Mills points to Ex 22:17 which states, “You shall not let a woman who practices sorcery live,” and complains:

These verses, among others, were cites by Christians for centuries to justify the burning of “witches.”

Hundreds of thousands of innocent women — including female children as young as two years of age — were routinely tortured to death by devout believers obeying these biblical injunctions to take the life of any “witch.” (149)

Now the hunts were actuated by syllogisms like the following:

(1) Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live.
(2) Alice is a witch.
Therefore,
(3) Alice is to be burned.

As it happens, I, following C.S. Lewis, fully agree with (1):

If we really thought that there were people going about who had sold themselves to the devil and received supernatural powers from him in return and were using these powers to kill their neighbors or drive them mad or bring bad weather — surely we would all agree that if anyone deserved the death penalty, then these filthy quislings did?

The failure occurred not in the major premise which is true but in the minor: Alice was not in fact a witch, (presumably) because witches do not exist. If witches did exist, and Alice was one of them, then I might personally help to stone her to death.

Finally, the fact that most victims of witch-hunts were innocent does not prove that witchcraft as such is impossible or that no witches have ever existed.


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