Re: [asa] fall of Satan logic questions

From: George Murphy <GMURPHY10@neo.rr.com>
Date: Wed May 06 2009 - 13:20:00 EDT

Burgy -

I fully sympathize with your revulsion at the idea of massacring toddlers & am also taken aback by Dick's statement. But your challenge to him makes the same mistake, though in the opposite direction, as people who say "If Lincoln - or Luther - or Newton - etc. - were alive today he would do or think X, Y or Z." To say that Lincoln was a racist is to judge a mid-19th century person American by 21st century American standards. If the same person had been born in 1950 his views would probably be very different & in any case wouldn't be the same. There's no reason to think that Luther would have been a YEC if he'd lived & gotten a doctorate in theology in the 20th century. Dick Fischer, if he'd been transferred at birth back 3000 years & grown up as an Israelite, would not be the same person he is today. In particular, he would have been brought up to believe that God wanted certain people to be exterminated. One of Saul's soldiers, switched at birth to present day America, would be appalled by that idea.

We are not isolated monads who can be moved from one culture to another & remain the same person. Even a hydrogen atom, moved from one physical environment to another, doesn't have exactly the same properties. How much less does a human being remain unchanged by radical differences in cultural environments?

Does that mean a sort of moral relatvism? Only in a carefully defined sense. It's better not to murder toddlers than to murder them. But empirically there are of course different ethical standards in different cultures, & there has been, overall, some development of those standards during the course of human history. Furthermore, there's some indication that in the early phases of that history God at least tolerated, & was even thought to have commanded, behaviors that Christians have been taught to reject today. There are, of course, different ways of dealing with that theologically.

I'm just finishing Iris Chang's The Rape of Nanking, dealing with the 1937 massacre (to put it politely) of 200 - 300 thousand Chinese by the Japanese army. Anything that Saul's soldiers did pales by comparison - & of course we can think of plenty of other modern atrocities.

BTW, the issue of cultural development & ethics is one about which Gregory could make a useful contribution if he'd be a good shoemaker & stick to his last.

Shalom
George
http://home.roadrunner.com/~scitheologyglm

----- Original Message -----
From: "John Burgeson (ASA member)" <hossradbourne@gmail.com>
To: "Dick Fischer" <dickfischer@verizon.net>
Cc: "ASA" <asa@calvin.edu>
Sent: Wednesday, May 06, 2009 12:21 PM
Subject: Re: [asa] fall of Satan logic questions

> On 5/5/09, Dick Fischer <dickfischer@verizon.net> wrote:
>> Hi Burgy:
>>
>> Having seen a little bit of war myself I see practicality and mercy in
>> terminating the lives of children by the sword rather then leave them to die
>> of starvation, or be attacked and eaten by wild animals.
>>
> That's (to put it bluntly) sick!
>
> Thought experiment. You (Dick Fisher) are suddenly transported in time
> and body to be a Hebrew soldier in the carnage of I Sam 15. You have
> your spear poised to pierce a 2 year old toddler.
>
> Go ahead. Thrust!
>
> I suggest you cannot.
>
> j
>
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Received on Wed May 6 13:20:33 2009

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