Is there anything more annoying than someone making emphatic assertions that are obviously wrong?
CNN runs an essay by a guest columnist/reverend named R. Albert Mohler, supposedly to make a Christian case for the death penalty. It all boils down to this:
On the one hand, the Bible clearly calls for capital punishment in the case of intentional murder.
In Genesis 9:6, God told Noah that the penalty for intentional murder should be death: “Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed, for God made man in his own image.”
What utter bullshit. In the first place, it isn’t even clear that the quoted passage is a command so much as an observation. In the second place, although ‘shedding of blood’ generally refers to killing, taken literally that’s not necessarily the case: shedding blood isn’t always fatal. The passage may not be referring to murder or the death penalty at all.
But what really makes it a poor argument from my point of view – indeed not just a poor argument but an ignorant one – is that any honest and remotely competent opinion on what the Bible says about capital punishment would have to begin by discussing the very first murder; yet that Biblical account would seem to completely rule out the death penalty. That is, after Cain murders his brother Abel, this is the exchange between Cain and God:
Now, therefore, cursed shalt thou be upon the earth, which hath opened her mouth and received the blood of thy brother at thy hand. When thou shalt till it, it shall not yield to thee its fruit: a fugitive and a vagabond shalt thou be upon the earth. And Cain said to the Lord: My iniquity is greater than that I may deserve pardon. Behold thou dost cast me out this day from the face of the earth, and I shall be hidden from thy face, and I shall be a vagabond and a fugitive on the earth: every one, therefore, that findeth me, shall kill me. And the Lord said to him: No, it shall not be so: but whosoever shall kill Cain, shall be punished sevenfold. And the Lord set a mark upon Cain, that whosoever found him should not kill him.
I mean, how does anyone claiming to be knowledgeable enough to tell other Christians what they should think about the death penalty, based on the Bible, ignore this part of the Bible?
We talk about religious subjects sometimes around here at Lawyers on Strike. We don’t pretend to be Bible scholars, but we don’t need to be to see this particular gaping intellectual hole.
In other words, we might quote the Bible from time to time, but we don’t thump it at anyone.