McBull to the Rescue McBull to the Rescue Farrell Till Richard Fiori, a TSR subscriber in
McBull to the Rescue
McBull to the Rescue
Richard Fiori, a TSR subscriber in Fresno, California, has forwarded
to me an "explanation" of the Amalekite massacre that
was sent to him by an America On Line (AOL) subscriber who calls
himself McBull. After reading McBull's attempt to justify the
Amalekite atrocity, I'm convinced that he needs to drop the "Mc"
from his name. His response, entitled "Yes, a Moral God!!"
is reproduced below exactly as he wrote it, with [sic] inserted
where readers will think that I have surely miscopied.
Yes!! This is a good one! I'll explain it to you and then you
can try another one. First though, you say the killing of an Amalekite
woman or child based solely on nationality is an atrocity... Funny,
the Amalekites would not of [sic] thought so!! As a matter of
fact, the Amalekites routinely killed there [sic] own children
during sacrifice to idols. Anyway, here is the morality behind
why God decided to destroy the Amalekites:
1. The Amalekites were bent on destroying the Israelites as demonstrated
on there [sic] unprovoked attack upon Israel. The Amalekites were
a band a [sic] guerrilla terrorists, they made a living by raiding
others and taking everything they owned, including there [sic]
lives. They killed for pleasure.
2. The Amalekites were given plenty to [sic] time to repent from
their utter rejection of God, and their sin against His people,
but they refused. They continued to be involved in insest [sic],
molestation, homosexuality, bestiality, child sacrifice, murder,
etc... "A moral atrocity by any civilized standard of morality",
wouldn't you agree, Ingersol [Fiori's AOL name]..... The Amalekites
made their own choices, by their own free will. God simply held
them accountable for their actions.
3. The entire Amalekite population had to be destroyed due to
the gravity of there [sic] sins, and so that any remnants could
not continue their acts of violence against the nation of Israel.
Otherwise, we would have had a situation similar to what now takes
place with today's gangs on our streets. You kill one of ours,
we kill two of yours. And so on...
4. While murder is a direct violation of the sixth commandment,
not all forms of killing represents [sic] murder. To kill someone
in self-defense or to execute someone for a capitol [sic] offense
is totally justifiable. The fact is, justice demands that war
criminals such as Nazis be put to death. As Walter Kaiser once
put it, war is "Gods [sic] ultimate, but reluctant, method
of treating evil that resists every other patient and loving rebuke
of God." God used Israel to bring judgement upon the Amalekites.
4 [sic]. All children who die before the age of accountability
are saved (see 2 Sam. 12.23) So, the act by which God took the
lives of children, is far from merciless.
And my final point:
Since God is the author of life, it is entirely His decision as
when to give life, as well as when to take it away. The fact that
you and I have our lives, is a blessing. NOT A RIGHT... Everyone
will eventually be taken by God in death - its [sic] only a matter
I look forward to your reply. We can debate this further or you
can try another situation or verse.
Readers who have followed my exchanges with Lindell Mitchell
on this subject probably noticed the striking similarity in Mitchell's
and McBull's defenses of the Amalekite atrocity. Since McBull
is not a subscriber to The Skeptical Review, he has probably not
seen Mitchell's articles. The fact that two people working independently
of each other would write such similar articles merely shows that
stock answers to Bible problems have been widely circulated among
Christian fundamentalists. Let's notice, one by one, the absurdity
of McBull's "canned" responses.
Their unprovoked attack on the Israelites demonstrates that
the Amalekites were bent on destroying Israel. This argument
was soundly refuted in my last response to Mitchell (Summer 1994).
As I pointed out, a horde of about 3 million Israelites (if we
are to believe the census count in the book of Numbers) entered
Amalekite territory during their trek to the promised land (p.
4). The Israelite army alone numbered 600,000 ([ref001]Ex. 12:37
; [ref002]Num. 1:45-46
). How, then, can any reasonable person call the Amalekite
action against the Is-raelites an "unprovoked attack"?
I asked this question of Mitchell, but he chose to declare victory
and drop out of the discussion. Perhaps McBull will favor us with
Bibliolaters try to make a big deal out of the biblical claim
that the Amalekites attacked Israel from the rear ([ref003]Dt. 25:17-19
). The fact that the Bible says that the Amalekites attacked
in this manner doesn't prove that it actually happened this way,
but for the sake of argument, let's assume that it did. A possible
explanation for this strategy could well be that the Amalekites
did not have a large enough army to confront 600,000 armed Israelite
soldiers in conventional battle. Guerrilla tactics are quite common
in situations where the defenders of their national territory
have been invaded by numerically superior forces. To say the least,
McBull and his fundamentalist cohorts are stretching reality to
call such a situation an "unprovoked attack." Besides,
McBull's point completely ignores the fact that this attack on
Israel happened 450 years before Yahweh allegedly ordered Saul
to utterly destroy the Amalekites of his generation, so McBull
must show us the justice of massacring an entire nation for something
that their distant ancestors did. Mitchell couldn't, and I doubt
if McBull can.
McBull characterized the Amalekites [presumably the Amalekites
of Saul's time] as "a band of guerrilla terrorists,"
who (1) "made a living by raiding others," (2) "taking
everything they [others] owned, including there [sic] lives,"
and (3) "kill[ing] for pleasure." In this statement,
McBull has made some assertions that he has a responsibility to
prove. I know, for example, of only one biblical passage ([ref004]1 Sam. 30:1-20
) that refers to a raid that was made by the Amalekites who
were contemporary to Saul, and this was done right after David
had raided Amalekite villages and "saved neither man nor
woman alive" ([ref005]1 Sam. 27:8-11
). In probable retaliation, the Amalekites then raided David's
camp and took the women and children captive.
All of this happened during the conflict between David and Saul,
when David and a band of loyal followers had taken refuge in the
country of the Philistines ([ref006]1 Sam. 27:1-7
). David and his men survived by making guerrilla raids against
the Geshurites, Girzites, and Amalekites. If, then, Guerrilla
terrorism was such a horrible sin and making a living by "raiding
others and taking everything they owned, including there [sic]
lives" was sufficient reason for God to order the massacre
of the terrorists, then God should have had David killed. But
he didn't. He considered him a "man after Yahweh's own heart"
([ref007]1 Sam. 13:14
; [ref008]Acts 13:14
) and made him king over Israel. We have to wonder, then,
about the soundness of McBull's argument on this point. An argument
that leaves such inconsistencies in its wake isn't much of an
As for McBull's claim that the Amalekites made their living by
raiding others, taking everything they owned, and killing for
pleasure, I must insist that he provide us with proof of these
assertions. As we noted about Mitchell's arguments, asserting
is easy; proving isn't quite so easy. Where, then, is McBull's
biblical or extrabiblical proof that the Amalekites of Saul's
time were the despicable, amoral terrorists that McBull claims
they were? I predict that he will have about as much success as
Mitchell did in proving this assertion.
The Amalekites were given plenty of time to repent, but they
refused and continued to be involved in insest [sic], molestation,
homosexuality, bestiality, child sacrifice, murder, etc.
All I need do here is challenge McBull to cite one-- just one--biblical
passage that claims the Amalekites of Saul's generation were involved
in any of these immoralities. No such passages exist. For example,
the only biblical cases of incest that I can recall are the stories
of Lot's impregnation of his daughters ([ref009]Gen. 19:30-38
) and the man in the Corinthian congregation who had taken
his "father's wife" ([ref010]1 Cor. 5:1
). Incest is, of course, legislated against in the Bible,
but there is absolutely nothing recorded that even suggests that
the Amalekites were an incestuous people. The same is true of
McBull's other allegations regarding Amalekite practices of molestation,
homosexuality, and bestiality. In all likelihood, McBull is just
an amateur apologist who is simply parroting something that he
has heard overzealous preachers proclaim from the pulpit, so I
will give him a bit of friendly advice. Before he uses pulpit
information to defend the Bible, he should check it out. He will
very likely find it to be erroneous or at least overstated.
Prior to introducing his points, McBull said that the Amalekites
would not have considered the killing of children solely for reasons
of nationality an atrocity, because the "Amalekites routinely
killed there [sic] own children during sacrifice to idols."
Again, however, I must demand his proof. Where does the Bible
say that the Amalekites practiced human sacrifice? If he doesn't
have biblical proof, perhaps he knows of some extrabiblical proof.
If so, we would be interested in seeing it.
Personally, I would not be at all surprised if the Amalekites
did indeed practice human sacrifice, because it was a common custom
in the area at that time. The Bible makes frequent references
to it, and archaeologists have discovered evidence of the practice.
All I'm saying is that I want to see McBull's proof of his assertion
that the Amalekites "routinely" sacrificed their children
to idols and so this was just one of many moral reasons why God
ordered Saul to exterminate them. After all the asserting by McBull,
Mitchell, et al, one stubborn fact still remains: the only reason
given for the orders to massacre the Amalekites was the attack
on Israel made by their ancestors 450 years earlier. "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, ox and sheep, camel and ass" ([ref011]1 Sam. 15:2-3
Even if McBull could prove extrabiblically that the Amalekites
did practice human sacrifice, I would have to ask him, "So
what?" The Israelites did too. In condemning the rebelliousness
of Israel, [ref012]Psalm 106:37-38
says, "Yea, they sacrificed their sons and their daughters
unto demons, and shed innocent blood, even the blood of their
sons and their daughters whom they sacrificed unto the idols of
Canaan; and the land was polluted with blood." [ref013]Second Kings 17:17
; [ref015]Jeremiah 7:31
; [ref017]Ezekiel 16:20-21
; and [ref018]23:37-39
all make references to the Israelite practice of sacrificing
children to idols. So if the Amalekites did indeed practice human
sacrifices, why did Yahweh choose to exterminate them by another
nation that sacrificed children to idols? Perhaps McBull can tell
The entire Amalekite population had to be destroyed due to
the gravity of there [sic] sins and so that any remnants could
not continue their acts of violence against the nation of Israel
. Why, if this hadn't been done, McBull tells us, "we
would have had a situation similar to what now takes place with
today's gangs on our streets. You kill one of ours, we kill two
of yours, and so on...." And so what happened? Yahweh sent
Saul to utterly destroy the Amalekites, and after he did, we somehow
have David's guerrilla band raiding the Amalekites who had already
been utterly destroyed by Saul ([ref019]1 Sam. 27:8
). Even though David "saved neither man nor woman alive"
on this raid ([ref020]v:11
), these twice utterly destroyed Amalekites managed to regroup
and raid David's camp (as previously noted). It would seem, then,
that even though the Amalekite population had to be destroyed
"so that there would be no remnants left to continue their
acts of violence against the nation of Israel,"some remnants
of an utterly destroyed people did manage to do the very thing
that McBull assures us that Yahweh exterminated them to keep them
from doing. How can anyone believe such ridiculous nonsense that
bibliolaters fabricate to defend an indefensible book!
While murder is a direct violation of the sixth commandment,
not all forms of killing represents [sic] murder. I won't
argue that there is no such thing as justifiable killing; however,
I will argue that it is not justifiable to kill children and babies
for something that their ancestors had done 450 years ago. This
point has already been addressed in my other articles on this
subject, so there is no need to rehash it again. What we do need
is for someone who accepts the inerrantist position to offer a
satisfactory explanation of the problem. The best that Mitchell
could do was parrot the old fundamentalist line about the children
having been done a big favor, because they died in a state of
innocence and would, therefore, go to heaven instead of growing
up to be "vicious beasts" like their parents. Now McBull
gives us a variation of the same theme.
All children who die before the age of accountability are saved
(see [ref021]2 Sam. 12.23
), so the act by which God took the lives of children is far
from merciless. Yeah, right, and if McBull has any children of
his own, I'm sure he would consider it a favor if someone murdered
them before they reach "the age of accountability."
That, however, isn't the biggest problem with McBull's final point.
Who is to know whether there really is a heaven or even an afterlife
of any kind? There is certainly no tangible, scientific evidence
to prove that one's spirit survives physical death and lives on
in another life. It is a claim that requires proof, so Mitchell,
McBull, and anyone else who offers this as a defense of child
killing is shamelessly begging the question. Let's see Mitchell's
and McBull's evidence of an eternally blissful existence in heaven
for those who die in a state of innocence (before what McBull
calls "the age of accountability"), and then we can
evaluate the strength of their claim that God did the Amalekite
children a big favor by having them killed.
McBull said to Fiori that they could "debate this [the Amalekite
massacre] further" or "try another situation or verse."
He may do as he likes, of course, but I strongly suggest that
he "try another situation or verse," because he didn't
fare too well on this one.
E-Mail Fredric L. Rice / The Skeptic Tank