Saturday, February 23, 2013

The genocidal God of the Abrahamic religions

As an atheist brought up in a Christian household and educated in a Christian school, I - like many of my contemporaries- can recite the genocidal atrocities carried out by the God of the Old Testament with some ease, and I never cease to be amazed that anyone can worship a deity capable of the heinous and disgusting crimes against his own creation related in lip-smacking, blood-curdling detail in the "Good Book". 
Muslims of course smugly distance themselves from the bloody destruction of the manically jealous God of Exodus (killing the first-born of Egypt, wiping out of the Canaanites, Hivites, Perizzites, Jebusites et al) and Numbers (slaying of the Medianites with the specific exhortation to "kill every woman who has ever slept with a man" and the Medianite boys!) and Deuteronomy wherein infamously God told the Israelites to put to the sword everyone in any town where they worship a god other than him: "Destroy it completely, both people and its livestock"...) I could go on and on, but you get the picture.

The awful stuff related in the Bible can't be laid at the door of Allah, Muslims say, because the scriptures of the Christians and Jews have been tampered with. My convert friend explained it to me some years back like this:

Because Muslims believe that religious scriptures other than the Qur’an have been changed over time, we do not take these other scriptures as sources of evidence. Therefore, where they discuss matters that are not contradictory to Islam, we neither believe nor disbelieve in them. We merely note their discussions as points of interest.
 So if my friend is typical (and I have no reason to think he isn't) then Muslims - should they even be aware of the disgusting murderous sprees enjoyed by the Judeo-Christian god as recited in the Bible - will note the blood-letting, the infanticide, the rape and the slaughter "with interest" and move on, presumably telling themselves that these particular passages are the ones that have been changed over time. Surely the god of Islam has been misrepresented, they doubtless tell themselves. Surely the "Most Merciful" wouldn't go around telling His people to bash babies' brains out ("The people of Samaria must bear their guilt, because they have rebelled against their God. They will fall by the sword;">their little ones will be dashed to the ground, their pregnant women ripped open." Hosea 13:160.

There is no doubt that many Muslims are keen to throw doubt upon Allah killing the whole of humanity in what must be the most audacious and awe-inspiring crime against humanity in history when He drowned everyone except Noah and his immediate family. Modern Muslims now claim it was purely a "local flood" - more credible perhaps but morally only slightly less despicable...

But what of the wiping out of entire nations because of some apparent slight perceived by the lunatic jealous deity? I bet that's one Muslim readers are keen lay at the hands of the evil redactors: "Yeah, well - I note the homicidal rage and genocidal tendencies with interest, but I can't really say I believe it ..."

But Allah is actually quite keen to have us remember that he was partial to a bit of genocide in the Qur'an. For what are we to make of 21:6?

 Not one of the communities that We destroyed in bygone times would ever believe [their prophets]: will these, then, [be more willing to] believe?

Or 21:11?

 How many were the nations We utterly destroyed because of their iniquities, setting up in their places other peoples?
If we take these verses at face value then it seems pretty clear that the god of the Qur'an is the same murderous psychopathic genocidal one of the Old Testament. But whereas liberal Christians can admit the OT is a collection of myths, Muslims MUST take every word of the Qur'an as...well gospel.


  1. The wiping out of peoples was done as a warning to us. It is one of the signs - "why then will you not believe"?

  2. @Spinoza,
    Don't you think God would have the right to kill His creations? After all, He creates the body and soul of all creatures, according to every religion. In addition, in the OT, the reason for killing idolators is that they indulged in practices like sacrificing their own children, ans well as ritual orgies.

  3. You quoted Hosea. That is supposed to be a prophecy, not a commandment to kill etc. If God makes the body, mind and soul of all creatures, then he will have the right to do with them as he pleases, don't you think?

  4. So because god creates living creatures he has a right to kill them? You'd have to be truly inflicted with a religious virus to think such a thing.

    And by the way the killings of the Abrahamic god had nothing to do with orgies and child sacrifice but to do with a jealous god envious of people who worshipped other gods and wanted them killed for so doing. As Exodus 23 and many other places reveals:

    Exodus 23:23-24 For mine Angel shall go before thee, and bring thee in unto the Amorites, and the Hittites, and the Perizzites, and the Canaanites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites: and I will cut them off. Thou shalt not bow down to their gods, nor serve them, nor do after their works: but thou shalt utterly overthrow them, and quite break down their images.

    If god was concerned about the people's orgies and child sacrifices then why would he order in some cases to kill all men, women, children and livestock but insist they keep the virgin girls alive for their booty (no pun intended)? It was god who was encouraging orgies by the capture of virgin girls and endorsing human sacrifice by demanding the wholesale slaughter of entire nations.

    For a little orgy or even child sacrifice if that was the case, couldn't god who is supposedly so awesome, not find some humane way to convince them otherwise. As an all powerful being you'd think he could change their ways by some means at his omnipotent disposable to sway them away from such practices without resorting to mass slaughter and suffering.

    And where is your god today? There are more orgies happening today than probably ever before (check the internet and swingers parties!). And as for child sacrifice it still happens, check some of these religions that believe children are possessed by witches.


  5. Regarding Noah's flood the Qur'an is quite vague on detail. It assumes the reader is aware of the story in the Bible or maybe Muhammad was not too clear on the details. But most likely the Qur'an meant a global flood as per the Bible. But the reference in the Qur'an does leave room for Muslims to wriggle out of it.

    But putting 2 and 2 together one can easily derive a global flood:

    71:26-27 "And Noah said: `O my Lord! Leave not of the Unbelievers, a single one on earth! For if Thou dost leave (any of them), they will but mislead Thy devotees, and they will breed none but wicked ungrateful ones.'"

    For no unbelievable to be left alive on earth, it would mean that the flood would have had to cover the entire earth. As there would have been unbelievers in all continents, Africa, the Americas, Asia, Europe and Australasia.

    Then we have the following:
    37:75-77 75 And Noah verily prayed unto Us, and gracious was the Hearer of his prayer. And We saved him and his household from the great distress, And made his seed the survivors,

    Here Allah only mentions saving Noah and his household making his seed the survivors. Everyone else on earth must have been drowned.

    Then there is:
    21:76-77 And Noah, when he cried of old, We heard his prayer and saved him and his household from the great affliction. And delivered him from the people who denied Our revelations. Lo! they were folk of evil, therefor did We drown them all.

    Again Allah only mentions saving Noah and his family. And distinctly states "We drown them all". To drown all the people that did not believe in Allah it would have had to have been a global flood.

    Sorry to be so long.


  6. @Azim,
    "So because god creates living creatures he has a right to kill them? You'd have to be truly inflicted with a religious virus to think such a thing."
    Let us not start by insulting each other. Actually, I'm not religious at all. But consider this: If I make a clay vessel, I can store water in it, use it as a chamber-pot, or break it. The choice is mine, because I made it and I possess it. The same goes for God and His creations.

    "The killings of the Abrahamic god"
    I don't undrestand why only the 'Abrahamic god' is treated this way; the gods of say, Hinduism are no different:

    "He who dwells fixed in the atmosphere, smiting the blasphemers of the god that do not sacrifice, to him be reverence with ten sakvarî-stanzas!" [Atharvaveda 11:2:23]

    "Slay everyone who pours no gift, who, hard to reach, delights thee not. Bestow on us what wealth he hath: this even the worshipper awaits." [Rigveda 1:176:4]

    " Among the Kikatas what do thy cattle? They pour no milky draught, they heat no caldron.
    Bring thou to us the wealth of Pramaganda;give up to us, O Maghavan, the low-born." [Rigveda 3:53:14]

    Maghavan is one of the names of the god Indra, cognate to Zeus. In the Ramayana, the monkey-god Hanuman burned the city of Lanka, including women and children. In the Bhagavatam, Krishna, the avatar of the god Vishnu, with his all-powerful disc-weapon, 'Sudarshana', burned down the city of Kashi (Varanasi or Benares today).

    Orgies and child sacrifice are the reason, not simply idolatry:
    "Thou shalt not do so unto YHWH thy God: for every abomination to YHWH, which He hateth, have they done unto their gods; for even their sons and their daughters they have burnt in the fire to their gods." [Deuteronomy 12:31]

    And there were also sodomites in the land: and they did according to all the abominations of the nations which YHWH cast out before the children of Israel. [1 Kings 14:24]

    If you look at the golden calf incident, you will see that the people were naked:

  7. "And when Moses saw that the people were naked; (for Aaron had made them naked unto their shame among their enemies:)" [Exodus 32:25]

    "There shall be no whore(qedesha) of the daughters of Israel, nor a sodomite (qadesh) of the sons of Israel." [Deuteronomy 23:17]

    Qadesh literally merans holy. These were sacred prostitutes, employed in the temples of Asherah.

    In Leviticus 18, YHWH gives a long list of various sexual sins the Israelites were to avoid, including not "uncovering the nakedness" of one's father, mother, father's wife, sister, and so on, until finally He says:

    "Defile not ye yourselves in any of these things: for in all these the nations are defiled which I cast out before you:" [Leviticus 18:24]

    So the reason the Canaanites were wiped out was because they did these things, and idolatry was associated with orgies and child sacrifices. Why were virgin girls kept? Because they had not indulged in these orgies. And they were to be married, not to be simply 'kept': see Deuteronomy 21:10-14.

    Couldn't God who was so awesome not find some humane way to convince them otherwise? In the OT, Balaam is a prophet of the Midianites. The Israelites seemed to believe that there were prophets of YHWH among other nations as well. So yes, it is probable that YHWH sent prophets to them (let's pretend these things are not myths, but real history).

    Then there is the case of Rahab, who surrendered to the Israelites and was spared. In Joshua 2:9-13:

    "And she said unto the men, I know that YHWH hath given you the land, and that your terror is fallen upon us, and that all the inhabitants of the land faint because of you. 10For we have heard how YHWH dried up the water of the Red sea for you, when ye came out of Egypt; and what ye did unto the two kings of the Amorites, that were on the other side Jordan, Sihon and Og, whom ye utterly destroyed. 11And as soon as we had heard these things, our hearts did melt, neither did there remain any more courage in any man, because of you: for YHWH your God, he is God in heaven above, and in earth beneath. 12Now therefore, I pray you, swear unto me by YHWH, since I have shewed you kindness, that ye will also shew kindness unto my father's house, and give me a true token: 13And that ye will save alive my father, and my mother, and my brethren, and my sisters, and all that they have, and deliver our lives from death."

    So yes, those who could be convinced, were convinced. And how can God "change their ways", as you say, without it affecting their free will? Also, what about all the murders, orgies they had done already? Should there be no punishment for that?

    "And where is your god today?"
    You probably think I'm Jewish or Christian. Well, I'm not.

    "There are more orgies happening today than probably ever before"
    The issue in the OT is not how many orgies happen, but how prevalent they are. In Genesis 15:16, YHWH says:

    "for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet full."

    So the amount of sin has to reach a certain level before YHWH steps in.

  8. Varma, apologies it wasn't meant to be an insult, I was just astonished that one would agree with a god killing out life he created because they did not worship him.

    I said Abrahamic god because that is what the post was about. Trying to justify Yahweh's actions on the basis of intolerance in other mythical writings, be it Egyptian, Hindu, Greek whatever does not make it right.

    Forget the clay vessel. Parents make their kids, do they have the right to destroy them at will if they curse them, as god does give sanction for that?

    We can create babies in the lab now thru artificial insemination. Would we have the right to destroy that life?

    You may claim that man does not create the life it is ultimately god who does. But without proof of god the only evidence of who made a child we have is the parents. But that does not give them the right to murder them.

    But just from a logical standpoint, any loving parent who sees their children going off track, doing wrong, they would do whatever was in their power to rehabilitate them. They wouldn't violently go round smiting them.

    Such a god makes no sense and is obviously the concoction of primitive man.


  9. I assume Varma is playing Devil's advocate here.

    I can't think of a better analogy than Azim's to counter the argument that God has the absolute "right" to destroy what he created.

    I referred only to the Abrahamic God purely because this blog is about my concerns over my friend's conversion to Islam and, by extension, my incomprehension of and frustration with some of the arguments used to justify belief in such a (to me) barbaric deity.

  10. God and Abrahamic religions aside, I think it's going too far to say killing is immoral or despicable - sometimes you have to kill (such as when in danger), sometimes its merciful to kill (such as Euthanasia), sometimes its necessary to kill (such as when quarantine-ing a disease, virus or illness for example)

    In the Abrahamic religious context: exterminating an entire globe of people is understandable if those people are have a combination of qualities that fulfill all of the above. My objection with the above verse is the methodology: if God wants to exterminate his creation, why swords and ripping? A being capable of creating a Universe shouldn't really need such a hands on approach

  11. Spinoza,
    Why have you not published my last comment?

  12. sorry Varma - can you post it again? I either deleted it in error or it did't get through. Nothing personal!

    1. Spinoza,
      No problem!
      You wrote:
      "I assume Varma is playing Devil's advocate here."
      No, I'm trying to show that labeling God as genocidal, psychopathic etc. are unjustifiable.

      Azim had written:
      "I was just astonished that one would agree with a god killing out life he created because they did not worship him."
      I think have very clearly shown that the reason God caused the destruction of the Canaanites was because of their child sacrifices and orgies etc.

      God has been compared to the parents of a child. But do parents really create their child? Think about it. Each parent contributes a haploid set of genes selected by his/her germ cells by juggling the parent's own genes by meiosis. Neither parent has any control over this process. Next, the sperm and eggs are released. Neither parent has any control over which sperm or egg(s) they release. Then comes fertilization. Neither parent can control which sperm fertilizes the egg. After that, the unimaginably complex process of development. Neither parent, again, has any control over this process either. All said, how can one say that the parents create their child? My clay vessel analogy is better.

      Even so, parents can punish their child for wrongdoing. Similarly, God can punish men for sinning. God can mete out death as punishment because He is the master of life and death; He created life, and He can resurrect the dead. Since He has power over death, He can definitely deal out death.

      Azim said "any loving parent who sees their children going off track, doing wrong, they would do whatever was in their power to rehabilitate them."
      Refer Genesis 15:16. Every man has his conscience. That is the voice of God calling out to them. Also, in the OT, God judges only after sending messengers: Enoch and Noah to the pre-flood generations, Moses, Aaron and Miriam to the Egyptians, Balaam to the Midianites, and all the miracles that YHWH had accomplished as signs to the Canaanites. Only after all these warnings did He judge them.

      Jasmine has asked a pertinent question: why did YHWH cause the destruction of the Canaanites by the hands of the Israelites? Poetic justice, perhaps? There is archaeological evidence that the Amorites had destroyed other peoples in a similar way. That could be the reason. It is to be noted that in the OT, when Israel and Judah later adopted the same practices as the Canaanites, they were destroyed in the same way by the Assyrians and Babylonians.

    2. You have taken issue with God striking down the firstborn of the Egyptians. You however conveniently choose to forget that the Egyptians killed all male Israelite babies. But have you heard of the Pidyon HaBen ceremony? Jews do it even today. God in the Torah declared that every firstborn male child and animal of Israel belonged to Him, and had to be bought back. This was for all generations. The God of the Old Testament is definitely just.

    3. Hi Varma - I didn't choose to forget, I just don't hold with the ancient "eye for an eye" form of justice/morality.
      Were such a morality correct then, by extension, God could have rightly carried out a holocaust against all the German families in 1945 - wiping out fathers, mothers, children, grandparents until six million had been eradicated and the slate wiped clean. Would we have praised such an action as worthy of God - perhaps commemorating God's righteous wrath with the odd ceremony or two? Or would we have stood in silent dismay - cursing the bloody madness of such a cruel deity?

    4. Spinoza,
      "I just don't hold with the ancient "eye for an eye" form of justice/morality."
      "Eye for an eye" IS justice, and is moral, whether you hold with it or not.
      As I have written before-- God is the master of life and death, He creates life, He has the power to reverse death, so He has the right to destroy life. God is not cruel or mad. In any case, how can you point a finger at God, when you have probably committed several "genocides" yourself? I admit that in my short life I have already killed billions of bacteria, a few million fungi, a few thousands of amoebae, and since I live in a tropical developing country, perhaps a few worms in my childhood.

      We are to the Creator of the whole universe, and who knows, other universes too, what mice, or ants, or even bacteria are to us. Even lesser, because we ever created these creatures. But God brought forth even the atoms that make our bodies. I will say it once again-- God can create life, God can reverse death, so God can kill.

    5. More importantly, it is to be noted that Pharaoh and the Egyptians had "hardened their hearts" against YHWH.They got ten chances to save themselves. When all were rejected, then only did God judge the Egyptians.

    6. who is YHWH?? and who according to u is GOD??

  13. @Varma "Eye for an eye" IS justice, and is moral..."

    "An eye for an eye will only make the world go blind"
    - Mahatama Gandhi

    1. Do you think half the world will pluck the eyes off the other half?
      It is to be remembered that Gandhi himself was no pacifist. He didn't oppose the formation of India's military forces. His policies of Ahimsa were practical in the Indian context; the Indians were weak militarily and economically and couldn't afford to rise up in arms against the British Raj.

      We are not discussing a man's actions; we're discussing God's judgments on Egypt. God can punish the Egyptians because He is their creator.

    2. Varma,
      Are you getting your information about what God does/did/is capable of... from the Bible? And in which case are you basing your morality upon the lessons God apparently teaches us therein?
      In which case you presumably believe that it is right to:
      i. kill children who don't respect their parents
      ii. kill those who work on the Sabbath
      iii. kill those who commit bestiality (and the poor beast being abused!)
      iv. kill witches

      do I need to carry on?

      This blog is about the inherent irrationality of Islam purely because of my personal experience (and my concerns over those who convert because of "science") but surely to goodness one can't question the apparent illogicality and perversity of the Islamic miracle seekers if one holds such a book (the Bible)to be true!

    3. Hi Spinoza,
      I am not Jewish or Christian, so I can question as well as appreciate the Bible. I'm not Muslim, so I can question as well as appreciate the Qur'an. I'm no longer Hindu, so I can question and appreciate the Vedas.

      I can discuss the four points you raised, but before that, a short anecdote, and then a question. Please bear with me...

      The anecdote first:
      This happened when I was in my last year of high school, when a new Physics teacher joined the staff. He wasn't a very good teacher, and was often unpleasant to the students. I, along with most others, despised him. But one morning, when I walked past the boys' room after reaching school, I saw some graffiti on the wall adjacent to it. Now graffiti was not tolerated, and there was a lot of it. I then saw that it was a few lines of a Hindi rap song, "dedicated" to the Physics teacher. The whole school was buzzing with rumours by then. That day, none of our teachers took classes for us. Our English teacher, an otherwise nice (although a bit strict) lady, was highly incensed. She declared that whoever had written that was not a civilized human being, and that if her child had written it, she would first throttle him. Now I had disliked the man, but when we read the scrawls, we were shocked and felt very bad. I remember my friend VK and I telling each other that no one deserved such a treatment. Now what do you think about the English teacher's declaration?

      Next, the question:
      To whom does one's body belong? To himself? I don't think so. At least, not entirely. Parents, as I explained in my previous comments, don't create the body, but they are, the cause of it. The parents conceive the child, the mother bears him within her, she gives birth to him, then they care of him for eighteen years, feeding, clothing, cleaning, taking care in sickness and suffering, asking for nothing in return. One is totally indebted to his parents. Then, imagine if the son, having grown up, begins to rebel against his parents, begins to drink away their hard-earned wealth, begins to disrupt society, and does not correct himself after chastisement. On top of it, he publicly curses the very people who begot him and gave life to him. Does he not forfeit his right to life? Think about it.

  14. I posted this yesterday but it did not appear so I try again:

    Varma says "More importantly, it is to be noted that Pharaoh and the Egyptians had "hardened their hearts" against YHWH"

    But Varma if you read the bible more carefully you will see that it wasn't Pharaoh and the Egyptians who had "hardened their hearts". No quite the contrary:

    Ex 9:12 And the LORD hardened the heart of Pharaoh, and he hearkened not unto them;

    So it was god who, with his omnipotent powers, hardened their hearts and then used that as an motive to slaughter them.

    Its like a parent framing a child for a crime and then punishing them for it.

    Not a very nice god if you ask me.

    And Spinoza, based on all these posts, I don't think Varma is playing the Devils advocate, more like s/he is right there in the thick of it with Him.


    1. Azim,
      Confession time: I was waiting for someone to point this out. :)

      You are right, YHWH did harden Pharaoh's heart. But did He alone do it? No, Pharaoh himself hardened his heart: see Exodus 8:15, 8:32, 9:34.

      Now in Deuteronomy a parallel phrase is used: circumcising one's heart. In Deuteronomy 10:17, Israel is instructed to circumcise their hearts. Yet in the same book, it says that if they obey YHWH their God with all their HEART and soul (30:2) then He will have compassion on them, return them to their land, multiply them, and then He would circumcise their hearts (30:6).
      YHWH will circumcise the Israelites' heart if they first obey Him. So hardening or circumcising hearts isn't a one-way street. Pharaoh hardened his heart first and so YHWH gave additional hardening.Look at it like this: Pharaoh banged the door shut in YHWH's face, and so He locked it from outside. But He opened it afterwards: Pharaoh admitted that YHWH was right: Exodus 8:28, 9:27.

    2. "More like s/he is right there in the thick of it worth Him." Demonizing me now, eh? Well, I'm not surprised! Oh and BTW, I'm a he. :)

  15. Varma, I think you are taking the myths of the bible way too seriously.

    But that is your prerogative and right and I have nothing against that.

    I just argue from my point of view especially when I see people devalue the preciousness of life, not only of human beings but all creatures, based on the doctrines of books written thousands of years ago that clearly has little place in 21st century morality and lifestyle.

    When I was a Muslim I also thought God had the right to do whatever he wanted and if he did it must be good because God is the ultimate good.

    Now I'm out of the bonds of religion I see how myopic my views were. I see how people could take their believes so seriously that they think they are doing God's will and end up devaluing the lives of others in so many detrimental ways.

    And no I'm not demonising you. I was just responding to Spin's remark that you were playing the devils advocate. Meaning you're pretending to support the bible. My statement was implying you are not 'pretending' to support the bible, but are genuinely doing so.


    1. Azim,
      Chill! No offense taken. I am sorry if I gave you the feeling that I was offended.

      "I think you are taking the myths of the bible way too seriously."
      There are three different things we're discussing here, actually. One is if God (as all theistic religions define Him) can punish His creations. The second is if YHWH is "genocidal" or not. I think I have shown clearly that He is not. The third thing which Spinoza started is if certain Biblical laws are immoral or not. My opinion on this topic is that these laws which seem harsh to us were necessary in more barbarous times, and that in some cases, whether something is right or wrong depends upon your worldview. And you cannot say that this worldview is wrong and that the other is right.

      I'll tell you what I'm doing here. Have you heard of the Shiva Trilogy? Or better, read it? An Indian writer, Amish Tripathi has written this three-part novel on Shiva the Hindu god. According to Amish, Shiva was a great man who lived in 1900 BC India, and subsequent generations deified him.

      Now if we were to discuss if Shiva in the novel is a noble hero or not, that would be like the second issue (YHWH's character). It matters little whether I personally believe Shiva lived or not. If we were to discuss what is heroic and what is not, that would be like the first topic. Lastly, I agree that some laws written in around 1300 BC have little bearing in the 21st century. But that is one of the doctrines of Christianity: how some of the laws God gave to the Israelites was because of their own depravity. To really understand the reason for these laws, we must go back in time to that age. Then we can appreciate what these laws are for.

  16. Varma: "..if YHWH is "genocidal" or not. I think I have shown clearly that He is not."
    I really don't think you have shown that at all. Flimsy excuses about orgies and child sacrifices, in no way redeems him from his genocidal acts. You do not kill innocent people, children, babies, even their cattle because priests sacrificed children or some people engaged in orgies. You certainly do not capture their virgin girls for your own pleasure.

    "Have you heard of the Shiva Trilogy?"
    No never heard of it. And I don't see from your explanation how it supports any of your positions justifying the genocidal god of the bible.

    "To really understand the reason for these laws, we must go back in time to that age. Then we can appreciate what these laws are for."
    Sorry but I could never understand a society that was so depraved that God had to give instructions to:
    a) Stone to death a bride on her wedding night if the tokens of her virginity was not present
    b) Stone to death unruly children
    c) Stone to death people for working on God's holy day
    d) Stipulate that a raped woman marry her rapist after he pays 50 shekels to her father
    e) Kill Homosexuals
    f) Capture slaves from among the nations outside Israel
    g) Scourge an engaged slave woman if a man has sex with her, but don't punish the man
    h) Sacrifice animals as burnt offerings to him on the altar as a sweet savour unto the lord

    I can go on and on. And really none of these laws, actions or commands of a god can ever be appreciated by a rational person not blinded by the blinkers of blind faith.

    And that's me done for this topic.


  17. I'm away for a few days so no comments will be approved for a while - apologies...

  18. Muslims (much like Christians I would presume) do not find God's genocides problematic. Since they believe that the people who were killed were sinful and deserving of the punishment, they will merely argue that God was restoring justice, balance etc in the world.

    However I often ask whether the children among these people were also this sinful and deserving of such punishment. The usual response is that if there were sinless children among them, then they are in heaven, so the ends justify the means.

  19. "The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control freak; a vindictive, blood-thirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megolomaniacal, sado-masochistic, capriciously malevolent bully" - Richard Dawkins.
    As polemics go, that one is right up there in my Top 10.
    So you see... I was being quite restrained.

    1. Hi Spinoza,
      You're not restrained, but let it pass :)
      Now the first question is how God can cause these genocides. Let's look at the Canaanites: the adults at least are sinners: they committed human sacrifices, sexual orgies etc. he Bible speaks as if these things were prevalent almost universally, and not just among some people, as Azim said.

      But what about the children? We assume that they were innocent. But the Bible gives a case for pre-existence.
      Jeremiah 1:5-- "Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations."

      Isaiah asks a rebellious Israel,"Have ye not understood from the foundations of the earth?" (Isaiah 40:21)

      The New Testament declares even more explicitly: ""For all did sin, and are come short of the glory of God..." (Romans 3:23)

      Take the parable of the prodigal son, or that of the lost sheep. The sheep or the son will be considered 'lost' only if they were with the father/master in the first place. So putting these together, one can make a case for pre-existence, and that of some sins committed by humans before they were born.
      "The soul that sins shall die." (Ezekiel 18:4)
      Also, "For the wages of sin is death..." (Romans 6:23)

      So the children who died, died because of sins they had committed before their human existence.

      This is the reason why animal sacrifices, and later, Christ's death are considered to remove sin. It is plain that the Israelites saw sin as a real force that had to be removed by either retribution or vicarious atonement.

    2. The next question is, why the death penalty for working on Shabbat?

      First, the entire Torah is a covenant between YHWH and Israel. The terms of this covenant is that if Israel will obey the statutes that YHWH sets upon them, then He will give them the promised land (Deuteronomy 318), and give them long life in the land (Deuteronomy 5:33).

      Now the Shabbat, the seventh day, was to be a day of rest. Is this a good law? definitely. The common man, after working hard in the burning sun for six weeks, would gladly welcome this day of rest. But it was not only a day, of rest, but also a day of holy concocation (Leviticus 23:3). On Shabbat, they would fulfil the commandment of meditating upon YHWH's precepts (Deuteronomy 6:7).

      Now if one did not want to follow these laws, if one did not want to practice the Torah, he just had to leave the land; for the land was the terms of the covenant. It was not just the Tabernacle, but the whole land of Israel which was a fane to YHWH. This can be seen from the verse saying that disobedience to YHWH's laws would result in Israel being expelled from their land: Deuteronomy 28:64-- "And YHWH shall scatter thee among all people, from the one end of the earth even unto the other; and there thou shalt serve other gods, which neither thou nor thy fathers have known, even wood and stone." YHWH consigning Israel to the worship of other gods signifies the dissolution of the covenant.

      More importantly, Shabbat was the sign of the covenant, and was seen as a sanctification in the eyes of YHWH (Exodus 31:13). So to delibeartely break this law was to revile the covenant itself.

      Now this law did not necessarily cover accidental slip-ups; even killing another man accidentally was not punishable by death (Numbers 35:12). Rather, it was deliberate transgression that was to be punished. Now consider the man who worked on the Shabbat. He is, #1, ungrateful, because he enjoyed the bounty of YHWH's land, but reviled Him to His face by breaking this law deliberately. #2, he is an oath-breaker, because he violated the terms of the covenant. The ancients took oaths very seriously, and oath-breaking as a very serious crime among them. Now the commandment to observe the Shabbat is not only a commandment to rest, but also one to work: Exodus 20:9--
      "Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work..."
      The man who works on the Shabbat will be #3, lazy, for he did not complete his work in six days, and also #4, greedy, foe he still desires profit.

      So for four sins; ingratitude, oath-breaking,sloth and greed,is the Shabbat-breaker punished.

    3. Varma: "Now if one did not want to follow these laws, if one did not want to practice the Torah, he just had to leave the land; for the land was the terms of the covenant."

      This sounds almost verbatim like the reasoning provided by many Muslims to justify the murder of Apostates from Islam.

    4. Captain,
      The land was given by YHWH to the Israelites. He had delivered them from slavery in Egypt, He had fed them in the wilderness, and He was giving them land. Definitely He had the right to expect some things from Israel. If one is living in a country, he has to follow its laws. As I have written before, the entire land of Israel was a fane of YHWH. I cannot go into a Hindu temple leading a group of Muslims, and conduct Friday congregational prayers there. If I want to live in a community of Srauta Vedic Brahmins, I must follow the rules of that community. If I don't like the rules, I have no right yo stay there.

  20. Wow - it is a long time since I read anything so disgusting.

    "Then, imagine if the son, having grown up, begins to rebel against his parents, etc... Does he not forfeit his right to life?"

    No!! Because one hopes that civilisation improves from generation to generation. The parents may be wrong and the son right. Anyway, one person should not hold control over another's life.

    You are justifying murder and terrorism - in the name of God.

  21. I suspect Varma getts his twisted logic from Christian Apologetics. Scary that people can defend such immoral acts in the name of religion.