the painful truth about the worldwide church of god
God and O. J. Simpson
By Farell Till
(The Skeptical Review)

The written debate with Lindell Mitchell has generated an intense interest in the Amalekite massacre. In this issue, "McBull to the Rescue"(pp. 5-7) continues the discussion. Like Mitchell, McBull (an AOL user) has tried to justify the Amalekite massacre by arguing that God is the "giver of life" and so he has the right to take life.

This is a familiar fundamentalist solution to the various Yahwistic atrocities recorded in the Old Testament. At a debate on the existence of God in Portland, Texas, TSR editor Farrell Till argued that the character of God depicted in the Bible is as self-contradictory as concepts of square circles or four-sided triangles. Till used Yahweh's command to massacre Amalekite women, children, and babies (1 Sam. 15:2-3 ) to argue that acts attributed to Yahweh in the Bible cannot be logically reconciled with the claim that he is infinitely good, kind, and merciful. His opponent, Jerry Moffitt, responded in the same way that Mitchell and now McBull did: God who gives life has the right to take it. As frosting on the cake, Moffitt assured the audience that the Amalekite children went to heaven rather than growing up to be wicked like their parents. The audience complacently smiled at the irrefutable response that their hero had given.

Such reasoning as this is incomprehensible to rational thinkers, but it is nevertheless true that, no matter how heinous the Yahwistic atrocity, Bible fundamentalists refuse to charge their god with immoral conduct. God is God, so no matter what he does, it must be right.

Last summer, the nation saw indications that such irrationality may be deeply ingrained in our society. After the bodies of Nicole Simpson and a male companion were discovered brutally murdered, the police investigation quickly uncovered evidence that implicated her ex-husband, the famous hall-of-fame football player O. J. Simpson. Even though the evidence seemed compelling, Simpson was allowed to remain free long after an ordinary, unknown citizen would have been arrested. When finally the decision to charge Simpson was made, he had disappeared, and soon after, the entire nation watched a televised pursuit of his car on California freeways. During the pursuit, Simpson was cheered on by spectators who had thronged to the freeways to watch. At Simpson's home, where he finally surrendered, people stood outside shouting, "Let O. J. go! Let O. J. go!" In Buffalo, New York, where Simpson had played professional football, people put signs in their yards that said, "Let the juice loose!"

The purpose of this article is not to judge the guilt or innocence of O. J. Simpson--that is a matter that will and should be done in court--but to make a point about the apparent inability of people to think rationally. In the days following his arrest, various news programs showed signs affixed to the gate of Simpson's estate that said such things as, "Free the juice," and "We still love you, O. J." During a televised interview of curiosity seekers standing outside the gate, a man said, "I don't care what he did; he'll always be my hero."

Such actions as these are not very complimentary to human intelligence. If the evidence gathered at the murder scene had pointed to the probable guilt of a person completely unknown to the general public, how many people would have stood in the streets shouting, "Let John Doe go"? Would that man on the street have said, "I don't care what he did, I'll always stand by him"? To the contrary, given the alleged brutality of the murders, there would have probably been public outcries for swift and harsh punishment in order to send a message to the lawless elements of our society that such criminal behavior will not be tolerated.

What many people have lost sight of in the charges against O. J. Simpson is exactly what Bible fundamentalists have lost sight of concerning the many Yahwistic atrocities recorded in the Bible. The right or wrong of an act is determined by what is done and not by who does it. If someone takes a child dying of starvation and feeds and nurses it back to health, that is an act of goodness whether it be done by Saddam Hussein or Mother Theresa. If someone viciously kills a person out of anger or desire for vengeance, that is an act of evil whether it be done by Saddam Hussein, O. J. Simpson--or God. To argue otherwise is to empty all such words as good, bad, merciful, cruel, kind, and evil of meaningful definition.

Blue, for example, is a concept that has meaning only if it is universally and uniformly applied to all objects that have color. To say that the star-studded field on an American flag is blue in Colorado but not blue on an identical flag displayed in Ohio would be patently absurd. To say that the deliberate murder of two people is wrong if John Doe does it but not so wrong if a popular sports hero does it is just as absurd.

Likewise, it is equally absurd to argue that the killing of women and children was wrong when American soldiers did it in My Lai, South Vietnam, but not wrong when Israelite soldiers did it in Amalekite towns and villages. To argue that the latter can be justified on the grounds that God ordered the Israelites to kill the Amalekite women and children reduces Bible fundamentalists to the level of hero worshipers shouting in the streets, "Let the juice loose! Let the juice loose!" The only essential difference is that the fundamentalists are shouting, "Free God of blame! Free God of blame!"

Those who so rationalize seem unable to comprehend the truth that Dave Matson stated in "The Law of the Jungle" (TSR, Summer 1994, p. 8): "The evil of an act lies in its consequences, its hurt, not in who does it." If someone deliberately and viciously kills you, is it going to be of any special comfort to you if your killer is a popular movie star or famous athlete rather than a common thug? You will still be just as dead as if the common thug had killed you. If infliction of pain should be involved in such a murder, the agony that you suffer will still be just as real as if a common thug had inflicted it on you.

In the Portland debate, Till emphasized that the words good, kind, and merciful mean what they mean, so goodness, kindness, and mercy must always be determined by what was done and not by who did it. The point made about as much impact on the predominantly fundamentalist audience as water on a duck's back. However, until Bible-believers develop the intellectual maturity to assess actions on the basis of what is done in an act rather than who does it, they will remain intellectually crippled hero-worshipers crying in the streets of common sense, "Let God go! Let God go!"






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