Tuesday, February 07, 2017

Huns and Canaanites

A stock objection to the Bible is the divine command to execute the Canaanites if they didn't self-evacuate. Atheists make a big deal about this, even though atheism has no basis for human rights. You also have professing Christians who either agonize over this command or simply deny it. 

Here's a striking comparison:

Some of us were sickened by Sir Arthur’s unrelenting ferocity. But our feelings of revulsion after the Dresden attack were not widely shared. The British public at that time still had bitter memories of World War I, when German armies brought untold misery and destruction to other people’s countries, but German civilians never suffered the horrors of war in their own homes. 
I remember arguing about the morality of city bombing with the wife of a senior air force officer, after we heard the results of the Dresden attack. She was a well-educated and intelligent woman who worked part-time for the ORS. I asked her whether she really believed that it was right to kill German women and babies in large numbers at that late stage of the War. She answered, “Oh yes. It is good to kill the babies especially. I am not thinking of this war but of the next one, 20 years from now. The next time the Germans start a war and we have to fight them, those babies will be the soldiers.” After fighting Germans for ten years, four in the first war and six in the second, we had become almost as bloody-minded as Sir Arthur. 

I'm not suggesting that ipso facto justifies the carpet bombing of civilian population centers, or the OT command to execute the Canaanites en masse. But it does show how personal experience can dramatically affect or alter our moral intuitions. 

It's easy for people living in peacetime, writing from the safety of their laptops, to decry OT warfare. Lots of cheap virtue signaling on OT ethics. 

But for people who've been ground down by cycles of war, who've buried their own children because an enemy won't relent, they understandably have a very different outlook. 

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