The Amalekite Destruction a Moral Atrocity?
The Amalekite Destruction a Moral Atrocity?
Mr. Till agreed to affirm: "The Israelite destruction of
the Amalekite nation as recorded in the Bible constituted a moral
atrocity." His first affirmative asserts much and proves
nothing. Clearly, he has no case to make. Mr. Till's proclivity
to bluster about the affirmations of Christians led me to insist
that he set forth an affirmative case in this exchange. His first
article is disappointing but not unexpected.
Before responding to Mr. Till's "affirmative," I must
address three matters. First, questions about the existence of
Amalekites after the battle recorded in [ref001]1 Samuel 15
are not relevant. Mr. Till obligated himself to show that
Israelite conduct in this incident constituted a moral atrocity.
Raising such issues does not establish his case. I refuse to chase
that rabbit, except to say that Amalekite military units that
were out of the country when Saul's army swept through would have
escaped destruction. Note further that Saul defied God's instructions
concerning the Amalekite king and the best of the cattle. Who
knows what more he neglected to do in carrying out God's instructions?
Second, Mr. Till posed a series of questions to me. This was not
part of our agreement; therefore, I will not answer his questions.
He knows it is the place of the negative disputant to question
the affirmative side. I did not make such a request of Mr. Till
because of my desire to grapple with his affirmative. However,
he has provided precious little in the way of an affirmative case.
Third, Mr. Till threw out two incidents in which Jewish rulers
engaged in conduct he considers morally atrocious. Citing these
incidents does not establish his case. His job is to show that
Israelite conduct in the battle recorded in 1 Samuel 15 constitutes
a moral atrocity. David's conduct in [ref002]2 Samuel 8:2
and Menahem's conduct in [ref003]2 Kings 15:16
are not the points at issue.
Mr. Till's affirmative consists of nothing more than asking us
to visualize the Amalekite experience when the Israelites marched
against them. He reminds us of the primitive weapons used. He
asked us to consider what it was like to hear the shrieks and
cries of the women and children as the soldiers of God pursued
their grim mission. He reminds us that each of the Amalekites
had individual names and personalities. I would have noted that
each one was created in God's image, but Mr. Till does not believe
that. He thinks man ascended from bugs and other lower life forms.
The tragedy is enormous, and we recoil at the thought of such
utter destruction. It is a graphic illustration of the terrible
cost paid by a society that persisted in rebellion against God.
It is a powerful reminder that the actions of leaders have enormous
effects on the lives of their people. The scene evokes powerful
emotions, but intense emotions do not establish Mr. Till's case.
He is obligated to demonstrate that what took place was a moral
atrocity, not that it was a terrible calamity. No one disputes
Understanding the background leading to this battle helps us understand
God's order to exterminate the Amalekites. Amalek was a tribe
of Bedouins living in the country to the south of Judah. They
were enemies of Israel from the time of the Exodus. They attacked
the refugees from Egypt in Rephidim ([ref004]Ex. 17:8-16
) and blocked their entrance into Canaan from the South (
). In [ref006]Deuteronomy 25:17-19
, they are condemned for having picked off stragglers from
an Israelite column on the march. The wonder is that God's holiness
had spared the ruthless Amalekites for so long. Decades of patience
had not produced any positive change.
What could better impress upon the Israelites the monstrous nature
of sin than being required to administer punishment for sin? Thus,
God declared a "holy war." In such a conflict, the adversary
along with his possessions was placed under a ban (cherem), i.
e., no booty was to be taken from the vanquished foe. All people
and animals were to be killed, and all property of value was to
be burned as consecrated to the Lord ([ref007]Josh. 6:17,21
). The total destruction of the adversary and his goods removed
all personal profit motives. Those who participated in battle
fought only as avenging agents of God.
Mr. Till, a pro-death advocate of abortion, is concerned about
the fate of the Amalekite children but has no concern for 1.5
million innocents slaughtered in this country annually. He will
not allow the Omniscient God to look down the corridors of time
and see that the babes of Amalek were destined to become vicious
beasts like their ancestors. He will not allow the Lord of creation
to mete out justice upon the wicked and call the innocent into
the protection of his heavenly city. He is distressed about the
"thousands" of Amalekites, but 25-30 million Americans
murdered by abortion are of no concern to him.
He asked us to look with disdain on that horrible day when God
punished the sin of Amalek, but he supports the wanton slaughter
of innocents occurring all about him. Mr. Till defends death by
dismemberment via the dilation and curettage abortion procedure.
He supports 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 accomplished through salt
poisoning abortion. Given a choice, I would much rather die by
sword or spear!
Mr. Till will not concede that God stands ontologically on a higher
plane than man, which qualifies him to justly require actions
that no man could require. He says there is no evidence that God
exists, but he spends a considerable portion of his time fighting
against him. He tells us that this is done in an attempt to free
people from harmful religious superstitions, but Mr. Till is obviously
not free. His life is consumed with rebellion against what he
says does not exist.
Despite the restrictions Mr. Till places on God, he is confortable
condoning the brutal death of over 4,000 infants every day. According
to Mr. Till, the population might get out of control, and he would
not have enough to eat.
After countless decades of rebellion, God passed judgment on the
Amalekites. Proving themselves intractable foes and a relentless
threat to Israel, they were destroyed. Mr. Till will not allow
justice to be served in this case, yet he defends the slaughter
of innocent infants who are an inconvenience or a source of embarrassment.
He is comfortable with tax money financing the extermination of
these unfortunate babes, because he thinks they represent a threat
to him. It is a moral atrocity for God to punish a wicked nation,
but modern men can justly kill people who are inconvenient. The
Jewish nation cannot destroy an enemy that has proved an unrelenting
and brutal foe, but it is acceptable to kill people whose presence
would be embarrassing. The legs of the lame are unequal!
Three things make it impossible for Mr. Till to establish his
case concerning Israelite conduct in [ref008]1 Samuel 15
. First, he admittedly labors under an enormous burden of
ignorance. He does not know what he is talking about and has candidly
admitted it. In his debate with H. A. Dobbs in Portland, Texas,
Mr. Till readily conceded that he knows far less than one percent
of available empirical data. In his debate with Mac Deaver in
San Marcos, Texas, he admitted the possibility of being wrong
in affirming that God is guilty of moral atrocities. Until he
knows what he is talking about, Mr. Till should not accuse God
of evil conduct.
Second, Mr. Till believes that man's knowledge is restricted to
what he gains through one of his five senses. Given that epistemological
posture, he cannot know any- thing he has not personally tasted,
touched, smelled, seen, or heard. He has forever shut himself
off from any evidence that results from testimony. He has no literary
historical past. However, Mr. Till makes no attempt to be consistent
in this matter. He readily appeals to history when he deems it
convenient to his cause. When an opponent appeals to history to
show the fallacies in his position, he hides behind his false
epistemology limiting knowledge to information derived through
sensory perception. This will not pass. I insist that he be consistent
or give ground on this point. Given his epistemology, we should
not be engaged in this exchange! Neither of us saw, smelled, heard,
touched, or tasted the battle recorded in [ref009]1 Samuel 15
. In fact, Mr. Till doubts that the events described there
ever occurred. Neither of us knows anyone who knew someone who
witnessed the events of [ref010]1 Samuel 15
Given Mr. Till's view, I am not sure that a man named Farrell
Till actually exists. I do not know that Canton, Illinois, is
a real place. Who knows where those long laborious letters filled
with great swelling words, laced with bitter invectives, signed
by someone purporting to be Farrell Till really came from? Such
absurdity is the inevitable consequence of the assertion that
one can know only what comes to him through sensory perception.
Mr. Till's adherence to this epistemological posture makes it
logically impossible and ethically duplicitous for him to affirm
or deny anything that is not a part of his personal sensory experience.
Therefore, he cannot honestly hope to prove that Israelite conduct
in [ref011]1 Samuel 15
was morally atrocious.
Third, Farrell Till believes that no absolute objective moral
standard exists. If this is true, he has no philosophical basis
for objecting to any action, anywhere, anytime. It is impossible
to have a moral atrocity in the absence of an objective moral
standard against which to measure thoughts, words, and deeds.
According to Mr. Till nothing is objectively wrong. Nothing at
all. Hence, he has no right to charge anyone with a moral atrocity.
All that he can logically say, given his philosophical stance,
is that certain things offend Farrell Till. To which I would only
reply, if arguing from his perspective, "So what? So what
if you disapprove of my actions? I could not care less."
There would be no moral imperative, no logical intellectual basis
for him to object to my actions. Unless he could physically overpower
me (which he cannot do), there would be no basis for him to demand
redress of his grievance. He is incapable of forcing the issue
physically, and he has no intellectual route of appeal in the
absence of an objective moral standard. Given Mr. Till's view
that there is no such standard, I could assault him, inflicting
multiple contusions and lacerations about his head and body without
being in error. He would not like it, it would be a most unpleasant
experience, but it would not be a moral atrocity. Remember, there
is no objective moral standard and no ultimate judge to enforce
it. Hence, it would not be wrong for me, accompanied by some of
my ex-commando buddies, to go to Mr. Till's home to spoil his
goods, kill his children, ravage his wife, and mercilessly torture
him because his views are offensive to me. Thus, we are led by
Mr. Till to the law of the jungle! It is vile and repugnant, but
it is the logical consequence of obliterating an objective moral
I trust that in the next exchange the distinguished editor of
_The_Skeptical_Review_ will honor his commitment to
make the case that Israel's conduct in [ref012]1 Samuel 15
constituted a moral atrocity. Emotive descriptions of the
scene will not establish his case. Introducing other incidents
he finds objectionable will not establish his assertions. Attempting
to shift focus to the negative disputant by posing perplexing
questions will never make Mr. Till's case. What he must do is
produce sensory evidence that compels the conclusion that Israel's
conduct in [ref013]1 Samuel 15
was morally atrocious. He must show that his conclusion is
logically demanded in the absence of an objective moral standard.
Saying it is horrible and offensive to his sensibilities will
not suffice under Mr. Till's philosophical construct. Perhaps
he is saving the best for last. We shall see.