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Humanitas nex

May 4, 2010

I could spend all day beating up this argument that I came across today, because it is so very long.

William Lane Craig is prized among a certain class of believers for his willingness to debate with skeptics. For my part, I don’t prize the ability to debate at all, but I can understand why they do. It has so little to do with the power of the arguments, and more to do with disingenuous point-scoring and the Gish gallop: overwhelming an opponent with so much BS that they cannot possibly answer it all, given the finite time in debates (or our own lifetimes).

Maybe I can make a miniseries out of bashing this piece of rhetorical garbage. I have one small bit of it on my mind today, as the poorly translated Latin may foreshadow if the online translators haven’t botched it completely.  🙂

The overall argument addresses the Jews’ slaughter of the Canaanites as depicted in the bible — complete genocide, down to every man, woman, and child. Reportedly mentions of it can be found here: Deut. 7.1-2; 20.16-18. And so the question naturally arises as to how this genocide can be justified. And I could go on about the mere idea of that, but that’s another show.

Regarding the fate of the children, WLC is particularly…magnanimous, one might say:

Moreover, if we believe, as I do, that God’s grace is extended to those who die in infancy or as small children, the death of these children was actually their salvation.  We are so wedded to an earthly, naturalistic perspective that we forget that those who die are happy to quit this earth for heaven’s incomparable joy.  Therefore, God does these children no wrong in taking their lives.

Of course, you will have to set aside your momentary revulsion at WLC’s blithe glossing-over of wholesale genocide and what the last moments of these children must have been like, were this story for real — and I am skeptical of that, mind you.

But Heaven makes it all better!

What does this story and WLC’s argument teach us about xianity, or at least his brand of it? Life has no value. The afterlife is “incomparable”. All the meaning and purpose that xians usually credit to their lives is pure, unadulterated bull. And to think, how often the believer will scoff at this skeptic’s existence, devoid of objective meaning (though subjective is another story).

This fellow holds to a religion where shooting a baby in the face would be doing them a favor.

You might look at the fiery debate over abortion and ask, where’s the fire? They get a free ticket to heaven. What can life’s experiences bring, in fact, except the risk of eternal hell? Are we not doing them a favor? Each moment an infant survives brings them closer to incalculable peril. Why should any xian hang on to life — any life — even their own? Well, it seems you have to make them.

Indeed, one brand of early xianity took this to heart and was pro-suicide. One of their sub-sects actually went out with clubs attacking people, to bring about their own martyrdom all the sooner. This may have spurred the surviving religion to outlaw suicide. What troubles we might have been saved, had the martyrdom enthusiasts won out.

It is an interesting image of heaven, populated with millions of infants and small children (fetuses too, perhaps?), victims of slaughter down through the ages. I could almost admire the person who can rationalize out some kind of purpose to such an existence.

Mysterious ways indeed.

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