and Genocide in the Bible
By Darryl Record MA Christian Apologetics
I came across this video on YouTube in which Bill Maher was debating Ross Douthat a Catholic author and columnist. While Mr. Douthat, did his best to defend Christianity, by distancing himself from Christians who take the Book of Genesis literally, he set himself up to be defeated later by Bill Maher on the question of why the people of Israel, killed everyone in the cities that they conquered. Mr. Douthat specifically mentioned Ken Ham, and they both seemed to view young earth creationism as an easily defeated position. While not all Christians hold the young-earth creation position see http://www.internationalfishers.com/blog/the-least-of-the-apologists-eternity-in-christ-airport-part-1-age-of-the-earth-debate, I think it will be useful to imagine how a well prepared young-earth creationist (YEC) could have responded more effectively to Bill Maher’s challenges than Mr. Douthat did.
1. Bill Maher is confident that the Bible is not true because of the “Talking Snake” in Genesis 3.Mr. Douthat tried to escape from this attack by saying that most Christians throughout history have not taken Genesis literally, but if Genesis is not literal, than we can have little confidence that most of the rest of the Bible is literal. Allow me to respond as a Young Earth Creationist (YEC).
YEC: Mr. Maher, have you ever seen or heard about talking monkeys, outside of cartoons and fictional stories? Yet, as an atheist who believes in evolution, you believe that a single celled organism came in to being by chance from random, chemicals, which also came into being by chance, and then this single cell evolved into a monkey, which eventually evolved into a monkey that could talk, and that you and I are the descendants of this talking monkey. When I go to the zoo, I can find talking parrots, but I can’t find talking monkeys. But, I don’t have to believe that the parrots are my cousins. I believe that God created them too.
The Bible does say that a snake could talk, but it does not say that the talking snake is our ancestor, so evolution is no more plausible than creation on this point, it comes down to talking snakes of the Bible or the talking apes of Evolution. Now for the evolutionist, you have to believe that the talking ape happened by chance, mutations, and natural selection. As a creationist, I believe that as the Bible teaches, God created angels. The angels that rebelled, became Satan and demons. God also created Adam and Eve and snakes, so while it is a little bit unusual, it is not impossible for Satan (a fallen angel) to either appear as a snake or to “possess” a snake and cause it to speak. There are multiple instances of angels or demons influencing animals. For example, Balaam’s donkey could speak, when, “the LORD opened the mouth of the donkey, and she said to Balaam, "What have I done to you, that you have struck me these three times?” ( Number’s 22:28 ) when Jesus cast demons out of the possessed man, they entered into a herd of pigs, and caused the pigs to run into the sea and drown themselves. (Mark 5:13) So, if we take the Bible literally, the talking snake in Genesis is not illogical or unbelievable at all. There is even some fossil evidence that suggests that some snakes may even had legs, (http://www.icr.org/article/snakes-with-legs/).
While it may be difficult for you as an atheist/evolutionist to accept the possibility of God, creation, and the truth of the Bible, there is a lot of evidence of design and fine tuning in nature and the historical and prophetic accuracy of the Bible combine to make it completely logical and reasonable to believe that there is a Creator and the the Bible is the record of interactions between this Creator and the humans that he created. While the talking snake may be unusual, it is likely that Adam and Eve would have passed the experience with the talking snake, their eyewitness account down to their descendants. We read about the genealogy of Jesus back to Adam (Luke 3). Furthermore, the Bible is inspired by God the Creator so the writer of Genesis, probably Moses, would have had access to the eyewitness accounts of Adam and Eve’s interaction with a talking snake, which would have been passed down through oral history, and directly from God the Creator, who created Adam, Eve, the Snake, and the angel (Lucifer) who rebelled and used the snake to tempt Adam and Eve. (Isaiah 14:12 Hebrews 12:22)
2. Genocide in the Old Testament
YEC: Bill, imagine if you were President of the United States, and the CIA came to you and said, “Mr. President, every single member of ISIS is gathered together in a stadium.” We have a drone standing by with missiles that can completely destroy ISIS in one blow. Now, we have to let you know that the ISIS members have their entire families including their wives and children with them. Now, all of the wives and all of the children are being trained to be suicide bombers as soon as they are able to walk but there are some babies. We also have credible intelligence that ISIS is planning attacks on civilians including you and your family, so if you don’t launch the attack and kill them all now, you are almost certainly guaranteeing that innocent people will be killed by ISIS.” Would you launch the attack? I believe that most US Presidents and the general public would support such an attack, “for the greater good.” But, you must remember, that the CIA could be completely wrong. It could be a convention of Red Cross workers. Even though there is no real moral difference between soldiers killing people with swords and a bomb killing those same people with shrapnel, still you judge the Bible as barbaric. Now, Mr. President, should we launch the missiles and eliminate ISIS forever, or abort the attack? Now, before you give your answer, let me add that the CIA will report your opportunity to completely destroy ISIS with one word, and that you chose to say, “abort”. This will be reported on the international news so that, every time someone is killed by ISIS, the families of the victims will get on CNN and say, “My, husband, wife, son, daughter, father, mother, or relative would be alive today, if President Maher, had only said, “launch”. I blame you President Maher!” People will blame you for those deaths, and those who loved the victims will spit on you and your family on the streets. Your children and descendants will have to change their names and deny that they are related to you.
So, President Maher, will you launch the missile or let ISIS continue killing? All but the most committed pacifists would launch the missile and destroy ISIS in order to prevent them from killing more people. But, you may be a committed pacifist. I too am a pacifist, I do not want to kill anyone, I hate violence, and I hate war. But, I am honest enough to admit that I am an armchair pacifist, and I suspect that you are too. It is one thing to sit in a nation that is guarded by nuclear weapons, soldiers, armed police, and in your case, possibly even armed body guards who are not pacifists, and eloquently extol the virtues of pacifism (http://nymag.com/news/features/bill-maher-2012-4/). It is easy to sit in a comfortable office and watch videos of Jihadi John beheading someone else’s loved one, on the other side of the world, and feel smug in our goodness, that we are pacifists. (http://www.internationalfishers.com/blog/apologist-in-exile-jesus-loves-you-jihadi-john-part-1).
However, if all of your loved ones were wearing orange jumpsuits and were bound and kneeling in front of you, while Jihadi John sharpens his knife would you still be a pacifist? In your hand you have a handgun and you cannot miss at this range. Tell me, Mr. Maher, do you think our armchair pacifism would be able to withstand the drive within us to prevent a greater evil (watching our loved ones be murdered and not trying to save them) even if it meant that we must shoot Jihadi John? Mr. Maher, if you say that yes, you would launch the missiles or that yes you would shoot Jihadi John to save the lives of your loved ones, then you have no right to judge the Bible. For me, I would probably shoot Jihadi John, hope he survives, and go and share the Gospel with him in the hospital. So, I certainly have no right to judge the Bible either.
You and I are not God therefore our knowledge is limited. Perhaps the ISIS convention that you bombed was a meeting in which they decided to give up violence. Perhaps, Jihadi John was sharpening his knife so that he could cut the ropes off of your loved ones to set them free, before making them lunch. We will never know, because we can’t see the future or the thoughts and intentions of humans, but the God of the Bible can.
You see, it is important that we believe in the literal Creator-God of Genesis. Creators have the sole right to destroy, defective creations. For example, no one would call it murder if a baker were to destroy a loaf of bread that turned out wrong. In manufacturing you cannot have quality control unless defective products are destroyed or recycled. According to the Bible, God is the Creator of humans therefore, God alone has the moral authority and duty to judge and if necessary destroy defective humans. After Adam and Eve sinned, death entered the world, this limited the impact that sin could have on the world, by shortening the lifespan of sinners. In Genesis 6-8 God destroyed all of the defective humans except Noah and his immediate family. But in Genesis chapter 9 we read that God gave the rainbow as a sign that He would never again destroy the whole earth with water. The next time earth is destroyed it will be with fire (2 Peter 3:12). Later we see that Sodom was destroyed by fire from heaven (Genesis 19).
When God used water or will use fire to destroy the earth, this would be the equivalent of using atomic weapons to destroy ISIS, there would be a lot collateral damage to people and the environment, so in the scenario that I presented to you earlier, a drone with a smart-missile would be better than this because it would limit the collateral damage. By sending in soldiers with swords to kill all of the inhabitants etc. we see that God was essentially using people as “smart-weapons” in an effort to limit the collateral damage. Of course God could have chosen to kill the people with diseases or fire for heaven, but he chose to send the soldiers of Israel to kill the people in those cities, so that the soldiers, whole nation of Israel, and the rest of the world through the Bible would all know what serious consequences that sins really have. This might have helped deter them from acting like the Canaanites for a while.
Now, we cannot forget that most U.S. Presidents have given the order to kill people based on potentially faulty intelligence. However, God is the Creator and he knows everything. The Bible says, “Lord, you have examined me and know all about me. You know when I sit down and when I get up. You know my thoughts before I think them.” (Psalm 139:1-2). So, God alone knows what sins and atrocities we will commit before we commit them. Therefore, God alone has the moral authority to destroy or order the destruction of any of his creations, that are defective. If a car manufacturer discovers that one of the cars that they made will explode when the car completes 1,000 miles they will not wait until the car has driven 1,000 miles, exploded, and killed people because this would be gross negligence. Likewise, God knew that the people in the cities that he ordered destroyed would eventually “explode” and so he destroyed them before they could cause the evil and destruction that they were capable of. Atheists often accuse God of genocide first of all as the Creator, if God kills or orders the death of someone, it is not murder, it is quality control. Second of all, archeology has confirmed that the Canaanites were committing the atrocities of child sacrifice and many other sins, which God alone fully knew about, and that these sins justified their destruction. (http://www.christianpost.com/news/the-canaanites-child-sacrifice-and-abortion-144152/ http://www.equip.org/article/killing-the-canaanites/ )
3. Bill Maher says that Jesus taught non-violence, yet Christians support violence.
YEC: Some Christians are pacifists and so they would say that the Christians who support violence are not following Scripture. They could easily argue that even though car accidents happen at intersections with stoplights, stoplights do not cause accidents. So, Bill if you truly are a pacifist, then you could become a Mennonite Christian. No one would blame you and it would really improve your attitude and outlook on life. Bill, if you were to become a Mennonite, I bet you would have a lot more friends. Because there are true pacifists who are Christians, you cannot reject Christianity outright because, some Christians are not pacifists. While I don’t think I can become a Mennonite on this fallen and sinful earth, I will definitely be a Mennonite in heaven.
Even though it would be easier if you would just become a Mennonite, that would be good enough for me, let me share with you some of the ways that Christians who are not fully pacifists look at the Bible. Christianity does not only recognize the New Testament as Scripture, we also recognize the Old Testament. The Old Testament provides a framework and a foundation for the New Testament. Without the Old Testament, the New Testament would be much more difficult to understand. Jesus said, “Don’t think that I have come to destroy the law of Moses or the teaching of the prophets. I have not come to destroy them but to bring about what they said. I tell you the truth, nothing will disappear from the law until heaven and earth are gone. Not even the smallest letter or the smallest part of a letter will be lost until everything has happened.” (Matthew 5:17) Trying to separate Christianity from its Old Testament roots would be like trying to explain how the USA came into existence without mentioning England.
So, let’s take a look at some Old Testament Scriptures that serve as a framework for the New Testament.
Genesis 9:6 says, “Whoever kills a human being will be killed by a human being, because God made humans in his own image.” This passage prohibits murder and opens the door the death penalty. This is way before the Moses, this goes back Noah, who is the the ancestor of all people on earth after the flood, including us.
Exodus 22:4 says, “If a thief is killed while breaking into a house at night, the one who killed him is not guilty of murder. But if this happens during the day, he is guilty of murder.”
Joshua 20:9 “Any Israelite or anyone living among them who killed someone accidentally was to be allowed to run to one of these cities of safety. There he would not be killed, before he was judged, by the relative who had the duty of punishing a murderer.”
Now let’s take a look at a few passages in the New Testament:
Matthew 5:38-39 “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I tell you, don’t stand up against an evil person. If someone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other cheek also.” We must remember, that Jesus was speaking to a group of Jews, who were still under the Mosaic Law. Within this context Jesus was telling the people not to seek personal revenge over offenses. He did not say, if someone murders your son let him kill your daughter also. Because saying this, would have violated the Mosaic law, that his audience already accepted.
Luke 22: 35-38 “Then Jesus said to the apostles, “When I sent you out without a purse, a bag, or sandals, did you need anything?” They said, “No.” He said to them, “But now if you have a purse or a bag, carry that with you. If you don’t have a sword, sell your coat and buy one. The Scripture says, ‘He was treated like a criminal,’ and I tell you this scripture must have its full meaning. It was written about me, and it is happening now.” His followers said, “Look, Lord, here are two swords.” He said to them, “That is enough.”
Matthew 26:50-54 “But Jesus said to him, “Friend, why have you come?”
Then they came and laid hands on Jesus and took Him. And suddenly, one of those who were with Jesus stretched out his hand and drew his sword, struck the servant of the high priest, and cut off his ear. But Jesus said to him, “Put your sword in its place, for all who take the sword will perish by the sword. Or do you think that I cannot now pray to My Father, and He will provide Me with more than twelve legions of angels? How then could the Scriptures be fulfilled, that it must happen thus?”
In Luke 14:31-32 Jesus said, “Or what king, going to make war against another king, does not sit down first and consider whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand? Or else, while the other is still a great way off, he sends a delegation and asks conditions of peace.”
John 2:14-15 says, “In the Temple he found people selling cattle, sheep, and doves. He saw others sitting at tables, exchanging different kinds of money. Jesus made a whip out of cords and forced all of them, both the sheep and cattle, to leave the Temple. He turned over the tables and scattered the money of those who were exchanging it.”
Romans 13: 1-5 says, “Every person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God. Therefore whoever resists authority has opposed the ordinance of God; and they who have opposed will receive condemnation upon themselves. For rulers are not a cause of fear for good behavior, but for evil. Do you want to have no fear of authority? Do what is good and you will have praise from the same; for it is a minister of God to you for good. But if you do what is evil, be afraid; for it does not bear the sword for nothing; for it is a minister of God, an avenger who brings wrath on the one who practices evil.”
Bill, the point of sharing all of these scriptures with you, and if I had more time I could share more, is that you can’t take one or two statements out of context and then broad —brush all Christians as hypocrites. 1. Some Christians are true pacifists 2. Those Christians who are not pacifists are doing their best to apply the Bible to the decisions that they must make in the world we live in. But, the bottom line is that you try to make Jesus out to be weak and emasculated, however, in the words of Narnia, “He isn’t a time lion”.
In my personal view, Christians do have the right to possess weapons for the purpose of self defense and to defend the innocent and their governments also have the right to have armies for national defense and defend the innocent. But, not all Christians would share this exact view, and that is fine. Christians may choose not to exercise their right to self-defense, if doing so will have a greater benefit.
Here is a true story:
“The next day more men took another plane and flew over the camp. They brought back sad news: Jim and Nate and their friends were all dead. The Auca Indians had killed them with their spears! The five missionaries had guns with them in their camp, but they did not use them to fight the Indians. When the Auca men came toward them with their spears, they did not shoot back with their guns. They knew that if they would shoot the Indians, they could probably save their own lives. But then they would never be able to teach the Aucas about Jesus! So they chose to let themselves be killed, and let the Aucas have another chance to become Christians. The Aucas always remembered those five strange white men who had been so kind to them and had not tried to kill them. And so a year later when more missionaries tried again to speak to the Aucas about Jesus, they were ready to listen.” http://www.crossroad.to/Victory/stories/missionary/11-auca.htm
Bill, do you know any atheists with this kind of courage? What atheists would refuse to shoot natives who were preparing to kill them with spears, just so they could convert them to Darwinism? Darwinism offers no eternal hope that is worth sacrificing you own life for the sake of others. The missionaries could have used their guns to live according to, “survival of the fittest” but instead they chose to give up their own lives so that others would have a chance to be saved. Jesus Christ too had the power and the right to defend himself against those who crucified, but he chose not to use that right, so that through his death, those who believe in Him could have eternal life. Some day, Jesus will return and he will come to exercise his right of justice, so we need to be ready for that. Bill, if I am wrong about Atheism, and I die as a Christian, I will die and go back to the dust, there really is no negative consequence for me. However, if Christianity is true and you die as an Atheist, you will have to face the God of the Bible, Jesus Christ, who you have spent your whole career insulting. Bill, for your sake, I pray that you will repent so that just as Saul was transformed into Paul, that you will be able to meet Jesus as savior instead of as righteous judge.
1. If you are an Old Earth Creationist reading this, I hope that it will help you to avoid the temptation to throw young earth creationists under the bus whenever atheists mention them. Instead of pointing out all of the things that you disagree with related to young earth creationism in front of non-Christians, please remember that they are your “younger brother”. Brothers may have differences but they need to be united when facing bullies. I would recommend that you say something like this, “Even though I am not a young earth creationist, it is more likely that an eternal, all knowing, all powerful, omnipresent Creator God could create everything a few thousand years ago, than it is that nothing could create everything by chance from nothing a few billion years ago.” If you don’t attack them, young earth creationists can be valuable allies in defending the Christian faith. So when an atheist attacks a young earth creationist, please step back and let your little brother fight the bully on his own terms. Your little brother also has a blackbelt. Sometimes, bullies learn their lesson better when they are bested by someone they thought was weak. Most of these atheists have the pride of Goliath, so it is okay if you let your little brother David have a chance.
2. In order to engage in real apologetics with real non-Christians, we as Christians have to toughen up. Non-Christians use insults, blasphemy, profanity, and threats to trick us into responding in anger or to intimidate us. We must get used to being called “bigots” etc. etc. When Jesus spoke the truth, people insulted him so why should we think that we should be exempt from rough treatment for the sake of the Gospel. Instead we should be prepared to speak the truth in love with gentleness and respect.