Questionable Motives

August 1, 2011

And do we feel any safer?

I don’t.

From Truthout.org:

The United States Air Force has been training young missile officers about the morals and ethics of launching nuclear weapons by citing passages from the New Testament and commentary from a former member of the Nazi Party, according to newly released documents.

The mandatory Nuclear Ethics and Nuclear Warfare session, which includes a discussion on St. Augustine’s “Christian Just War Theory,” is led by Air Force chaplains and takes place during a missile officer’s first week in training at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.

St. Augustine’s “Qualifications for Just War,” according to the way it is cited in a 43-page PowerPoint presentation, are: “to avenge or to avert evil; to protect the innocent and restore moral social order (just cause)” and “to restore moral order; not expand power, not for pride or revenge (just intent).”

The Powerpoint uses quite a few references to the Old Testament as arguments for why Jesus’ Dad loves nukes , (I haven’t read the 500 page training manual) yet I am assured by many theological sophisticates that the New supersedes these god-sanctioned barbarisms that I read plain as day. One has to be pretty stupid to assume that scripture means what it says, I guess. Obviously, I need more sophisticated comprehension skills. But I’m thinking that maybe the sophisticates should be taking up correct interpretation with their military commanders and selected trainers rather than us militant atheists… armed as we are by the bristling weaponry of reason and words fortified by the occasional beer or glass of wine.

Just sayin’.

Wouldn’t it be swell if the religious could get their theological house in order so that our public institutions like the military could at favour just one belief set rather than one that is a little… umm… bloodthirsty? Oh, right… that anti-American US Constitution keeps getting in the way of the armed forces being properly christian – the same Constitution (that contains the First)  military officers swear to uphold and defend from enemies foreign (and domestic, mumble, mumble, ahem). Oh, the conundrum! A good thing none of these confused military souls have their fingers on the triggers, so to speak… well, except those involved with the nuclear arsenal… and those who fly all those planes, drive the armoured vehicles, steer the ships and subs, carry firearms, and so on.

And yet for some unknown reason I still don’t feel any safer for reading Augustine. Funny, that.

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21 Comments »

  1. Not every Christian believes in a “Just War: theory. A lot of stuff that is passed as Christianity is only cultural nationalism. True Christianity transcends and crosses all national boundaries. From a cynical Australian observation it seems that America’s actions on war has no real basis on relieving poverty, persecution, helping the orphan, widow and refugee…rather the issue of “OIL seems to be the true subject of its interest for getting involved.

    Comment by Craig Benno — August 1, 2011 @ 7:51 pm | Reply

    • And so we are left with the two central questions: which version of this thing called ‘christianity’ is the right one, and how do we know? Trusting only your belief to be true means that I have to grant exactly the same justification to those who believe that nuking-for-jesus is also the right one. You see the problem?

      Comment by tildeb — August 1, 2011 @ 10:24 pm | Reply

  2. It depends on what you mean by trusting your belief?

    For myself. I do not trust my belief. Rather I trust the one I believe in. Jesus said; “Some will come to him saying Lord, Lord. We did this in your name, we did that in your name. And yet he says; I don’t know you.”

    My belief system is informed by the NT…which tells me to live a life of love and forgiveness. To help our neighbours who are in need. To turn the other cheek when we are persecuted. Don’t just love those who love us. To help the sick, poor and dying. To clothe the naked, to shelter the homeless.

    As much as anyone can try; you will not find the NT speaks or supports a “Just war theory”

    however I did have a convo with a JW who was having a go at me about war and violence a few months back… I asked them what would they do if someone broke into their house and tried to rape his wife and daughters? What would you do if someone tried to do the same to your friend and you were there, or your neighbour? Or it happened a few houses away? And then I asked what or how are we to consider other nations who are going through the same type of issue…what are we to do about it.

    And in asking these questions, deeper questions are asked as to what extent are we called to protect others? Personally I cannot see nuking any nation a way of protecting others.

    Comment by Craig Benno — August 1, 2011 @ 10:53 pm | Reply

    • I’m relieved to hear that you reject the divine morality of the Old Testament… specifically Genesis where your good lord commits a global genocide. I wish more people would see just how immoral and perverted that little example of god’s love is. But don;t stop there. Reject Deuteronomy and Leviticus, as well. Exodus also needs some serious reworking, too. In fact, what jesus says about upholding the law is obviously misinterpreted when so much of it is so patently immoral. Glad to hear you are focusing only on that which you already agree… other than ignoring jesus introducing us to eternal and everlasting punishment. Feel the love? Make it BURN!

      Comment by tildeb — August 3, 2011 @ 1:52 pm | Reply

      • Tildeb. I don’t reject the OT…

        What I do is to read it within the narrative context of its cultural and historical framework. Jesus turned the popular understanding of the law on its head… When a woman was caught in adultery, she was brought to him to be stoned…and he said if anyone is without sin, cast the first stone…he then said to her…your forgiven. He went to the outcasts, the gentiles, etc and healed, forgave, engaged with showing them the love of God.

        Regarding ever lasting punishment, personally I believe that the punishment of sin is death… we all die. But the gift of God is eternal life. I don’t believe that the scriptures support a ever lasting punishment in hell, rather that those who don’t accept Christ, don’t receive eternal life…rather they just are eternally dead.The position I hold to is a form of http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Annihilationism

        Getting back to the OT, there was a lot of redacted editorial work done on the Pentetuech within the post exilic experience, which therefore requires a different framework for understanding the first 5 books within the historical framework and position of the exilic experience.

        Comment by Craig Bennett — August 3, 2011 @ 8:52 pm

  3. “As much as anyone can try; you will not find the NT speaks or supports a “Just war theory” ”

    Well it took me a few moments to find exactly that in the NT:

    “Do not think that I come to send peace upon earth: I came not to send peace, but the sword” (Matt 10:34; Luke 12:51).

    “For he [who holds the power] is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, fear: For he beareth not the sword in vain. For he is minister of God: and avenger to execute wrath upon him that doth evil” (Rom 13: 4).

    “For if the trumpet gives an uncertain sound, who shall prepare himself for battle?” (1 Cor 14: 8).

    “….become valiant in war, putting to flight the armies of foreigners” (Heb 11: 34).

    Comment by misunderstoodranter — August 2, 2011 @ 3:32 pm | Reply

    • Well I guess your understanding of these Scriptures is keeping in line with your name sake… you have completely miss-understood them and taken them completely out of context.

      Lets look at them….

      1.) The context of Matt 10:34 & Luke 12:51 needs understanding within the Jewish thought of peace. For them peace meant the driving out and conquering of all their enemies and that Israel would once again become a mighty unconquerable army….however Jesus turns this over on its head…saying hey.. You guys are going to be persecuted for following me and many of you will be put to death, just as I will be

      2.) Romans 13:4 Paul is telling the early church to obey as far is practicable the laws of the land, telling them that all in authority have been given authority by God. And if you read that passage in context…Paul is actually addressing the Jews and Gentile believers to come together as one…so tells the Gentiles that the Laws of the Jews is from God, he tells the Jews that the Gentile authorities are from God…and tells them both to pull their heads in and get on with one another.

      3.) Come on now… all you have is pulled a verse completely out of context and not even read it…1 Cor 14:8 6 Now, brothers and sisters, if I come to you and speak in tongues, what good will I be to you, unless I bring you some revelation or knowledge or prophecy or word of instruction? 7 Even in the case of lifeless things that make sounds, such as the pipe or harp, how will anyone know what tune is being played unless there is a distinction in the notes? 8 Again, if the trumpet does not sound a clear call, who will get ready for battle? 9 So it is with you. Unless you speak intelligible words with your tongue, how will anyone know what you are saying? its pretty obvious that verse 8 is an analogy about speaking clearly!

      4.) I don’t know what version of Hebrews you are using; my version says that Hebrews 11:34 is all about having faith in the face of persecution.. .31 By faith the prostitute Rahab, because she welcomed the spies, was not killed with those who were disobedient.[d]

      32 And what more shall I say? I do not have time to tell about Gideon, Barak, Samson and Jephthah, about David and Samuel and the prophets, 33 who through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, and gained what was promised; who shut the mouths of lions, 34 quenched the fury of the flames, and escaped the edge of the sword; whose weakness was turned to strength; and who became powerful in battle and routed foreign armies. 35 Women received back their dead, raised to life again. There were others who were tortured, refusing to be released so that they might gain an even better resurrection. 36 Some faced jeers and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. 37 They were put to death by stoning;[e] they were sawed in two; they were killed by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated— 38 the world was not worthy of them. They wandered in deserts and mountains, living in caves and in holes in the ground.

      It’s easy to miss-represent something if you don’t bother actually reading the context of what is being said… as I said before – the NT does not promote a just war theory.

      Comment by Craig Benno — August 2, 2011 @ 6:48 pm | Reply

      • I think that’s the point Craig – it is all about interpretation – because the bible is not true, and the answers it gives cannot be tested it can be (and is) used for much evil in the world. The best thing to do with this scripture is to treat it with the contempt it deserves.

        Comment by misunderstoodranter — August 7, 2011 @ 2:26 pm

      • Your comment about the Bible not being true is a rather naive comment to make. There are many respected Atheist historians who discount the truthfulness of the Bible and who use the Bible as a source of historical inspiration.

        As far as your example of miss interpretation – it does not make sense at all…I could read a children’s book that is against smacking children or some other thing and miss interpret it to mean the complete opposite and therefore state its not true.

        Comment by Craig Benno — August 7, 2011 @ 5:49 pm

      • If the bible is so easy to interpret then why do we need theologians? Or more to the point why do we need theologians who disagree to interpret it?

        Who is the more naïve, the person who is gullible and hoovers up all the misinformation, wishful thinking and false promises in the bible or the person who learns that not everything written in scripture is accurate and true – and instead looks to other sources of information to draw an opinion from consensus?

        If the bible is true, then why are there no accounts of Jesus anywhere in secular unbiased history? You would think that a man who could bring the dead back to life and walk on water would at least make it into someone’s diary for the day wouldn’t you? Why only one book, why not a thousand books?

        It really is tragic to read your comments Craig, because you can write, you can read – but you choose not to put your skills to progressing your knowledge about truth. Instead you prefer to delude yourself into believing in the unbelievable in spite of what is knowable and what is known to be true.

        You only have to do a little research to realise just how inaccurate the bible is, and to understand who wrote it. Most of it was written by Paul of Tarsus, who wrote about a vision. At best Craig you are worshiping a dream that a man had. At worst you are worshiping a complete fabrication – a folk legend or a fairy tale.

        Comment by misunderstoodranter — August 8, 2011 @ 3:34 pm

  4. I have posted this before… but it seems relevant again (http://warprayer.org/):

    “Lord our Father, our young patriots, idols of our hearts, go forth into battle — be Thou near them! With them — in spirit — we also go forth from the sweet peace of our beloved firesides to smite the foe. O Lord our God, help us tear their soldiers to bloody shreds with our shells; help us to cover their smiling fields with the pale forms of their patriot dead; help us to drown the thunder of the guns with the shrieks of their wounded, writhing in pain; help us to lay waste their humble homes with a hurricane of fire; help us to wring the hearts of their unoffending widows with unavailing grief; help us to turn them out roofless with their little children to wander unfriended in the wastes of their desolated land in rags and hunger and thirst, sports of the sun flames in summer and the icy winds of winter, broken in spirit, worn with travail, imploring thee for the refuge of the grave and denied it —

    For our sakes who adore Thee, Lord, blast their hopes, blight their lives, protract their bitter pilgrimmage, make heavy their steps, water their way with their tears, stain the white snow with the blood of their wounded feet!

    We ask it, in the spirit of love, of Him Who is the Source of Love, and Who is the ever-faithful refuge and friend of all that are sore beset and seek His aid with humble and contrite hearts. Amen

    Comment by misunderstoodranter — August 2, 2011 @ 3:33 pm | Reply

    • Mark Twain, sure knew how to get to the heart of things :Hey!

      Comment by Craig Benno — August 2, 2011 @ 6:53 pm | Reply

  5. Missunderstood… it appears you have no understanding of ancient history. There is more historical evidence in existence for the existence of Christ, then what there is for Homer, Alexander the Great, Julius Caesar and many other ancient individuals home we take their existence for granted,. There is 66 books in the Bible…. 27 of which are the NT…Paul wrote 13 of those books, though there is some controversy whether he wrote Hebrews as some think Luke wrote that book. As for Paul, his own abrupt change of direction in life is outstanding. …he was totally against Christ and the early church -so much that he was a major prosecutor of them. …what do you think happened to him to have such a major turn around from being persecutor to supporter / believer?

    The counter cultural internal evidence of the Gospels themselves are hugely unique which indicates truth and not forgery. That they say it was women who were the first to see the empty tomb and see Christ alive is outstanding as women in those days were considered to be the lowest form of unreliable witnesses….This event of its self makes historians sit up and take note…because no historical forgery has / would do such a thing.

    There are other references to Christ outside of the Bible. Take Josephus and Tacticus as two examples…..

    If you claim to be a scientist and have a scientific mind, why is it you are not using your scientific mind in what you are saying about the Bible,for your information is clearly not in line within the framework of historical study techniques and you have clearly stated so many untruths.

    Comment by Craig Benno — August 8, 2011 @ 7:50 pm | Reply

  6. There is a 40 year gap between Christ’s life and the writing of the bible – research it for yourself. Again you keep going on about witnesses – Gandalf is a witness to Harry Potter – does Harry exist????

    Craig – it is a made up story like Robin Hood, Kind Arthur and a thousand other legends – the witnesses are made up characters in the same story, there is no hard evidence that any of these people existed – except for those that can be confirmed by secular texts.

    Comment by misunderstoodranter — August 9, 2011 @ 4:49 am | Reply

    • The earliest manuscript provides a 22-25 year gap, not 40…. which considering you are talking about a verbal society…its amazing that the gospels were written so soon after. Do you believe what history says about Julius Caesar, Alexander the great, or even Genghis Khan? Because we have no historical records of their feats and existence that were written by them or about them within their frame work of existence…. and there are no historical written records about Ghengis Khan because they were a verbal society that had no sense / need for the written word…but the Mongolian history was passed down from one generation to another.

      Simply put… you are digging yourself a scientific and historical hole…because you seem to be insisting on one set of criteria for reading the Scriptures as a historical document which is much different to the criteria’s that the scientific / historical scholar’s use in critiquing and understanding any and every ancient historical document.

      Comment by Craig Benno — August 9, 2011 @ 5:34 am | Reply

      • Craig, you’re lying again. We actually do have have all kinds of mutually supporting historical records, local documentation, anthropological evidence, as well as physical evidence for the exploits of Julius Caesar, Alexander the Great, and various Khans including Genghis. These historical figures require no ‘faith’ to bolster their case for existence. In comparison (for that is what you want us to do) there is trivial third person hearsay about jesus as a real person (but enough to make it reasonably possible) and even less for his supposed divinity. There is a need, therefore, to assume his divinity, to utilize ‘faith’ because of the absence of good evidence.

        MUR’s point is that there is stronger evidence for Gandalf’s divinity than there is for jesus’ yet you understand that the story of the Lord of the Rings is entirely fictional because you do not first assume its literal truth nor accept it on a matter of faith. You have no good reason to. What you fail to appreciate is that the same argument holds just as true for the jesus story and your faith in its veracity. Your faith is not the arbiter of what’s true but an admission of failure to find strong mutually supportive historical evidence. In other words we do not have to rely only on the historical rendition of the Mongols but can compare and contrast that oral history with the Chinese who did keep very good records, with the sub Asian cultures that recorded the invasions, with the oral traditions of the affected Arab clans, with the well documented fall of the Russian and Hungarian kings, with the destruction of certain cities at certain times that match up with accounts, and so on. The key here is to recognize the importance of mutually supportive lines of evidence. We know of Genghis Khan not because we put faith in an oral story from a Mongol but because its part of a cohesive history that matches every line of inquiry.

        The remarkable absence of similar historical references for the extraordinary claims made about jesus’ magical deeds that go against what we know of natural laws of cause and effect is a good reason to doubt the story’s veracity. Dead bodies do not reanimate for very good biological reasons. That you infuse Paul’s contrary beliefs (after having a seizure, no less) to be ‘good’ evidence shows the paucity of mutually supportive evidence from your avenues of inquiry. That’s why you supply faith in such a liberal dose to your cause: you have to in order to maintain the belief because when all is said and done, your faith is the strongest evidence you have. And that’s a very weak position upon which to build an historical argument.

        Comment by tildeb — August 9, 2011 @ 9:49 am

  7. Tildeb… the NT manuscripts themselves are the witness accounts of those very people who saw Jesus do those things. You are confusing your own biases of scientific knowledge against the historical witnesses and scholarship of the ancient manuscripts of what happened.

    Technically the building of the pyramids is a marvel. We have no modern idea of how they were built. Technically they are a structural impossibility, that cannot be repeated by modern technology. Yet they still stand today as a witness of their very existence.

    So what you are guilty of is saying… in my mind nothing supernatural can happen…therefore on the account of what I believe…I am going to throw out the window and discard all the established historical /.scientific methods of studying ancient manuscripts that is used within the framework for studying all ancient literature.

    Simply put… Mate your a phoney who pretends to be a scientist who refuses to actually play by the established rules.

    Comment by Craig Benno — August 9, 2011 @ 9:57 am | Reply

  8. “Technically the building of the pyramids is a marvel. We have no modern idea of how they were built. Technically they are a structural impossibility, that cannot be repeated by modern technology. Yet they still stand today as a witness of their very existence. ”

    Utter nonsense of the first degree – a factually incorrect diatribe; if you are ever tempted to make such obtusely stupid comments again, please at least take 10 minutes to look up what you are about to say first.
    See here: http://www.catchpenny.org/howbuilt.html; and
    Here: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/03/080328104302.htm; and
    Here: http://www.touregypt.net/construction/

    It is crying waste Craig that you will use your reading and writing skills to spout such mental diarrhoea in the defence of such worthless arguments; you should be utterly ashamed of yourself. I am in awe that you will squander the privilege of being able to read and write on supporting such untruths. All that you have demonstrated to me is that your ignorance is matched only by your own stupidity [And then the religious wonder why they are ridiculed by non-believers].

    It really doesn’t take much Craig – all it requires is a little honesty on your part. And the tiniest amount of research to satisfy your curiosity and find answers to many of the questions that you might have about history and the likelihood of the existence of Jesus.

    Comment by misunderstoodranter — August 9, 2011 @ 6:35 pm | Reply

    • Did you read those articles you linked to? The very first one says that there can only be theories as to how they were made..for there are no written records of them…and yes while ramps may have been used for the lower levels, there are no indications of ramps being used for the upper levels…. and indeed the higher one goes… the further out the ramps have to go …..

      Again the fact is that you scoff at any form of supernatural occurrence…even though there is evidence of it happening today… and therefore you approach the manuscripts with that closed mind…. rhetoric is easy…. how about you prove once and for all that Christ didn’t exist… didn’t do what is said he did and isn’t God manifested in the flesh.

      As I said rhetoric is easy…

      Comment by Craig Benno — August 9, 2011 @ 8:50 pm | Reply

  9. We have no modern idea of how they were built.

    No modern idea? How sad. If only we had theories.

    The very first one says that there can only be theories as to how they were made…

    Only theories? Yet no modern idea? How very sad. And incoherent.

    Technically they are a structural impossibility, that cannot be repeated by modern technology.

    Not unless you had ramps, levers, and rollers…and a slave economy…and a basic understanding of engineering.
    Duh!

    …you scoff at any form of supernatural occurrence…even though there is evidence of it happening today…

    Magic? Happening now? OoOOOOOOoooOOH where? Sounds exciting.

    BBC- Building the Great Pyramid – 1 of 6

    Comment by Cedric Katesby — August 10, 2011 @ 2:09 am | Reply

    • “…you scoff at any form of supernatural occurrence…even though there is evidence of it happening today…”

      Yeah – it happens all the time… that’s why doctors use it to cure cancer… forget chemo or radiation, or steriods… what you need dear is a heavy dose of pixie dust that will cure ya…

      You are a fraud Craig… there is no such thing as the supernatural if there was it would be as indisputable as gravity.

      Comment by misunderstoodranter — August 10, 2011 @ 12:52 pm | Reply


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