Just Whose Legs Are Unequal?
In our first exchange on the Amalekite massacre, Lindell Mitchell accused me of
poor logic and evasion of the issue, but the readers should have no difficulty seeing whose
logic is faulty. As for evading the issue, Mitchell's article was a typical fundamentalist
masterpiece of evasion. My position on the Amalekite slaughter was clearly stated in my
first article: "The killing of just one Amalekite woman or child or infant, solely because of
her, his, or its nationality, would have constituted moral atrocity by any civilized standard of
morality" (p. 2), if such an event as this did in fact happen. If, however, the massacre in-
volved the killing of not just one or two but hundreds of women, children, and babies, then
its moral repugnance should be all the more apparent, except, of course, to those whose
sense of moral decency has been anesthetized by blind allegiance to the doctrine of Bible
That hundreds or possibly even thousands were killed in the massacre cannot be
denied without admitting that biblical records are sometimes errant. I established the
extent of Saul's massacre by citing passages from Mitchell's own inerrant word of God that
indicated hundreds of Amalekites were killed by David's guerrilla forces after Saul had
presumably utterly destroyed all of the Amalekites except for their king, Agag. Mitchell
seemed to misunderstand my purpose in introducing David's military adventures. I didn't
cite David's massacre of the Amalekites in order to establish a discrepancy between this
story and an earlier one that claimed Saul had already "utterly destroyed" the Amalekites,
although my position is that there certainly is a discrepancy in the two accounts. My only
purpose in bringing David's massacre into the picture was to show that if hundreds of
Amalekites were alive for David to kill, then surely at the time of Saul's slaughter, which
was described as an utter destruction, there had to be several thousands of Amalekites. Of
those thousands, surely many would have been women, children, and infants. Hence, by
implication, Saul's massacre of the Amalekites entailed the slaughter of hundreds of
women, children, and babies.
I asked Mr. Mitchell to tell us just how he is able to determine that the massacre of
such a large number of women, children, and babies could possibly be considered "morally
proper," but, of course, he quickly informed us that he wasn't going "to chase that rabbit."
He preferred instead to chase straw men.
The first straw man he went after was my position on abortion, as if that had any-
thing to do with the issue of moral atrocity in the Amalekite massacre. Admittedly, I
mentioned the anti-abortion stickers that Mr. Mitchell affixes to his letters but only to
suggest that they indicated a concern for children that is incompatible with his position on
the many massacres of children recorded in the Bible.
No doubt, he will argue that he was attempting to show an inconsistency in my posi-
tion, but he obviously doesn't even know my position on abortion. I once told him in a
letter that I didn't agree with his "pro-life" stance, but that doesn't automatically make me
an advocate of abortion. I am not an advocate of abortion; I am simply anti-prolife in the
sense that I cannot accept the dogmatism of those who look at the issue in the typically
black or white way that Christian fundamentalists assess most moral situations. To me, the
fact of abortion is regrettable, but something even more regrettable is the biological order
on this planet, created presumably by Mitchell's "Omniscient God," that contributes to the
social necessity of abortion.
Let's compare, then, my view of abortion with Mitchell's to see just who is being
inconsistent in the matter of the Amalekite massacre. Mitchell is apparently opposed to
abortion, period. In moral matters, everything is absolute to him. There are no gray areas;
everything is either black or white. So in the matter of abortion, the question is settled.
Abortion is wrong at any stage of pregnancy, and it would be murder to abort a zygote even
ten seconds after the moment of conception.
Yet he refuses to condemn Saul's massacre of hundreds, perhaps even thousands, of
Amalekite women, children, and babies whose lives were not at any stage of embryonic
development. They had already been born! Likewise, he refuses to condemn the many
terminations of pregnancy that would have necessarily occurred in the massacre of a
complete society experiencing normal population growth. In his mind, it is horribly immor-
al to terminate the development of a day-old zygote that has no nervous system, no brain,
no organs, and has never drawn its first breath, never nursed its mother's breast, never
heard its mother's voice, and never taken its first step, but morally proper to kill hundreds
of children who had undeniably become living, breathing humans. And he had the gall to
apply to me that old saw that's so dear to Church-of-Christ preachers: "The legs of the lame
are unequal." Yes, they certainly are, aren't they? And I make that statement with my
apologies to the physically handicapped and my assurances that I make it not for purposes
of ridicule but only to reply to the sarcasm of my opponent.
Mr. Mitchell, of course, considered the statement appropriate because it is a biblical
quotation, just one among many, incidentally, that are derogatory to the physically handi-
capped. Since he introduced it, I will pursue it just long enough to look at the statement in
the entirety of its context: "The legs of the lame are not equal; so is a parable in the mouth
of fools" (Prov. 26:7). The latter part of the statement is certainly applicable to Mr. Mitch-
ell, for only a fool would issue a blanket condemnation of abortion while extolling the
virtue of killing babies who had already been born at the time of their slaughter.
The second straw man Mitchell chased was my epistemological philosophy, which he
has apparently familiarized himself with by watching video tapes of my oral debates. Epis-
temology is a high sounding word, but it simply means the branch of philosophy that investi-
gates the origin of knowledge. In that regard, I am an objectivist, so I believe that all reali-
ty is objective and external to the mind and can therefore be perceived only through the
senses. To discuss epistemology would require much more space than a single article, so I
will have to limit myself to just a brief response to Mitchell's quarrel with this straw man.
Like his fundamentalist cohorts who seem to believe that they have a monopoly on
truth, he ridicules the fact that I have admitted in public debate that (1) the scope of my
knowledge is very limited in terms of all available empirical information and that (2) it is
actually possible for me to be wrong in the propositions that I publicly debate. If he wants
to consider these admissions indications of inconsistency, he is free to do so. I will simply
leave it to the readers to decide how much importance should be attached to such a remon-
strance as this from someone who believes that he is right in every detail of his religious
beliefs and couldn't possibly be wrong.
As for my objectivist philosophy, I challenge him to prove that I am wrong in saying
that all knowledge must be acquired through the senses. To do that, all he must do is tell
us one thing--just one--that he knows that he did not learn through one or more of his
senses. He will probably label it another rabbit that he doesn't want to chase, but I will ask
him a question that I presented to two of his fundamentalist cohorts in other debates. They
couldn't--or wouldn't-- answer it, so I don't expect him to either. Anyway, here it is. If a
baby should be born quintuply handicapped with an absence of all five senses, would it be
possible for this person ever to learn anything?
Mr. Mitchell's problem is that he cannot see the difference in knowledge and rea-
sonable certitude. I am reasonably certain that Napoleon Bonaparte was a real person, but
I don't actually know, in an absolute sense, that he was. I didn't exist when he did, so I
never saw him, heard him, felt him, etc. to know absolutely that he was real. Although ex-
tremely unlikely, it is entirely possible that Napoleon didn't exist and that a colossal hoax
was perpetrated, in the same way that the Jesus hoax was perpetrated, to make people of
succeeding generations believe that Napoleon was a real person.
All of this is really beside the point, because it doesn't address the issue we are
supposed to be debating. If the Israelite massacre of the Amalekites actually
happened--and I am not saying that it did--then it constituted moral atrocity. That is all
that I am arguing. I am not arguing that it did happen in the manner described in the Bible
but that if it did so happen, it must be regarded as a moral atrocity. To argue otherwise is
to argue that it is morally right to kill babies for no other reason than ethnic origin.
Mitchell's only defense, of course, is that "the Omniscient God" looked down "the
corridors of time" and saw that "the babes of Amalek were destined to become vicious
beasts like their ancestors," and so this wonderfully merciful God of his ordered the slaugh-
ter of these innocent "babes" so that they could fly away to "the protection of his [God's]
holy city" rather than growing up to become "vicious beasts" like their parents. Didn't I
predict that he would resort to this? So now that he has retreated to this ignominious posi-
tion, let's look at the problems in it.
ONE: God is both omniscient and omnipotent, but he was unable to solve a problem
except by resorting to the massacre of babies.
TWO: To keep them from growing into vicious beasts, the Israelites could have
taken the "babes of Amalek" back as captives and raised them as Yahweh- fearing He-
brews. There are ample precedents in the Bible for rearing captives as Jews--the law of
Moses even made specific provisions for it (Dt. 21:10-14)-- so no divine laws would have
been violated, but apparently Mitchell's omniscient God didn't have the intelligence to
think of this bloodless alternative.
THREE: It assumes without proof that the Amalekites were indeed "vicious beasts,"
but I would like for Mr. Mitchell to explain exactly how he happens to know this to be the
case. A study of all biblical references to the Amalekites will reveal that they were no
worse than the other nations of that time and area, including even the Israelites. So Mitch-
ell needs to cite the source of information that he relied on to determine that the Amale-
kites were "vicious beasts" who deserved to die.
He cited the Amalekite attack on the Israelite stragglers during their passage
through Amalekite territory at the time of the exodus (Ex. 17:8-16) and the Amalekite
blockade of the entry into the promised land (Num. 14:45) as justification of the massacre
in 1 Samuel 15, but there is nothing in either passage to prove that the Amalekites were
"vicious beasts." In the first place, both of these events, if they happened, would have been
normal defensive actions by a nation concerned about three million foreigners coming into
its territory. Furthermore, the Amalekite blockade in Numbers 14:45 in no way impeded
the progress of the Israelites, because Yahweh, according to this fanciful little yarn, had
already decreed that the Israelites would not be allowed into Canaan because of their fear
and rebellion upon hearing the report of the spies who had come back with tales of a land
inhabited by "men of great stature" (Num. 13:32-33; 14:1-23). So what was so terribly
wrong about blocking the entry of the Israelites into a land that Yahweh wasn't going to
allow them to enter anyway?
For the sake of argument, however, let's just concede to Mitchell that these were
both despicable acts that made the Amalekites "vicious beasts." This would prove only that
the Amalekites of that time were "vicious beasts," but the Amalekites that Yahweh ordered
Saul to utterly destroy lived about 450 years later. So what would be moral about killing an
entire nation of people--women, children, and babies included--for something their ances-
tors had done 450 years earlier? Yet the Bible states that this is exactly why Yahweh
commanded Saul to destroy the Amalekites: "Thus saith Yahweh of hosts, I remember that
which Amalek did to Israel, how he laid wait for him in the way, when he came up from Egypt.
Now go and smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and spare them not; but
slay both man and woman, infant and suckling, camel and ass" (1 Sam. 15:2-3). To save his
life, Mitchell could not find a single reason stated in this passage to explain why the
command to slaughter the Amalekites was given, except for the reference to the Amalekite
attack on Israel 450 years earlier. It was purely and simply a matter of longstanding grudge,
if we are to believe the Bible. That is certainly a high plane of morality, isn't it?
It is time, then, for another question for Mitchell to evade. I asked him one in my
first article, but he refused to answer it on the grounds that he is not the affirmant. I have
found in my correspondence with him that he just doesn't like questions, period, because
he has yet to answer any I have submitted to him. Maybe I will have better luck with him
this time, so here goes. Will Mr. Mitchell please tell us why it would be moral to extermi-
nate an entire nation-- women, children, and babies included-- for something that its ances-
tors had done 450 years earlier? Now that rabbit shouldn't be too fast for him to chase for
a while. He has an audience of several hundred freethinkers that he will not likely have
available to him too often, so I would think that he would welcome the opportunity to
enlighten them on a matter that many, in his opinion, are confused about.
As he considers whether he wants to chase this rabbit or not, maybe he will want to
think about just how long 450 years would be. If we had a time machine to take us back
450 years, we would have to wait on the coast of Virginia for 63 years before we could
welcome the first permanent settlers at Jamestown. I know that I am just a lowly,
unenlightened atheist, but it seems to me that it just wouldn't be right to punish people for
something done by their ancestors that long ago. I really don't think the citizens of this
country would tolerate it if our army should attempt to massacre all known descendants of
any Native Americans who may have offered resistance to the Jamestown settlers. I don't
think Mr. Mitchell would approve it either, yet he apparently thinks that it was morally
right for his god to order such a massacre. So whether he realizes it or not, he has a lot of
explaining to do to us stupid freethinkers. He can talk about chasing rabbits all that he
wants to, but if he evades this issue, some of us just might think that he has no reasonable
explanation to give.
FOUR: Justifying the Amalekite massacre on the grounds that they were "vicious
beasts" merely has one nation of vicious beasts exterminating another nation of vicious
beasts, so what moral good did Yahweh expect to achieve from such a swap off as this?
According to the Bible, from the time that Yahweh brought the Hebrews out of Egypt, he
had problem after problem with their morality. In the book of Judges, Yahweh was con-
stantly punishing the Israelites with foreign domination for their iniquity, and this contin-
ued throughout their history, until finally (according to the Bible) Yahweh permanently
destroyed the nation of Israel. There were continual problems with idolatry, and even
human sacrifices were commonplace (Ps. 106:37-38; Ez. 16:20-21; 2 Kings 17:17). So if
there is any merit at all to Mr. Mitchell's "explanation" of Yahweh's reason for ordering the
Amalekite massacre, he has a duty to explain to us the justice in using one ungodly nation
to eradicate another.
FIVE: The massacre of the Amalekites violated Yahweh's own edict that said iniqui-
ty would be borne by the one who committed it, not his descendants (Ez. 18:20; Dt. 24:16).
Whatever the Amalekites may have done at the time of the exodus, their descendants
during the reign of Saul, 450 years later, were not responsible for it. Certainly, the children
were not guilty of anything, yet if Mitchell is right, they bore the iniquity of their fathers in
a horribly brutal way.
SIX: Mitchell's position exempts Yahweh from the absolute moral law that presum-
ably exists. Certainly, it is clear from Mitchell's article that he believes in the existence of
an absolute morality, but how could it be an absolute morality if Yahweh can violate it at
whim? Perhaps this is another rabbit that Mitchell won't want to go after, but many of the
readers would like to see him give it a chase.
This finally brings us to the crux of the matter. Unless he is an unusual fundamen-
talist, Mitchell would never say that it would be morally right for any army to massacre
civilian populations. No, certainly not; it would have to be "God's army" acting in a "holy
war" under direct orders from God. In that event, nothing done--no matter how grisly--
could be considered moral atrocity, because the "Omniscient God" would be directing it all.
The problem with this scenario is that it consists of nothing but assumptions.
ONE: It assumes first of all that this "Omniscient God" even exists, but before any-
thing in Mitchell's rebuttal can stand, he must prove that there actually is an "Omniscient
God." This, of course, he can never prove. All arguments for the existence of God (onto-
logical, teleological, cosmological, etc.) are illogical and have been answered hundreds of
TWO: It assumes that the "Omniscient God" is morally good, but there is no logical
reason why that would have to be true. Even if an omniscient god did exist, he would not
by logical necessity have to be infinitely good. It would be just as possible for him to be
THREE: It assumes (after assuming the first two points) that the "Omniscient God"
has revealed absolute morality to mankind, but there is no logical necessity for an omnis-
cient god to reveal absolute morality. If Mitchell thinks that his "Omniscient God" did
make such a revelation, he is obligated to prove it before he criticizes my position on the
grounds that it excludes the existence of absolute morality.
FOUR: It assumes that Yahweh of the Hebrews is the "Omniscient God," and that
would not logically follow from any proof that an omniscient god does really exist. In fact,
many biblical statements about Yahweh could be cited to prove that if an omniscient god
does indeed exist, Yahweh could not be that god.
FIVE: It assumes (after assuming that Yahweh is the "Omniscient God") that
Yahweh actually did order the massacre of the Amalekites. This would not necessarily
follow from proving that Yahweh is the omniscient god, because it would have been possi-
ble--not even to mention probable--that the writer of 1 Samuel 15 just mistakenly thought
that Yahweh had ordered the massacre.
In typical fundamentalist fashion, Mitchell depicted my position as an utterly hope-
less one, because he has absolute morality on his side and I don't. As the above points
demonstrate, however, Mitchell has exactly nothing on his side until he proves unequivocal-
ly that absolute morality exists. Without proof of that, he has nothing but conjecture to
offer in support of his position, and conjecture proves exactly nothing.
He presented a scenario of everything that he could do to me personally-- beat me
up, spoil my goods, kill my children, ravage my wife, and mercilessly torture me--and yet be
free of moral guilt unless there is this thing that he calls "absolute morality." As I read this,
I wondered just how Mitchell expects to convince rational thinkers that his position on
morality is superior to mine. I don't believe that objective (absolute) morality exists, yet I
would never even consider doing any of those things to him. So I have to wonder why, if he
should suddenly realize that objective morality does not exist, he would want to do them to
me. Is he trying to say that he needs some spook-in-the-sky to restrain him from torturing
and killing his fellow man. If so, does he seriously consider this to be a moral position
superior to mine?
As ridiculous as Mitchell's position on the Amalekite massacre is, his belief that "(i)t
is impossible to have a moral atrocity in the absence of an objective moral standard against
which to measure thoughts, words, and deeds" is even more ridiculous. In the first place, his
own inerrant "word of God" clearly recognizes that man is capable of making correct moral
decisions without divine enlightenment. In Romans 2:14, the Apostle Paul referred to
Gentiles who "have not the law" [special revelation] but who nevertheless "do by nature the
things of the law" and are therefore "the law unto themselves." If this doesn't mean that the
chief architect of Mr. Mitchell's religion thought that correct moral decisions could be
made without receiving moral revelations from God, then perhaps Mitchell can chase this
rabbit just long enough to tell us exactly what Paul did mean.
So if Mr. Mitchell wants my authority for classifying as a moral atrocity the killing of
babies nursing their mothers' breasts, he now has it. It is the ability of human beings, by
virtue of common- sense intelligence, to become a moral law unto themselves. That
common-sense intelligence is sufficient for any reasonable person to understand that it is
wrong to kill children and babies solely because of their ethnic origin. The matter is as
simple as what I said in my first article: If killing hundreds of children and babies for no
reason but their ethnic origin is not wrong, then nothing is! If this answer doesn't please
Mitchell, I will just let him argue with his own beloved Apostle Paul.
Mitchell's position on morality is essentially the same as the one that Bill Lockwood
takes in his article on pages 8-9 of this issue. My response to it (pages 9-11,16) clearly
shows that even without the existence of objective morality, human intelligence can make
proper moral judgments.
If Mitchell will bother to investigate the facts on this subject--and I seriously doubt
that he will--he will find that human societies formulated moral concepts long before
Moses allegedly trekked up Mount Sinai. The moral principles of the ten commandments
existed in Egypt centuries before the formation of the Israelite nation. They existed in the
Code of Hammurabi, which was written long before the time of Moses. They existed in the
Zoroastrian cultures of ancient Persia. So what is Mitchell's explanation for the pre-
Mosaic existence of moral principles in non-Hebraic societies? Will he argue that the god
Horus revealed to the Egyptians an absolute standard of morality and that Marduk did the
same for the Babylonians? We sincerely hope that he will chase this rabbit long enough to
enlighten us on the matter.
So far Mitchell has refused to tell us what he would have done had he been born an
Israelite in the time of Saul. Would he have willingly and gladly participated in the Amale-
kite massacre? Would he have willingly and gladly killed Amalekite women, children, and
babies? Would he have ripped open any pregnant women he encountered, as was the
postbattle custom in those days? If not, why not? Why would he not willingly and gladly do
the will of God?
Until he answers these questions, I am afraid that many of our readers will remain
suspicious of his sincerity. It is one thing to preach theory; it is quite another to practice it.
So we want to know what he honestly thinks his involvement in the Amalekite massacre
would have been if he had had the opportunity to be a participant.
If he doesn't want to chase this rabbit, maybe he will at least fire a shot at it.
Mr. Till, Your Legs Are Unequal!
My first response to Mr. Till ended with these words: "Perhaps he is saving the best for last. We shall
see." It is now clear that he wasn't! Thoughtful readers know he failed to substantiate his assertion. He kept
up an effort to pull me into a discussion of irrelevant questions. However, posing such questions did not estab-
lish Till's case. As the affirmative disputant, it was not his place to pose questions. He was obligated to show
that Israelite conduct in 1 Samuel 15 constituted a moral atrocity. This he failed to do. If Mr. Till had been
able to sustain his affirmative, he would have been on me like ugly on an ape. Instead, we were served a large
portion of subterfuge--Till style. His article shows the desperation of a defeated fighter. He lashes out wildly,
but the blows have no power. Till lost the first round and knows it.
I thought we were finally going to engage the disputed issue when I read the opening paragraph of Mr.
Till's second "affirmative." He clearly stated his position: "The killing of just one Amalekite woman or child or
infant, solely because of her, his, or its nationality, would have constituted moral atrocity by any civilized stand-
ard of morality." Where is the unequivocal proof? Where is the objective quantitative data? He offers none!
He shows us no ruined cities, no skeletal remains, no bloody weapons, nothing! He simply makes the assertion
that Israel's conduct constituted a moral atrocity and hangs it on air. His statement grossly distorts reality. Not
one Amalekite was killed solely because of nationality. The Amalekites were a persistently wicked people; con-
sequently God ordered their execution.
Till's next piece of duplicity was especially juvenile. He claims he was only trying to establish the extent
of Saul's massacre by citing instances where David's guerrilla forces killed hundreds of Amalekites after Saul
had presumably utterly destroyed them. He says that I mistook his introduction of this material for an attempt
to show discrepancies in the biblical record. Till says he was trying to show that there were a lot of Amalekites
in Saul's day. Mr. Till must think his readers are idiots. No one but Mr. Till disputes that Saul killed thousands
of Amalekites. There is no need to prove it to me. Mr. Till must prove the events of 1 Samuel 15 constituted a
moral atrocity. He must produce objective quantitative data to substantiate his allegation.
In the first exchange, I explained the presence of Amalekites after the events of 1 Samuel 15. Saul
disobeyed God in sparing the life of king Agag. Who knows what else he purposely neglected to do in executing
his orders? Amalekite military units that were out of the country when Saul descended upon the nation would
have escaped destruction. Diplomats on foreign assignment, and businessmen who were abroad at the time,
would also have been spared. Mr. Till failed to notice these explanations because they blew his quibble apart.
Furthermore, the presence of Amalekites after the events of 1 Samuel 15 does not establish Mr. Till's position.
He is obligated to prove those events constituted a moral atrocity. He must produce objective sensory data that
unequivocally proves his assertion in the absence of an objective standard of morality.
My refusal to chase Till's rabbits elicited this clever response: "He [Mitchell] preferred instead to chase
straw men." The first alleged straw man was Till's position on abortion. He opined, "[A]s if that had anything
to do with the issue of moral atrocity in the Amalekite massacre." Since Mr. Till introduced his abortion stance,
I noted his glaring inconsistency. He will not allow God to punish a wicked nation but defends killing inconven-
ient infants. The Omniscient God cannot determine that the infants of Amalek were destined to pursue the
wicked course their ancestors relentlessly followed for 450 years. Yahweh could not judge the wicked and call
the innocent into his matchless presence, but it is morally upright to slaughter 25-30 million Americans by
abortion. He is horrified by God's justice but supports death by dismemberment via the dilation and curettage
abortion procedure. He defends covering infants with a corrosive, forcing it into their lungs and stomach, and
leaving them to convulse for hours until death mercifully comes. This is the result of a salt-poisoning abortion.
This man claims to have such respect for all life that he refuses to squash a bug.
Mr. Till refuses to concede that God stands ontologically on a higher plane than man, which qualifies
him to justly demand actions that no man could require. Despite placing such restrictions on God, Mr. Till
condones the brutal death of over 400 infants in this country every day. He is afraid the population will get so
large that he will not have enough to eat.
Reeling under the weight of his glaring inconsistencies, this lame defense was offered: "I am not an
advocate of abortion; I am simply anti-prolife in the sense that I cannot accept the dogmatism of those who look
at the issue in the typically black or white way that Christian fundamentalists assess most moral situations."
This is an incredible piece of imbecilic nonsense. One cannot be "simply anti-prolife" without being pro-abor-
tion. Till attempts to dodge the bullet by saying it is God's fault for creating a biological order that contributes
to the social necessity of abortion. This is asinine sophistry. Abortion is not a social necessity. Parents who have
their children killed by abortion overwhelmingly do so because the birth would be an inconvenience or prove
embarrassing. Besides, Till claims God doesn't exist and that evolution produced the biological order.
Mr. Till shows his temper when he roars in disgust at my citation of Solomon's words: "The legs of the
lame are unequal" (Prov. 26:7a). He shamelessly panders to the "victim classes," as a "politically correct" profes-
sor. Solomon's words are not derogatory to physically disabled people. It is a statement of fact. It no more
demeans physically challenged people than saying, "The eyes of the nearsighted are weak" denigrates me.
Mr. Till really warms up when he says, "... only a fool would issue a blanket condemnation of
abortion...." This is a blatant violation of his agreement to maintain civility in our exchanges. In polite society
one does not refer to another as a fool. Mr. Till could not establish his case. He was incapable of handling the
material I presented. If I am a fool, he is less than a fool. Solomon was right; the legs of the lame are unequal!
Another alleged straw man was Mr. Till's epistemological posture. He believes knowledge is restricted
to what is gained through personal sensory experience. That posture cuts him off from any evidence resulting
from testimony. He has no literary historical past. I noted his brazen lack of consistency in this regard. He
readily appeals to history when it appears to support his cause. However, when an opponent appeals to history,
Till hides behind his false epistemology insisting on quantitative data as unequivocal proof.
I must plead guilty to chasing a straw man. His name is Farrell Till of Canton, Illinois. He makes bold
assertions he cannot consistently sustain within his own philosophical construct. He had two opportunities and
abysmally failed in both attempts.
Mr. Till attempted to put a Band-Aid on the hemorrhage caused by his "objectivist philosophy." He
wanted me to tell him one thing I have learned that did not come through one or more of my senses. It is not
his place to ask questions as the affirmative disputant. His responsibility is to produce objective evidence that
proves Israel's conduct constituted a moral atrocity. He must do this in the absence of an objective standard of
morality. However, I will humor him. First, I have never said that you can learn in the absences of using the
five senses. However, knowledge is not restricted to sensory data. Information coming through the senses and
processed by the mind can result in knowledge that transcends sensory experience. I know that I have a con-
science that causes guilt when I violate it and happiness when I behave properly. In his debate with Mac Deaver,
Mr. Till said he also has a conscience. I assure you he has never tasted it. He has never touched it, heard it,
smelled it, or seen it, but he knows he has one. Indeed he does, but knowing that is inconsistent with his
epistemological posture. Consider another example. If I watch someone eat a hamburger and immediately get
up and walk across the street, I know that the hamburger is across the street!
Mr. Till complains that my only defense of the events in 1 Samuel 15 rests on the fact that "the Omnis-
cient God looked down the corridors of time and saw that the babes of Amalek were destined to become vi-
cious beasts like their ancestors." He then writes, "Didn't I predict that he would resort to this?' Till seems to
think simply stating matters he is unable to answer negates their force. However, my statement is more than
enough to sink his ship.
Till says I retreated to an "ignominious" position fraught with insurmountable problems. First, he says,
"God is both omniscient and omnipotent, but he was unable to solve a problem except by resorting to the
massacre of babies." Mr. Till assumes God is unable to judge the situation fairly and punish the wicked. He
assumes the giver of life has no right to terminate life. He assumes the Creator has no right to call innocent
Amalekites into the protection of paradise. Mr. Till is obligated, given his epistemology, to produce objective
sensory evidence that unequivocally proves this.
Second, Till says Israel should have adopted the Amalekite children to prevent their following an evil
path. He says provision was even made for this in the law (Dt. 21:10-14). According to Till no divine laws would
have been violated. As usual he is wrong. Deuteronomy 21:10-14 makes provision for a Jewish soldier to marry
a captive woman. It says nothing about adopting foreign children. Further, a divine order would have been
broken had this approach been taken. The order to execute the Amalekites did not allow for adoption. Saul
ultimately lost the kingdom because he failed to carry out God's instructions. Mr. Till is obligated to show that
Israelite conduct in 1 Samuel 15 constituted a moral atrocity. He must present objective quantitative data in the
absence of any objective moral standard that logically sustains his assertion.
Third, Till says I assume without proof that the Amalekites were vicious. He says passages showing
them to be bushwhackers, cutthroats, and murderers are insufficient. Their ambushing the Jews in an unpro-
voked attack is insufficient for Mr. Till. He asks why God would punish the Amalekites for something their
ancestors did 450 years earlier. In typical Till fashion, he abuses the context of Numbers 13-14, refusing to
acknowledge the Amalekites had over four centuries to repent but instead had continued to be an unrelenting
threat to God's people. He is obligated to unequivocally prove the Amalekites were not vile savages worthy of
death. Let him produce quantitative data proving they were enlightened "free-thinkers" who would not even
step on a bug.
Four, Till says it is problematic for God to use an imperfect nation to punish another imperfect nation.
He is obligated to prove it constitutes a moral atrocity, citing objective sensory evidence in the absence of an
objective moral standard. He assures readers that he is a great Bible scholar. If that were true, he would be
familiar with the prophetic literature. He would know whining Jews lodged this same objection when they were
taken captive by Assyria and Babylon. God's response was, "I'm not through yet, they shall be punished." He
would know God did punish Assyria and Babylon.
Five, Till says the massacre of the Amalekites violated Yahweh's own edict that said iniquity would be
borne by the one who committed it, not his descendants (Ezek. 18:20; Dt. 24:16). It did not. No Amalekite
bore the iniquity of even one sin committed by an ancestor. They bore the result of their ancestors' rebellion
but not the guilt. That happens every time car-jackers kill an innocent driver. The victims bear no guilt for the
crimes committed against them, but they obviously bear the consequences. This is the price humanity pays for
the ability to choose between good and evil. Till also denies that God stands ontologically on a higher plane
than man, which authorizes him to require what no man could. He is obligated to unequivocally prove this with
objective data in the absence of an objective standard of morality.
Though I am not affirming anything in this discussion, Mr. Till cites problems with an affirmation I did
not make. You have noticed that he has not produced one tiny particle of objective quantitative data that
unequivocally proves his position. As the affirmative disputant, it is his responsibility to establish his case in a
manner consistent with his philosophical position.
The first problem he sees with the affirmative I did not make is that it assumes the existence of the
"Omniscient God." He avers that my rebuttal can never stand until I prove God. He says "all arguments for the
existence of God (ontological, teleological, cosmological, etc.) are illogical and have been answered hundreds of
times." We are not debating the existence of God, and I am not in the affirmative. Mr. Till assumes God does
not exist, and his affirmative can never stand until he disproves God's existence with objective quantitative
evidence. He is unable to do this. He can't even prove a moral atrocity occurred in 1 Samuel 15. The ontologi-
cal, teleological, cosmological arguments for the existence of God are not illogical, and none of them has ever
been successfully refuted.
Second, Till says the affirmative I never made assumes the "Omniscient God" is morally good. He says
there is no logical reason to conclude that God is good. He is wrong. The existence of Good implies God's
existence. Man did not create it. Man would never articulate principles restraining his impulses as God did.
The gods man creates for himself are worse than he is. Things do not improve when man deifies himself. Till
assumes God is not morally good. This must be proved unequivocally by objective data.
Third, Till says the affirmative I did not make assumes the "Omniscient God" has revealed absolute
morality to mankind. He says there is no logical necessity for an omniscient God to reveal absolute morality.
God is sovereign and does what is consistent with his nature. Mr. Till assumes God has not revealed absolute
morality to man. Given his epistemological stance, he is now obligated to prove it, citing objective evidence
logically compelling the conclusion. Trying to project the negative disputant into the affirmative does not estab-
lish his case. Only empirical evidence will do that.
Fourth, Till says the affirmative I did not make assumes Yahweh of the Hebrews is the "Omniscient
God," and that it would not logically follow from any proof that an Omniscient God does really exist. He fur-
ther asserts that "many biblical statements about Yahweh could be cited to prove that if an omniscient god does
indeed exist, Yahweh could not be that god." Mr. Till assumes Yahweh of the Hebrews is not the "Omniscient
God," and that it does not logically follow from any proof an omniscient God does really exist. No objective
evidence supporting his assertion was produced. Till says many passages in Scripture prove Yahweh could not
be the "Omniscient God." Where are the passages? Besides, Mr. till is bound by his epistemological stance to
produce sensory data unequivocally proving his assertion.
Five, Till says the affirmative I did not make assumes Yahweh actually did order the massacre of the
Amalekites. He assumes Yahweh did not actually order the massacre of the Amalekites. He is obligated to
produce objective measurable evidence unequivocally proving his assertion.
Mr. Till did not appreciate my illustration of what I could do to him with impunity if there were no
objective moral standard. He assures us the "free-thinking" crowd he runs with would never think of such
conduct. He told the people in Portland, Texas, he will not even step on a bug. Chairman Mao was a "free-
thinking" objectivist, so was Joseph Stalin, and they murdered millions. Till refuses to step on bugs but supports
the daily killing of 4,000 infants through abortion. His quibble is irrelevant. The point is that there would be no
intellectual basis to charge me with any crime if I chose to severely beat Mr. Till in a world without an objective
standard of morality.
As ridiculous as he thinks my position on the Amalekite massacre is, my belief that it is impossible to
have a moral atrocity in the absence of an objective moral standard against which to measure thoughts, words,
and deeds is even more ridiculous to him. He says the Bible concedes man's ability to make correct moral
decisions without divine revelation. Romans 2:14 is cited as support for his assertion. Till is wrong. Romans
2:14 does not substantiate his position. The first three chapters of Romans are devoted to a discussion of man's
universal need for salvation. In chapter one, Paul shows that the Gentiles are guilty before God. In chapter
two, he shows that the Jews are guilty too. In chapter three, he shows that everyone is guilty. Consequently,
everyone is in need of salvation. Any interpretation of the passage must be consistent with the context.
Paul is not saying the Gentiles made "correct moral decisions" without an objective moral standard.
The law the Gentiles did not have was Moses' Law. Nevertheless, because they were created in God's image,
they had a sense of oughtness. Further, they were subject to God's moral law that became operative in the
Garden and continues until Judgment. It reflects the same moral verities as Moses' Law.
When Adam and Eve partook of the forbidden fruit, they became aware of good and evil. With that
knowledge came the responsibility to choose the good. This knowledge was passed from generation to genera-
tion. To the extent that early societies reflect proper moral choices, they evidence compliance with God's initial
moral law. To the extent they reflect improper choices, they evidence rebellion.
Mr. Till has huffed and puffed; he has romped and stomped; he has howled and hollered; but he has
not produced one microbe of objective evidence to sustain his affirmative. Truly, it is one thing to preach
theory and quite another to practice it.
(Lindell Mitchell's address is printed after his letter on page 15.)