Thursday, July 31, 2014

The Theology of Disproportionate Retribution

There will never be peace in the Middle East until both sides drop their theology of disproportionate retribution.

In the U.S. we have an expression: "The punishment should fit the crime."

Not so in the Bible.  One of the few sermons I remember from church-going days was an explanation of "eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth" as an attempt to dial back excessive punishment.  Instead of wiping out an entire town for the actions of a few people, that line in the Old Testament urges restraint.

Apparently only Christians have read it, but not many of them.

Even Christians who have read it misunderestimate the punishment.  Just after 9/11 I was talking to a Christian who was fuming with anger at the A-rabs who perpetrated the crime.  He said we should "nuke them all.  An eye for an eye!"  ... as if nuking millions of people was a suitable punishment despite killing millions of innocent people who had nothing to do with the al Qaeda terrorist attacks ... that weren't even launched from the Middle East - they were based in Afghanistan.

Our wonderful president and his "neo" Conservatives apparently felt the same way.  They punished Iraq for the actions of a group of people that secular Saddam Hussein actually had no use for.  The neo-cons had planned ahead of time for this, and then waited for a suitable trigger to set their plan into motion.  They started talking about it on September 12, 2001.

I suspect something similar happened in Israel.  Three teenagers were murdered, and rather than track down the individual(s) who did it, Israel launched an attack on Hamas itself. ... along with the innocent people who are either human shields or collateral damage, depending on your point of view.  The targets were too specific and too sweeping to have been chosen just recently.  This is a well thought-out campaign designed to bring down their (rather horrible) enemy.  The everyday people of Gaza won't blame Hamas for this, though.  They will blame Israel because people who had nothing to do with the murder of those teens are dying by the hundreds, leaving behind relatives with nothing left but their anger.

Most of what I've seen and read misses the point, I think.  The point is that both parties practice disproportionate retribution.  Just like the deity they worship, who supposedly wiped out the entire population with a flood (including innocent children and fetuses), and ordered genocide after commanding his people not to kill, they feel justified taking out their anger on large numbers of innocents.

Israel should not be building settlements so close to Gaza.  Palestinians shouldn't take it out on the residents of those settlements, because they're not the ones who are defying Palestianian sensibilities.  Those settlers could settle elsewhere.

And then when Palestinians take it out on the residents, Israel can't retreat.  That would be a sign of weakness!  They can't move the settlers to Jerusalem or Tel Aviv.  They can't not bomb schools if they are being used to house both children and bombs. They can't cave in to the human shield because everyone would start using that tactic!

And Palestinians can't just take the bombing laying down.  There is nowhere for them to run. Egypt won't take them in, because they get too much money and arms from the U.S. in exchange for not waging war on Israel.  Jordan won't take them back because Jordan is not interested in them.  (They screwed them as far back as the 1940s)  Britain won't take them because although their colonization of Palestine is the reason the Palestinians were displaced to make room for post-war Jews, they are joined at the hip to the U.S.  When you can't take flight, you must fight.

And the U.S. can't let any of this change because Christian dominionists believe Israel's renaissance fortells the coming of the Lawd.  As long as Israel exists, the Lawd will come and take them to Paradise (because apparently the Lawd can't change his mind and blow off prophesy and just do what he wants, when he wants to)

And the Christian Lawd's retribution for not believing in him, or in believing in the wrong version of him, or for believing in some other deity, is disproportionate indeed.  A 13-year-old atheist will burn in Hell for eternity for a year or two of apostasy (assuming that children get some break for not being of an age yet).  A sincere believer in Catholicism, or Pentecostalism, or Methodism (take your pick) will burn in Hell for eternity for missing the mark, even though they've lived an ideal life.

If Christian dominionists didn't believe in the Rapture, if Jews didn't believe in a god who regularly ordered them to commit genocide, if Muslims didn't believe in a god who orders girls to marry their rapists, or apostates to be executed, or thieves to have their hands chopped off, then perhaps there might be something resembling peace.

You know, when a crime happens the criminals are punished, in proportion to their crime, and everyone else is left alone.  That's how secular people behave.

You know, morally.

Until then, the Middle East will continue to be the big mess it was as described in the Old Testament, with warring tribes committing genocide because that's what their deities would want.


L.Long said...

"There will never be peace in the Middle East until both sides drop their theology of disproportionate retribution."
Actually the religion is less important as it is more of a power/political/cultural war that is extended by the powers-that-Be using religion to pull the sheeple into keeping it going with their blood.
If the dimwitted Jews believe their silly buyBull then....
"The The land shall not be sold for ever: for the land is mine, for ye are strangers and sojourners with me. Leviticus 25:23"
so it aint their land to fight over...Oh wait the jews don't read their buyBull any better then the xtians!!! Oh wait I forgot in another part of the buyBull it says gawd gave the land to the jews, Oh wait in another part it says gawd took it from them, Oh wait I forgot the English & Americans then took the land from the people living there and gave it to the jews after WWII because the british & 'mericans owned it or something.
That whole area is nothing more than a large scale Hatfields&McCoy type pile of waring fractions using BS to excuse themselves. They have been fighting and killing over that area sand since the beginning of recorded history and will be doing so even after we get space flight so the rest of us can leave. And the best solution for that area is to invest heavily NOT in military but the space program so we can leave and they can just kill themselves off.
I know I being insensitive to the plight of the innocent kids, but what the hell, I'm a sinful man And no better than their idiot gawd who killed innocents by the thousands.

LadyAtheist said...

I agree there are multiple motivations, but I do think the Bible influenced their cultures.

Or maybe nobody "owns" the land, but merely owns the dubious right to keep other people off of it.

Anonymous said...

You seem to be an anti-theist with a strong amount of disdain toward Christians. What if I told you that I am a Christian who accepts science and logical, rational thinking. I also can provide evidence for my acknowledgement of God that does not have to do with the Bible. I can show you that if you promise to not be an asshole about it. Thank you.