You’ve got to give William Lane Craig credit. When he believes something, he believes something. The Kool-Aid gets drunk to the last drop.
Take the slaughter of the Canaanites by the Israelis in the Hebrew Bible (see Deuteronomy 7:1-2; 20:16-18; and Joshua). Like the recent bankruptcy liquidation of the Borders book chain, God commanded that everything in Canaan had to go: its gods, culture, men, women, and children.
And the Israelis made sure that everything did.
Today, we call this genocide. A crime against humanity. Well, at least most of us call it genocide. William Lane Craig, in a post at his website, calls it justice:
God stays His judgement of the Canaanite clans 400 years because their wickedness had not reached the point of intolerability! This is the long-suffering God we know in the Hebrew Scriptures. He even allows his own chosen people to languish in slavery for four centuries before determining that the Canaanite peoples are ripe for judgement and calling His people forth from Egypt.
By the time of their destruction, Canaanite culture was, in fact, debauched and cruel, embracing such practices as ritual prostitution and even child sacrifice. The Canaanites are to be destroyed “that they may not teach you to do according to all their abominable practices that they have done for their gods, and so you sin against the Lord your God” (Deut. 20.18). God had morally sufficient reasons for His judgement upon Canaan, and Israel was merely the instrument of His justice, just as centuries later God would use the pagan nations of Assyria and Babylon to judge Israel.
I can’t help but wonder if William Lane Craig’s reasoning leads him to the (private) conclusion that God used Hitler to judge the Jews in the 1930s and 1940s. If, after all, God used the “pagan nations of Assyria and Babylon to judge Israel”, and He also used the ancient Israelites to judge Canaan, then doesn’t it follow that this might solve the question of why God allowed Hitler’s Germany to destroy 6 million Jews in the Holocaust?
Like the ancient Canaanites, the Jews had it coming to them. Discuss.
I’d rather not.
Despite the discomfort it entails, I bring up the Holocaust because it makes the grotesqueness of Craig’s reasoning less opaque and abstract. It’s no longer a strange and ancient people being mass murdered from thousands of years ago, but modern people like us. What sane person, for example, would ever make the following statement about the Holocaust?:
[W]hom does God wrong in commanding the destruction of the Jews? Not the Jewish adults, for they were corrupt and deserving of judgement. Not the children, for they inherit eternal life [by dying and going to heaven]. So who is wronged? Ironically, I think the most difficult part of this whole debate is the apparent wrong done to the German soldiers themselves. Can you imagine what it would be like to have to break into some house and kill a terrified woman and her children? The brutalizing effect on these German soldiers is disturbing.
Isn’t that insane? But guess what? I’ve simply troped Jews and Germans for Canaanites and Israelis in what Craig himself wrote. Here’s the passage from his post:
[W]hom does God wrong in commanding the destruction of the Canaanites? Not the Canaanite adults, for they were corrupt and deserving of judgement. Not the children, for they inherit eternal life. So who is wronged? Ironically, I think the most difficult part of this whole debate is the apparent wrong done to the Israeli soldiers themselves. Can you imagine what it would be like to have to break into some house and kill a terrified woman and her children? The brutalizing effect on these Israeli soldiers is disturbing.
This is not some crank or maniac speaking. This is evangelicalism’s premier intellectual philosopher in the grip of an extraordinary foolishness.
So the question must be raised: what is driving a sane man to such insane conclusions?
Well, the Bible’s inerrancy is at stake, and Craig’s doing his best to make one of its wilder recountings (the destruction of the Canaanites) palatable. Otherwise, the Bible’s inerrancy must go, and Craig apparently finds the thought of this worse than genocide:
If we Christians can’t find a good answer to the question before us [the genocide of the Canaanites] and are, moreover, persuaded that such a command is inconsistent with God’s nature, then we’ll have to give up biblical inerrancy.
But William Lane Craig hasn’t given a good answer. He’s provided a repugnant one. To save biblical inerrancy, Craig swallows hard and goes ahead and makes God into a monster, authorizing a mass murder circa 1100 BCE. Craig just doesn’t call it that:
So the problem isn’t that God ended the Canaanites’ lives. The problem is that He commanded the Israeli soldiers to end them. Isn’t that like commanding someone to commit murder? No, it’s not. Rather, since our moral duties are determined by God’s commands, it is commanding someone to do something which, in the absence of a divine command, would have been murder. The act was morally obligatory for the Israeli soldiers in virtue of God’s command, even though, had they undertaken it on their on initiative, it would have been wrong.
On divine command theory, then, God has the right to command an act, which, in the absence of a divine command, would have been sin, but which is now morally obligatory in virtue of that command.
Divine command theory is a fancy way of never having to say you’re sorry. Like Jesus turning water to wine (or Orwell’s Ingsoc making war out to be peace), divine command theory turns murder to virtue.
Craig doesn’t say, so one can only wonder: does the logic of his divine command theory extend to non-Israeli soldiers? If—as Craig clearly writes—God used “the pagan nations of Assyria and Babylon to judge Israel” in the same manner as God used the Israelis to judge Canaan, does this mean that the soldiers of Assyria and Babylon are also absolved of their culpability in murder? And, if the Holocaust occurred because God was judging 20th century Judaism (for secular apostates like Freud, I suppose), does it follow that the Germans are also free of culpability in murder?
Will William Lane Craig find Hitler in heaven?
No telling. With so capricious a God as the one who wiped out the Canaanites and permitted (or perhaps even willed as judgement) the Holocaust, all bets are off. But Craig’s promotion, under certain circumstances, of the wholesale murder of men, women, and children as a virtue does make him sound at least a teensy bit like, well, another person of historic infamy: Osama bin Laden.
The irony doesn’t escape Craig, and he attempts to answer it, putting some distance between his views and Islamic jihadism:
Yahweh is not to be trifled with. He means business, and if Israel apostasizes the same [as happened to the Canaanites] could happen to her. As C. S. Lewis puts it, “Aslan is not a tame lion.”
Now how does all this relate to Islamic jihad? Islam sees violence as a means of propagating the Muslim faith. Islam divides the world into two camps: the dar al-Islam (House of Submission) and the dar al-harb (House of War). The former are those lands which have been brought into submission to Islam; the latter are those nations which have not yet been brought into submission. This is how Islam actually views the world!
By contrast, the conquest of Canaan represented God’s just judgement upon those peoples. The purpose was not at all to get them to convert to Judaism! War was not being used as an instrument of propagating the Jewish faith. Moreover, the slaughter of the Canaanites represented an unusual historical circumstance, not a regular means of behavior.
The problem with Islam, then, is not that it has got the wrong moral theory; it’s that it has got the wrong God.
Did you catch that? Craig writes that if Israel apostasizes the same [as happened to the Canaanites] could happen to her and God’s just judgement [on the Canaanites] . . . was not at all to get them to convert to Judaism. In other words, by Craig’s curiously inverted (perverted?) moral logic, God’s justice means:
- apostasy can bring just genocide (an oxymoron) upon a people; and
- forced conversion (driving people into intellectual slavery and submission, but allowing them to live) is insufficient satisfaction for God’s righteous judgment.
How can this be? Because God—unlike Muslim jihadist invaders—cares about the attitude of your heart in submission. He wants you to love Him without compulsion, with nothing held back. He wants His love freely reciprocated, not coerced.
Otherwise, He wants you dead.
This is a positive distinction that Craig makes between his God and the God of Islam. Though forced conversion may have been practiced by errant Crusaders in the past, the Christian God of William Lane Craig’s imagining cannot be bothered with it. In judgement mode, God is an untame lion; he wants the total annihilation of what is not holy (that is, unbelievers). Forced conversion absent a heart change would have been too good for the Canaanites; forced conversion is for biblically ignorant Crusaders and jihadist pussies (who, in a misplaced gesture of mercy, tolerate the begrudged but compliant in their midst).
As an agnostic, my ultimate response to Craig’s weird apology for genocide can only be twofold: (1) to echo Kant’s reaction to a dubious theodicy argument that he had heard which callously allowed for the death of a little girl (“My heart rejects it!”); and (2) humor.
Here’s a little clip I made for YouTube a while back. It portrays a person going to a pastor with a concern about a Bible passage that he had read (2 Kings 2:23-24). William Lane Craig, meet Pastor Johnson:
Wow. Crazy man.
Although most Christians do use a similar form of this logic to justify the atrocities of the OT and the general immoralities of the bible. If god willed it, then it cannot be immoral.
You miss the point of the Biblical account. Apart from the redemptive work of Christ, God judges sin. We mistakenly think of God as a nice old guy who cuts us a lot of slack. The fact is that he judges sin with the punishment of death. That is the harsh reality. The Bible is telling us that the same fate awaits all of us who do not accept God’s redemptive plan. God is not interested in trying to align his thinking with ours. He is telling us how it is. We will face his judgement. Ignore it if you want but that won’t stop it from happening. The Bible clearly lays out God thinking regarding sin. He is laying out the truth. The is the great thing about the Bible. A fearful judgement awaits us if we do not avail ourselves of his mercy and forgiveness.
Your claims hold weight if you offer good evidence or plausible reasons of some sort to support them. Instead, you’ve chosen to assume what is in question (the Bible’s inerrancy), and simply make a declaration or proclamation.
But this is not dialogue.
To see this, here’s what you wrote again, but I’ve replaced the words “God” with “Allah” and “Bible” with “Quran”:
“We mistakenly think of Allah as a nice old guy who cuts us a lot of slack. The fact is that he judges sin with the punishment of death. That is the harsh reality. The Quran is telling us that the same fate awaits all of us who do not accept Allah’s redemptive plan. Allah is not interested in trying to align his thinking with ours. He is telling us how it is. We will face his judgement. Ignore it if you want but that won’t stop it from happening. The Quran clearly lays out Allah’s thinking regarding sin. He is laying out the truth. The is the great thing about the Quran. A fearful judgement awaits us if we do not avail ourselves of his mercy and forgiveness.”
If God is such a monstrous psychopath then fuck him. It will be an honor to be damned to Hell by an evil fuck like Yahweh. I would rather burn in Hell with Satan than obey such a genocidal monster. You think blindly obeying a psychopathic voice in your head is virtue? You are pure evil, just like your God.
Anyone who commits genocide, like Yahweh, and anyone who supports genocide, like YOU, Mike, is damned. You are the real evil and Yahweh is the real Satan. You obey a Charles Manson, Hitler-style psychopath at his word that genocide is good, that child sacrifice is good. Only a monster would ever order genocide and only a monster could ever obey or believe that God would order this. Only a monster would order Abraham to sacrifice his child Isaac.
No, the True God did not order genocide. Yahweh is not God. Yahweh is Satan, King of Hell. You are Damned to Hell and will soon suffer with your master, Satan, The Devil, where He will torture you for eternity as He tortured millions before you with His sadism.
I declare Yahweh anathema and excommunicate. I cast Him into the outer darkness. I judge Him Damned, with the Devil and his fallen angels and all the reprobate.
Mike: Slave of the Psychopath Yahweh, Slave of Satan:
I declare you anathema and excommunicate. I cast you, Slave of Satan, child sacrificer, genocidal monster, into the outer darkness. I judge you damned with the Devil and his fallen angels and all the reprobate.
Fuck You and fuck your Idol, your false God Yahweh, your Cosmic Psychopath. He is nothing but a lesser god, the King of Israel, the King of Hell. He claims to be God and orders the child sacrifice of Isaac; you obey. You are the proven servant of Satan. You will burn in Sheol with all child sacrificers, torture Gods, and sadistic psychopaths.
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Hard to see anything but ranting and caricature here,
First, you state
this is false. Two passages in Deuteronomy use the language of totally destroy, one occurs in a context where immediately after it suggests in fact that Canaanites will continue to live in the land, and will be driven out slowly. The other is limited to the cities, in ancient agriarian societies majority of people did not live in cities, cities were where the leaders and elite lived often associated with temple are fort, the vast majority lived in the country side while this still offends our moral sensibilities its a far cry from the claim you make which is that God commanded they kill everything in Canaan. Moreover, your claim that the Israeli’s made sure everything did is simply false. Its true Joshua in Joshua 11 states they had killed everyone and left no survivors, the text immediately follows with the claim that in fact the canaanites had no been wiped out and are still there something emphasised over and over in the rest of the book and right into Judges. One can ask sensible questions as to why the author of the final form juxtaposted these two pictures, but to simply claim the text unambigiously claims they commited Genocide is false. Its also well known that ancient historography often used hyperbolic rhetoric to describe war, texts from this period often use the language of “leaving no survivors” killing everyone and so in, to simply exclaim and celebrate the fact they won while making it clear from the context they are not meaning this literally. But I am sure simple facts like this get in the way of calling people insane and crazy.
Second you write But guess what? I’ve simply troped Jews and Germans for Canaanites and Israelis in what Craig himself wrote. that actually shows your argument is fallacious. Because in logic its not true that if you take a sound argument, and substitute the premises for false propositions that the argument will remain sound. So the fact you can turn Craig’s argument into a stupid one by doing this really only shows you don’t grasp the basics of first year logic
Third, you state Divine command theory is a fancy way of never having to say you’re sorry. unfortunately you don’t get to dismiss all the numerous philosophical defenses of divine command theory in the last 40 years by simpl asserting its a fancy way of never having to say your sorry. You actually need to offer an argument, which is more than simply making snarky comments.
Finally you state
This is just dishonest misrepresentation, as you grant Craig says that if Isreal apostasizes in the same way as the Canaanites did. Which as Craig’s spelt out earlier in the passage mean’t widespread engaging in a human sacrifice, incest, agressive warfare and various other actions for over 400 years without repentance. He was not refering simply to apostacy per se, again you might have issues with this but be honest about what people actually say, you don’t get to make stuff up because it suits your argument.
Finally, a passage in Kings is not competently exegeted because a youtube cartoon says it affirms something. Perhaps you engage in biblical scholarship by watching cartoons I suspect however serious theologians and biblical scholars do not.
You write To see this, here’s what you wrote again, but I’ve replaced the words “God” with “Allah” and “Bible” with “Quran”:
But again this is a fallacy, the fact an argument comes out unsound when you replace the premises with other premises does not entail the original argument is sound. This is first year logic. Take the standard sound argument.
1 If it is raining the grass is wet
2 It is raining
3.the grass is wet
By your logic this must be a stupid argument, because if I replace the word wet with “made of green chees” you get the conclusion that the grass is made of green cheese. Unfortunately the fact that an argument leads to stupid conclusions when you change the premises to stupid ones does not mean the original argument is unsound.
Maybe you should repeat your first year logic class. Of course it is a sound argument to replace a word with an equivalent word, if you do it properly. Such a reversal gives you a fresh perspective on an issue, and such a perspective helps people to see things more clearly. Replacing one god with another is obviously something very different than replacing water with green cheese. Look at this logic:
1 If it is raining apple juice the grass is wet
2 It is raining apple juice
3.the grass is wet.
Now replace apple juice with orange juice. Is that a logical fallacy? I don’t think so. This is exactly the kind of replacement that was going on here. Anyone with logical training would have realized that. If you want to argue against this logic, you will have to show God-X is something logically completely different than God-Y. I don’t see how you should be able to do that besides saying: “I happen to believe in God-X, and my personal preference is all that matters”. Well, it’s all that matters to you, but your perspective is not more valid than anyone else’s.
Craig recently wrote that becoming a Nazi was possibly the best thing some people could do , as it led to their salvation.
”Paradoxically, being a Nazi may have been the best thing that happened to Heinrich, since it led to his salvation.’
Try to find the article. It actually gets worse than that!
Hitler did nothing wrong
Nazis aside, it was Rome, about a thousand years later (Carthage, 146 BC), who actually wiped out the Canaanites (as an independent state or empire) and their practice of human sacrifice. Their descendants continue in N. Africa and the Middle East.
There is one key piece of this puzzle that you are leaving out when you compare how God dealt with evil in the Old Testament (judged a nation or people) to any act of genocide now. That key piece is Jesus Christ.
The situation is totally different now that Christ has come—this is why Christians do not stone murderers, adulterers, etc. People can now be delivered from evil in the name of Jesus by the power of the Holy Spirit. We have much better protection through the cross of Jesus. He was able to eat and drink with prostitutes and sinners without fear. We can do the same because we have the protection of the blood of Jesus. We no longer need to separate ourselves physically like the Israelites. The power of the cross did not exist in Old Testament times, so separation and destruction of evil was their only protection.
Galations 3:23-25—“Before the way of faith in Christ was available to us, we were placed under guard by the law. We were kept in protective custody, so to speak, until the way of faith was revealed.
24 Let me put it another way. The law was our guardian until Christ came; it protected us until we could be made right with God through faith.25 And now that the way of faith has come, we no longer need the law as our guardian.”
The book of Leviticus contained a set of rules and regulations that would give Israel a unique identity. The nation of Israel was distinct from all other nations around them. This is why the book of Leviticus contained a set of rules and regulations that would give Israel a unique identity. The children of Israel would dress differently and eat differently. Their society would be organized differently. These distinct cultural patterns would keep them separated from other cultures that might influence them. The Israelites and their families were very vulnerable to the spirit of lust that had been rampant in the land. Their only protection for their family life was to stamp out all sexual immorality.
In Deuteronomy 7:1-4 we see God’s order for Israel to destroy other nations, ““When the Lord your God brings you into the land you are about to enter and occupy, he will clear away many nations ahead of you: the Hittites, Girgashites, Amorites, Canaanites, Perizzites, Hivites, and Jebusites. These seven nations are greater and more numerous than you.2 When the Lord your God hands these nations over to you and you conquer them, you must completely destroy[a] them. Make no treaties with them and show them no mercy. 3 You must not intermarry with them. Do not let your daughters and sons marry their sons and daughters, 4 for they will lead your children away from me to worship other gods.”
The seven nations that God ordered destroyed in Deuteronomy 7 had their own distinguished evil spirits ingrained in the inhabitants of the land. God wasn’t just judging the inhabitants, but exterminating the evil spirits to protect the nation of Israel. If you are going to fumigate a home to get rid of termites (or any home wrecking insect) you would want to choose an insecticide that killed the eggs as well. Although the eggs have not done anything wrong yet, you know when they grow up they will destroy your house. In the same way God knew the women would turn the hearts of the Israelites over to false gods (Solomon—the wisest man during his time—was a perfect example of that). God could have known the children of the land would grow to be a thorn in Israel’s side and that they were carriers of evil spirits (generational sin) that He wanted exterminated.
Spirit name Meaning of name Abbreviated explanation of effects
Hittites Sons of terror Subliminal torments, phobias, terror, depression, deceit
Girgashites Clay dwellers Focus on earthliness, unbelief in what cannot be seen
Amorites Mountain people; renowned Obsession with earthly fame and glory, domineering
Canaanites Lowlands people Addictions, perversions, exaggerated people-pleasing
Perizzites Belonging to a village Limited vision, laziness, low self-esteem
Hivites Villagers Vision limited to enjoying an earthly inheritance, hedonism
Jebusites Threshers Suppression of spiritual authority in fellow believers, legalism
I totally agree with your answer James! Well said.
The key, other than Jesus here, is that God gave a time period of 400 years for the Canaanites to come clean and repent, however they did not and steadily got worse and worse until they reached the lowest of lowest of the most evil and debauched of acts.
In other words I agree that they deserved extermination, every single one of them.
God highly likely offered repentance over and over through prophets and signs, however these were ignored over 400 years.
God waited a long time for them, God was patient.
Eventually God said enough is enough.
This slaughter of these evil, satan worshiping people stands as an example, an indication of what God will do to those who disobey Him and delve into such acts.
This includes you, me and Israel.
Just lastly, God is a God of love, this is shown through Jesus Christ.
However, God is not someone to be played around with, yes He is full of mercy, but He is also full of justice.
His love was shown over the 400 years that he gave the Canaanites to repent, but after ignoring His mercy and love God judged them.
And what they got they deserved.
God is the height of love and mercy but He is also the height of judgement.
In other words, by your reasoning James, God has each of us in a Stockholm Syndrome situation.
@Santi – Could you be more specific perhaps? I am aware of the Stockholm Syndrome but perhaps you could contextualize it more by referecing an example?
The Stockholm Syndrome is where a person’s source of love and threat are coming from the same place, as in hostage situations. In a hostage situation, at any moment the hostage-taker can offer you a piece of pizza or hold a gun to your head. The hostage-taker, in other words, can reward or punish you; he has got you both physically and psychologically. And in such a situation, you might start identifying with your hostage taker. (This psychological dynamic was first famously noticed in the context of a bank robbery turned hostage situation in Stockholm in the 1970s–hence the “Stockholm Syndrome.”)
I will try answer this question to the best of my ability.
Firstly, I assume the hostages are “us”, and the perpetrator is God holding people hostage? (Tell me if I am wrong)
And because of Him holding us hostage we are subject to Him holding us physically and psychologically to His will.
Firstly, we should bear in mind that if God does indeed exist, and if He did indeed create this universe and all within it then we are responsible to Him.
In other words God owns everything from matter to humanity.
However, the reason why any form of “Stockholm Syndrome” is manifest is because we are a fallen people, and because of this God exercises both His judgement and mercy.
If Adam had not eaten that apple we would be perfect, God would only show us His love and the need for judgement would not be.
We can rest assured that God is a good God, He loves us. However God is both merciful and righteous – He cannot let sin go if we dont ask for His forgiveness.
In this case the Canaanites we evil and regressed to the worst state possible for man, that meant God had to judge them and He did this through Israel.
God is the only way, if He were an evil God then we would not have a choice, however He is entirely good and full of love – However he has a side to Him that will punish sin and we must remember that.
As C.S Lewis quoted in “Mere Christianity”, “Aslan is not a tame lion.”
Your argument is premised on a number of things which may be wrong. For example, if Adam and Eve did not in fact live in a garden in Mesopotamia 6000 years ago, then there is no original sin that the human race has inherited from the first couple.
So my first question to you is the following: What do you believe about the historicity of Adam and Eve? Scientists say that humans evolved out of Africa and that the common ancestors of those humans living today–mitochondrial Eve and y-chromosome Adam–lived at different times (African Eve about 200,000 years ago; African Adam about 50,000 years ago), and so they couldn’t have met one another and had progeny together.
This is all explained pretty clearly at the Biologos website (if you’ve ever visited it).
Do you simply reject such scientific conclusions outright because they contradict your literal reading of Genesis?
My second question is this: there are theists (such as Calvinists) who reject free will. You, however, appear to assume that it exists. Scientific naturalists also tend to find free will reasoning dubious. In other words, your argument breaks down if humans do not, in fact, have free will. Why aren’t you at least agnostic about free will?
Third, is God responsible for the Holocaust? Could He have stopped it? Why didn’t He? Did he know, when He created the cosmos, that it was coming?
Fourth, do you believe hell is a literal place that one goes to when you die (if you are unsaved)? If so, are the Canaanites who died at the hands of the Israelis and the Jews who died in the Holocaust without belief in Jesus burning in hell right now, as we speak?
Fifth, if you believe that sin entered the world with Adam and Eve, do you also conclude that death did as well? That, after all, is what Paul says. In other words, wouldn’t such a belief negate all of natural history as discovered by scientists over the past 150 years? Dinosaurs lived before humans, right? And they died, right?
You don’t have to answer all these questions. Pick and choose. But I’m curious as to how you get so confidently from point A to point B in your reasoning.
Lastly, I want to make a statement, rather than pose a question. You say with Lewis that “Aslan is not a tame lion,” but you quite evidently are. In other words, you do not stand up to injustice and ridiculousness and say, “This is wrong!”–at least when it comes to things written in the Bible. I’m not trying to insult, but the first step to getting free of literalist religion (should you ever want to do that) is to muster the courage to say no to its cruelty and absurdity. It is a form of cowardice to defer one’s opinions and reason to the Bible (or any other book or authority), and a form of courage to take the leap out of a Stockholm Syndrome situation. John Stewart Mill once said that he would go to hell rather than submit to a “loving” God that held such a threat over him, as such a God would in fact be a monster. You have to get to the point where, like Mill, you stand up to the ideas that bully you.
I once was talking to a Jewish girl (I was in my teens at the time) and I said to her, “You know, what you just said agrees with something Jesus said in the gospels.” Without skipping a beat, she said nonchalantly, “I don’t give a shit what Jesus thinks.”
That, to me, is the right attitude. It is an instinctive determination to have your own opinions; to reach your own conclusions. This doesn’t mean not hearing what others have to say, but not making of those “authority” voices the source of permission for your own thoughts.
Craig is a sick pupppy. I have read him saying “Paradoxically, being a Nazi may have been the best thing that happened to Heinrich, since it led to his salvation” so I wouldn’t be surprise by Craig statements about the Canaanites.
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Hitler did nothing wrong