As I have considered various issues that I might discuss on this blog, I have often toyed with the idea of going through the anti-Christian videos of a YouTube star who calls himself Thunderfoot. Though much of his material seems to focus on debunking the young earth arguments of Christians like Ken Ham which I have no inclination to defend, I have been certain that I could find plenty of topics to post on in his materials. The other day I came across a video where Thunderfoot channels the late Christopher Hitchens that confirmed this impression and I decided to write a post about it.
Now the first part of the video is good clean fun where Thunderfoot does some physics calculations to show how catastrophic it would be if God stopped the earth as described in Joshua. The one regret I had as I watched Thunderfoot go through those calculations was that he only rarely examines the assumptions of the atheist worldview with such vigor. As I have made clear in previous posts, I waffle between two positions with regard to these issues. On the one hand, the idea that parts of the Old Testament are what J.R.R. Tolkien called “The chosen mythology” has never been difficult for me. On the other hand, as I have grown as a Christian my appreciation for the Old Testament has grown to the point where I sometimes think that all the accounts are historical. Either way, it doesn’t make any difference to me. The second part of the video is what captured my attention.
In the second part of the video, Thunderfoot asks the question that was the basis for a thought experiment that I first performed some 15 years ago. He basically posts the picture of a young girl and challenges various creationists with the question, “What is the best way to slaughter this child in accordance with the commands of God?” It was that very question which led me to the interpretation of the Old Testament that I have outlined in other posts. Allow me to go through the thought process that I went through when I asked this question so many years ago.
First of all, it seems clear to me that Christianity is vastly preferable to atheism because at least Christianity gives you the basis for having a dilemma when considering the murder of a child. As many other authors have noted, the relentless logic of atheism gives us no basis for believing that a child is any more important than a gut bacteria. Since Thunderfoot regularly kills gut bacteria without a second thought, how could he have qualms about killing a child that are consistent with his atheist beliefs?
The second issue that occurred to me was how it could be moral to destroy an entire society. No matter how depraved a society might be, and I believe that these ancient pagan societies were far worse than the Islamic State with all of its atrocities, such mass destruction is horrible to contemplate. The answer that I eventually came to was given a much more colorful defense by the late Christopher Hitchens in a debate with A.C. Grayling. The basic answer can be posed as a question. Is it preferable from a moral perspective to allow the Nazis to murder, torture and enslave people forever or to stop them with a horrific war? Or, in another form, is a finite evil preferable to an infinite evil?
If the finite evil is to be preferred, as I think it must be by every sane individual, then the destruction of corrupt and evil societies is justified along with whatever collateral damage is essential to prevent the spread of the corruption. The little girl is cute and her pleas for life are compelling, but the simple math of the situation is that if her whole society has to be destroyed because it will not repent of evil, then her destruction is justified as well. As sad as it is, I think she is better off dead than to grow up among morally depraved individuals who will cause her to become a thoroughly despicable human being. As Thunderfoot himself said in a video entitled “Faith is the New Stupid Part 1“, “there are some things that are worse than death.”
This brings us to the third issue of whether or not I as a believer should obey a command by God to destroy such a child. Though one might, in principle, agree that a society must be destroyed to prevent the spread and continuation of depravity, it is an entirely different thing to kill a fearful child who has just lost her family. Eventually, I answered this question with a verse from the New Testament.
But when the archangel Michael, contending with the devil, was disputing about the body of Moses, he did not presume to pronounce a blasphemous judgment, but said, “The Lord rebuke you.” (Jude 1:9)
If even Michael would not dare to say something to the most evil being who has ever lived, then how is it that God should require me to murder a child made in his image? Clearly, he could not. God must desire to have me intercede on behalf of condemned sinners as demonstrated by his friend Abraham in Genesis 18. As demonstrated in that incident, God may not always heed the impassioned prayers of a believer for a condemned sinner, but He always wants us to ask for mercy. As demonstrated in other passages, God never wants us to carry out a judgment no matter how much we think it might be deserved.
Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. (Mathew 7: 1-2)