bookmark_borderThe Slaughter of the Canaanites – Part 4

In Part 3 of this series, I raised twenty objections to a Conservative Christian approach to the Old Testament stories about Jehovah commanding the Israelites to slaughter the Canaanites (men, women, and children).  Most of the objections are to the effect that some particular aspect of the slaughter of the Canaanites is evidence that JEHOVAH IS UNJUST.
The particular attempt to show that Jehovah and the Israelites were morally justified in this horrifically violent activity is from an article by the Christian apologist Clay Jones.  The article can be summarized as follows:
The “new atheists” call God’s commands to kill the Canaanites “genocide,” but a closer look at the horror of the Canaanites’ sinfulness, exhibited in rampant idolatry, incest, adultery, child sacrifice, homosexuality, and bestiality, reveals that God’s reason for commanding their death was not genocide but capital punishment. After all, the Old Testament unequivocally commands that those who do any one of these things deserves to die.          (from the article “Killing the Canaanites”)
I have many more objections to present, and it is unlikely that I will be able to cover all of the remaining objections in this post, so I think my critique of Jones’s defense of Jehovah will extend at least to Part 5 in this series. In the previous post I neglected to mention a fairly BIG and obvious problem, as one reader reminded me:

And how convenient that the owners of the land God wanted to give his people were such wicked people.
Oh yes, there is that small matter of Jehovah commanding the Israelites to wage a war of agression in order to take land away from the Canaanites.
This gives me the opportunity to recommend a favorite book: Jesus Against Christianity: Reclaiming the Missing Jesus (hereafter: JACby Jack Nelson-Pallmeyer (Trinity Press Internatinal, 2001).  Jack Nelson-Pallmeyer is (or was at time of publication) Assistant Professor of Justice and Peace Studies at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minnesota.  Chapters 3 and 4 focus on “some of the many violent and disturbing biblical portraits of God” from the Old Testament (JAC, p.24).  Chapter 3 lays out “Seven Troubling Images of God” from the Old Testament, and one of those images is relevant here: “Troubling Image of God 4: God the Land Thief” (JAC, p.28).
The discussion begins with a quote from the Old Testament:
On that day the LORD made a covenant with Abram, saying, “To your descendants I give this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the river Euphrates, the land of the Kenites, the Kenizzites, the Kadmonites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Rephaim, the Amorites, the Canaanites, the Girgashites, and the Jebusites.” (Genesis 15:18-21)
This quote is then commented on by the author:
God is here depicted as a determined and powerful land thief.  As the Reform Jewish writer Regina M. Schwartz notes, “over and over the Bible tells the story of a people who inherit at someone else’s expense.”  How would we respond to a group of Mexicans invading the United States and claiming the land as their inheritance based on God’s promises?  If that seems far-fetched, then imagine the reverse, which actually happened.  We should also recall how our ancestors nearly wiped out native peoples and then continued onward and outward. … A defense of God the land thief is implicit in…the biblical text…: It is OK for God’s chosen people to steal land from pagans because they are pagans.  They worship false gods.  They, always defined as the other, are savage peoples, barbarians.  (JAC, p.28-29)
So, in the background of the slaughter of the Canaanites there are a couple of BIG injustices by Jehovah:
21. If Jehovah commanded the Israelites to take the land of the Canaanites, then JEHOVAH IS UNJUST, because when one tribe or nation has settled in a certain geographic area and has been living on that land for a century (or for centuries) and another tribe or nation comes along and takes that land away from the tribe or nation that had previously settled there, then that is an act of land theft. 
Furthermore, just as it was morally wrong for Hitler and the Nazis to wage war on other countries in Europe in order to expand the territory and dominion of the German nation, so it was wrong for the Israelites to to wage war on the Canaanites in order to take possession of their land:
22. If Jehovah commanded the Israelites to wage war against the Canaanites in order to take possession of their land, then JEHOVAH IS UNUST, because it is wrong to wage a war of agression for the purpose of expanding the territory or dominion of one tribe or nation.
I realize that this is a BIG issue, and that much more could be said both for and against points (21) and (22), but I have many more objections to present, so will not go further into details about these two objections at this time.
In the New Testament, Christians are warned against the sin of partiality:
James 2:1-4 New American Standard Bible
The Sin of Partiality

My brethren, do not hold your faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ with an attitude of personal favoritism. 

For if a man comes into your assembly with a gold ring and dressed in fine clothes, and there also comes in a poor man in dirty clothes, 

and you pay special attention to the one who is wearing the fine clothes, and say, “You sit here in a good place,” and you say to the poor man, “You stand over there, or sit down by my footstool,” 

have you not made distinctions among yourselves, and become judges with evil motives?

This guidance from James for Christian believers has roots in the Old Testament:

Deuteronomy 1:16-17 New American Standard Bible

16 “Then I [Moses] charged your judges at that time, saying, ‘Hear the cases between your fellow countrymen, and judge righteously between a man and his fellow countryman, or the alien who is with him. 

17 You shall not show partiality in judgment; you shall hear the small and the great alike. You shall not fear man, for the judgment is God’s.

According to Moses, Jehovah himself judges in that manner:
Deuteronomy 10:17-18 New American Standard Bible

17 For the Lord your God is the God of gods and the Lord of lords, the great, the mighty, and the awesome God who does not show partiality nor take a bribe.

18 He executes justice for the orphan and the widow, and shows His love for the alien by giving him food and clothing.

Both the New Testament and the Old Testament are opposed to the sin of partiality.  This is important when it comes to legal matters and especially when someone is accused of a serious crime or sin.  The judge (and the jurors) in a criminal trial ought not to take gifts or bribes, either from the prosecution, or the alleged victim, or the victim’s family, or from the defense, or the defendant, or from the defendant’s family.
Someone who is rich or powerful should not be assumed to be innocent, nor should someone who is poor or powerless be assumed to be guilty.  Guilt or innocence should be determined by an impartial consideration of evidence that is relevant to the accusations against the defendant.  Innocence should be presumed of both rich and poor, both Israelite and Canaanite.  Only if there is clear and solid evidence of guilt should a person be convicted and condemned to death.
Imagine that, contrary to some of the previous complaints about injustices by Jehovah, that Jehovah had not been completely unjust and unfair to the Canaanites, and that before condemning them all to death, Jehovah required that specific charges be made against specific Canaanites and that trials were to be held and that witnesses were to testify providing evidence for and against the guilt of each accused Canaanite.
And since the Canaanites were unfamiliar with the laws of Jehovah, an Israelite expert on those laws would be appointed to each Canaanite defendant, to ensure that before any Canaanite was condemned to death or executed, they would first be given a fair trial (just as Jehovah insisted be the case for Israelites who were accused of serious crimes or sins).
Even in this idealistic circumstance, Jehovah cannot avoid serious charges of injustice, because there are a number of problems of partiality or BIAS that remain untouched by all of the above precautions.
BIAS #1: Geographical Bias
If the point of the slaughter of the Canaanites was to punish wickedness, then there was no good reason to create arbitrary geographical constraints on this mission.  The peop0le who lived in Palestine were not the only people who were involved with idols and worship of other gods.  They were not the only people who commited adultery.  They were not the only people involved with incest.  They were not the only people who engaged in homosexual sex.  So, if these are truly horrible sins that must be punished by the death penalty, then that is true of people who live outside of Palestine (or the “promised land”) as well as those who lived inside of Palestine.  It is unfair to severely punish people who happen to live in Palestine, yet leave completely unpunished people who are doing the same crimes or sins outside of Palestine.
23.  If Jehovah commanded the Israelites to slaughter every man, woman, and child who lived in Palestine (the “promised land”) as the death penalty for certain serious crimes or sins, but not to do this to other tribes and peoples living outside of Palestine, then JEHOVAH IS UNJUST, because it is unjust to distribute serious punishments (such as the death penalty) for certain crimes to people based on their geographic location.   
BIAS #2: Ethnicity Bias
If the point of the slaughter of the Canaanites was to punish wickedness, then there was no good reason to create arbitrary ethnic constraints on this mission.  The Canaanites were not the only people who were involved with idols and worship of other gods.  The Canaanites were not the only people who commited adultery.  The Canaanites were not the only people involved with incest.  The Canaanites were not the only people who engaged in homosexual sex.
24.  If Jehovah commanded the Israelites to slaughter people who were members of certain ethnic groups as the death penalty for certain serious crimes or sins, but not to do this to other ethnic groups, then JEHOVAH IS UNJUST, because it is unjust to distribute serious punishments (such as the death penalty) for certain crimes to people based on their ethnic group.  
BIAS # 3: Bias of Favoritism
Supposedly, the primary purpose of the slaughter of the Canaanites was to punish them with the death penalty for very serious crimes or sins.  But the serious sins are not consistently punished when the person doing the crime or sin was an Israelite, especially a leader or ‘hero’ of the Israelites.
One of my readers pointed out some examples of this bias:

Clay Jones states, “the Old Testament _unequivocally_ commands that those who do any one of these things deserves to die.” So far, you’ve highlighted the injustice of punishing non-Hebrews for Hebrew laws of which they are unaware. I would further highlight the injustice of failing to punish Hebrews for Hebrew laws of which they are aware.

  • With respect to idolatry, yhwh commands Moses to institute worship of Nehushtan (Num 21:4-9, 2Kings 18:1-7). This is the model by which the author of John suggest that the idolatry of Jeshua worship ought to be understood (JN 3:14-15). Moses is not given the death penalty.
  • With respect to incest, Abraham married his half-sister (Gen 20:11-13), a crime worthy of being cursed (DT 27:22). Abraham is not cursed, despite having yhwh’s law within his heart (PS 40:8, Heb 8:10).
  • With respect to adultery, David is not given the death penalty for adultery with Bathsheba and the murder of her husband (though his newborn son is; 2 Sam 12).
  • With respect to child sacrifice, Jephthah is not given the death penalty for sacrificing his daughter to yhwh (JG 11).

I’m not familiar with the example of Moses being involved in idolatry, but most of us are familiar with the story of Aaron creating the golden calf (an idol) for the Israelites to use in worship.  Aaron did not receive the death penalty for his involvement with creating an idol and encouraging worship involving that idol (see Exodus 32:1-6).
25.  If Jehovah commanded the slaughter of the Canaanites (men, women, and children) as capital punishement for the crimes or sins of idolatry, incest, adultery, child-sacrifice, homosexuality, and beastiality, then JEHOVAH IS UNJUST, because it is unjust to punish some people with the death penalty for certain sins or crimes when one does NOT apply the same severe punishment to certain people that one likes or favors.
BIAS # 4: Bias of Sexism
We have already seen some evidence of Jehovah’s sexism in the discussion about why RAPE doesn’t appear as one of the serious crimes or sins of the Canaanites.   There will be more evidence of sexism coming up in future posts, as I get into details concerning the crimes or sins in the list given by Clay Jones.  Just keep this one in mind when you read the next post in this series.
26. If Jehovah commanded the slaugher of the Canaanites (men, women, and children) as the death penalty for the crimes or sins of idolatry, incest, adultery, child-sacrifice, homosexuality, and beastiality, then JEHOVAH IS UNJUST, because Jehovah’s laws are sexist and at least two of the laws invoked here are sexist (concerning incest and adultery), thus the use of the death penalty in this way is biased against women. 
I believe there is also a sexist bias against men involved here, because the death penalty for homosexual sex only applies to men, and not to women (if I remember correctly – I will check on this and do an update in the next post).
BIAS # 5: Bias of Vested Interest
According to the O.T. the Israelites desired to have the land of the Canaanites.  According to the O.T. the Israelites had an expectation that they would soon live in and possess the land where the Canaanites lived.  According to the O.T. Jehovah had promised the Israelites that they would settle in the land where the Canaanites lived.  Given this background, it is clear that both Jehovah and the Israelites had a vested interest in the proposal to slaughter the Canaanites (men, women, and children).  If the Israelites were to slaughter the Canaanites (men, women, and children), then they could easily take possession of the land that the Canaanites had previously settled and occupied.
No judge or juror would be allowed (in the USA) to hear a capital case in which the judge or juror had such an obvious and significant vested interest in finding the defendant guilty.  Thus, even if Jehovah had required trials for each and every Canaanite before condemning any Canaanite to death, those trials could not possibly be fair, because the judge and the jurors would have had an obvious and significant vested interest in the outcome of those trials.
27. If Jehovah commanded the Israelites to slaughter the Canaanites (men, women, and children) as capital punishment for certain serious crimes or sins, then JEHOVAH IS UNJUST, because it is unjust for a person accused of a capital crime to be condemned to death by a judge and jury who have an obvious and significant vested interest in the accused person being found to be guilty.
To be continued…

bookmark_borderThe Slaughter of the Canaanites – Part 3

In Part 2 of this series, I began to discuss the Conservative response to the Old Testament stories about Jehovah commanding the Israelites to slaughter the Canaanites:
The Conservative Christian response:

The story of the slaughter of the Canaanites is FACTUAL, but Jehovah was morally justified in commanding the Israelites to slaughter the Canaanites (men, women, and children) in Palestine.

I also introduced an example of this Conservative approach, namely an article by the Christian apologist Clay Jones. Here is a brief summary of that article:
The “new atheists” call God’s commands to kill the Canaanites “genocide,” but a closer look at the horror of the Canaanites’ sinfulness, exhibited in rampant idolatry, incest, adultery, child sacrifice, homosexuality, and bestiality, reveals that God’s reason for commanding their death was not genocide but capital punishment. After all, the Old Testament unequivocally commands that those who do any one of these things deserves to die.          (from the article “Killing the Canaanites”)
There are so many problems with this attempt to provide a moral justification of Jehovah’s command to slaughter the Canaanites (men, women, and children) that I hardly know where to begin.  I have more than a dozen objections to present right now, and I may end up with over two dozen objections by the time I’m finished examining Jones’s attempted justification of Jehovah:
1. If Jehovah commanded the killing of babies as capital punishment for a crime or sin, then JEHOVAH IS UNJUST, because it is unjust to use the death penalty on babies.
2. If Jehovah commanded the killing of babies as capital punisment for crimes or sins committed by the babies, then JEHOVAH IS UNJUST, because it is unjust to severely punish a person who is not capable of understanding the difference between right and wrong.
3. If Jehovah commanded the killing of babies as capital punishment for crimes or sins committed by their parents (or other adults), then JEHOVAH IS UNJUST, because it is unjust to punish a child for the sins or crimes of their parents (or other adults).
4. If Jehovah commanded the killing of young children as capital punishment, then JEHOVAH IS UNJUST, because it is unjust to use the death penalty on young children.
5. If Jehovah commanded the killing of young children as capital punisment for crimes or sins committed by the young children, then JEHOVAH IS UNJUST, because it is unjust to severely punish a person who is not capable of fully understanding the difference between right and wrong or fully understanding the negative consequences of their wrong actions.
6. If Jehovah commanded the killing of young children as capital punishment for crimes or sins committed by their parents (or other adults), then JEHOVAH IS UNJUST, because it is unjust to punish a child for the sins or crimes of their parents (or other adults).
7. If Jehovah commanded the killing of persons with significant mental disabilities as capital punishment, then JEHOVAH IS UNJUST, because it is unjust to use the death penalty on persons with significant mental disabilities.
8. If Jehovah commanded the killing of persons with significant mental disabilities as capital punishment for crimes or sins committed by those persons with significant mental disabilities, then  JEHOVAH IS UNJUST, because it is unjust to severely punish a person who is not capable of fully understanding the difference between right and wrong or fully understanding the negative consequences of their wrong actions.
9. If Jehovah commanded the killing of persons with significant mental disabilities as capital punishment for crimes or sins committed by their parents (or other adults), then JEHOVAH IS UNJUST, because it is unjust to punish a person with significant mental disabilities for the sins or crimes of their parents (or other adults).
I’m just starting to get warmed up.  You can begin to see already, I hope, that Jones’s attempt to show that Jehovah was morally justified in commanding the Israelites to slaughter the Canaanites (men, women, and children) actually raises a number of  reasons to doubt the moral goodness and fairness of Jehovah.
The objections above concern persons who are not fully morally accountable for their actions (babies, young children, and persons with significant mental disabilities).  There are other objections that relate to normal moral agents, to moral agents who are fully morally accountable for their actions.
Before I go on listing more of the various injustices that Jehovah committed (based on Jones’s veiwpoint), there is one very important injustice that I want to mention now.  From Jones’s point of view, which is shared by Catholics and conservative Evangelical Christians, if a wicked person dies before repenting of his/her sins, then that person will end up being punished eternally in hell for their sins; such a person will be in misery for all eternity.
Given this assumption, when faced with a person who is believed to be wicked and who has not yet repented of their sins, the one thing that one ought to refrain from doing, at almost any cost, is to refrain from killing that person.  That is because in killing such a person we would not merely be ending his or her life and any chances of further pleasure and happiness in this life, but we would be ensuring that he or she would spend eternity in misery.
On the one hand, the idea that Jehovah created hell and plans to put many human beings in hell where they will suffer and be miserable for all eternity is itself a very powerful reason to believe that JEHOVAH IS UNJUST.
But let’s set the injustice of eternal punishment aside for a moment, and assume for the sake of argument that hell could (somehow) be morally justified, this would mean it was cruel and unloving to kill a wicked person, since (based on traditional Christian beliefs) doing so will ensure that the wicked person will have no further opportunity to repent, and thus ensure that the wicked person will spend eternity in hell and eternity in misery.
10. If Jehovah commanded the killing of thousands of wicked persons, as Jones asserts, then JEHOVAH IS CRUEL and UNKIND, because the killing of those persons (based on traditional Christian theological beliefs) ensures that not only will those persons be deprived of any further opportunities for pleasure or happiness in this life, but ensures that those persons will have no further opportunities to repent and thus ensures they will suffer and be in misery for all eternity.
The obvious alternative to commanding the slaughter of the Cannaanites is that the Israelites should have been commanded by Jehovah to put their own lives at risk, and to sacrifice their own lives if necessary, in order to work as evangelists and missionaries to the Canaanites, to preach and teach and persuade and encourage the Cannanites to repent of their wicked ways and to begin to worship the true God, etc.
Jones provides a list of sins that he believes morally justify the use of capital punishment against the Canaanites, and he notes that  “the Old Testament unequivocally commands that those who do any one of these things deserves to die.”  Of course you cannot actually command that an act become something for which one deserves to die.  You can command that a person be killed for doing such-and-such, but that does NOT mean that doing such-and-such is truly worthy of the punishment of death.
Laws can be unjust by assigning punishments that are too severe or that are too light.  The punishment for a crime, should fit the crime.  The greater a crime or sin, the worse the punishment should be.  Minor crimes or sins should receive minor punishments, and serious crimes or sins should receive more significant punishments.  This is a basic principle of justice.
It is important to note not only what Jones includes in his list of crimes or sins, but what he fails to include as well.  The absence of two crimes or sins, in particular, is of great significance: working on the Sabbath and rape.  Here is what Jehovah’s laws say about working on the sabbath day:
 Exodus 31:14-15 American Standard Version

14 Ye shall keep the sabbath therefore; for it is holy unto you: every one that profaneth it shall surely be put to death; for whosoever doeth any work therein, that soul shall be cut off from among his people.

15 Six days shall work be done, but on the seventh day is a sabbath of solemn rest, holy to Jehovah: whosoever doeth any work on the sabbath day, he shall surely be put to death.

According to Jehovah, the punishment for doing “any work on the sabbath day” was the death penalty.  Did the Canaanites observe the sabbath day?  Did the Canaanites always refrain from doing any work on the sabbath?   I don’t think so.  The Cannanites, no doubt, did some work on the sabbath, and probably did a great deal of work on some sabbath days.  So, based on Jones’s reasoning, the Cannanites all deserve the death penalty for working on the sabbath day, contrary to the Ten Commandments.
So, why doesn’t Jones include working on the sabbath day in his list of horrible sins?  According to Jehovah, this is a sin so grevious that someone who commits this sin deserves to die.  But for some reason this sin doesn’t make Jones’s list.
There are some obvious reasons why working on the sabbath day doesn’t appear on Jones’s list, even though it fits with his line of reasoning.  Nobody would buy Jones’s justification of Jehovah, if it was based on the sin or crime of working on the sabbath.  The problem is that there are obvious objections here that would cast further doubt on the goodness and fairness of Jehovah:
If Jehovah commanded the killing of the Canaanites as punishment for the sin or crime of working on the sabbath day, then JEHOVAH IS UNJUST, because the sin or crime of working on the sabbath is NOT deserving of the death penalty.
If Jehovah commanded the killing of the Canaanites as punishment for the sin or crime of working on the sabbath day, then JEHOVAH IS UNJUST, because the Canaanites were unaware of the law requiring that they not work on the sabbath day.
Similar objections can be raised against some of the sins  or crimes that do appear on Jones’s list:
11. If Jehovah commanded the killing of the Canaanites as punishment for the sin or crime of idolatry (worshipping other gods besides Jehovah), then JEHOVAH IS UNJUST, because the sin or crime of idolatry is NOT deserving of the death penalty.
12. If Jehovah commanded the killing of the Canaanites as punishment for the sin or crime of idolatry (worshipping other gods besides Jehovah), then JEHOVAH IS UNJUST, because the Canaanites were unaware of the law requiring that they not worship other gods besides Jehovah.
13. If Jehovah commanded the killing of the Canaanites as punishment for the sin or crime of adultery, then JEHOVAH IS UNJUST, because the sin or crime of adultery is NOT deserving of the death penalty.
14. If Jehovah commanded the killing of the Canaanites as punishment for the sin or crime of adultery, then JEHOVAH IS UNJUST, because the Canaanites were unaware of the law requiring that they not commit adultery.
15. If Jehovah commanded the killing of the Canaanites as punishment for the sin or crime of homosexuality (i.e. sex between two or more males or between two or more females), then JEHOVAH IS UNJUST, because the sin or crime of homosexuality is NOT deserving of the death penalty.
16. If Jehovah commanded the killing of the Canaanites as punishment for the sin or crime of homosexuality (i.e. sex between two or more males or between two or more females), then JEHOVAH IS UNJUST, because the Canaanites were unaware of the law requiring that they not commit the sin or crime of homosexuality.
17. If Jehovah commanded the killing of the Canaanites as punishment for the sin or crime of beastiality (i.e. sex between a human and a non-human animal), then JEHOVAH IS UNJUST, because the sin or crime of beastiality is NOT deserving of the death penalty.
18. If Jehovah commanded the killing of the Canaanites as punishment for the sin or crime of beastiality (i.e. sex between a human and a non-human animal), then JEHOVAH IS UNJUST, because the Canaanites were unaware of the law requiring that they not commit the sin or crime of beastiality.
It is unjust to punish a person for violation of a law that was not published or well communicated and documented.  This is also a basic principle of justice.  So, if Jehovah commanded the Israelites to kill the Canaanites for disobeying Jehovah’s laws (like the Ten Commandements), then JEHOVAH IS UNJUST, because Jehovah would be commanding that people be punished for violating laws that were not published or well communicated to the Canaanites.
Why is it that RAPE is missing from Jones’s list of horrible sins?  Surely some Canaanites were guilty of the crime of rape, and so that would provide yet another potential justification for application of the death penalty to the Canaanites.  The main reason why rape does not appear on Jones’s list is that it is not a capital offense in the laws of Jehovah:
Deuteronomy 22:28-29 American Standard Version

28 If a man find a damsel that is a virgin, that is not betrothed, and lay hold on her, and lie with her, and they be found;

29 then the man that lay with her shall give unto the damsel’s father fifty shekels of silver, and she shall be his wife, because he hath humbled her; he may not put her away all his days.

 That’s right.  If a married woman has consensual sex with a man other than her husband, then Jehovah commands that both the woman and her lover be put to death.  If two adult men have consensual sex, then Jehovah commands that both men be put to death.  If a mother works at cooking a meal for her children on the sabbath day, then Jehovah commands that she be put to death.
BUT if a forty year old man violently rapes a twelve year old girl, the punishment is NOT the death penalty for the man, but a fine of fifty shekels and mandatory marriage to the girl he raped.   That way the man can continue to rape the young girl any time he wants to, with no further punishment.  Clearly Jehovah shows no regard for the basic principle of justice that the punishment should fit the crime.
19.  If Jehovah commands the death penalty for adultery, homosexual sex, and sabbath violations, but let’s a rapist off with just a fine (and permanent access to continue raping the female victim), then JEHOVAH IS UNJUST, because not only are adultery, homosexual sex, and sabbath violations not serious enough to merit the death penalty, but they are clearly less serious than rape, which is always non-consensual sex and often involves significant violence against the victim, and yet Jehovah commands a punishment for rape that is significantly less than the death penalty, and JEHOVAH IS CRUEL and UNKIND, because Jehovah condemns to the victims of rape to be married to their rapist, providing the rapist with permanent access to continue raping the woman or girl.
Before the death penalty is allowed by Jehovah, a general legal requirement must be satisfied:
Numbers 35:30 New Revised Standard Version

30 If anyone kills another, the murderer shall be put to death on the evidence of witnesses; but no one shall be put to death on the testimony of a single witness.

Deuteronomy 17:6New Revised Standard Version

On the evidence of two or three witnesses the death sentence shall be executed; a person must not be put to death on the evidence of only one witness.
So, why should two or three witnesses testify to the guilt of a person in order to condemn that person to death?  Presumably, the point is to be as certain as humanly possible of the person’s guilt before imposing the very serious and irreversible punishment of the death penalty.  It is better to let some horrible crimes go unpunished than to severely punish a person who is actually innocent.  We want to avoid at all costs, imposing the death penalty on an innocent person.
Right now in the USA, the death penalty is being re-evaluated and looks to be on its way out.  One powerful argument for eliminating the death penalty is that it is extremely expensive to prosecute death-penalty cases.  This is because in the USA we want to be very sure that a person has received a fair trial and is truly guilty of a horrible crime before we impose the death penalty on him or her.  We believe that it is better to let some horrible crimes go unpunished than to impose the severe and irreversable punishment of the death penalty on an innocent person.
So, did two or three witnesses testify to the crimes committed by each and every Canaanite that Jehovah ordered to be killed?  Obviously not.  Did at least one witness testify to the crimes committed by each Canaanite that was put to death?  Obviously not.  There were NO TRIALS for any Canaanite.  There were NO WITNESSES who testified to the crimes of any specific Canaanite person who was killed.
Although Jehovah required there be at least two witnesses to testify to the guilt of the accused person before the death penalty could be used on an Israelite, there was no such constraint in this case.  Instead, thousands, perhaps tens of thousands of Canaanites were summarily condemned to death, without any trials, and without any evidence from any witnesses.
20. If Jehovah commanded the killing of thousands of Canaanites (men, women, and children) as capital punishment for sins or crimes they allegedly committed, and did so without requiring any trials to be held, and without requiring any witnesses to give evidence that any particular Canaanite committed some sin or crime worthy of death, then JEHOVAH IS UNJUST, because it is unjust to condemn a person to death for allegedly committing a horrible sin or crime when no trial has been held to determine whether the person is actually guilty and no evidence of that person’s guilt has been given by witnesses.
To be continued…
 

bookmark_borderThe Slaughter of the Canaanites – Part 2

In Part 1 of this series, I outlined three main Christian responses to the stories of Jehovah commanding the slaughter of the Canaanites and of the Israelites carrying out this command.  There are significant problems with each of the three Christian responses, but the response with the most obvious and most serious problems is the Conservative one.
1. The Conservative Christian response:

The story of the slaughter of the Canaanites is FACTUAL, but Jehovah was morally justified in commanding the Israelites to slaughter the Canaanites (men, women, and children) in Palestine.

I plan to take on this Conservative response first.  After flushing this stinky turd down the drain, I will then move on to point out a few problems with the Liberal and Moderate responses.
Before I start raising objections against the Conservative response, I want to take a moment to disagree with William Lane Craig’s high-level comment on the issue of the slaughter of the Canaanites.  Here is the comment by Craig that I have in mind:
The problem, it seems to me, is that if God could not have issued such a command, then the biblical stories must be false. Either the incidents never really happened but are just Israeli folklore; or else, if they did, then Israel, carried away in a fit of nationalistic fervor, thinking that God was on their side, claimed that God had commanded them to commit these atrocities, when in fact He had not. In other words, this problem is really an objection to biblical inerrancy.
[…]
Now that puts the issue in quite a different perspective! The question of biblical inerrancy is an important one, but it’s not like the existence of God or the deity of Christ! If we Christians can’t find a good answer to the question before us and are, moreover, persuaded that such a command is inconsistent with God’s nature, then we’ll have to give up biblical inerrancy. But we shouldn’t let the unbeliever raising this question get away with thinking that it implies more than it does.
Craig insists that the issue of the slaughter of the Canaanites is irrelevant to the question of “the existence of God or the deity of Christ”, but he is wrong on both counts.
Jehovah is portrayed as commanding the slaughter of the Canaanites (men, women, and children) in the O.T.,  thus Jehovah is a false god (because God is a perfectly morally good person).  But Jesus promoted worship of Jehovah, obedience to Jehovah, and prayer to Jehovah, thus Jesus promoted worship, obedience, and prayer to a false god.  That means that Jesus was a false prophet, and thus that Jesus cannot be the divine Son of God.  Jesus cannot be God Incarnate.  Thus, the issue of the slaughter of the Canaanites is of direct relevance to the question “Is Jesus the divine Son of God?”
Although the issue of the slaughter of the Canaanites might not be sufficient to prove that God does not exist, it certainly provides significant evidence against the existence of God.  One of the main arguments against the existence of God is the problem of evil, and there is hardly a better piece of evidence than the fact that millions of innocent Jews (men, women, and children) were slaughtered by Hitler and the Christian Germans who followed (or failed to actively resist) the leadership of Hitler.  The slaughter of the Canaanites, if the O.T. stories are factual and historical, is one more horrific example to add to the list of horrible things that God, if God exists, has allowed to take place.
Furthermore, it is clear and obvious to those of us not blinded by religious indoctrination and dogma, that the scriptures or holy books of the three great Western religious traditions are NOT divinely inspired documents, but rather are human creations reflecting all of the ignorance, stupidity, prejudice, hatred, hypocrisy and other foibles of the human authors of those writings.  The stories of the slaughtering of the Canaanites are just some of the many obvious indications that the Bible is a purely human work,  not a book authored by an all-wise and perfectly loving deity.  So, the slaughter of the Canaanites is an important piece of evidence against the divine inspiration of the Bible.  But similar problems exist with the Quran.  From where I sit, the scriptures of the three major Western religions are purely human works, and not inspired by God.
But billions of human beings are Jews, Christians, or Muslims, and they view these books as being inspired by God, despite the fact that the books, from a skeptical point of view, are OBVIOUSLY NOT insprired by God.  This is an indication that humans tend to be credulous on matters of religion.  These three great Western religious traditions share in common the worldview of THEISM, but these three religious traditions are, IMHO, obviously false religions being based on holy books that are beleived to be inspired by God when those books are clearly NOT inspired by God.
I admit that this does not, by itself, prove that God does not exist.  However, Christians believe that God wants to reveal himself to humankind, and I think they are reasonable in this belief; that is, IF God exists, THEN God would want to reveal himself to humankind and would make serious efforts to do so.  But the three great Western THEISTIC religious traditions are all false religions, so it looks to me (and many other independent critical thinkers) like God has made little or no effort to reveal himself to humankind.  This is powerful evidence supporting the view that there is no God.
Therefore, William Craig is WRONG on both counts.  The existence of God and the deity of Jesus are both at stake here, when we examine the issue of the slaughter of the Canaanites.
Here is how the Christian apologist Clay Jones summarizes his conservative approach to the O.T. stories of the slaughter of the Canaanites:
  The “new atheists” call God’s commands to kill the Canaanites “genocide,” but a closer look at the horror of the Canaanites’ sinfulness, exhibited in rampant idolatry, incest, adultery, child sacrifice, homosexuality, and bestiality, reveals that God’s reason for commanding their death was not genocide but capital punishment. After all, the Old Testament unequivocally commands that those who do any one of these things deserves to die. (from the article “Killing the Canaanites”)
There are so many obvious problems with this attempt to justify the slaughter of the Canaanites that it is hard to know where to start.  In just an hour I came up with a dozen objections to this attempt to justify the morality of Jehovah’s command to slaughter the Canaanites (men, women, and children).  I will present some of those objections in the next installment of this series.
In the meantime, please provide some of your own thoughts on Clay Jones’s attempt to justify Jehovah’s command. Perhaps there are a few problems or objections that I have missed.

bookmark_borderThis Knee Won’t Bow

Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
and gave him the name that is above every name,
that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.
Philipians 2:9-11 (NIV)
I don’t think so. Not this knee. This knee will NOT be bowing at “the name of Jesus”.
My knee will remain straight and unbent, because I know and understand “the name of Jesus”. I know what this name means, and so I cannot in good conscience bow my knee to this name.
Jesus is Jehovah to me, and Jehovah is as good and as morally upright as Hitler, Stalin, and Mao.  There ain’t no way this knee will bow to Jehovah.  So, since Jehovah is immoral and unjust, and since Jesus is Jehovah, this knee will not bow to Jesus.
One reason why Jesus is Jehovah to me, is that Jesus was named after a bloodthirsty and genocidal murderer: Joshua. Because the parents of the carpenter from Galilee named their son after this ‘hero’ of the Old Testament, I infer that his parents admired this genocidal murderer. Because Jesus never changed or renounced his own name, I infer that Jesus probably also admired this genocidal murderer, and clearly he did not publically condemn the bloody deeds of Joshua.
Joshua claimed to be following the orders of Jehovah in leading the army of Israel to slaughter thousands of innocent men, women, teenagers, young children, babies, pregnant women (including their fetuses), dogs, donkeys, and cattle.
The carpenter from Galilee was in fact, named Joshua, after the ‘great warrior’ of the Old Testament by that name.  Jehovah ordered the brutal slaughter of thousands of innocent men, women, teenagers, young children, babies, etc.  Joshua made sure that the army of Israel carried out this order.  The man we call ‘Jesus’ was actually named ‘Joshua’ after the bloodthirsty genocidal murderer Joshua. So, Jesus is Joshua to me, and Joshua is Jehovah to me, so Jesus is Jehovah to me.
The very name “Jesus” comes from the bloodiest warrior/hero of the Old Testament: Joshua. The name “Jesus” is the English transliteration of the the greek name “Iesous” but the name “Iesous” is translated as “Joshua” in other cases where the founder of Christianity is not who is being referenced (Luke 3:29; Acts 7:45; Heb. 4:8).
The Hebrew name for the warrior “Joshua” was “Yehoshua.” In the Greek translation of the Old Testament known as the Septuagint, the Hebrew name “Yehoshua” (Joshua) was translated as “Iesous” which is the same name used of the son of Mary and Joseph in the Greek New Testament.
Jesus and his parents almost certainly spoke Aramaic rather than Greek, and the Aramaic form of the name of the Old Testament warrior Joshua was “Yeshua”, so Jesus was probably called “Yeshua” by friends and family members.  In other words, his actual name, in English, was: Joshua.
Read the book of Joshua, especially Chapters 6-12. It will probably take an hour or two to read those seven chapters. It is filled with slaughter and the glorification of genocidal violence. Here is just one example from Chapter 6:
Joshua said to the people “Shout! For the LORD has given you the city [Jericho]. The city and all that is in it shall be devoted to the LORD for destruction. …”
[…]
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 [around Jericho] fell down flat; so the people charged straight ahead into the city and captured it. 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.
[…]
They burned down the city, and everything in it; only the silver and gold, and the vessels of bronze and iron, they put into the treasury of the house of the LORD. (Joshua 6: 16-17, 20-21, & 24)
This genocidal warrior is the person that Mary and Joseph honored by giving his name to their son, the founder of Christianity.
Some believe I will face damnation unless I bow my knee to “the name of Jesus”,  but I’ll be damned if I ever bow my knee to the name of Jesus, because I know that would mean bowing my knee to the name of the genocidal murderer Joshua, and to name of the genocidal god Jehovah who gave Joshua the order to spill the blood of innocent grandparents, women, teenagers, young children, babies, and fetuses.