6. Atheist historian Richard Carrier claims “legalized rape” in the Bible

Herein I am continuing a consideration of Atheist and historian Richard Carrier’s statements about morality: you can find this whole series here (once it is all posted).

Now, what of this “legalized rape”? Well, many Atheists (and I mean well known ones and not just Joe Anonymous blogger) claim that rape played a beneficial role in human evolution (see here). But what does Deuteronomy 21:10-12 state?

Herein I am continuing a consideration of Atheist and historian Richard Carrier’s statements about morality: you can find this whole series here (once it is all posted).

Now, what of this “legalized rape”? Well, many Atheists (and I mean well known ones and not just Joe Anonymous blogger) claim that rape played a beneficial role in human evolution (see here). But what does Deuteronomy 21:10-12 state?

When you go out to battle against your enemies, and the Lord your God delivers them into your hands and you take them away captive, and see among the captives a beautiful woman, and have a desire for her and would take her as a wife for yourself, then you shall bring her home to your house, and she shall shave her head and trim her nails.

I am unsure how married turns into rape in Richard Carrier’s mind but, then again, this is a guy how abandoned his wife to have lots of unmarried sex with lots of women.
Again, it is easy to make an emotive assertion and slap a citation at the end of it. It is more difficult to go through the trouble of thinking and in so doing, to consider the facts on the ground. We first world country dwellers have a hard time conceiving of infrastructure because ours is to well in place. The ancient scenario is that after a battle, personage such as the women in view could stay in their devastated city and essentially starve to death or be taken in to the Israelite culture which would afford her what? Well, Carrier is clearly not interested:
Firstly, this is not about rape but about marriage.
Secondly, this was only after attending to her emotional needs since v. 13 notes that the women is to “mourn her father and mother a full month; and after that you may go in to her and be her husband and she shall be your wife.”
Thirdly, this was only after attending to her health since being involved in a battle or simply dealing with a battle scenario, such as helping the wounded, etc., carries with it certain biological hazards so this is why vss. 12-13 states that “she shall shave her head and trim her nails. She shall also remove the clothes of her captivity.”
Fourthly, as per v. 14, if it turns out that “you are not pleased with her, then you shall let her go wherever she wishes; but you shall certainly not sell her for money, you shall not mistreat her, because you have humbled her.”
So again, “legalized rape” is certainly the stuff of which embarrassingly simplistic emotive assertions are made but the facts pain a whole other picture.

I am glad that Richard Carrier is in favor of freedom of speech and religion but what about his citations? Leviticus 24:11-16 states:

The son of the Israelite woman blasphemed the Name and cursed. So they brought him to Moses. (Now his mother’s name was Shelomith, the daughter of Dibri, of the tribe of Dan.) They put him in custody so that the command of the Lord might be made clear to them. Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, “Bring the one who has cursed outside the camp, and let all who heard him lay their hands on his head; then let all the congregation stone him. You shall speak to the sons of Israel, saying, ‘If anyone curses his God, then he will bear his sin. Moreover, the one who blasphemes the name of the Lord shall surely be put to death; all the congregation shall certainly stone him. The alien as well as the native, when he blasphemes the Name, shall be put to death.

I would have thought that even an Atheist evolutionist like Carrier could understand basic concepts such as the establishing and maintain of social order. The original Israeli system was theocratic and deviating from that theocracy would disrupt the social order: you know, that thing for which Carrier is supposed to be arguing.
Now, what you see in the text is what is to be done in Israel: if you wanted to blaspheme then you could have moved elsewhere. We also see a litigious system which would require a trial, witnesses, etc.
As for Deuteronomy 12:1-13:16 well, I am not going to quote more than one whole chapter but it is much the same as the Leviticus issue.

As for “killing people” which in Carrier’s context would be murder “for violating primitive taboos” well, this too goes back to the social order, that you could move elsewhere, etc. To the specifics of it being for “picking up sticks on Saturday” (FYI: Carrier clearly does not understand that Sabbath refers to Friday sundown to Saturday sundown and not to midnight to midnight Saturday), see Bible oddities – was a man really stoned just for picking up sticks since this may have had to do with building an idol. But then again, if this was about idolatry then Carrier would not be concerned with social order but would still complain about freedom of religion.

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For some related info, see my books (on which I am offering a money saving deal:
Pop-Atheist Bible Expositors (featuring Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, Christopher Hitchens, Dan Barker and Neil deGrasse Tyson)
Reasons for Being an Atheist: A Comprehensive Guide

“atheist

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