Saturday, July 10, 2010

Yahweh is a Baby Killer

Today I'd like to talk about Yahweh, the God of the Old Testament, also sometimes referred to as El, Elohim, the big G, the alpha the omega, you get the idea. In particular I want to focus on the peculiar tendency of Yahweh to either kill, or command his people to kill, innocent children. I think that first its important to establish that according to most current Christian theology a child below a certain age cannot be held accountable for their sins. In the old testament however it seems the sins of the father really are passed onto the sons and Yahweh doesn't even shed a tear as he visits horrible punishment against innocent children.

If any one of us decided to kill a kid, for whatever reason, you can bet we'd end up in prison for the rest of our lives. Yahweh, on the other hand, abides by an apparently different set of rules. What would constitute a sin of the highest order if a mortal committed it is apparently not a sin when a Holy and Loving God commits it. There in lies the conundrum as far as I'm concerned, exactly how does killing a child become LESS sinful when the being committing it is MORE Holy? Shouldn't it be the other way around? Should Yahweh really be allowed to breach his own commandments with impunity (and command the Israelites to do the same)?

Let's take a look at case number 1 from Samuel 15 Verse 1-3:
1 Samuel said to Saul, "I am the one the LORD sent to anoint you king over his people Israel; so listen now to the message from the LORD. 2 This is what the LORD Almighty says: 'I will punish the Amalekites for what they did to Israel when they waylaid them as they came up from Egypt. 3 Now go, attack the Amalekites and totally destroy everything that belongs to them. Do not spare them; put to death men and women, children and infants, cattle and sheep, camels and donkeys.' "

Here is God commanding that the Israelites go out and slaughter and once again God must appoint a metatron, a prophet, to speak for him. Apparently Yahweh had laryngitis that week and had to hire a helper. Apologists will likely be quick to scream "Wait, the Amalekites deserved to be punished, the verse even says they came against the Israelites". On some level they are right, if the Amalekites were being bad maybe some of them do deserve punishment but what God is commanding here is total genocide. Surely the animals and infants the Amalekites possessed were not evil or deserving of death. And why is God, supposedly loving and merciful, not drawing up plans to form an alliance with the Amalekites. Yahweh could have found a way to cause repentance amongst the Amalekites, making them give up their idols to serve Him. Instead of finding a way to achieve peace or punishing ONLY those who can be held morally responsible for what happened to the Israelites God decides the best bet is to slaughter babies.

This time God doesn't get involved in the baby killing himself, I guess Yahweh doesn't want to get his hands dirty now that he has a posse of powerful warriors to do his infanticidal work for him. But here is the iconic example that is brought up nearly every time a non-theist or non-christian gets into a debate with a fundamentalist... that's right ladies and gents, EXODUS.

The book is filled with God's injustice against the Egyptians. I think its an ultimate testament to Yahweh's outstanding hypocrisy that he frees the Hebrews and adopts them as his people only to turn around and allow them to keep slaves (Leviticus 25:44-46). Right in Exodus 21 there is even talk of keeping HEBREW SLAVES for a few years at a time. So apparently God's people don't have an issue enslaving themselves. I have to mention that slavery was not the Pharaoh's only sin by far, he also went on a baby slaughtering campaign against the Hebrews to prevent an eventual uprising as the slaves grew too numerous. So when Pharaoh does it baby killing is evil (let's see how that plays out).

God decides to speak to Moses, formerly an adoptive part of the Egyptian royalty, in the form of a burning bush. Moses is meant to free his people and so he heads into town thinking that I am that I am guy is crazy for picking him. God begins unleashing plagues on Egypt when Pharaoh refuses to let his work force go free.

There are several opportunities for Pharaoh to let the Hebrews go and each time he nearly goes through with it, but Yahweh, as if just dying to bathe in baby blood, keeps hardening Pharaoh's heart. Seriously read Exodus, God repeatedly hardens Pharaoh's heart to stop the man from letting the Hebrews go! Rather than bringing Pharaoh to repentance God is consumed with desire for petty vengeance against the would-be God-King of Egypt. How loving and merciful is this guy, sending boils, frogs, flies and fire from the heavens upon the Egyptian citizens who, for the most part, are entirely innocent. The majority of Egyptians can't afford slaves, what did they do to incur the wrath of Yahweh? About as much as their children did... And yet Yahweh decides to punish the children with the ultimate price instead of punishing the man responsible for Pharaoh's stubbornness - HIMSELF.

Yahweh heads out at night and kills the firstborn of Egypt. When God does it believers view it as an act of divine justice, when Pharaoh did it it was just plain evil. So when a loving God sheds the blood of the innocent its okay, as long as he has petty revenge as an excuse.

You might think that Exodus is the first time Yahweh has dipped his deviant hands in the blood of the innocent, you'd be wrong. Remember that Noah guy, you know the one who built the boat? Well Noah and his family survived the Flood right? What about everyone else?

So what have we learned today? Well today we learned that Yahweh, the God of the Bible, doesn't mind the killing of children when either he is the one doing it or he is the one commanding it. So keep your Bible close but your babies closer.

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