Agnosticism, Atheism, Christianity, Faith, God, Morality, Religion

Bloody Well Right

If God is love, how do we explain the Old Testament passages where he commands the Israelites to eradicate entire groups of people, even the children (Josh 9:24; Num 31; 1 Sam 15)? Sometimes people say it was to punish these people for their evil practices, like child sacrifice. Well, child sacrifice is certainly a terrible thing. But does it make sense to punish child sacrifice by killing all the children?

Let’s think about this for a moment. When cultures engaged in child sacrifice, it’s not because they just loved killing children — it’s because they believed it served as some kind of propitiation, appeasing their gods for the greater good. So if God didn’t approve of child sacrifice, what seems like the most rational way to deal with it: (1) kill everyone, including all the children you don’t want killed, or (2) make yourself known to these people as the one true god and tell them that child sacrifice is not what you want? Wouldn’t option 2 be a win-win scenario?

Here’s something else to consider. If God didn’t like child sacrifice, why did he command Abraham to offer his son Isaac as one? Granted, he stopped the sacrifice before the boy was killed, but isn’t this a weird command for a deity who despises child sacrifice? And what about Psalm 137, where the inspired writer is lamenting Babylon’s destruction of Jerusalem and says the following:

8 O daughter of Babylon, who are to be destroyed,
     Happy the one who repays you as you have served us!
9 Happy the one who takes and dashes
     Your little ones against the rock!

Furthermore, if God wanted the Canaanites destroyed because of their heinous practices, why stop at Canaan? There were many cultures that engaged in terrible practices like this from time to time — why not send the Israelites to slaughter them all? Instead this “judgment” is only brought against people in the same geographic location that God wanted the Israelites to inhabit:

After the death of Moses the servant of the Lord, it came to pass that the Lord spoke to Joshua the son of Nun, Moses’ assistant, saying: 2 “Moses My servant is dead. Now therefore, arise, go over this Jordan, you and all this people, to the land which I am giving to them—the children of Israel. 3 Every place that the sole of your foot will tread upon I have given you, as I said to Moses. 4 From the wilderness and this Lebanon as far as the great river, the River Euphrates, all the land of the Hittites, and to the Great Sea toward the going down of the sun, shall be your territory. 5 No man shall be able to stand before you all the days of your life; as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not leave you nor forsake you. 6 Be strong and of good courage, for to this people you shall divide as an inheritance the land which I swore to their fathers to give them.
— Josh 1:1-5

So they answered Joshua and said, “Because your servants were clearly told that the Lord your God commanded His servant Moses to give you all the land, and to destroy all the inhabitants of the land from before you; therefore we were very much afraid for our lives because of you, and have done this thing.”
— Josh 9:24

How strange that these passages focus on taking the land from the Canaanites and not on their evil natures…

As a final consideration, even if the only thing left to do with these evil Canaanites was kill them all, does it make sense that God would choose the cruelest and most agonizing way to do it? Instead of speaking them out of existence, or immediately striking them all dead, he has them besieged by invaders. They’re forced to watch their loved ones being massacred before being hacked to death themselves. Would God really command this?

How does a god who would command genocide on this scale differ from the vilest despots of the modern era? What’s the difference between this god and bin Laden? What’s the difference between a god like this and a devil? Could a god this bloody be right?

446 thoughts on “Bloody Well Right”

  1. RE: “does it make sense to punish child sacrifice by killing all the children?” – I’ve had this discussion before with a theist, the answer was that their god knew in advance that the children would grow up to be evil, so he got them early.

    RE: “em>If God didn’t like child sacrifice, why did he command Abraham to offer his son Isaac as one? – I’ve had this one too, the upshot was that Abraham believed that if he obeyed his god and slaughtered Isaac, his god would resurrect Ike – no one asked the boy what HE thought of the idea.

    And you KNOW the stock answer you’re going to get from the dynamic dumb-dumbs: – god made ’em and he can do anything with them he wants —


  2. There is an easy explanation. This is a tribal god, in fact, a family god. He is the god of Abraham, Jacob and Isaiah. It is consistent with its creators to have him/it/her command destruction of the people whose lands they want to excise.


  3. Before that, I believe this issue are being discuss in human eye’s point of view. If we look on God’s point of view, are these issue to be read similarly in term of perspective?

    In facts, everyone/anything will die. So bloody/ car accident, or tornado is just a reason for human to die. Even, he does not command Moses, he/she still die.

    Is there any different between dying with blood shed and non-blood shed i.e poisoning, or H1N1?

    If genocide is define is killing human in mass daily. Then, everyday we see human die in hospital bed “peacefully”. Is it peacefully? Then, genocide itself is a part nature.

    In Christian’s religion view, If dying in such way “peaceful”, is that a sign of heavenly acceptance? Is it true?

    Even, I do not really answering. The relation between each issue need to be reconcile to make sure we understand in correct way.


    Every day is genocide, If dont want to die, may be you should become vampire. :p


  4. Hifzan, tell me, for I do not know, how you know one, that a god is and secondly its point of view?
    In a naturalistic worldview, the universe is indifferent to how you die. To introduce a benevolent god into the picture requires explanation


  5. That is my question to you, so why should I answered it. Put it as general God and Its character, and think, compare and

    Ask question as ” If God, The Most Powerful, The Most Intelligent, The Benevolent, why he do this and that.” Then compare to actual natural/environment behavior.

    Lol, I need to give a hint too? I thought Atheist like to imagine and clever. 😛

    Christian need explanation, I don’t.

    In God’s view, death is His job and it’s nature of His design.
    In human’s view, death is commonly viewed losses, sadness, and misery and of course it nature of the world.


  6. Great summary, Nate!

    It was a critical reading of the OT that ultimately lead to my loss of faith. The god of the Old Testament presents all the vile temperaments of a human dictator—the very antithesis of an all-loving, all-merciful, all-knowing, all-just and all-powerful being.


  7. Here is the logic behind God’s actions:

    God is all-good therefore all his actions are good.

    If God commands the death of people it is because he is ridding the world of evil.

    Of course, logic is completely opaque to atheists since to be an atheist means giving up the ability to reason.

    Consequently, instead of actually devoting some thought to understanding the nature of God, man and universe, the atheist will create an alternate god and call him evil thus justifying the atheist’s own nonbelief.


  8. Well, I believe it should always be stated up front that this is fiction in the first place, thus avoiding any sort of discussion that could allude to considering these were factual events and thus giving any sort of credence to the crap of god-belief.

    The most striking part of this ridiculous tale is the fact Yahweh didn’t do the dirty work himself.
    He appeared quite capable of ‘nuking’ Lot’s wife yet places the burden of responsibility of the Canaanite genocide on the Israelites.

    Was it the (this) writer’s aim to make the Israelites and Yahweh seem like buddies; comrades in arms, as it were?

    It is unthinkable in context that Yahweh would need any assistance from puny humans to enact any sort of slaughter as he had aptly demonstrated his bone fides with Noah and his incestuous family.

    Such stories are nothing but cultural codswallop, hanging a religious theme upon an already fictional tale to give the dubious claim of land ownership some sort of divine justification.

    Fortunately, there are some among the Israeli/Jewish population that recognise what crap this really is.
    Let’s hope that one day the term Divine Command Theory is only ever read about in history books and never heard from the mouths of utter Dickheads such as William Lane Craig.


  9. Ark,

    The Iliad, by Homer is fiction, yet it communicates incredible insight into human affairs and human nature.

    Ditto for Shakespeare, one of the greatest play writes in human history.

    So your requirement that the Bible isn’t meaningful because in all your atheist wisdom you have deemed it fiction, is bogus.


  10. Hifzan Shafiee

    Hi, how’s it going.

    Just wanted to ask,

    what are your beliefs?

    Hope you are going well 🙂



  11. Ark,

    You repeating what I demonstrated was nonsense proves exactly what I say about atheists: they can’t reason, learn what’s real and true, or make sense out of the simplest explanations.

    Your claim that the Bible is fiction is irrelevant and meaningless since among your other gross intellectual failures you haven’t the foggiest idea what the Bible means.

    You simply ingest atheist talking and parrot them as you’ve been programmed to do.


  12. I appreciate this post, Nate, and I agree with your assessment and with what Ron mentioned — that it was a critical reading of the OT that ultimately lead to my loss of faith. If Jesus wanted me to bow down to such a psychopath then what did that say about Jesus? “I and the Father are one.” As I started researching about the brain, neurology and psychology, gene expression, neurotransmitters and hormones, it became quite apparent to me that the Abrahamic god knew nothing about its own creation; that this god caused the very environments that lead to dysfunction, antisocial behavior and chaos.


  13. @SOM

    So your requirement that the Bible isn’t meaningful because in all your atheist wisdom you have deemed it fiction, is bogus.

    Much meaning and wisdom can be gleaned from many fictional works, including the heinous acts described in the bible. But such actions are only considered permissible and perfectly acceptable because they are attributed to/commanded by a god.

    This abrogates human responsibility for the genocide, and yet, you would not tolerate such nonsense if an earthly tyrant stated he did what he did because a god told him

    Such a disgusting example of morality is one of the reasons the religious still continue to
    get away with murder – often literally – because of claims that they were commanded by their god. Or it is the will of ‘God’, or ‘God’ wills it, as was the cry of the Crusader’s.

    That you would even attempt to justify it, fiction or otherwise, merely indicates the level of inculcation you and every other apologist has suffered/suffering from and your inability to reason might indicate a lurking mental problem.


  14. The bible tells us about god. The bibles tells us about love, about mercy. It tells us about vengeance and wrath. It tells us which is better than the other. It tells us which attributes god has…

    …then it tells us stories like these nate has posted and all of a sudden, people who believe the bible is divine act as if god’s love is different than the one mentioned in the bible. that god’s mercy is different than the one in the bible, etc, etc.

    the bible makes claims and sets god up to be a certain way, but then when we use what the bible says god is and compare that to what god has supposedly done, does it match?

    It’s like superman. He’s indestructible. So much so that he’s boring. Supposedly only cryptonite can kill him, yet we see the writers in movies and comics breaking that rule to make the story more interesting or for some other purpose. If people from crypton are invincible on earth, and when they fight they tear down cities, but then all of a sudden you snap one of their necks?

    So, if god supposedly holds every life precious, and is the embodiment of love and mercy, then does it make sense to kill infants with swords, knives and against rocks – only after they’ve watched their family murdered in horror? Or in some cases, all the children were killed along with the adults except for the virgin girls… is that mercy? Is that love? Not as the bible defines it… not as we know those terms today…

    This is a bit of evidence that the claims, these claims made by men, written into the bible, are just that – claims of man.


  15. Who were the Caananites in the Biblical narrative (in fact any peoples God set the Israelites against)? Where did Abraham live/grow up, and what were the accepted religious practices of those civilizations? What was God’s, or the writer of the scriptures, point in including these atrocities in the scripture?


  16. HifzanShafiee, REgarding: “Is there any different between dying with blood shed and non-blood shed i.e poisoning, or H1N1” – there is a VAST difference between dying from natural causes, and being murdered.


  17. just like there’s a difference between dying at age 3 for your parents crimes and dying at 76 for your own. There’s a difference between peacefully in your own bed from old age and in being hacked to bits by intruders because of your neighbor’s sins.


  18. Hifzanshafiee, RE: “Christian need explanation, I don’t.” – no all you need, is to submit yourself to the imaginations of men long since dead.


  19. Silliness of Mind, RE” “If God commands the death of people it is because he is ridding the world of evil.” – is this the evil you mean?

    Isaiah 45:7 “I form the light and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the Lord do all these things.”


  20. SOM 🙂

    Your back

    No, that his front, but I’ll admit they look a lot alike —


  21. you would not tolerate such nonsense if an earthly tyrant stated he did what he did because a god told him

    I trust god speaks through me.” – the defense rests —


  22. Forgot – George W. Bush
    (and thanks to the WordPress format, couldn’t correct it!)


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