From: Al Schroeder
To: Marilyn Burge
Date: Mar 8 1996 4:02:00 am
Subject: A FAIR & JUST GOD
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MB> IO see a HUGE qualitative difference between wiping out the
MB> Midianties because they worship the wrong god and allowing people
MB> to die of old age and disease.  If you don't, I can do nothing but
MB> question your sense of ethics.

Oh, I can too. You may notice a letter from me to Jim G., this packet,
about me taking him to task for saying it sounded "humane" to him. I
don't know the answer to the Midianite thing, Marilyn, I really don't.
Oh, I can make guesses, and offered Jim a few. For instance, some of
those who followed the Baal religion (which it states explicitly they
did) adopted the Molech sacrifice system of sacrificing children,
routinely. (In fact there is some controversy in archeological circles
whether Molech is a distinct god, or the name of the ceremony by which
the children were sacrificed to Baal.) It also states, a little prior
to that order, that Midianite women "seduced" Iraelite men and brought
them to the worship of Baal.
Now, sometimes, there are REAL qualitative differences between
religions. A religion that routinely sacrifices children I think, by any
reasonable standard, is worse than one that does not. Think how many
children might have been sacrificed over the centuries if such a
religion became the norm of the Roman Empire and lasted as long as
Christianity has. It does indeed make a difference. The Aztecs practiced
sacrifice, but at least they used adults.
Now notice, Jehovah only said that the Israelites were to avenge
themselves on the Midianites, as John Brawley pointed out. It was Moses
who issued that order, and maybe he saw it as a danger to his people
adopting such a practice, and feared if the non-virginal women remained,
they would surely seduce many away and so open more of his people--his
children--to sacrifice.
Suppose you found out those dear to you were about to join a religion
that LITERALLY sacrificed children? Would you sit idly by?  And would
continue to do so as long as such a culture existed? Could you stand idly
by and let it exist and know as long as it existed more innocents would
be sacrificed? (I.E., if you were in a country that existed peacefully
next to Nazi Germany while it was running the deathcamps, could you sit
idly by?)
Is it worth killing many Germans to stop such atrocities of innocents
to continue for all time? Perhaps as a pacifist, you will say "no". I
think the answer in some cases needs to be yes.
But I am not unaware of the irony here, that women and children, as in
young boys, were killed--sacrificed, if you will--by the Israelities.  Of
course, young boys can grow up to be grown warriors, and males are much
more dangerous in such early cultures, where strength indeed makes a
difference in battle. But whether this killing can be justified as (A)
payment for the thousands or tens of thousands who may have been killed
in the past or (b) to prevent tens of thousands in the future...that is
indeed an iffy question.
And of course it is all a hypothesis. It fits what we know of some
aspects of the religion that carried Baal-worship, but we don't have a
specific reference that says the Midianites did sacrifice to children, as
we do of other Phonecian-derived cultures, where it undoubtedly took
place.

MB> Only in your dreams.  You mean after all this time you didn't
MB> know that I'm a pacifist? I don't believe the State has the
MB> "right" to kill for ANY reason, nor do I believe individuals do.

I knew there were some things you leaned that way about, but no, I wasn't
aware that you were a pacifist in all things. So...not criticizing, just
making sure of my ground...are you saying that a policeman, for instance,
may not use deadly force to stop a sniper from killing others? Or to stop
a rapist? Or that no war is ever justified, even against, say, Hitler and
his death camps? (And again, I am struck by the irony that I, as a theist
and a believer in a savior who urged us to "turn the other cheek" and "he
who is without sin cast the first stone" feels there ARE times for
justified violence, and you, as a nontheist, might not. And that Jesus
might approve of your stance before mine---"he who lives by the sword
shall die by it")

MB> Or, in this case, his lack of a sense of fairness. Not me, Al,
MB> not me. This is one of the ways that I am certain your god doesn't
MB> exist. His utter hypocrisy tells me of his nonexistence.

And yet...I daresay you would not let a chimpanzee drive a car. Or a two
year old. Because they have not the judgement to use something so
dangerous. Why is THAT different than God reserving some things for
Himself? Obviously there must be some real qualitative diferences between
a infinite, omniscient, omnipotent being and ourselves.

MB> I do not pay homage to ANY form of authoritarian inconsistency,
MB> no.  I do not respect bosses who tell me I can't make personal
MB> phone calls at work, and then when I walk into their work area I find
MB> them talking to a bowling buddy; I do not respect any authority
MB> figure who tells me I can't exact vengeance, and then publickly
MB> declares "vengeance is mine."  I think your (and the Bible's)
MB> concept stinks like three-day-old fish.

But of course, a boss is a human being like yourself. Are you a strict
vegetarian? If not, then are not you following an inconsistency, allowing
the murder of animals or fish that you would not allow for human beings?
And, if that is the way you feel about a boss...how would you feel
about a CEO, say, who hears various complaints and decides to go
undercover as an employee in the mail room, and hears all the complaints
first hand, only to be totally put upon by a middle-management petty
tyrant who tries to have him (who he thinks is a mail room employee)
fired, disgraced, framed, etc.? Who experiences all the inconveniences
his employees do first hand, as one of them?
For that is a business parable for what Jesus did.

MB> Double standards are the epitome of hypocracy. I don't respect
MB> hypocrites, and I certainly don't bow down and worship them!

It is only hypocrisy if you equate yourself with God, and feel there is
no difference between you and He; in which case, the very vaccinations
you receive murder beings with as much right to live as yourself, i.e.,
germs and viruses. Every time you spray Lysol and kill some germs, you
are a mass murderer...unless you recognize an intrinsic difference
between yourself and germs and viruses. _I_ do. Do you?
Similarly, I acknowledge an intrinsic difference between an infinite,
eternal being---who indeed, is responsible for anyone existing, in my
view...and myself.

MB> Oh, yes. I'd exist without him. I'm here, aren't I? Where is
MB> he? I do not see him, nor do I acknowledge the petty tyrant in
MB> my imagination.

I'm sure Charlie Schultz could make Charlie Brown have the exact same
thought balloon as what you just said. And similarly, Charlie Brown
might wonder about his creator, and why he cannot perceive him.

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