God and O. J. Simpson
The written debate with Lindell Mitchell has generated an intense
interest in the Amalekite massacre. In this issue, [ref001]"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
([ref002]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
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
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 [ref003]"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!"