Sunday Sermon: Ancient antics

One of my favorite strains of Christian apologia is the attempt to justify the barbaric acts committed (often at God’s behest) in the Old Testament by claiming that we shouldn’t expect more from such primitive, barbaric times.

After all, by today’s standards, ordering soldiers to go back and kill women and children they’d captured is pretty extreme. So is having a bear tear people apart because they mocked someone for being bald.

Christian apologists often talk about how we can’t judge these archaic actions by modern standards — the people living then hadn’t been exposed to the Enlightenment philosophy of Locke, Hobbes, etc. In a quirky burst of cultural relativism, they say we shouldn’t judge the people of those primitive, unenlightened times by our own civilized standards.

But the thing is, we’re not talking about some remote Pacific island tribe that never had any contact with any outside influences until being discovered a few years ago or something. We’re talking about the Israelites — the descendants of Abraham, who in turn was descended from Noah, who was descended from Adam and Eve. At least, that’s what the Bible says.

According to the Bible, God has been talking to humans, and giving them very specific instructions on how to live, since the first 2 humans walked the earth. So if the culture of 2000 or 4000 years ago was backward, primitive and barbaric, whose fault is that?

And if today’s society is much more enlightened than a society whose only guidance came from the Ten Commandments and such, what does that say about humans (or humanism)?

(“Life of Brian” pic via the awesome Steve Wells, whose “Skeptics Annotated Bible” I used for quick examples of Biblical barbarity)

3 responses to this post.

  1. The only “enlightenment” these people have is in how much better they are at using language to mask their persistent barbarity.


  2. Oh, thanks for the great links!


  3. Posted by Brian E on April 20, 2010 at 11:50 am

    I love making apologists and faith defenders explain animal sacrifice. Even if they’re deluded enough to buy their own rhetoric, it exposes their insanity to more moderate christians, who prefer to ignore such verses rather than try and explain them.


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