Tuesday, November 28, 2006


When the Romans ruled the known world, they had, among others, a simple weapon of terror they used to keep the soldiers in their army literally in line during battle.

Decimation: a form of extreme military discipline used by officers in the Roman Army to punish mutinous or cowardly soldiers. The word decimation is derived from Latin meaning "removal of a tenth." A cohort selected for punishment by decimation was divided into groups of ten; each group cast lots, and the soldier on whom the lot fell was executed by his nine comrades, often by stoning or clubbing. The remaining soldiers were given rations of barley instead of wheat and forced to sleep outside of the Roman encampment.
Because the punishment fell by lot, all soldiers in the selected cohort were eligible for execution, regardless of rank or distinction. As a result, the threat of decimation inspired fear and resolve into the Roman Legions. However, because a decimation significantly reduced the troop strength of an army, it is believed that the punishment was rarely used. (Wikipedia)

When an agent of an occupying army or government is attacked and killed by a resistance movement, this has, upon occasion, led to civilian reprisals.

“In warfare, a reprisal is a limited and deliberate violation of the laws of war to punish an enemy for breaking the laws of war. A legally executed reprisal is not an atrocity.
To be legally justified, a reprisal can only be directed against the party carrying out the original violation, can only be carried out as a last resort, after having given formal notice of the planned reprisal, must be proportionate to the original violation, must have the aim of persuading the original violator to comply with the legally accepted behaviour in future, and must not continue after the illegal behaviour ends.
Circumstances usually dictate that reprisals can only be taken against people innocent of the original violation, which increases the probability that the reprisals will themselves be viewed as hostile acts, risking a vicious circle of violations by both sides.
All four Geneva Conventions prohibit reprisals against, respectively, battlefield casualties, shipwreck survivors, prisoners of war and civilians, as well as certain buildings and property. An additional 1977 protocol extends this to cover historic monuments, works of art and places of worship. Despite this, in ratifying the Conventions, a number of states have reserved the right to undertake reprisals against civilians, including the United Kingdom and Germany.
In the United States military, the lowest ranked commander who can authorize a reprisal is a general in command of a theater.”

Many times throughout history, civilian reprisals have been carried out on the thin justification that the victims of the reprisal were suspected of aiding and abetting the perpetrators of a violent act. In fact, no effort was made to justify these suspicions because the reprisal itself was staged as a warning to the perpetrators to the effect that their continued actions would result in even more physical harm to their friends and neighbors. It was also an attempt to strike fear into the civilian population concerning what would happen to them if they were even suspected of rendering aid to the rebels. In short, this is another weapon of terror and an attempted extortion of good behavior.

When a government or other authority condones a massacre or genocide either through direct action or deliberate failure to take preventive action, that authority is said to have committed a crime against humanity.

“A crime against humanity is a term in international law that refers to acts of persecution or any large scale atrocities against a body of people, as being the criminal offence above all others.[1]
The Rome Statute Explanatory Memorandum states that crimes against humanity "are particularly odious offences in that they constitute a serious attack on human dignity or grave humiliation or a degradation of one or more human beings. They are not isolated or sporadic events, but are part either of a government policy (although the perpetrators need not identify themselves with this policy) or of a wide practice of atrocities tolerated or condoned by a government or a de facto authority. However, murder, extermination, torture, rape, political, racial, or religious persecution and other inhumane acts reach the threshold of crimes against humanity only if they are part of a widespread or systematic practice. Isolated inhumane acts of this nature may constitute grave infringements of human rights, or depending on the circumstances, war crimes, but may fall short of meriting the stigma attaching to the category of crimes under discussion. "[2]

When the alleged Almighty God Jehovah decided that his allegedly chosen people had been slaves in Egypt long enough, he caused the death of the Egyptian’s firstborn children. There is no recorded age limit. Presumably, a young Egyptian couple with their first newborn suffered the same fate and lost their only child. These children were killed because their Pharaoh, their parent’s ruler and government, would not condone the release of the Israeli slaves. Setting aside the suspicious nature of the ten plagues (more on this later), and the possible agencies behind these “miracles”, if you believe in the inerrancy of the Bible, then this took place.

When is this ever right? I’m not looking for excuses or moral justifications, I want to know when is it right to murder innocent human beings in order to achieve social engineering?


At 1:41 PM, Blogger Kalanchoe542 said...

Your picture looks like A Dalek...

At 11:22 PM, Blogger Romeo Morningwood said...

Quite a lot to digest..the decimation program is horrendous.."Bloody Romans, what have they ever done for us anyway?"
Sorry had to use a little Python to clear the palate..I was just reviewing the Century of Genocide in Nat/Geo the other day. The systematic eradication of 50 million human beings was accomplished during the 2oth Century. Of course Mao and Stalin and Hitler came in 1st,2nd & 3rd but from Rwanda to Croatia to Armenia and Cambodia it was unbelievably cruel. Civilians always pay the highest price in any war.
I was also reminded of the cruelty shown to POWs by the Japanese soldiers in WW2..and we keep thinking that our species is reaching a higher plane of consciousness..bah!
Yahweh supposedly ordered his Kings to kill every living thing that belonged to their enemies...a far cry from turning the other cheek..but it is the legacy of the harsh desert environment and millenium of constant tribal feuding.

Your post is vast in it's scope and all I can say is that we will never live without war..until the last few humans are eradicated by Mother Earth they will always be murdering each other...quite pathetic.
The least that we could do would be to remove the civilians from places like Darfur and let the men kill off each other..why not drain the shallow end of the gene pool.

At 4:23 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Is morality objective or subjective? How do you know?

I've also asked before - and yet to have been given an adequate reply - prove to me that murder is wrong. Since you reject God (and circular reasoning), then you must have a way to prove this without appealing to the authority of God and without using circular reasoning.

Without God, anything goes. Why not? Without God, we're merely clumps of molecules that have been arranged together by chance and time. Whence comes "morality"?

The truth is that in order to be right about anything, you have to borrow from Christian truth, for all truth is God's truth. In fact, by presupposing the rules of logic, you borrow from Christian truth (and every time you commit a logical fallacy, you reject Christian presuppositions - or you just made a mistake).

And the truth is that God was just in slaying the first born of Egypt. In fact, stopping there may have very well been an act of mercy. We're all sinners who deserve God's wrath. Those who receive God's mercy become new creatures in Christ. For those who have not received God's mercy, you ought to know that it is only the mercy and Sovereign pleasure of God that keeps you from being consumed by His holy and just wrath even now.

God bless. I mean no offense.


At 9:49 AM, Blogger shoes said...

concerned engineer...doesnt your bible refer to murder as a mortal sin. and lets be honest more murders were committed in gods name than anything else in history. from the 10 plagues to the crusades to the inquistion to killing abortion doctors....god is knee deep in murder

At 1:41 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


Murder is evil and sinful.
But not all killing is murder.
There is a difference.

God's judgments are just.

But, let me put on my secular atheist hat for a moment (so I can fit in).

Why is murder wrong?

On what is morality based?

Can anyone answer these questions?

At 2:29 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"lets be honest"

Having temporarily embraced the secular atheist position (role playing here), I have no reason to be honest. Can you provide me with one?

Having now gone back to the believer position that humans are created in God's image and that morality is objective and not subjective and that God's nature is honest and that God has commanded us to be honest...

I say, "Amen. Let us be honest."

But you have no basis for the ethic of honesty. Yet, you still think we should be honest - and you can't get away from that (if you are honest) - due to the fact that you have been created in God's image. But not believing that, you can't account for the ethic of honesty (or any other ethic for that matter).

That there exists an objective standard for morality that honest people recognize - even though there is no scientific evidence for this thing called morality - is a form of evidence for the existence of God. At this point, we may be a million miles away from YHWH of the Bible, but since morality is real, there must be a God.

Otherwise, prove to me that morality is real.

If morality is not real, then why all the rage at "injustice." What is that?

At 6:10 PM, Blogger breakerslion said...

Who said morality isn't real? Even god is real as a concept. So many Christians seem to have these "all or nothing" manic mood swings.

Reason to be honest: so other people will trust you.

I think I have given you my reason for believing that murder is wrong. If not, I will do so later. It does not have to satisfy you, it only has to satisfy me. (-skip ahead if you've heard this. This is sort of like the story of the two campers who see a bear approaching their campsite. One starts to put on his sneakers, and the other says, "Whats the use? You can't outrun a bear!" His friend replies, "I know, but I only have to outrun you.")

Before we continue any further, I would be interested to hear your definition of murder.

Does morality have to have a basis? I mean that as a serious question. Is it not sufficient to say that it is an outgrowth of the human race's ability to reason, and to empathize? The only entities that I see worrying these questions are human. Why do we need a sky daddy to think this stuff up for us?

I usually phrase my questions about morality, "Is morality absolute or relative?" While one can make a case for behaviors operating under a belief in relative morality, I have been shown by smarter minds than my own that there are moral absolutes, or axioms of morality if you will.

At 7:26 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Without God, we are all merely a bunch of molecules bouncing around. Everything is meaningless - a chasing after the wind. Some people think that morals are relative; some think that morality is absolute. Some think there is a God, some think that there are many gods, some think that nature is god, some think that there is no god. If there is no god, then what we think is merely the result of chance and time acting on chemicals. One person happens to fizz a certain way, while another person fizzes another way. So what? Morality, in an objective sense, implies duty. Morality, in a subjective sense, is total nonsense. Without God, it is all meaningless. There is no reason to even presuppose logic if there is no God. Why be logical?

By the way, this is not a "mood swing" but an intellectual exercise that I am choosing to engage in, in order to help you see the logical (or illogical) end of your presuppositions. My mood is remaining steady. And I hope that it is perceived as friendly. :)

I think I would define murder as the intentional, immoral, and unjust killing of an innocent human person. (Immoral and unjust is a bit redundant, but eh, it works).

How do you define murder? Is killing other human persons ever justified - under any conditions?

"Does morality have to have a basis?"

You have to start somewhere. Some presupposition has to be taken "on faith." This is true in geometry, physics and the other sciences. It is true in philosophy. Descartes began with "I think; therefore, I am." He took that on faith. Previously, he had questioned whether or not he was merely a figment of someone's imagination or dream. But he took it on faith that his ability to think implied that he really existed. But why should that be the case? How do we know we're not stuck in the matrix? I know by faith, because God has revealed Himself to me. How do you know?

See, in order to know anything for certain, we are entirely dependent on revelation.

But again, "Does morality have to have a basis?"

The idea of having "morality" without a basis is really scary. It leads to all kinds of tyranny and injustice. If there is no basis for morality, then morality is arbitrary, and the people with the gold and the guns make up the rules - and also twist them, break them, and change them when and how they see fit.

I am no fan of modern art. In fact, I don't even like to call it "art." Beauty, truth, morality: these can be complicated ideas - like calculus - but, like calculus, there are objective absolutes. There is a proper order and structure to all things true, beautiful, and good. You wouldn't give a kid a musical instrument and then tell him, "Just express yourself." No. He must learn the "grammar" of the instrument and the "grammar" of music. He must learn the notes, the scales, rhytms,etc. Someone who writes poems, books, essays, or stories have to have knowledge and understanding of grammar and other principles. A poem has a certain structure. A story has a theme and a climax. Each paragraph of an essay has a point, and there are good ways to tie all the points together in a logical and eloquent way. All of these concepts are a reflection of God's norms.

The modern, postmodern, and now neo-pagan world has declared war on all of these objective norms. Fundamentally, this is a rebellion against God. In fact, during the Enlightenment, there was a period of time when the French instituted a 10 day week, because a 7 day week was seen as an imposition of Christianity on society. The problem is, we have not been hard-wired for 10 day weeks. We have been hard-wired for 7 day weeks. And if we don't honor the 7 day week idea, we will not be as healthy as we would if we do.

Living humbly within God's norms is a good way to set ourselves up for blessing, prosperity, fruitfulness, balance, joy, moral excellence, order, and authentic liberty. Rebelling against God's norms leads to cursing, poverty, wasted potential, depression, depravity, immorality, chaos, and enslavement.

Peace, friends.

At 7:39 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This whole deal of deciding which presuppositions to take on faith (not whether to take presuppositions on faith) essentially boils down to this:

Do my presuppositions have substance, and how do I know?

Deductive reasoning says nothing about presuppositions. You can proceed from your presuppositions via deductive reasoning, but the presuppositions must be presupposed before doing so. So, we can not rely on deductive reasoning in order to ascertain the truth value of our presuppositions. We are essentially betting on our presuppositions.

Whether or worldviews stand or fall depends on whether or not our presuppositions have substance and our faith in those presuppositions is faith of substance.

And that's why I counsel people to think hard and to think well before becoming a Christian.

At 8:48 AM, Blogger shoes said...

sorry guys, i must opt out of this conversation. i can only handle so much fundamentalist bullshit before i lose my mind. i had an asshole like this once and asked him kindly never to come back to my blog. i dont need readers like this ass.

At 9:20 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

See this is what I do not understand. I hope nothing but the best for each one of you who read this. I challenge all of your presuppositions, and I call sin what it is. But if I don't change my beliefs, then I get people like shoes treating me with this kind of hostility. Must I agree with everything you say in order to be treated decently?

Given shoes' hostility, do you suppose he's in the "morality is objective" camp or the "morality is subjective" camp. I suspect that he is the "subjective" camp, but he might be in the "objective" camp. Maybe he's upset because he realizes that in order to prove me wrong, he has to borrow from Christian truth, and then when he tries to apply those borrowed tools to make a case against my argument, he finds that he can't do so in a logical fashion.

People get very offended by the message of the gospel. I would suspect that shoes wouldn't be so hostile if I worshipped a pet rock and advocated a doctrine that said worshipping a pet rock would promote peace, love, and harmony. He would think that I was off my rocker, but would he be so hostile? I suspect not.

The gospel message is offensive. For I am proclaiming that our wrongdoing is not merely immoral, but sinful. Furthermore, the just penalty for sin is God's wrath. Hell and damnation are real. But to those who believe in Jesus - confessing their sins, repenting, and asking Christ to save - He freely forgives. He died on the cross - the just for the unjust to bring us to God. That if any man is in Christ, he is a new creation.

The world hates this message and hates those who proclaim it.

Well, shoes (and everyone)... I hope the very best for your lives. I hope that you might have peace, joy, and love. But by rejecting the gospel, you choose to let yourself be deceived. By rejecting God, you are given over to a depraved mind.

"The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline." -Proverbs 1:7

I truly mean no offense. I'm just as sinful as the next guy - just as much in need of grace, mercy, and forgiveness. I'm no better than any of you. I am merely a beggar, but I have found the bread of life. Woe to me if I don't share it.

God bless.

At 9:15 PM, Blogger concerned citizen said...

Hi there! I was just reading over previous posts of mine & your comments. iam really impressed by what you have to say. Thought I'd come over & say howdy!(plus i want to add you to my blogroll)

At 11:32 AM, Blogger The Editor said...

Somebody here should read 'The Moral Animal' for all the latest on the evolution of human feelings. No need to invoke the Almighty just an elaboration of simple algoriths like 'Tit for Tat', or an extension of Kin selection processes ie most people look after jtheir own first and foremost then the rest of the tribe. Naturally we are prone to a touch of xenophobia but why make it worse by introducing further disvisions on the lines of 'My God's better than your God' na na na nah nah! ( or die Motherfucker! if you like)

At 5:24 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Observing the behavioral patterns of humans is one thing. Suggesting that a moral duty exists to imitate some patterns and to not imitate other patterns is another. It appears that you believe that moral duty is real, but you can not account for it. It is real because we bear God's image, and you can not escape that.

If we don't bear God's image, then we are just a bunch of chemicals. Some fizz like altruists; some fizz like Nazis. Who is to say that one behavior is any better or worse than another behavior? Who is to say what is just and unjust? Ideas about justice are merely the result of chemicals bouncing around in your brain. Everything falls under the same meaningles category.

At 5:06 PM, Blogger Rev. Barky said...


At 4:01 AM, Blogger breakerslion said...

"If we don't bear God's image, then we are just a bunch of chemicals."

"Without God, we are all merely a bunch of molecules bouncing around. Everything is meaningless"

More examples of this weird "all or nothing" dichotomy established by the preacher class as they sell this meme. It is just another form that evaluates to "believe or else". Look under your kitchen sink. If it is anything like mine, that's a bunch of chemicals. I am a human being. If I should ever run afoul of Headhunters, I might be stew, but for now, I'm a person.

More on murder later. I've been busy elsewhaere.

At 5:45 PM, Blogger decrepitoldfool said...

Concernedengineer, you talk too much. This isn't rocket science; what kind of world do you want to live in? One where you can trust other people? Where you need not be constantly watching your back? Then, you must be trustworthy yourself and educate children in the value of trustworthiness.

See? Big moral theme, without burning up multiple kilobytes of text.

At 6:58 PM, Blogger beepbeepitsme said...

RE: " prove to me that murder is wrong"

Murder is "wrong" because most people do not want to have their own life taken from them."

RE: "Without God, anything goes. Why not? Without God, we're merely clumps of molecules that have been arranged together by chance and time."

Without god, we are what we have always been, living organisms who are capable of intense emotions, intelligence and various degrees of critical analysis skills.

Yeah god chose to kill all those babies rather than the infinite number of choices he obviously had as an omnipotent god.

What a prick. What a monster. Not deserving my worship at all.

At 11:21 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Murder is 'wrong' because most people do not want to have their own life taken from them."

You presuppose that what is morally right is what most people want it to be.

So, if most people decide that it is morally right to murder Jews, does that make it morally right?

You totally missed the point. The majority of people do not determine the moral code. The moral code is above us. We do not set the moral code. We are under the moral code.

Without God, we are merely a bunch of atoms bouncing around. Sure, we have emotions, and we can think. But that doesn't say anything about our inherent value. Without God, we have no basis to say that murder is wrong. Without God, everything is meaningless - a chasing after the wind.

God's judgments are just. You don't judge God. But you will be judged by God.

Merry Christmas!

At 9:37 AM, Blogger breakerslion said...


I can conclude from your statements that you need a Hoodoo to tell you right from wrong. Apparently, neither your parents, nor any internal sense of belonging to a Human Race with similar needs and aspirations is sufficient. Even though the Golden Rule is simply a definition of what is just through recognition of equality, you insist that mankind could not possibly think up such things for ourselves. This seems singularly unenlightened to me.

On a totally unrelated note, May your Christmas be all that you want it to be.

At 10:53 AM, Blogger IbaDaiRon said...

Hi. Just backreading, catching up.

My answer to the final question: it's never right to murder anyone, but sometimes it's necessary, to protect yourself and others.

I'm thinking on the level of some crazed or just nasty individual breaking into your house and threatening you and yours with bodily harm. I get a little less sure when we get to nation states sending armies and all.

(Sad to see you have a pet troll, too.)

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