Saturday, July 03, 2010

Religious violence

UFC President Dana White is the interview subject in the September issue of Playboy, and in his typically profane manner, White hits on some hot topics both in and, especially, out of the Octagon.

On religion, White reveals that he's an atheist: "I don't believe in God, the devil, ghosts or any of that s---," White says. "But I'm still fascinated by religion -- how violent and crazy it is. That stuff sticks with you."

Yes, one can understand how a guy with his pacifistic proclivities might find the violent aspect of organized religion disturbing.


  1. Let's compare.

    UFC: men rough housing, hitting each other, wrestling.

    The Bible: the "soldiers of God" ripping open pregnant women, slaying crawling infants with the edge of a sword, genocide, rape, slavery.

    Sounds comparable to me.

    Go ahead. Hit the delete button!

  2. Why would Steve Hays hit the "delete" button? It's not like you've made some devastating argument here or mentioned facts he hasn't publicly dealt with on one occasion or another.

    As for your comment, it looks like all you've done is simply imply or assert that God ordered these things. But the issue is much more complicated (if still emotionally difficult) than you've made it out to be:

    1. As far as I can tell, the "ripping open" of pregnant women was not something God ordered Israelite soldiers to do, but rather something he prohibited his people from doing (e.g. 2 Kings 8:12, Amos 1:13).

    2. The slaughter of infants was, it seems, an act of euthanasia:

    (The link also discusses problems with identifying these things as genocide.)

    3. The kind of slavery described in the Old Testament really does not compare with the chattel slavery we in the West think of when such a term is used. To use that term without any qualifications is rather inaccurate:

    4. I'm not really sure where you think God commanded or endorsed, explicitly or even implicitly, rape in any situation in the Old Testament.

  3. Matthew writes: "I'm not really sure where you think God commanded or endorsed, explicitly or even implicitly, rape.."

    Rape: Forced sexual intercourse

    Numbers 31:7-18
    Moses, Eleazar the priest, and all the leaders of the people went to meet them outside the camp. But Moses was furious with all the military commanders who had returned from the battle. "Why have you let all the women live?" he demanded. "These are the very ones who followed Balaam's advice and caused the people of Israel to rebel against the LORD at Mount Peor. They are the ones who caused the plague to strike the LORD's people. Now kill all the boys and all the women who have slept with a man. Only the young girls who are virgins may live; you may keep them for yourselves.

    I think it's safe to assume that the preferences of these virgins were irrelevant, yes?

    "The people of Samaria must bear their guilt, because they have rebelled against their God. They will fall by the sword; their little ones will be dashed to the ground, their pregnant women ripped open."
    (Hosea 13:16)

    Yes, God commanded abortion at times (although I don't think this technically makes Him pro-choice because again, the pregnant women had no say in the matter).

    Yes, I know ... there were justifications for why all these things were good and necessary and why God is still good despite all of this (or because of them).

    Let's not be silly and compare the violence of the Bible to the UFC, though. They're not in the same league. It's not even the same game.

  4. I don't understand why the Numbers text suggests rape. "Have them for yourselves" always means something sexual? It couldn't mean, they're yours to use for slave/labor purposes?

  5. And the *levels* of violence in UFC vs organized religion is beside the point; that guy deals with violent behavior day in and day out; where does he get off complaining about violence, period?


    “Sounds comparable to me.”

    The comparison is irrelevant since I wasn’t judging Dana White by my standards, but by his own (given how he makes his living).

    Just as Dana can’t think straight, neither can you.

    Matthew already addressed your initial comments, so I’ll move on:

    “Rape: Forced sexual intercourse.”

    i) It’s describing war brides. They would have all the rights of Jewish wives, which is a great improvement over what they had as pagan women.

    ii) Marriages were arranged back then. (Still are in many parts of the world.) Both for husband and wife. Was a husband “raped” because his parents chose his wife rather than him?

    iii) The women belonged to warrior cultures. What do you think would happen to them if they were abandoned after the able-bodied men were slain in battle?

    At worst, this is a marriage of convenience for the eligible women. Not ideal, but life in the ANE was far from ideal.

    iv) Assuming, for the sake of argument, that this is a case of rape, why would an unbeliever like you find rape a problem? Doesn’t evolutionary ethics justify rape? When a younger lion conquers a pride and takes over the “harem,” did the lioness choose him to be her mate?

    “Yes, God commanded abortion at times…”

    A category mistake since Hos 13:16 is a description, not a prescription.

    “Let's not be silly and compare the violence of the Bible to the UFC, though.”

    Since you’re the one, not me, who initiated that comparison, then that makes you silly.

  7. What would the ANE have looked like if Dana White had been god?

  8. James said,

    "The Bible: the "soldiers of God" ripping open pregnant women, slaying crawling infants with the edge of a sword, genocide, rape, slavery."

    Assuming that we're all just molecules in motion, what's wrong with that?

  9. James: The traditional definition of rape did not extend to marital relationships.

    - TurretinFan

  10. The "Encyclopedia of Wars” (New York: Facts on File, 2005) was compiled by nine history professors who specifically conducted research for the text for a decade in order to chronicle 1,763 wars. The survey of wars covers a time span from 8000 BC to 2003 AD. From over 10,000 years of war 123, which is 6.98 percent, are considered to have been religious.

    By the way, James has obviously fallen for well-within-the-box-group-think-talking-points whereby he scare quotes and the tells you what you should think about the snipped; such is today's sad state of cyber-scholarship.