I can’t imagine there are any of you unfamiliar with the events that occurred on Sept. 11, 2001. Al-Qaeda agents killed almost 3,000 unsuspecting civilians in a horrifying, clever attack.
They did this in the name of God.
Most people agree this is an aggregious crime and a moral wrong. (And I feel sorry for those who don’t see the problem with it.)
I would like to know what the moral difference is between that act, and the following incidents:
From Numbers 31: “And [Israel] warred against the Midianites, just as the Lord commanded Moses, and they killed all the males….And Moses said to them: ‘Have you kept all the women alive?….Now therefore, kill every male among the little ones, and kill every woman who has known a man intimately. But keep alive for yourselves all the young girls who have not known a man intimately.'”
In other words: a genocide and the men split up the virgins between them. This is doubly strange because of the constant Biblical warnings of foreign women who worship other gods.
I Samuel 15:2-3: “Thus says the Lord of hosts: ‘I will punish Amalek for what he did to Israel, how he ambushed him on the way then he came from Egypt. Now go and attack Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and do not spare them. But kill both man and woman, infant and nursing child…'”
I’ve known this story since middle school, but it never really sunk in. If this same event occurs today, imagine the (justified) hue and cry. What makes it worse is that those Amalekites were punished for something that their ancestors did hundreds of years beforehand. Could you imagine the United States going to war in 2007 against Britain for burning down the White House in the War of 1812? What sort of justice is that?
Is it possible to reconcile a supposedly good, unchanging God with those kinds of acts?
It seems that a better explanation is that the writer of these passages used God to justify serious atrocities.
There are other questions that could be raised about other topics: the Bible never condemning slavery, or whether an eternal Hell is justified for a finite number of sins committed. But that’s for another day.