When God slaughters innocent babies, He is “good.”

| November 12, 2006 | 115 Replies

In a post entitled “A Seriously Warped Moral Compass,” Ebonmuse at Daylight Atheism relates a discussion he had with an evangelical fellow.  The topic?  Hosea, chapter 13, a Bible passage in which God promises that for the crime of disbelief, the city of Samaria’s “infants shall be dashed in pieces, and their women with child shall be ripped up.”  This is one of those many Bible passages that the anti-abortion demonstrators refuse to display on their signs as they march in front of clinics.

I’ve often been in discussions similar to the one described by Ebonmuse. Such discussions are highly predictable, actually.  They all lead to the same conclusion.  The fundamentalists all end up insisting that whatever God does, He is still “good” or “just.” 

Here’s how the encounter of Ebonmuse with his fundamentalist acquaintance:

“You’ve said that it’s perfectly okay for God to command genocide. You’ve said it’s okay for him to condemn people to be tortured for all eternity because they had some sincere doubts about his existence. And now you’re saying it’s perfectly okay for him to order the slaughter of pregnant women and their unborn children! So what would you consider immoral? Is there anything you think he can’t do and still be good? Is there any act – anything at all – that a good god would never command?”

For the first time, a shadow of disgust passed across John’s face. “Yes. A good God would never say that it’s okay for people to be gay. Homosexuality is disgusting and unnatural and God would never permit it.”

Here’s how I see it.  Either God is not “good” or one can still be good even though one slaughters babies.  Now, maybe those babies (some of them being unborn babies) were morally deficient and “had it coming,” but I doubt it. 

In my heathen view, babies are not capable of doing anything capable of earning the death penalty.  In the meantime, we’ve got a language problem.  If fundamentalists keep insisting that God is good when He kills babies, we’ll just have to advise all of the dictionary makers that there is a new definition of “good.”  We’ll call it “good #2” (or something like that) and it will mean something like this:  evil, depraved, morally obtuse and dangerous.   Once this new definition of good (#2) is commonly accepted, we can start using it commonly.  For instance, if someone sticks a gun in your face to rob you, you can say, “Hey!  You’re good #2!”

Here is how Ebonmuse ends his post:

People such as this have a seriously warped moral compass. They have their priorities precisely backwards, they are obsessed with precisely the wrong things. Nobel laureate Steven Weinberg once said: “Religion is an insult to human dignity. With or without it you would have good people doing good things and evil people doing evil things. But for good people to do evil things, that takes religion.”

As long as fundamentalists can’t shake off the effects of the LSD they apparently take, they rest of us will just have to understand that they give God a free pass, morally speaking. He gets all the credit but none of the blame.  Although He’s sometimes good, he’s often good #2.  He’s always “just.”  He is incapable of doing evil even when he’s busy slaughtering innocent babies. And perhaps it is because God is so good (#2) that the fundamentalists are “inspired” to be good (#3), namely, they (sometimes) refrain from killing and stealing because they’re afraid that God might be good (#2) to them too.

BTW, I’d highly recommend that you check out Ebonmuse’s site.  Lots of thoughtful analysis and good clear writing.

He comes at the topic of religion from many angles, always with new fruitful observations. Here’s how he describes himself:

Part-time computer hacker, part-time freethought activist; optimist and skeptic rolled into one; a poet at heart but a scientist at mind; a thorough-going atheist who admires religious music and architecture. I contain multitudes, as Walt Whitman put it. And anyone who suggests that I’m only an atheist because of a dysfunctional family or a bad experience with church gets fifty lashes with a wet noodle blessed by the Flying Spaghetti Monster.

[Note:  This is not the original version of this post.  While I was correcting a typo, the original post got “eaten” by an airport Internet connection].

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Category: Bigotry, Good and Evil, Language, Psychology Cognition, Religion

About the Author ()

Erich Vieth is an attorney focusing on consumer law litigation and appellate practice. He is also a working musician and a writer, having founded Dangerous Intersection in 2006. Erich and his wife, Anne Jay, live in the Shaw Neighborhood of St. Louis, Missouri, where they are raising their two extraordinary daughters.

Comments (115)

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  1. Hank says:

    Gay sex unnatural? Tell it to the bonobos!

    How'd we get back around to homosexuality again anyway? Was it Karl? Jeez, it's always about the butt with that guy …

  2. Mindy Carney says:

    Karl, why do you seem to think that when two gay people want to marry, it is only about sex? Do you really think gay people just wait til they find one other gay person and then pitch a fit in order to marry? Are you really that daft??

    The gay and lesbian couples I know dated, just like you or I would. They got to know each other, they spent time figuring out if they were compatible – in all the same ways the rest of us do. Do they balance each other, emotionally? Do they share the same passions for art and culture? Can they compromise? Do their strengths complement each other's strengths? Do they like similar music, enjoy a similar pace of life, can they travel well together? Do they go to the same church? After time, they determine that their love for each other is of the permanent kind, the lifelong kind. The sex plays no bigger or smaller a part than it does for heterosexual couples. Some of them have chosen to raise children. Some have adopted, some have conceived with medical intervention. Some have decided not to parent.

    Ooh, and guess what? Some of my heterosexual couple friends have also chosen not to parent. They are committed to each other and their careers. They go to church, even! But they married each other, knowing from the beginning that they did not desire children, BUT that they intended to have as much sex as any couple that did. They wanted to be committed to each other. Based on your response, they shouldn't have married any more than gay couples should.

    God, Karl, you are so full of shit it is hard to believe that I am still wasting time responding to your rants, but I can't help it. You write as if YOU KNOW. And you don't. You truly don't. You rant on and on and ON about a topic you know nothing about. You are not qualified to speak on this. I feel quite certain that you have no gay friends. So I don't care how many times you've read your bible and how many ways you've interpreted it, or with whose help. The bible, even if you believe it is a sacred text, is full of contradiction and "rules" we no longer impose upon people. The fact that you hold tight to this one, bring it up regularly and rant on with a completely unrealistic and distorted version of homosexuality, proves to me without a doubt that you fear your own homoerotic feelings and that you have never had any kind of friendship with a gay or lesbian person. You don't know any of them beyond very superficially, if at all, nor have you conversed on a personal level with any one of them. Or surely you wouldn't continue to have the audacity to portray them as some sort of predators with nothing to them but a sexual difference from yourself.

    You are a bigot, Karl. I seriously doubt that ever, in this lifetime, you will be capable of seeing or admitting that – but you, sir, are a despicable bigot.

  3. Karl says:

    Alison,

    Lot wasn't any more righteous according to his actions and thoughts than any other man, including Abraham or King David and I dare say even of one half of Jesus' human physical nature itself either.

    Show me any person heterosexual or homosexual, that displays the fruit of the Spirit of God and I can say nothing against these characteristics in the person.

  4. John says:

    Yes alison that is true but as shown in the Bible there is an explanation for the reason and need of clothes. And yes Erich gay sex does crepp me out deeply but not because i hate the people. Homosexuals can be the most polite and friendly people in the world I know that and i am not trying to go on a crusade killing of all the gays.

    A married heterosexual couple’s use of birth control to wait a few years before starting a family.

    A woman’s decision to have sexual intercourse with her husband after she has gone through menopause.

    The choice of a person to masturbate to relieve sexual tension or to get to sleep.

    Watching a romantic movie.

    A married couple’s decision to have sex even though the husband had a vasectomy or the wife had a tubal ligation.

    To most of them reproduction ahs already happened and therefore it is fine, because although a vasectomy is unnatural, it is sometimes neccesary, and menopause is natural, sex has two uses, pleasure between man and wife, and reproduction. watching a romantic movie makes no sense whatsoever, and masturbation i believe is wrong.

  5. John writes:—"To most of them reproduction ahs already happened and therefore it is fine, because although a vasectomy is unnatural, it is sometimes neccesary, and menopause is natural, sex has two uses, pleasure between man and wife, and reproduction. watching a romantic movie makes no sense whatsoever, and masturbation i believe is wrong."

    You're making assumptions, but I'm glad we have cleared all that up! It's good to know what is fine and what is not.

    Firstly, the use of sex for pleasure is not conditional upon reproduction. Lots of people just want to have sex. They don't need anyone's permission for that, especially not if the precondition is to reproduce.

    Sex does have two uses, but the way you frame it is off—pleasure between consenting adults. Married, unmarried, male, female, two, three, more.

    Romantic movies often make no sense, I agree, but many things people do make no sense but that doesn't make them wrong or worthless.

    Masturbation is wrong? Gosh, I wondered why my hand had fallen off when I was 16…

  6. Hank says:

    Hey, a new player! Cool, Karl is getting far beyond dull and possibly thicker by the minute (like a good bolognese, but not nearly as useful) (though it must be said I have no great hopes for the new guy as he's hardly distinguished himself from the usual fundy trolls we get around here).

    Religion may not be the root cause of every war in history (a major contributing factor toward escalations and brutality, sure, but that's another post) but great gosh, it sure seems to produce far more than its fair share of sexual hangups. Being gay is wrong, jerking off is wrong, telling kids how their penises and vaginas work and how to avoid getting pregnant if you happen to use them together is wrong (and don't even mention what you can't do if you DO get accidentally knocked up). It seems anything involving people choosing what to do with their own damn bodies (or even informing people how those bodies operate) is wrong to these puritans. But hey, what's a religion if it doesn't come with a long fucking list of control-freakish thou shalt nots, especially concerning private, intimate behaviour which affects nobody but the participants?

  7. Tony Coyle says:

    I played fundy bingo with John's last comment – it was too easy.

    "The Bible Says"

    "Sex is for making babies"

    "Sex is only for married couples"

    "Oh Noes! Teh Gay!"

    "Masturbation is a SIN!"

    We also had run on sentences, punctuation fail, spelling fail, and humor fail.

    I think we have a winner.

  8. Mindy Carney says:

    You nailed it with "control-freakish," Hank. That is, bottom line, what it's all about.

    I've always found it amusing that a popular AA saying is, "Let Go, and Let God."

    In other words, if you are not capable of controlling yourself, let religion do the work for you. Scare yourself into behaving, rather than get to the root of what led you into addiction in the first place.

    The solace and strength many derive from their religion is wonderful. I don't want religion to go away. I want religion-as-power to go away. It won't, but a girl can dream, can't she?

  9. Karl says:

    When will people like Hank, Tony and Mark ever admit that I have never stated that I believe homosexual or supposed auto erotic behavior, or even mutual erotic behavior inside or outside of marriage seals anyone’s fate and judgment before God?

    How one attempts to "proselytize" others into accepting or agreeing with one's perspectives and personal behaviors and values does however help reveal the motives of your heart.

    Holding marriage as an attempt at a higher human social value based upon a physical reality, only lessens it when others try to convince young people that anything can be called a marriage if the people so desire. I agree with the principles behind the realities of civil unions for anyone that wishes to declare their commitments to one another, as does the POTUS.

    I value principles and relationships that are not aggressively proselytized towards those who don't think and believe the same way. Can you all here on DI honestly say the same thing?

  10. Karl says:

    How dare anyone presume to judge anyone else as evil!

    Read scripture especially those of you who won't tell others the real reason why God told the Israelites to wipe out entire populations was because they were burning their own children as sacrifices.

    altough maybe you all still prefer that we still have those people around so that they can offer anyone sons and and daughters as a burnt offering.

  11. Niklaus Pfirsig says:

    Hank, just because the Judeo-Christian-Muslim-B'hai group of religions see sex as a shame and embarassment does not mean that all religions are the same way.

  12. Karl says:

    There may have been some members of the DONOs (department of neighborhood organizers) who kept telling these rascals they were being a little bit too inhuman and icksnay on the slaughteray. The quickest way however to stop dissent and to silence opposition is by being forcefully aggressive and inhumane.

    You seem to forget that in a society, when specific leaders get known for the depths of their evil, the rest of the people who really would like to try to be moral (humane if you will have it) either flee or are held as human shields by the immoral leaders who wish to pretend they have followers that serve them willingly, but who fully recognize these others are only there to protect their own hides and increase their apparent numbers.

    Look recently as what happened in Sri Lanka, and what is happening now in northern Pakistan. The people that know judgment is coming and really do not want to defend the rascals are normally so passive at this point that it takes outside intervention to help them see their only solution to the place they find themselves in is becoming a refuge and leave everything.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sri_Lankan_Civil_War

    When the Bible says "all" were killed in a battle, more than likely it means "all combatants" were killed, be they men, women or children.

  13. Mindy Carney says:

    Karl, I did not call you evil. I called you a bigot. Personally, I think bigotry ranks right up there on the "mean" scale, but I don't think it hits "evil" unless it becomes the basis for violence and blatant discrimination.

    Oh . . . wait. . .

    Nope, still, not judging you as evil. I do believe you mean well, yet are woefully misguided. You dig in and insist that your way is THE way, and since your way leads to the discrimination of many people I care about, well, it rubs me the wrong way. Really far the wrong way.

    Perhaps I owe you an apology for such name-calling. I will think about that.

  14. Stacy says:

    Karl: "When the Bible says “all” were killed in a battle, more than likely it means “all combatants” were killed, be they men, women or children."

    Your rationalizations are not supported by the text.

    Numbers 31:14-18

    "And Moses was wroth with the officers of the host…And Moses said unto them, have ye saved all the women alive?….Now therefore kill every male among the little ones, and kill every woman that hath known man by lying with him.

    "But all the women children, that have not known a man…keep alive for yourselves."

    Deuteronomy 3:6-7 ("Israel destroys people of Bashan")

    "And we utterly destroyed them, as we did unto Sibon king of Heshbon, utterly destroying the men, women, and children, of every city.

    "But all the cattle, and the spoil of the cities, we took for a prey to ourselves."

    Joshua 6:21 (The destruction of Jericho)

    "And they utterly destroyed all that was in the city, both man and woman, young and old, and ox, and sheep, and ass, with the edge of the sword."

    These passages are pretty clear. There are plenty more, but I don't want to bore everyone with this dismal litany.

  15. Karl says:

    Mindy,

    We are all bigots in the eyes of other specific people if we consider that people can and do have different values that don't agree with each other.

    The extent of our being labeled then as a bigot stems from how we try to convince other people to take our side or the highway.

    I really think I try to respond in less bigoted ways than those who hold values different from mine, but I might just be fooling myself to agree with my friends (mutual bigots) for that matter.

  16. Niklaus Pfirsig says:

    Mindy, I think you misunderstand the "Let Go and let God" part of the 12 step program.It does not mean one must give themselves over to religion. It is betted summed up in the short version of the "Serenity Prayer" ( which is actually a rephrasing of an ancient koan). The original koan translated to something like:

    A serene man accepts that which he cannot change.

    A strong man changes that which he can,

    And a wise man knows the difference.

    This saying predates Reinhold Niebuhr's serenity prayer by several centuries. Niebuhr's "Serenity Prayer" adds much to this concept and is an excellent encapsulation of the Christian Existentialist philosophy, upon which the 12 step program of AA is based.

    The idea expressed is that a person can only be responsible for his or her individual actions, and that it is not possible to be in total control. One should not bear the responsibility of events beyond the scope of his/her control but should learn top live with it.

    Karl, A bigot is a person who attributes a set of stereotypical characteristics to people based solely on a small subset of observable characteristics. It is obvious that the character Archie Bunker in the old sitcom "All in the Family" was a bigot. Most viewers failed to realize that Micheal Stivic (a.k.a. "Meathead") was also a bigot.

  17. Mindy Carney says:

    No, Karl, you are wrong. Bigotry is defined by Merriam-Webster as " a person obstinately or intolerantly devoted to his or her own opinions and prejudices ; especially : one who regards or treats the members of a group (as a racial or ethnic group) with hatred and intolerance."

    You and other religious zealots treat gays with hatred and intolerance. That is bigotry. Fighting against ignorance is NOT bigotry. Insisting that Christians leave non-Christians alone to practice whatever belief system they hold is not bigotry. Insisting that all religions should be able to be honored with out one religion being held over the others is not bigotry. I am in favor of any and all religions being observed by the believers of each – without any of them insisting that others are less.

    You hide behind your incorrect assumption that homosexuality is a choice, so that you can lump it in as one tenet of a belief system and feel free to teach against it, rail against and discriminate against it. But you are wrong. And until you have spent time with gay people and talked to them at length and made a real effort to understand who they are, you have absolutely no right to insist that what you think you know about them is true. That is absurd.

    Your bigotry is based in the same kind of thinking as used by those who defended slavery as acceptable because Africans and their descendants were "less than" on the humanity scale. They based that on no real qualifications at all, just a physical difference as slight as skin color. But back then, those who disagreed were met with the same vehement ignorance as you display about gays. And until those who would discriminate base their bigotry on something more than an "ick" factor, I will continue to rant about it. And call it as I see it, which is what I did when I called you a bigot.

    My assessment stands, and no, I do not believe that we are all bigots. I don't believe that most Christians are bigots. Just some of you.

  18. Karl says:

    Niklaus

    I agree with your analysis of both Archie and Meathead. As you stated, "Most viewers failed to realize that Micheal Stivic (a.k.a. “Meathead”) was also a bigot."

    I admit to the values I prefer, and try to hold to, which includes not saying I'm tolerant of some people but not others. To me that indicates an accident waiting to happen from not checking one's own blind spot.

    I guess Mindy needs to label POTUS Obama as a bigot as well. I essentially hold the same views concerning gay marriage as he does. At least, I think I do.

    The most insidious bigots will not admit that they could possibly be bigots because they are fighting against the ignorance of others. They assume their own biases aren't based upon anything other than the correct perspectives concerning matters which are essentially opinions and interpretations.

  19. Mindy Carney says:

    I will grant you that if Obama has based his civil-union statements on a bias like yours, then yes, he is a bigot. I have a feeling, though, that he is playing politics. Do I agree with him? No. But do I understand his need to play politics and advance a more fair agenda slowly? Yes. I can see that it would fail otherwise.

    You can call me a bigot, Karl, even an insidious one, but if you are saying that my belief that gays need to be treated completely equally under the law is based on opinion and interpretation, you are wrong. Sorry, but it is not my opinion that gay people just ARE who they are. That is simply a fact.

  20. Mindy Carney says:

    Niklaus, you may be correct. I just know that in my experience, I have seen several people jump into religion as if it were another addiction, and they still have a very hard time living a productive life. I also know that AA has been incredibly successful for an awfully lot of people, but I don't believe it is the only way to recover from alcoholism, either.

  21. Stacy says:

    Erich–Note that God's prophet, Moses, orders rape and enslavement, in addition to massacre. BTW, I quoted only 3 passages out of many. Here's a site which has collected many others:

    http://www.nobeliefs.com/DarkBible/darkbible3.htm

    I think everyone should read the Bible. It's an excellent argument for atheism.

  22. Mike M. says:

    Erich: Loved that post, hated this line, "As long as fundamentalists can’t shake off the effects of the LSD they apparently take, they rest of us will just have to understand that they give God a free pass, morally speaking."

    Research has clearly shown LSD to create empathy, dissolve boundaries (cultural, religious, personal..etc), widen perspectives, and enhance introspection. NOT indicative of the rigid reality tunnel of the fundamentalist.

    Some interesting quotes on LSD:

    "LSD burst over the dreary domain of the constipated bourgeoisie like the angelic herald of a new psychedelic millennium. We have never been the same since, nor will we ever be, for LSD demonstrated, even to skeptics, that the mansions of heaven and gardens of paradise lie within each and all of us."

    ~Terence McKenna

    "If God dropped acid, would He see people?"

    ~Steven Wright

    "I believe that with the advent of acid, we discovered a new way to think, and it has to do with piecing together new thoughts in your mind. Why is it that people think it's so evil? What is it about it that scares people so deeply, even the guy that invented it, what is it? Because they're afraid that there's more to reality than they have confronted. That there are doors that they're afraid to go in, and they don't want us to go in there either, because if we go in we might learn something that they don't know. And that makes us a little out of their control."

    —Ken Kesey, Quoted in the BBC documentary, "The Beyond Within: The Rise and Fall of LSD," 1987

    "'Turn on' meant go within to activate your neural and genetic equipment. Become sensitive to the many and various levels of consciousness and the specific triggers that engage them. Drugs were one way to accomplish this end. 'Tune in' meant interact harmoniously with the world around you—externalize, materialize, express your new internal perspectives. Drop out suggested an elective, selective, graceful process of detachment from involuntary or unconscious commitments. 'Drop Out' meant self-reliance, a discovery of one's singularity, a commitment to mobility, choice, and change. Unhappily my explanations of this sequence of personal development were often misinterpreted to mean 'Get stoned and abandon all constructive activity.'"

    —Timothy Leary, Flashbacks, 1983

    "Always that same LSD story, you've all seen it. 'Young man on acid, thought he could fly, jumped out of a building. What a tragedy.' What a dick! Fuck him, he’s an idiot. If he thought he could fly, why didn’t he take off on the ground first? Check it out. You don’t see ducks lined up to catch elevators to fly south—they fly from the ground, ya moron, quit ruining it for everybody. He’s a moron, he’s dead—good, we lost a moron, fuckin’ celebrate. Wow, I just felt the world get lighter. We lost a moron! I don’t mean to sound cold, or cruel, or vicious, but I am, so that’s the way it comes out. Professional help is being sought. How about a positive LSD story? Wouldn't that be news-worthy, just the once? To base your decision on information rather than scare tactics and superstition and lies? I think it would be news-worthy. 'Today, a young man on acid realized that all matter is merely energy condensed to a slow vibration. That we are all one consciousness experiencing itself subjectively. There is no such thing as death, life is only a dream and we're the imagination of ourselves' . . . 'Here's Tom with the weather.'"

    ~Bill Hicks

  23. Erich Vieth says:

    Mike: I've never tried LSD, and I admit that I am not well-versed as to its effect, so I will veer from references to its effect. Fair enough.

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