The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully.
A defense of "God is a monster" scriptures
On the page Listen to Him!, I point out scriptures that don't paint the Bible's God (and, in a case or two, Jesus) in a very good light. In fact, the Bible seems to portray its God as an outright monster.
Or does it? Commenter Chris took the time to provide a believer's defense of some of those scriptures, in this comment. I'm moving my response to this new post, as long back-and-forth messages can be hard to follow in comments threads. "God: Monster or not?" is a topic long of interest to me, so I'd like to post this front and center.
So, with thanks to Chris for the input, here goes:
I HOPE YOU TAKE THE TIME TO READ THIS WITH AN OPEN MIND, AND TRULY TAKE IT IN. And I trust that you will, considering if you don't, then this website of yours is simply for you to rant about how much you hate God and religious people, and not for a fair argument.
Er, I think you're starting with something rather unfair: false accusations. I don't hate Yahweh or Allah or Apollo or other gods. I think they don't exist, and I don't hate things that don't exist. (How would that even work?)
Now, if there were a god who, say, murdered children, I would hate that god! But I don't think there is such a being. (Interestingly, though, there are believers out there trying to convince me that, indeed, a god who murdered children does exist!! Huh!?)
Religious people, meanwhile, definitely do exist. But I don't hate them. Why would I? (And why did you accuse me of that?)
The King James Bible is the preserved word of God, I believe that whole heartedly.
And I believe that you believe this claim. But please understand that I have no reason to join you in believing this claim, or to join anyone in believing the claim that the Quran (in Arabic, of course!) is the true word of Allah, or to join anyone in believing the claim that Odin helped create the Earth from the corpse of Ymir.
Other religions and even bibles in the Christian religion aren't as scientifically, morally, and logically accurate as the King James Bible is.
Well, other religions tell me that your King James Bible isn't as scientifically, morally, and logically accurate as their chosen scriptures / tales / oracles are. Now what?
I hope that you and all the other religious believers can come together and get your story straight! Work out which god(s) from which scriptures or traditions are the true ones, what it or they want from us, and all that stuff. Let me and the world know when you've got it all straightened out. Thanks!
Back to the topic:
Ignore any typos because I did this kinda fast...
...and again, please read this with an open mind.
Sure! We should let the scriptures do the talking, after which I welcome your explanations of the content. In the interest of brevity, I won't quote all the scriptural content here, but I invite any reader to follow along with your own Bible, or Chris' preferred King James Version (KJV); use a good online database of scripture like The Bible Gateway if you like.
Leviticus 25:44-46 = If you had included verses before that, like many debating atheists do not, God was saying that the Hebrews he brought from Egypt shouldn't be sold as bondmen and rulled over with rigour, like the other native bondmen and bondmaids were. And by that He was simply stating that bondmen and bondmaids existed. He wasn't condoning it. He referred to them as being "of the heathen that are round you". So God was just clarifying to you, the reader, that slavery existed. History books talk about slavery, that doesn't mean the author was for it.
Yes, the KJV says "bondsmen", not "slaves". Other translations use "slaves". But it doesn't matter; the content is really awful either way!:
Moreover of the children of the strangers that do sojourn among you, of them shall ye buy, and of their families that are with you, which they begat in your land: and they shall be your possession.
Hm. Why are you saying "God was just clarifying to you, the reader, that slavery existed"? It's right there, in the KJV: God decrees that you can purchase and own children as possessions. Morally, this is horrible.
If I were this God being, whether now or way back then, I would say the exact opposite: "You may NOT purchase or own people, under any circumstance." It would seem that I have a higher moral standard than this God character does. And, unless you condone the purchase and ownership of humans, so do you.
Exodus 21:20-21 = First of all any laws about death in the Old testament are going to be old covenant laws, back when Jesus' blood wasn't covering us so we had to have major guidelines. BUT, this verse again is referring to slaves because they existed. Not because he liked it. It was the law of the land, so he treated it as so. People did belong to people in those days. People didn't punish people for beating slaves, but killing them would be different. It was just the law of the land. Don't blame God for reporting on the past.
This is interesting: are you reinterpreting Christianity into something new? Every Christian I've heard – from evangelist to quiet believer – has portrayed all those commandments in the Old Testament as God's commandments to the Israelites. Are you saying that they're not actually commandments, but rather just God cataloging existing human laws, without further comment? Is this an original interpretation of yours, or is this viewpoint a thing these days?
And if a man smite his servant, or his maid, with a rod, and he die under his hand; he shall be surely punished.
Notwithstanding, if he continue a day or two, he shall not be punished: for he is his money.
If that's God's law, then morally, he's a loon. If, rather, he's only blogging about existing laws, then fine – but where's his added comment of "THIS IS WRONG"? Again, if I were this God, I would come out and say it: "You may NOT smite and hurt servants. If you do you WILL be punished." My moral standards are apparently higher than this God's – and, unless you think it's okay to kill servants/slaves, so are yours.
Deut 22:23-24 = God is talking about killing adulterers to rid evil from Israel. He is not talking about rapists. The woman "because she cried not" means she was not opposed to sleeping with the man.
And God wants them killed for adultery? So does the Taliban. Fine moral company this God keeps!
Deut 22:28-29 God is talking about people commiting adultery not rapists. They must get married because they've had sex and created the bond that's only meant for marriage. *See our wonderful unmarried and divorce-crazed economy for results*
What if they don't want to get married? They must? Is that moral? If so, then shouldn't we put this law back into effect?
(How are people's sex lives and marriages any of God's damned business, anyway?)
Numbers 31:7-18 = When it says to keep the women who have not laid with a man, for themselves, that means they will be taking them as wives. Let me just stop you here and say, GOD NEVER COMMANDS RAPE IN THE BIBLE. Anyone who says so, then puts the location of a verse after it, only hopes to confuse those who aren't going to look it up.
Let's allow that KJV Bible to do the talking:
Now therefore kill every male among the little ones, and kill every woman that hath known man by lying with him.
But all the women children, that have not known a man by lying with him, keep alive for yourselves.
So glad you brought this one up; it's really the depth of depravity. Murder all the boy children and the women. Just keep the virgin girls "for yourselves".
As "wives", you say. (Wink, nudge.)
Once again, me as God: "Do NOT kill the boys and women. Do not 'keep' the virgin girls. Set them all free! What the hell is wrong with you people?"
Once again, I show far higher moral standards than the Bible's God (or the standards of his battlefield champions, if you want to claim that poor God is just looking aghast at this awfulness and quietly blogging, without having anything to say about the matter).
Hosea 13:16 = God is speaking about Samaria rebelling against Him, and that they are like the "morning cloud" or "early dew that passeth away", so they are going to perish. Although, He would be right in doing so, never in this passage does He even say that He will be the one doing the killing. He only speaks of how the humans of the land will perish, which could merely mean that He has taken his protection off of the land. If people rebel against God, they're doing things now on their own. And so "they shall fall by the sword: their infants shall be dashed in pieces, and their women with child shall be ripped up", means that their legacy will be no more, they will not produce more kings or princes. Empires of men fall, God's kingdom is forever.
Whoa. You say, "Although, He would be right in doing so, never in this passage does He even say that He will be the one doing the killing."
He would be right in killing infants and pregnant mothers?? Huh?
Deuteronomy 21:10-14 = ONCE AGAIN, never in this passage does it mention rape. You can say, "Oh well the woman never says she wants to get married to this man," but you're not living in that culture. There's cultures today that don't even allow choosing in marriage.
Yes, there are cultures that disallow women to choose whom they marry. This practice is morally wrong. If God is condoning "marriage" to women captives, with no consideration of whether the captive woman wants that, then God is morally wrong.
I don't say that lightly. I say it based on the fact that it's so easy to do a better job than this God character does. Here's how I'd do it: "Hey, Israelites, you don't have to worry about procedures for marrying your female battle captives – because THOU SHALT NOT TAKE WOMEN CAPTIVES. Leave them alone, fer cryin' out loud. Sheesh."
Again, I beat your God in moral standards. Where do you stand on the issue of taking women captive?
But anyway, if you went on reading after 14, you'd see it starts to talk about having more than one wife. In the beginning God created one man and one woman for each other. God is not for polygamy. He was, again, talking about the laws of the land at that time.
Is God doing that judgement-free blogging again? This one's actually kind of funny, because it's the one moral question discussed here where God's stamp of approval wouldn't necessarily be a bad thing. If polygamy were a coercion-free choice among consenting and capable adults, with the "poly" part equally available to both men and women, I don't necessarily see a problem with it! (Morally, anyway. There may be other good arguments against polygamy I'm not aware of.)
Ezekiel 9:5-7 = God is never happy to have anyone killed, let me assure you that.
I'm not assured, as I don't know how you know this.
If you created something dear to you and you had to destroy it because it's harmful to itself or others, it would be a sad thing.
Here's a particularly depraved excerpt, Ezekiel 9:6:
Slay utterly old and young, both maids, and little children, and women...
Yikes! This one isn't a case of God-blogging. The preceding verses 4 and 5 make perfectly clear: this one is God's direct commandment. Slay the little children.
These "little children" whose execution God is ordering... how is it that they're "dear to" him? What does "dear to" mean in your vocabulary?
Imagine how he felt during the flood??
Yes, let's try.
Little children are crying as the waters rise.
God sends more water.
Now the little children are screaming as the water washes them off their feet.
God sends more water.
Amid swirling torrents, little children scrabble for a handhold on walls, rocks, floating items, even the floating corpses of other smaller, slower children.
God sends more water.
Hundreds of small corpses float.
God sends more water.
Thousands of small corpses float.
God sends more water.
Tens of thousands of small corpses float.
God sends more water.
Eventually, all of the children are small corpses. The murder of every child on Earth is completed.
God stops the water.
How did he feel during that? I don't know. How does any serial killer feel during his murders?
But yes this passage is talking about a man being commanded to go with 6 men to destroy all who don't "sigh and cry for all the abominations that be done in the midst thereof". Yes, God had all the wicked in that city killed. Not the innocent, the wicked.
"Little children" are wicked? How does that work?
Don't you think that's nice? Or are you one of those "Let murderers do what they're gonna do and leave them alone", kind of people?
"Little children" are murderers? Whom did they murder? When? How?
If you could see the outcome of what a wicked society, or even one evil person could be, wouldn't you have it destroyed? God is just.
Murdering "little children" is just? Why do you say that? Would you murder little children to be "just"? Why?
Back then when a city or nation would turn from Him and there would be no hope, He would have it warned, or rid his presence from it, or simply destroy it. Of course, that's back before Jesus, so things are different now. He's now just accumulating all his wrath for when He gets the last word to all of our godless attempts are governing ourselves.
Is God coming back to murder our little children? If that's true, how can we stop him? (We have nukes now. Will that help?)
Incidentally, because you're probably waiting for it by now, let me play God again – that is, play a God who's not a child-murdering psychopath. Here's my morality: "My people: Do NOT slay utterly old and young, both maids, and little children, and women. Don't slay at all, you nimrods. Arrest accused wrongdoers, under assumption of innocence until proven guilty, and proceed with fair investigation and trials, as follows...."
That's how civilized humans do things now. Because civilized humans have far, far higher moral standards than this "slay the little children" God thing. Wouldn't you agree?
Leviticus 21:16-23 = All of Leviticus 21, and even before that, God is explaining how holy He is, and making guidelines to the Jews that are basically unable to be met, at least most of them, to show how holy He is. It's a humbling moment when we get to sit back and realize that nobody is ever going to be perfect, or live a completely righteous life. Jesus comes along later and fulfills a righteous life, and dies in our place, so that we are able to create a relationship with the almighty, holy God. These verses you brought up were simply talking about how imperfect humans are. You'd really think God would be against people with blemishes, and not want them to come to Him? He's just making a point, that blemishes are a human flaw and He's God.
Everyone reading this: Please look up those scriptures for yourself. This is not "just reportin' the scene" blogger God here. This is God himself making a direct decree: HANDICAPPED PEOPLE KEEP THE HELL OUT. Just disgusting.
A far better God, as voiced by anyone with a smidgen of morality, is this: "People with handicaps and disabilities and imperfections: Come on in! Let no one keep you out. I want you to join with us despite any handic... Hey, why am I even saying this? I'm God, dammit! Let me heal you all of those handicaps, right now!"
Now that'd be a God! Not this immoral idiot, whining that handicapped people are too icky to approach his oh-so-holy alter.
Ephesians 6:5 = Really? This was easy. God is all about obedience. He honors those who are obedient. So why wouldn't Jesus say for servants to honor their masters. Slavery was allowed, so why wouldn't He think it's honorable for servants to honor their masters no matter what the situation was?
This is easy, indeed. Jesus is a hella more likable character than his baby-slaughtering serial-killer dung-smear of a dad, but it's still so easy to morally improve on Jesus: "Masters, stop being masters. DO NOT OWN PEOPLE. Slaves, if the masters won't follow that rule, ESCAPE."
I won't be too hard on Jesus here; he was just a man, living in an era of slavery. It's not like he was some sort of omniscient being that should have known better...
All right then, I think that does it. Sure, we can quibble over the degree of immorality in some of those scriptures, but overall, they just don't wash clean. (Example: Whether or not "take the virgin girl captives for yourselves" condones rape or not, it still condones "take the virgin girl captives for yourselves." It's horrible.)
I have to wonder: Why try so hard to defend the indefensible? Why try at all? Why not just respond in the way that both head and heart demand? Like this:
"Slay the little children?" That's truly awful. That's a commandment we must never follow!"
Short and sweet, with no twisty justifications needed. (That's one of the hallmarks of honest morality!)