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"How can your God use infanticide as a weapon against the powers that oppose him?"

My wife and I evangelize Spanish-speaking communities in the southern United States. Some time ago, the son of a married couple who attended one of our missions shared a “gift” that had been given to him by his university classmates. He began by reading a page from Richard Dawkins’ book “The God Delusion” in full. Then he presented the arguments that he had received and that defined our God as a moral monster. Then she shared the question she had received: “How can your God use infanticide as a weapon against the powers that oppose him?” Clearly making mention of the passage of the Egyptian first-born. Since then I have tried to offer a response as solid as possible but I have not been able to.
To start I have the logic that Ravi offers us about the Evil that implies the Good, that implies a Moral Law and a Law Giver. This logic allows me to expose the lack of logic of their atheist classmates, break their initial barriers and be able to transmit our message. This is where the challenge begins because although it is true that he is offered a good start, I have not been able to explain clearly how God, the one that we show and demonstrate that attenuates the rigor of his judgment with his grace, the same one that tested Abraham to later be He who provided the supreme sacrifice, could kill children to achieve his goal of freeing the chosen ones to be the people of his beloved Son?
Please help me discerning the best answer. One that not only exposes the logical deficiencies of the alternative worldview but helps this young man to continue to appreciate coherence between the message and the actions of God. One that offers arguments from logic, that offers tools and not just prescriptions in the" Level 3".

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What you mean by “Level 3” ?

Hi, @luisgutialva1976!

First we should realize that everything that God does in relation to man is on the ground of his grace and mercy (i.e. giving us more [grace] or less [mercy] of what we truly deserve. By doing so, we could view our circumstances in a different perspective than what we used to.

Can’t we consider God’s purpose for physical death, although a form of judgment, is actually for our own good in the following sense:

  1. Shortening our troubles
    –In the Great Tribulation period, God will not allow death for 5 months. Imagine the pain and the horror of dying but not quite yet!
  2. Sparing an erring Christian from greater errors
    –Paul mentioned of destruction of the flesh that the soul might be saved in 1Cor.5:5.
  3. In my personal conviction, death is actually a form of God’s election, especially for the innocent children.

Second, we must also recognize that a child’s fate is greatly, if not inevitably, entwined with that of the parents. So their deaths is partly the parents doing.
Nations don’t just go to war without the preliminaries of peace negotiations and advance parties. Non-combatants and the innocents can have sufficient time to be taken out of the way if they would only choose to.
Also, if the parents and the community lived a deeply degenerate lives, the children will inevitably learn of their evil ways and be judged severely. Sentencing them to death in their innocence (God’s election) may be more gracious than allowing them to live in corruption.

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Hello Tim,

I was referring to the third level of Philosophy defined by Ravi in his article “Living an Apologetic Life”. Below I share a fragment of this article:

"The third level of philosophy is what I call “kitchen-table conclusions.” It is amazing how much of the moralizing and prescribing in life goes on during casual conversations. The setting can vary from sidewalk cafés, where frustrated philosophers pontificate on profound themes, to the kitchen table, where children interact with their parents on questions that deal with far-reaching issues. The question may arise out of the latest nagging news item or scandal of the day, or it could be a question raised in the classroom, such as the one posed by the daughter to her father. This level of philosophizing escapes neither the child nor the academic dean of a prestigious school because “Why?” is one of the earliest expressions of human life.

In summary, level one concerns logic, level two is based on feeling, and level three is where all is applied to reality. To put it another way, level one states why we believe what we believe, level two indicates why we live the way we live, and level three states why we legislate for others the way we do. For every life that is lived at a reasonable level, these three questions must be answered. First, can I defend what I believe in keeping with the laws of logic? That is, is it tenable? Second, if everyone gave himself or herself the prerogatives of my philosophy, could there be harmony in existence? That is, is it livable? Third, do I have a right to make moral judgments in the matters of daily living? That is, is it transferable?

None of these levels can exist in isolation. They must follow a proper sequence. Here is the key: One must argue from level one, illustrate from level two, and apply at level three. Life must move from truth to experience to prescription. If either the theist or the atheist violates this procedure, he or she is not dealing with reality but is creating one of his or her own."

I think that we should, if possible, offer logical arguments that indicate to the person who asks us “why we believe what we believe” before prescribing our way of living what we believe in.

Please find the complete article here: https://www.rzim.org/read/just-thinking-magazine/living-an-apologetic-life

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Thank you for clarifying Luis. @luisgutialva1976
I’ve never seen those ideas laid out like that. But I can fully appreciate where you’re coming from. You need to able to really tear into the fundamental issue…

You know… I’ve actually had kind of the same sort of objection toward things along these lines. For example: that God would ask Abraham to perform a human sacrifice with his son. The reasonable Christian claim goes that God will never ask you to do anything against His word. So one really has to wonder what was going on in Abraham’s head when he became convinced that he was actually hearing God tell him to do a human sacrifice (namely his son). My “Sunday school teacher” would not have approved of Abraham’s line of thinking. Clearly he shouldn’t have believed he was hearing from God if the voice he was hearing, was telling him to kill his son. Right?? It’s the Sunday-school framework (and don’t get me wrong, it’s a good one) that we’re all familiar with right? I think the fundamental, common denominator on the table is that it appears God is going against his own godliness and moral judgments… He seems to be contradicting his own law and telling his followers to do the kind of thing he hates (and the kind of thing he wants them to hate). And I think this is the real essence of the “rub”. isn’t it? Whether we’re talking about infanticide or about the Israelites battle orders to kill literally everyone in a city, or the death of the firstborn in Egypt, or the discussion of God telling Abraham to sacrifice Isaac… It would seem that the answer to your question would extend to all of these things. wouldn’t it?

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Hi @luisgutialva1976,

That article was great; and I learnt a lot from it.

So from a logical point of view (level 1); Dawkins states that in the atheistic worldview evil and good do not exist;

“In a universe of electrons and selfish genes, blind physical forces and genetic replication, some people are going to get hurt, other people are going to get lucky, and you won’t find any rhyme or reason in it, nor any justice. The universe that we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil, no good, nothing but pitiless indifference.”

and yet he then says that the God of the Old Testament is evil. Which is it, is there objective good/evil or is there not? Dawkins has made himself god, defining morality and placing himself above God in judgement; and yet he is complaining about the morality, that doesn’t exist in his atheistic worldview, of Someone that doesn’t exist? :thinking:

I remember Ravi speaking about how Dawkins undercuts his own logic by complaining bitterly about God’s evil doing, then saying that evil/good don’t exist. I can’t find the video in which he does this, I thought it was in his conversation with Dave Rueben ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V8bD7ovxIuc), or his conversation with Ben Shapiro ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RIMwWtt_EVQ), but I can’t find the direct quote to reference sorry. Might have been William Lane Craig in a conversation wth Ben Shapiro…?? sorry I did look but can’t find it. :slight_smile:

I like this little video from William Lane Craig on why the moral argument really cuts to the core of us as humans. As he points out, if we are just animals and morality is a preference or a social construct; then a heinous crime against another person is just antisocial behaviour, or a following of one’s “selfish genes” as Dawkins calls it.

I’m not sure about the difference between your level 2 and 3 you mentioned in the article; but I agree with Dennis (@DCGotiza); my best suggestion is that the Lord in his mercy was also wanting to remove Pharaoh and show the Egyptians that he was the one and only true God, the Creator of the Universe. The ten plagues on Egypt was directly attacking (and proving to be non-existent) the gods that Egypt worshiped in their polytheistic society. I think Exodus 14:4 may hold a key, whereby God says He will stop Pharaoh so that they Egyptians may know that He is Lord ( Lord being the word Yahweh, the personal name of God revealed to Moses as “I AM”, not the more generic term for God in the Old Testament: Elohim)

https://biblehub.com/hebrew/3068.htm

Now the Lord spoke to Moses, saying: 2 “Speak to the children of Israel, that they turn and camp before Pi Hahiroth, between Migdol and the sea, opposite Baal Zephon; you shall camp before it by the sea. 3 For Pharaoh will say of the children of Israel, ‘They are bewildered by the land; the wilderness has closed them in.’ 4 Then I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, so that he will pursue them; and I will gain honor over Pharaoh and over all his army, that the Egyptians may know that I am the Lord.” And they did so.

5 Now it was told the king of Egypt that the people had fled, and the heart of Pharaoh and his servants was turned against the people; and they said, “Why have we done this, that we have let Israel go from serving us?” 6 So he [a]made ready his chariot and took his people with him. 7 Also, he took six hundred choice chariots, and all the chariots of Egypt with captains over every one of them. 8 And the Lord hardened the heart of Pharaoh king of Egypt, and he pursued the children of Israel; and the children of Israel went out with boldness. 9 So the Egyptians pursued them, all the horses and chariots of Pharaoh, his horsemen and his army, and overtook them camping by the sea beside Pi Hahiroth, before Baal Zephon.

William Lane Craig also talks the death of the firstborn in this article below

Also, the above article accuses God of hardening Pharaoh’s heart so that it was impossible for him to respond to Moses command to ‘let my people go’. This is also incorrect; as the first 5 plagues Pharaoh hardened his own heart, and perhaps reached a point of no return, whereby God in his sovereignty Who was carrying out his purposes to rescue Israel from slavery hardened Pharaoh’s heart for the last 5. This is covered in detail in John Lennox’s book ‘Determined to Believe’ - a book I thought does well in getting the balance right between man’s free will and God’s sovereignty (both exist at the same time without violating the other).

And of course as we know, the passover lamb in Egypt points forward very clearly and prophetically to the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ.

I guess I would try and put the ball back into the court of the person you are talking to; and ask a simple question under the Morality Category. How do they tell the difference between right and wrong?

Just some thoughts; sorry I don’t have a definitive answer… it’s definitely a good question to think through.

To be honest I believe, like Ravi says, that our God complies with the Law of Non-Contradiction. He does not make square circles or “stones so heavy that he cannot lift.” His Love has made possible repeatedly Judgment and Mercy to be just opposite categories that make up a contrariness and not a contradiction. That is why it is so difficult to find logic in this passage. The death of children to free them from overwhelming suffering does not apply in this passage (as perhaps it is possible in the Apology for passages such as Sodom and Gomorrah or the Great Flood). Even their parents were not responsible. Most of the Egyptians at the time were subjugated by the decisions of the monarch of the Upper and Lower Egyptian kingdoms. Killing the firstborn so that they would not suffer for their parents, who at the same time suffered for their monarch, is a logical concatenation too long for someone who, besides having been Eternally All-Powerful and All-Love, has been ALL WISDOM.

When I received the question, my answer was that perhaps the Jewish people in writing the Exodus had assumed that what had happened was the work of the Spirit of God and perhaps it was not. My logic was that the Bible is the word of God for its original listeners and in order to understand that word in our days it is necessary to first understand what meaning and intention those words and actions of God had for them. But I immediately feared that my answer would only expose my lack of knowledge ………….

At first, I was concerned that this was one of those “doubts” that today fuel the false belief that there is a duality between the God of the Old and New Testaments. False belief that has permeated from naturalist circles and is today among us in what I call “Discretionary Christians”. Those brothers and sisters who say to you without any problem: “I am more of the New Testament …” And as if it were possible, they begin to choose at their discretion which part of Scripture they will believe and live every day. So, I do not think we should stop after we demonstrate the limitations of the “new atheists” worldview when judging the morality of our Lord’s decisions. Our answer can use, as I said before, that kind of exposition as a good starting argument, but if we do not answer the right question … it does not matter which answer we give. It will always be an incorrect answer.

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