the valley of Mizpeh. They struck them down, until they had left no one remaining.
10 Joshua turned back at that time, and took Hazor, and struck its king down with the sword. Before that time Hazor was the head of all those kingdoms.
11 And they put to the sword all who were in it, utterly destroying them; there was no one left who breathed, and he burned Hazor with fire.
12 And all the towns of those kings, and all their kings, Joshua took, and struck them with the edge of the sword, utterly destroying them, as Moses the servant of the Lord had commanded.
13 But Israel burned none of the towns that stood on mounds except Hazor, which Joshua did burn.
14 All the spoil of these towns, and the livestock, the Israelites took for their booty; but all the people they struck down with the edge of the sword, until they had destroyed them, and they did not leave any who breathed.
15 As the Lord had commanded his servant Moses, so Moses commanded Joshua, and so Joshua did; he left nothing undone of all that the Lord had commanded Moses.    Joshua 11:1-5, 8, 10-15 (New Revised Standard Version, emphasis added)
Just as Donald Trump and the IDIOTS who admire him excused Trump’s shockingly sexist words by saying they were just “locker room” talk, many Christians and Jews try to defend and excuse the direction of Jehovah through Moses as being “locker room” talk by the creator of the universe.
But nobody with two brain cells to rub together should believe such B.S.  There was already plenty of evidence showing that Jehovah was cruel and violent and placed very little value on human life.  The slaughter of the Canaanites is simply the most graphic and shocking evidence showing Jehovah to be a cruel and violent tyrant.  As one comment recently stated:  Jehovah LOVES blood.
In part 3 of this series, I will begin to present the OTHER evidence of the morally flawed character of Jehovah, evidence that, even setting aside the slaughter of the Canaanites, shows that Jehovah was a cruel and violent tyrant.  The slaughter of the Canaanites is just one of the most glaring and shocking examples of Jehovah’s awful words and awful behavior.
Just as Trump’s comments cannot rationally be excused as frivolous “locker room” talk, so the guidance of Jehovah to slaughter the Canaanites cannot be excused as frivolous “locker room” talk either.  Such excuses and justifications could have a chance of being reasonable ONLY IF the previous words and behavior of the person in question were above reproach, and cannot possibly be reasonable given the strong evidence to the contrary.

bookmark_borderPeter Kreeft’s Case for God

KREEFT’S CASE FOR GOD

In September of 2017, I began to analyze and evaluate Peter Kreeft’s case for the existence of God in Chapter 3 of his book Handbook of Christian Apologetics  (co-authored with Ronald Tacelli).  In July of 2018, I finished examining his case for God, which consists of 20 arguments for God.
Here are three blog posts where I summarize my critique of Kreeft’s case:
https://secularfrontier.infidels.org/2018/07/16/kreefts-case-for-god-summary-of-my-critique-part-1/
https://secularfrontier.infidels.org/2018/07/26/kreefts-case-for-god-summary-of-my-critique-part-2/
https://secularfrontier.infidels.org/2018/07/31/kreefts-case-for-god-summary-of-my-critique-part-3/
Here is an INDEX which provides links to my more specific blog posts on Peter Kreeft’s case for the existence of God:
https://secularfrontier.infidels.org/2018/07/13/index-kreefts-case-for-god/

bookmark_borderGeisler’s Case for the Existence of God

GEISLER’S CASE FOR GOD
In October of 2016,  I began to analyze and evaluate Norman Geisler’s case for God in his book When Skeptics Ask, and to present my criticism of his case in posts here at The Secular Outpost.

Over a period of several months, I wrote 18 posts focused on various phases and arguments in Geisler’s case.  In September of 2017, nearly a year after beginning to examine Geisler’s case, I wrote a 19th post summarizing a number of my key objections to his case:
https://secularfrontier.infidels.org/2017/09/07/geislers-five-ways-part-19-whole-enchilada/
For a more detailed analysis and critique of Geisler’s case, or of a specific argument in his case, see the previous 18 posts in this series:
https://secularfrontier.infidels.org/2017/05/25/index-geislers-five-ways/

bookmark_borderCritiques of Craig

I have previously criticized the case for the existence of God by the Christian philosopher Norman Geisler (When Skeptics Ask) and I have also criticized the case for the existence of God by the Christian philosopher Peter Kreeft (Handbook of Christian Apologetics).
The next case for God that I plan to analyze and evaluate is the case by the Christian philosopher Edward Feser (Five Proofs of the Existence of God).

Assuming that Feser FAILS to prove the existence of God,  I will then move on to analyze and evaluate William Lane Craig’s case for God.  In anticipation of examining Craig’s case, I recently ordered three books that criticize Craig’s arguments for the existence of God:

Did God Create the Universe from Nothing (Onus Books, 2016) by Jonathan Pearce (forward by Jeff Lowder, and with contributions by James East and Counter Apologist).

Unreasonable Faith (Hypatia Press, 2018) by James Fodor.

The Case Against Theism (Springer International Publishing, 2018) by Raphael Lataster.

I have not read any of these books yet, so I cannot wholeheartedly recommend them yet.
However, James Fodor’s book not only covers Craig’s arguments for God, but also has a chapter on Craig’s argument for the resurrection of Jesus (my favorite topic): Chapter 5 (pages 231-334).  I had to take at least a quick look at that chapter.  I was delighted to read his initial analysis of “The Resurrection Hypothesis” on pages 322-324.  That part of Chapter 5 is, for me, worth the price of the book.
Fodor points out that Craig’s resurrection hypothesis REQUIRES assumptions about the desires (or purposes) of God (i.e. that God would have WANTED TO raise Jesus from the dead), and about the desires (or purposes) of Jesus (i.e. that Jesus would have WANTED TO appear to his followers after being raised from the dead).
I’m not sure where Fodor is going with the point about Jesus wanting to appear to his disciples, but the point about God desiring or wanting to raise Jesus from the dead is a crucial point, and it deserves to be given the emphasis that Fodor gives to it.
In my view, skeptics have failed to discuss or to sufficiently emphasize this point about miracle claims.  This point about the importance of God’s desires (or purposes) is one that the Christian philosopher Richard Swinburne rightly and repeatedly emphasizes in his case for God, and in his defense of the resurrection of Jesus.
Even if we can identify a particular event as having a supernatural cause, we cannot identify an event as having been intentionally caused by God apart from making some assumptions about the desires or purposes of God, for which we have no reasonable grounds.  This is, in my view, one of the most serious problems with miracle claims, and it applies directly to Craig’s case for the resurrection of Jesus.

bookmark_borderWas Joshua’s Slaughter of Thousands of Men, Women, Children, and Babies Morally Justified? – Part 1

In the view of at least one reader of my posts, Joshua’s MERCILESS SLAUGHTER of thousands of adult men, adult women, teenage boys, teenage girls, elderly men and women, young children, and infants was MORALLY JUSTIFIED because:

(a) they were given the chance to flee, and

(b) they belonged to a culture where some people did “some pretty disgusting things” like burning children to death, and

(c) the culture they belonged to engaged in “some pretty disgusting things” for a period of 400 years.

This is an important issue, because one reason for my claim that Jesus was a morally flawed person, is that Jesus was named after Joshua, the very famous warrior of Israel, and yet Jesus did NOT reject his own name and give himself a new name.
In my view, Joshua’s leading the army of Israel to intentionally slaughter men, women, teenagers, boys, girls, and babies is on the same moral level with Hitler leading the nation of Germany to slaughter millions of Jewish men, women, teenagers, boys, and girls (I’m not sure if the Nazi’s killed Jewish babies, but seems like something they would do).

Joshua Burns the Town of Ai – Gustave Doré (1866)

 
If Joshua was of similar morally depraved character as Hitler, then a perfectly morally good person who was named in honor of Joshua would (as soon as learning about the horrible actions of Joshua) reject that name and come up with a new name.  Because Jesus never renounced his given name, that shows that Jesus was a morally flawed person.  It shows that Jesus uncritically accepted the morally flawed culture in which he was raised, and specifically that Jesus had no moral revulsion to the idea of being named after a mass-killer of men, women, teenagers, children, and babies.  Honoring a mass-killer was just fine with Jesus, because that mass-killer was admired by his parents and by his Jewish culture.
Furthermore,  Joshua learned to be a bloodthirsty mass-killer from Moses.  And Jesus was a fan of Moses.  But if Jesus was a perfectly morally good person, he would have criticized Moses for being a bloodthirsty mass-killer and for turning Joshua into a bloodthirsty mass-killer, particularly as part of a series of wars of aggression to steal the land of Palestine from the people who were already living there.
But honoring Moses as a great prophet and a noble leader was a part of Jewish culture and religion, so the horrible actions pf Moses were just fine with Jesus.  There was not even a hint of criticism of Moses from Jesus; instead, Jesus consistently held Moses up as an admirable leader, as a great prophet, as a great man of God.  Therefore, it is clear that Jesus was a morally flawed person.
So, if the MERCILESS SLAUGHTER of elderly men and women, adult men and women, teenagers, children, and babies was morally justified, then Jesus cannot be faulted for keeping his given name (in honor of Joshua, the famous warrior and leader of Israel), nor for being an admirer of Moses (the famous leader and prophet of Israel).  But if the MERCILESS SLAUGHTER of elderly men and women, adult men and women, teenagers, children, and babies by Israel (under the leadership of Moses and Joshua) was NOT morally justified, then we should conclude that Jesus was a morally flawed person, and thus that Jesus was NOT the divine Son of God.
In this series of posts I will argue for the view that the MERCILESS SLAUGHTER of elderly men and women, adult men and women, teenagers, children, and babies by the army of Israel under the leadership of Moses, and later under the leadership of Joshua, was NOT morally justified, and that this shows that Jesus was a morally flawed person, given that Jesus did not reject his given name, and given that Jesus was openly and publicly an admirer of Moses.

bookmark_borderIf Jesus Rose from the Dead, then God does NOT Exist – Part 2

Jesus was NOT the divine Son of God.  This is clear because:

  • God is a bodiless spirit, but Jesus had a body.
  • God cannot suffer, but Jesus suffered.
  • God is immortal, but Jesus was mortal (he died).

Because Jesus is NOT the divine Son of God,  then the belief that Jesus was the divine Son of God would be both a FALSE and UNHEALTHY  belief.
God would NOT have raised Jesus from the dead, because God, being omniscient (all-knowing) would foresee that the initial followers of Jesus would MISTAKENLY conclude that Jesus was the divine Son of God, and that they would in turn create a movement that would influence billions of people to adopt this FALSE and UNHEALTHY belief.  God would NOT have raised Jesus from the dead, because that would involve God in a Great Deception.
However, it is logically possible for a human being to be omnipotent (all-powerful), omniscient (all-knowing), and perfectly morally good.  If Jesus possessed these three important divine attributes or perfections, then it would at least be partially true that Jesus was the divine Son of God (as well as partially false).
In the first post of this series,  I argued that if Jesus was a morally flawed person, but possessed the divine attributes of omnipotence and omniscience, then Jesus would be a MONSTER, a great threat to the human race, the planet Earth, and to the existence of the entire universe.   So, if Jesus was a morally flawed person and was omnipotent and omniscient, then there would be no justice in the claim that Jesus was the divine Son of God,  that belief would clearly be FALSE and UNHEALTHY.
 
JESUS DID NOT CHANGE HIS NAME
I previously argued that Jesus was a morally flawed person on the grounds that Jesus was named after JOSHUA, a bloodthirsty warrior who led the army of Israel to slaughter thousands of elderly men and women, adult men and women, teenage boys and girls, young children, and infants in genocidal warfare.  IF Jesus was a perfectly morally good person, he would have rejected his name as soon as learning about the horrible actions of Joshua, and would have given himself a new name.  Jesus did NOT do this, so Jesus was a morally flawed person.
So, if Jesus did possess the divine attributes of omnipotence and omniscience, then Jesus would have been a MONSTER, a terrible threat to the human race, to the planet, and to the entire universe.  The claim that Jesus was the divine Son of God would be a FALSE and UNHEALTHY belief, and God would NOT have raised Jesus from the dead.
 
JESUS WAS A SEXIST
There are other reasons, besides keeping his given name, that show Jesus to be a morally flawed person.  Jesus was a sexist.  Sexism is unfair and unjust.  So, the fact that Jesus was a sexist implies that Jesus was a morally flawed person.  Although Jesus did accept women as followers, his inner circle of twelve disciples consisted exclusively of MEN.  This is a clear sign that Jesus bought into the patriarchy of Jewish tradition and religion.  Jesus was a sexist.
 
JESUS PROMOTED WORSHIP OF AND OBEDIENCE TO JEHOVAH
The main reason, however, that we can KNOW that Jesus was a morally flawed person, is that Jesus promoted worship of and obedience to Jehovah (or Yahweh), the god of the Old Testament.
Jehovah was a sexist who commanded that the Israelites follow sexist laws and practices.  Jehovah commanded that the Israelites engage in slavery.  Jehovah also commanded that the Israelites engage in wars of aggression to steal the land of Palestine away from the people who had already settled there.
Jehovah commanded the Israelites to mercilessly slaughter elderly men and women, adult men and women, teenage boys and girls, young children, and babies, when the Israelites went to war to steal land from other people.  Jehovah was an evil bloodthirsty bastard, based on what the OT tells us that Jehovah said and did.
IF Jesus was a perfectly morally good person, then he had a couple of options here:

  1. Preach that the OT was filled with lies about Jehovah (that Jehovah did NOT say and do the evil things that the OT claims he said and did).
  2. Preach that NOBODY should worship or obey Jehovah, the evil god of the OT.

Jesus did neither.  Instead, he conformed to his morally flawed culture and to his morally flawed upbringing, and Jesus promoted worship of and obedience to Jehovah, the evil god of the Old Testament.  Thus, there can be no doubt that Jesus was a morally flawed person.

Because we KNOW that Jesus was a morally flawed person, it is clear that Jesus was NOT the divine Son of God.  He not only had a body, suffered, and died, but also fell short of divinity in relation to what is probably the single most important divine attribute: perfect moral goodness.  So, Jesus is clearly NOT the divine Son of God.
 
GOD, IF GOD EXISTS, WOULD NOT RAISE JESUS FROM THE DEAD
Since Jesus is NOT the divine Son of God, it would have been a GREAT DECEPTION for God to raise Jesus from the dead, because God would have foreseen that this would lead to billions of people having the FALSE and UNHEALTHY belief that Jesus was the divine Son of God.  God, if God exists, is a perfectly morally good person, so God would never be involved in such a GREAT DECEPTION.
 
GOD, IF GOD EXISTS, WOULD BE UNLIKELY TO ALLOW JESUS TO BE RAISED
But what about SATAN?  Satan is evil and Satan is powerful.  So, maybe Satan caused Jesus to rise from the dead.  Although Satan might be able to raise a human from the dead, and might be inclined to do so in order to bring about a GREAT DECEPTION leading billions of people to have a FALSE and UNHEALTHY belief that Jesus was the divine Son of God,  this seems unlikely to have been the case.  God, if God exists, being perfectly morally good would want to prevent such a GREAT DECEPTION, and God, being omniscient (all-knowing) would be aware of Satan’s scheme, and God, being omnipotent (all-powerful) would be able to prevent Satan from raising Jesus from the dead,  so it seems unlikely that God would allow Satan to carry out this evil scheme.
What about a well-meaning, but misguided angel?  What if Michael the Archangel was an admirer of Jesus and Michael wanted to intervene and raise Jesus from the dead.  Again, although Michael’s intentions might be good, God, would foresee that this would lead to billions of people having a FALSE and UNHEALTHY belief.  God, if God exists, being perfectly morally good would want to prevent such a GREAT DECEPTION, and God, being omniscient (all-knowing) would be aware of Michael’s plan, and God, being omnipotent (all-powerful) would be able to prevent Michael from raising Jesus from the dead,  so it seems unlikely that God would allow Michael to carry out this misguided plan.
 
CONCLUSION
Jesus was NOT God and NOT the divine Son of God because Jesus clearly lacks some divine attributes:

  • Jesus had a body (God is a bodiless spirit)
  • Jesus suffered (God cannot suffer)
  • Jesus died (God is immortal)

But Jesus also lacked one of the most important divine attributes:

Jesus was a morally flawed person.

God, if God exists, would have foreseen that the resurrection of Jesus would lead to billions of people having the FALSE and UNHEALTHY belief that Jesus was the divine Son of God.  So, God would NOT have raised Jesus from the dead, and it is unlikely that God would have allowed any other being (good or evil) to raise Jesus from the dead.  God would NOT have been directly involved in a GREAT DECEPTION, and it is unlikely that God would allow such a deception to happen.
Therefore, IF Jesus rose from the dead, THEN it is probably the case that there is no God.  There was no all-knowing, all-powerful, and perfectly morally good being to prevent this GREAT DECEPTION.

bookmark_borderIf Jesus Rose from the Dead, then God does NOT Exist

The following are two central beliefs of Christianity:

(1) Jesus is the divine Son of God.

(2) God raised Jesus from the dead to show that (1) is true.

If (1) is FALSE, then that implies that (2) is FALSE as well.  If Jesus was NOT the divine Son of God, then God would NOT have raised him from the dead.
If Jesus was an ordinary and morally flawed human, God would NOT have raised Jesus from the dead, because that would be a GREAT DECEPTION.  God being all-knowing would see that raising Jesus from the dead would lead his initial followers to reasonably but wrongly conclude that Jesus was the divine Son of God, and that billions of human beings would be influenced by Jesus’ initial followers to adopt this FALSE and UNHEALTHY belief.
If Jesus was an ordinary morally flawed human being, then the belief that Jesus is the divine Son of God is a FALSE belief. The claim that Jesus is the divine Son of God implies that Jesus possesses the perfections of God. This claim is clearly FALSE because Jesus was a mortal, subject to death, but God is eternal and immortal, so Jesus clearly cannot be God, nor possess all the perfections of God.
Also, Jesus had a physical body, but God is eternally an omnipresent spirit, so God is a person who has no physical body, so Jesus cannot be God nor possess all of the perfections of God.
However, there are some characteristics and perfections of God that it was possible for Jesus to possess. It seems logically possible for a human being to be all-powerful, and all-knowing, and to be a perfectly morally good person. So, although it is clearly NOT the case that Jesus was God, and clearly NOT the case that Jesus possessed all of the divine attributes and perfections, it was possible for Jesus to possess at least a few of the most important divine attributes and perfections. If so, then the belief that Jesus is the divine Son of God would be partially true (as well as partially false).
But if Jesus was an ordinary morally flawed human being, then the belief that Jesus is divine Son of God would NOT even be partially true, but would be clearly and fully FALSE, because then not only would Jesus NOT be an omnipresent bodiless spirit, and NOT be an eternal and immortal person, but Jesus would also lack three other important divine attributes or perfections: omnipotence, omniscience, and perfect moral goodness.
It is clear and certain that Jesus was a morally flawed human being, so we can eliminate perfect moral goodness from the list of potential divine attributes of Jesus. This still leaves open the possibility that Jesus possessed two of the most important divine attributes or perfections: omnipotence (all-powerful) and omniscience (all-knowing).
The Gospels provide sufficient evidence that Jesus was neither omnipotent nor omniscient. However, I’m not going to argue that point here. Instead, my argument is that a morally flawed human who was all-powerful and all-knowing would be a MONSTER, a great threat to humanity and to the existence of planet Earth and the entire universe.
A morally flawed all-powerful person could become angry or depressed and with a single thought could annihilate the entire human race, or even the entire universe in an instant. Such a MONSTER could NOT with any justice be called “the divine Son of God”. Thus, if Jesus was a morally flawed human being, then it would clearly be FALSE to claim that Jesus was the divine Son of God, even if Jesus did possess the divine attributes of omnipotence and omniscience.
I would not argue that Jesus was an evil person. Jesus was a person who showed concern about truth and justice and love and kindness. There is much to admire about Jesus. But Jesus was clearly a morally flawed human being who lacked the divine attribute of being a perfectly morally good person.

Joshua Commanding the Sun to Stand Still upon Gibeon by John Martin

 
Let’s start with his NAME.  If Jesus was a perfectly morally good person, then he would have rejected his own name and chosen a new name for himself. But Jesus did not do this, so he was a morally flawed person.

The word Jesus is the Latin form of the Greek Iesous, which in turn is the transliteration of the Hebrew  Jeshua, or Joshua, or again Jehoshua, meaning “Jehovah is salvation.”  (Catholic Encylopedia: “Origin of the name Jesus Christ“)

The name Yeshua derives from the Hebrew name Yehoshua, a name that belonged to a very famous Old Testament warrior of  Israel.  In English translations of the Old Testament, this very famous warrior is called Joshua.  So, Jesus was named after Joshua, one of the most famous warriors of Israel.
Joshua was the Old Testament version of Adolf Hitler.  Joshua was a bloodthirsty bigot who, according to the OT, led the army of Israel to mercilessly slaughter thousands of men, women, teenagers, children, elderly people, in genocidal warfare.  As soon as Jesus learned that he was named after this bloodthirsty murderer, he would have rejected his name and chosen a new name IF Jesus was a perfectly morally good person.
If a perfectly morally good person was born to German parents in the 1940s and given the name “Adolf” by his parents, then as soon as that boy learned that he was named after a bloodthirsty bigot who led the German people to mercilessly slaughter millions of men, women, teenagers, children, and elderly people in a genocidal program, he would reject that name, and choose a new name for himself.
The same reasoning applies to Jesus. Since Jesus never changed his name, and since Jesus, to the best of our knowledge, never criticized the grossly immoral behavior of Joshua, the very famous warrior of the Hebrew nation, we can conclude that Jesus was NOT a perfectly morally good person.
There are other reasons based on the NT for the conclusion that Jesus was NOT a perfectly morally good person.  There is plenty of  evidence to support this conclusion.  Because Jesus lacked that basic divine attribute, it is both a FALSE and UNHEALTHY belief that Jesus was the divine Son of God.  Thus, it is also the case that God, if God exists, would NOT raise Jesus from the dead, because doing so would involve God in a GREAT DECEPTION.
TO BE CONTINUED…

bookmark_borderDoes God Exist? Part 4: Engage in Religious Activities

In my humble opinion, the question “Does God exist?” is best answered by taking a ride on the PHILOSOPHY BUS:

We should answer this question by means of philosophical investigation, especially by critical examination of philosophical arguments for and against the existence of God.

However, this is NOT the only way to approach the question “Does God exist?”. There are alternative ways of answering this question that involve engaging in religious activities:

4. Try praying to God, to see if God answers your prayers.

5. Try prayer, meditation, and worship, to see if you feel the presence of God or hear the voice of God.

6. Try reading the sacred texts of various religions, to see if you sense divine wisdom in any of them.

Part of the idea here is that skeptics and atheists don’t come across evidence for God because they don’t engage in religious activities, activities that would provide them with experiences and evidence that support the existence of God. Prayer to God, worship of God, and study of the (supposed) words of God are religious activities that many people think provide them with experiences of God and evidence for God.
 
APPROACH #4: ASK GOD TO DO SOMETHING FOR YOU
This appears to be a simple and straightforward test for the existence of God. God, by definition, is all-knowing, so if you pray to God and ask God to do something for you, say to heal an illness or injury that you have or that someone you care about has, then God, if God exists, KNOWS that you have asked God to do this. God, by definition, is all-powerful, so God can heal any disease or injury completely and instantaneously.

Jesus praying in Gethsemane. Depicted by Heinrich Hofmann.

 
Answering your prayer by doing what you asked God to do would be a very easy thing for God to do, and if God does instantly grant your request, then you would have some dramatic evidence for the existence of God.
 
 
If you pray asking God to do something for you, say to heal an illness or injury that you have or that someone you care about has, and nothing happens (i.e. the illness or injury gets worse or takes the usual amount of time to run its course or to heal up), then you have evidence that God does NOT exist.
 
PROBLEMS WITH ANSWERED PRAYER AS CONFIRMATION OF GOD’S EXISTENCE
However, as with the previously considered practical approaches, the use of prayer requests to determine whether God exists is not as simple and straightforward as it initially seems.
One problem is that confirmation of the existence of God by means of an answered prayer involves the POST HOC FALLACY:

First X happened, then Y happened so X must have caused Y.

First I prayed for John to get well, then John got well, so my prayer for John must have (through God’s response to my prayer) caused John to get well.
This is a very dubious way of reasoning about cause and effect. Perhaps John has a strong immune system which can fight off diseases rapidly, and your prayer had NOTHING to do with John’s recovery. Perhaps John took a prescribed medication (like an antibiotic), and that was what caused him to get well, not your prayer for John. Perhaps John was just lucky and got over this particular illness quickly, but not because of any supernatural intervention by God, not because of your prayer for John.
How can we know whether a particular instance of getting well quickly is the result of divine intervention as opposed to being a coincidence or as opposed to being caused by an ordinary means, such as the activity of a person’s immune system or the influence of a prescribed medication?
An “answered” prayer does not provide clear proof or confirmation of the existence of God. Other causes and explanations could account for the event in question. This approach is NOT as simple and as easy as it initially seems.
We should think of prayer as similar to a drug that is being tested for safety and effectiveness. It is unreasonable to infer that drug X is a safe and effective way to treat disease Y just because one person took a large dose of drug X for a week, and then their disease Y went away. No medical scientist would accept this as anything close to being confirmation that drug X is a safe and effective treatment for disease Y.
We expect there to be double-blind experiments where hundreds or thousands of people who have disease Y are randomly assigned to either take drug X or to take a placebo pill, and to carefully monitor and measure and record the results of this experiment. We expect that a careful mathematical analysis be performed on the results to confirm that, if the people who took drug X tended to get well more often or more quickly than the people who took the placebo pill, this result was very unlikely to be a chance coincidence. That is what reasonable intelligent people expect to be persuaded that drug X is an effective treatment for disease Y (and similar evidence is required to show that drug X is safe to take).
An “answered” prayer might well be the result of an ordinary physical cause, such as the activity of a person’s immune system. But if we are to allow for the possibility of a supernatural cause (such as God intervening and directly causing a person to be healed), then we must allow for all sorts of different possible supernatural causes:

  • psychic healing power of the person who prayed
  • psychic healing power of the person who was sick
  • a fairy healed the sick person
  • a witch or wizard healed the sick person
  • an angel or demon healed the sick person
  • a finite deity (Zeus, Venus, or Neptune) healed the person who was sick
  • astrological forces connected to the current position of the sun, moon, and stars caused the sick person to be healed

In ordinary scientific investigation of the efficacy of drug X to treat disease Y nobody is concerned with eliminating various supernatural causes or forces. The assumption is that the cause of people who have disease Y getting well is some sort of physical or biological cause. But in the case of investigating the existence of God by means of prayer, we have opened the door to a huge number of possible supernatural causes and forces.
This means that prayer works as confirmation of the existence of God only AFTER we have eliminated a large number of potential alternative SUPERNATURAL causes. It seems to me that there is no established scientific way of doing this. So, in order for prayer to provide confirmation of the existence of God, we must first engage in METAPHYSICS:

  • What sorts of supernatural beings and forces besides God exist or are likely to exist?
  • What sorts of knowledge and power do these beings have?
  • Could any of these other beings or forces be the cause of the healings in question?

In short, in order to use prayer as a means to confirm the existence of God one must FIRST take a ride on the PHILOSOPHY BUS and arrive at various conclusions about the likelihood of various supernatural beings and forces and the likelihood of those beings and forces causing observable effects in human lives.
The prayer test is clearly NOT a simple and straightforward way to confirm the existence of God, but requires a degree of intellectual sophistication and some philosophical investigation in order to have any chance of being successful.
 
PROBLEMS WITH UNANSWERED PRAYER AS DISCONFIRMATION OF THE EXISTENCE OF GOD
The same is true of using UNANSWERED prayer as a way to DISCONFIRM the existence of God. It seems unreasonable to expect that God would act like a magic Genie in a bottle and grant whatever request anyone asks. What about evil prayer requests? What if a Nazi asks God to annihilate the entire Jewish population of a city, or nation, or of the entire planet? Surely, a perfectly morally good creator would NOT grant such an evil request.
Also, there are common circumstances where it would be logically impossible for God to grant BOTH a prayer request by one person AND an opposing request by another person. For example, Tom is a player on his high school’s basketball team, and he prays for God to make his team win the game tonight against the team of another high school. Jack is a player on the basketball team of the other high school, and he prays for God to make them win the game tonight against the team that Tom is on. God cannot make both teams win. Only ONE TEAM can win the game, so God cannot grant these two opposing prayer requests.
Furthermore, if God were to grant every prayer request (at least those that were not evil, and not contrary to some other prayer request), then this would remove all incentive for people to work, to take care of their children, to take care of themselves, to take care of their possessions. If you lose your job, you could just ask God to pay all of your bills or to fill you bank accounts with thousands of dollars. If you don’t feel like feeding your children, you could just ask God to feed them, and to take them to school. If you smoke a pack of cigarettes a day for ten years and then get lung cancer, you could ask God to heal your lungs and go right back to smoking a pack a day. If you don’t change the oil in you car and the engine breaks down, you could just ask God to fix the engine or make you a brand new car.
These are the sorts of considerations that arise when philosophers discuss the PROBLEM OF EVIL, a basic question in the philosophy of religion. Before the failure of God to answer a prayer by granting the prayer request can be viewed as DISCONFIRMATION of the existence of God, one must engage in some challenging philosophical investigation into the PROBLEM OF EVIL, and make some reasonable conclusions about what it would be reasonable to expect out of an all-powerful, all-knowing, and perfectly morally good creator of the universe.
In short, in order for prayer to be used as a means to DISCONFIRM the existence of God, one must take a trip on the PHILOSOPHY BUS. Approach #4 is thus NOT as simple and straightforward as it seemed initially to be. For this approach to have any significant chance of success, one must FIRST engage in some serious philosophical investigation.
So, just as with the two practical approaches discussed in Part 3 of this series, this approach is NOT an alternative that will allow one to proceed without engaging in philosophical investigation, investigation that requires a degree of intellectual sophistication and skill in critical thinking.

bookmark_borderConversation with Dan Norton about Selfishness

Last month I had a pleasant conversation with philosopher Dan Norton. Dan recently started a YouTube channel called “The Selfishness Project.” Our conversation touched on many questions in moral philosophy, such as whether morality is objective or subjective, what it means for morality to be objective or subjective, and what it means to act out of self-interest. I hope you enjoy it: