Friday, April 15, 2011

Article: How Could God Command Killing the Canaanites? by Paul Copan


In this featured article, philosopher and apologist Paul Copan addresses the question, "How Could God Command Killing the Canaanites?"

Copan explains his intent in writing the article:

"I have written a book on Old Testament ethics (Is God a Moral Monster? — forthcoming with Baker), including four chapters on the Old Testament and violence. I can only here briefly summarize my response to this perennially perplexing question. Keep in mind that I am offering an alternative to the Sunday School version of the Canaanite question.2 First, I will make a few introductory remarks. Then I will sketch out the key points as a preview of the warfare discussion in my forthcoming book."

You can read the entire article here.

For those interested in Is God a Moral Monster?, see here.

You can examine more of Copan's work here.

Courage and Godspeed,
Chad

6 comments:

Mariano said...

You may also want to check out:
http://www.truefreethinker.com/articles/genocide-bible

Chad Vaughn said...

This article was very helpful in answering some questions I was struggling with. I think Copan did a great job elaborating on parts of the OT regarding the Israelites confrontations with other nations. We have to keep in mind the type of literary style that was used, the context of the situation (some battles Israel was on the defensive), and the difference between expulsion and annihilation. This was a great read and I look forward to someday reading the book.

Thanks Chad!

Jason Bishara said...

Deuteronomy 2:34 states that “we captured all his cities at that time and utterly destroyed the men, women and children of every city. We left no survivors” (NASB).
Then he goes onto say...
“The sweeping words like” young and old”, and “man and woman,” however, are stock expressions for totality - even if women and children were not present.”

...If that isn’t proof that the bible is the most ambiguous piece of writing ever written I don’t know what is!
So if we read the bible and it says God commanded something, we should automatically know it’s authors were using a stock expression? Of course you’ll need a PHD in “expressions used by ancient Israelites in 4000bce” to know that lol. Clearly doing all he can to squabble out of one of the most obvious moral flaws of the bible, the dreaded OT! What’s next? Let me guess... Stoning homosexuals and disobedient children to death is actually an expression for showering them with kittens and chocolates?

Chad said...

Hello Jason,

It's great to hear from you and thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts.

Clearly doing all he can to squabble out of one of the most obvious moral flaws of the bible, the dreaded OT!

I grant you that this is certainly a possibility. However, I would encourage you not to shelve Copan’s work so quickly. After all, in this article Copan states:

I can only here briefly summarize my response to this perennially perplexing question. Keep in mind that I am offering an alternative to the Sunday School version of the Canaanite question.2 First, I will make a few introductory remarks. Then I will sketch out the key points as a preview of the warfare discussion in my forthcoming book.

Meaning, there is more to the story. Further, even in this brief, condensed article, Copan goes on to argue that even the context of some of the “dreaded OT” passages imply what he is attempting to explain.

Finally, if the so-called “moral flaws” of the Bible really bother you, I would recommend reading Copan’s book Is God a Moral Monster?.

I readily admit that there are no easy answers to these types of questions; however, I would think a more humble appraisal of the evidence would be in order before dismissing Copan’s work so hastily.

Hope you and yours are well!

Respectfully

Chad said...

For readers interested in exploring this topic more in depth, here is an interview with Paul Copan.

In the interview, Copan "explores the questions of the "mean" Old Testament God, is God proud and jealous, Abraham being commanded to sacrifice Isaac, challenging Old Testament laws, slavery, and the judgment of the Canaanites."

Enjoy!

Jason Bishara said...

You’ll have to forgive my somewhat cynical undertone when approaching this subject. Usually I try to avoid it, but something about trying to justify the murdering of babies, or sweeping it off as an “expression” just hits one of my emotional buttons. To me personally, it seems blatantly obvious that these texts contain traces of some of the cruel barbarism that permeated the ancient world from all human civilisations. For me it’s easy to look back and see this as a lesson learnt for the progression of human flourishing, but, believe it or not I do understand your desire to try and understand it from a Christian perspective.

And your right, I should read the book :)

I just got speedy internet so I’m going to go on an online book buying frenzy!! I might add her to the list. Wish me luck!

peace

Jase