Saturday, October 9, 2010

Is God Selfish and Vindictive?

There aren't many people I can count on more to dodge questions or commit fallacies than Answers in Genesis. Their most recent newsletter asks this title question and their full article does little to answer it. They first quote Richard Dawkins as saying,
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.
I agree with pretty much all of this statement. But instead of trying to refute each (or any) of these statements, they merely shift the subject like so:
Since Dawkins is so adamant in his atheism, perhaps he could explain why any of these things are wrong from an evolutionary point of view. After all, if his philosophical naturalistic beliefs are correct, then there is no such thing as right or wrong. Hence, there would be nothing bad about any of these attributes he assigns to the God of the Bible. Only the Bible provides the basis for morality, so it is hypocritical and illogical for Dawkins or other atheists to appeal to morality while attacking Scripture.
First, why does morality have to have anything to do with evolution? Why is there no such thing as right and wrong if there's no god? Why can only a god can provide a basis for morality? None of these questions are answered - just assumed to be true in the text. I don't want to go into too much detail about morality here because I've already done so somewhat before and probably will again soon. Suffice to say that judging God by common morality (agreed upon by pretty much all civilized societies), Yahweh is one of the most evil people in all of fiction for the reasons Dawkins describes. Even if it were true that somehow, we could never discern right and wrong without appealing to a higher power defined as good, Yahweh does not pass his own moral test. One cannot exclaim killing/murder (depending on what translation you read) to be wrong and command genocide. But more on that later.
First, since God is the Creator of all things, He gets to set the rules.
Be a little more clear. It would be true, in some sense, that he sets the rules in what we are and are not capable of, physically and mentally. But he has no power over morality in that he cannot simply define good as being "like his nature" any more than any other god could. Christians, if you found out one day that your God had been defeated by a more powerful super-God that Yahweh forgot to mention and he declared that, because he is in power, it is morally required to kill every one of your family members and drink their blood, would you consider that "good"? After all, the one with the biggest stick makes the rules! What... you don't agree? The obviously you don't consider the ruler to be the definition of morality - you just attribute it to him because you perhaps cannot think of any other reason we should be good or have any definition of morality without him. And that is unfortunate, but doesn't make it true.
Second, God is perfectly just and must judge sin.
How do you know he is just? Surely you must just be taking his word. Because if I told you that I sent everyone who didn't like me into the torture chamber to be beaten and burned until they die - simply for the fact they didn't accept me for who I was - you'd call me anything but just.
Third, all have sinned (Romans 3:23) and deserve death (Romans 6:23). The fact that God allows us to live at all demonstrates His mercy.
Right, because allowing us to live is so merciful, considering that there are all kinds of other merciful things that he could be doing, like: developing a cure for cancer, eradicating AIDS, solving world hunger, getting rid of Satan once and for all, or making Justin Beiber's voice finally change. The only person who thinks we should all die because we've done at least one wrong thing (or been born with a 'sin nature') is God, and it's already obvious to me and most other clear thinkers that he's not that just to begin with.
With that in mind, is it fair to call God selfish, demanding, and vindictive? Absolutely not! God created a perfect world and gave man dominion over it.
There's no way God created a perfect world. A perfect world, by definition, could never become imperfect. Obviously this world is less than perfect and that's a reflection on the thing who made it, if such a maker exists. You don't blame the plumber for faulty pipe manufacturing. And dominion? Explain T. rexes, grizzlies, and mountains.
If there were no eternal consequences for sin, then people would know they could act however they wanted, and the world would become even worse.
People always can act however they want. That isn't the point. The argument being made here is that if there is no eternal punishment, anyone can and should do whatever they want (terrible, evil, selfish things - I infer that this is what most Christians would do upon learning God doesn't exist). Compelling argument. You should try it sometime and tell me what your friends, family, neighbors, the cops, and the media think about your mental state.
God’s laws are not overbearing, but were given to protect us from others and from ourselves.
That's exactly what I think when I remember that the penalty for a child's disobedience to his parents was stoning. It's a shame that we aren't still practicing this today!
In the book of Joshua, God commands the Israelites to conquer several cities throughout the Promised Land and to kill every person in some of these towns. How can anyone possibly think of God as loving in light of these commands?
Please, do tell.
Approximately 400 years before these battles, God had given the land to Abraham and his descendants (through Isaac and Jacob). However, God also told Abraham that his descendants would serve the Egyptians for 400 years before taking possession of the land. The reason for this delay is that “the iniquity (sin) of the Amorites [was] not yet complete” (Genesis 15:16). God graciously gave the people dwelling in the Promised Land 400 years to turn from their sinful ways. When they did not, He used the Israelites as an instrument of judgment.
Oh, ok. God promised the Israelites land that was already occupied because instead of just giving them an easy passageway to a land uninhabited, he thought it would be more fun to have them fight and kill their way through men, women, children and babies. Make no mistake, they had 400 years to change their ways. But they didn't, and the best, most humane, and most enlightened way to deal with it was to slaughter everyone. Sounds very Christian of them.
Second, in many of these battles, the people were commanded to first make an offer of peace (Deuteronomy 20:10–12). It is only in the cases where the people of the land were exceedingly wicked that the Israelites were commanded to utterly destroy them (Deuteronomy 20:16–18).
Does it really make sense that every nation they come up against to conquer would want to make peace with them, especially when the Israelites are instructed to keep those people as slaves if they agree? What would you do if some Muslim extremists came over here and told us to fight them or become slaves? I feel like I shouldn't even have to spell these things out. No, any nation with an army capable of fighting and enough brains to realize what slavery is would immediately reject such an offer. And in most cases, God instructs his people to wipe out everything that lived in the land. This includes all innocent beings like children and babies, not to mention innocent non-children. Some Christians/Jews will object and say, "There is no one innocent!" or "God has the right to give the death penalty to whomever he chooses!"

Response to #1: If you think you're just as guilty as anyone in one of those nations, perhaps you should consider killing yourself so that you receive just as much pure justice doled out by God as they did.
Response to #2: Power does not equal right. If it's wrong for Hitler to kill a million Jews, it's wrong for God to kill a million Canaanites/Amalekites/Hittites/Perizzites/Jebusites/Hivites.
However, in every single case, God provided the means of salvation for those who would trust Him.
"Convert or we'll kill you!" - Always a convincing argument.

8 Comments:

Anonymous said...

Interesting read you have here. I have a few responses for you to your statements.
"Because if I told you that I sent everyone who didn't like me into the torture chamber to be beaten and burned until they die - ... - you'd call me anything but just."
Certainly, but if you chose to take that path out of free will, it would be unjust to remove your decision.

"Right, because allowing us to live is so merciful, considering that there are all kinds of other merciful things that he could be doing, like: developing a cure for cancer, eradicating AIDS, solving world hunger, getting rid of Satan once and for all, or making Justin Beiber's voice finally change. The only person who thinks we should all die because we've done at least one wrong thing (or been born with a 'sin nature') is God, and it's already obvious to me and most other clear thinkers that he's not that just to begin with."
You commit a couple logical fallcies here, (one being the straw man argument, another I believe being the slippery slope, but maybe I'm wrong on the actual title of the second, and there appears to be another by creating an exclusive group), the thing we must remember is:
God gave freewill. Also, (a concession you'll have to consider if we can continue is God could exist), you must know John 3:16, or 1 Tim 2:4 1 Tim 1:15, saying that God wants everyone to be saved. You must also already know that Hell, as defined in the Bible is not purposed for man, but Satan, so God doesn't want people to end up there, but they act in rebellion and shut the door on life.

Again, your first response is a fallacy, but I can offer a response as well:
Response to Response to #1:
We have no condemnation in Christ Jesus, we are not longer in guilt, why would a Christian kill them-self to serve justice?

This is again a fallacy, not sure which, you can figure that out/
Response to Response to #2:
No, not really. I mean it's obvious isn't it? God is perfect, He had a reason to kill them. Hitler killed for vanity.

From my perspective of knowing the Bible pretty well, I'm pretty sure that last bit about "Convert or we'll kill you!" is not in there.

Drew said...

"if you chose to take that path out of free will, it would be unjust to remove your decision."
What, exactly, do you mean by "remove your decision"?

"the thing we must remember is:
God gave freewill"

Not necessarily. In the case that you mean God as in the all-knowing type, it's impossible to have free will because God already knows what choice you'll make in any given scenario before you make it.

"you must know John 3:16, or 1 Tim 2:4 1 Tim 1:15, saying that God wants everyone to be saved"
Yet he made a world knowing full well that, if he chose to make it the way we see it to day, billions of people would go to hell. And yet he went through with it. So no, I don't think you could say he wanted everyone to be saved, otherwise he could have made a world wherein everyone would.

"You must also already know that Hell, as defined in the Bible is not purposed for man, but Satan, so God doesn't want people to end up there, but they act in rebellion and shut the door on life."
If it wasn't meant for people, then why send them there? He's the one in control over the operation, so it seems.

"We have no condemnation in Christ Jesus, we are not longer in guilt, why would a Christian kill them-self to serve justice?"
I was being sarcastic, but my point was that you can't say "everyone deserves to die" (as some Christians do) as a blanket excuse for God's killing sprees in the Bible. It's pretty obvious that everyone doesn't deserve to be smitten at any given time, no matter who's doing the smiting.

"No, not really. I mean it's obvious isn't it? God is perfect, He had a reason to kill them. Hitler killed for vanity."
Um, no. Hitler killed because he wanted his race to become the dominant (or only) one in the world. Which, come to think of it, sounds a lot like God. And I would condemn them both for the same reasons - genocide isn't OK.

"From my perspective of knowing the Bible pretty well, I'm pretty sure that last bit about "Convert or we'll kill you!" is not in there."
Not in those words exactly, but that was the theme. Go reread those passages in the Old Testament where the Israelites were instructed to wipe out certain cities and tell me if that wasn't the basic premise.

Anonymous said...

"if you chose to take that path out of free will, it would be unjust to remove your decision."
What, exactly, do you mean by "remove your decision"?
Saying that if God gave us freewill and you used that freewill to rebel against Him, He is just and allows you to remain in your decision.

"the thing we must remember is:
God gave freewill"
Not necessarily. In the case that you mean God as in the all-knowing type, it's impossible to have free will because God already knows what choice you'll make in any given scenario before you make it.
Just because you know what someone will do does not mean that you made them do it, also God has changed His mind after a man asked Him. (Abraham pleading for Sodom and Gomorrah, Genesis 6:6-7, Jonah (in the case of the Ninevites not being destroyed), God grieving that He set Saul as king over Israel, etc. etc.)
God knowing the choice you'll make is not contrary to freewill, you still make the decision ultimately, not God.

"you must know John 3:16, or 1 Tim 2:4 1 Tim 1:15, saying that God wants everyone to be saved"
Yet he made a world knowing full well that, if he chose to make it the way we see it to day, billions of people would go to hell. And yet he went through with it. So no, I don't think you could say he wanted everyone to be saved, otherwise he could have made a world wherein everyone would.
Again, I think you have heard a misconstrued version of who God is. God does not wish that the people would go to Hell, but inadvertently they choose it for themselves.

"You must also already know that Hell, as defined in the Bible is not purposed for man, but Satan, so God doesn't want people to end up there, but they act in rebellion and shut the door on life."
If it wasn't meant for people, then why send them there? He's the one in control over the operation, so it seems.
Certainly, but by rejecting God, they are operating in rebellion, so they send them-self there.

"We have no condemnation in Christ Jesus, we are not longer in guilt, why would a Christian kill them-self to serve justice?"
I was being sarcastic, but my point was that you can't say "everyone deserves to die" (as some Christians do) as a blanket excuse for God's killing sprees in the Bible. It's pretty obvious that everyone doesn't deserve to be smitten at any given time, no matter who's doing the smiting.
Well, we all do deserve death, but not the redeemed. Instead of deserving death anymore, we are in communion with Christ (You know what communion is, being raised in a fundamentalist Christian home.). The fact is we do deserve to be smitten, because we cannot commit perfection at all times. Positively you cannot say from the definition of sin, you could live without sin for a day. So since we have a savior, we no longer deserve to die, even though we do? If that makes sense.


"No, not really. I mean it's obvious isn't it? God is perfect, He had a reason to kill them. Hitler killed for vanity."
Um, no. Hitler killed because he wanted his race to become the dominant (or only) one in the world. Which, come to think of it, sounds a lot like God. And I would condemn them both for the same reasons - genocide isn't OK.
You just defined vanity; immense pride. Hitler killed out of pride for the Aerian race.

Anonymous said...

"You must also already know that Hell, as defined in the Bible is not purposed for man, but Satan, so God doesn't want people to end up there, but they act in rebellion and shut the door on life."
If it wasn't meant for people, then why send them there? He's the one in control over the operation, so it seems.
Certainly, but by rejecting God, they are operating in rebellion, so they send them-self there.

"We have no condemnation in Christ Jesus, we are not longer in guilt, why would a Christian kill them-self to serve justice?"
I was being sarcastic, but my point was that you can't say "everyone deserves to die" (as some Christians do) as a blanket excuse for God's killing sprees in the Bible. It's pretty obvious that everyone doesn't deserve to be smitten at any given time, no matter who's doing the smiting.
Well, we all do deserve death, but not the redeemed. Instead of deserving death anymore, we are in communion with Christ (You know what communion is, being raised in a fundamentalist Christian home.). The fact is we do deserve to be smitten, because we cannot commit perfection at all times. Positively you cannot say from the definition of sin, you could live without sin for a day. So since we have a savior, we no longer deserve to die, even though we do? If that makes sense.

"No, not really. I mean it's obvious isn't it? God is perfect, He had a reason to kill them. Hitler killed for vanity."
Um, no. Hitler killed because he wanted his race to become the dominant (or only) one in the world. Which, come to think of it, sounds a lot like God. And I would condemn them both for the same reasons - genocide isn't OK.
You just defined vanity; immense pride. Hitler killed out of pride for the Aerian race.

"From my perspective of knowing the Bible pretty well, I'm pretty sure that last bit about "Convert or we'll kill you!" is not in there."
Not in those words exactly, but that was the theme. Go reread those passages in the Old Testament where the Israelites were instructed to wipe out certain cities and tell me if that wasn't the basic premise.
You understand the difference between the Old and New Covenant, I mean you must if you speak with such authority, so you understand that Christ came to fulfill the law, and so that we may have life and life abundantly. (Two separate passages of the Bible but put together with the same meaning is kept.)

Might I add that it seems like you are only repeating Richard Dawkins arguments, so why don't you attempt to answer Allister McGrath's questions, or William Lane Craig's questions?"You must also already know that Hell, as defined in the Bible is not purposed for man, but Satan, so God doesn't want people to end up there, but they act in rebellion and shut the door on life."
If it wasn't meant for people, then why send them there? He's the one in control over the operation, so it seems.
Certainly, but by rejecting God, they are operating in rebellion, so they send them-self there.

Drew said...

"Saying that if God gave us freewill and you used that freewill to rebel against Him, He is just and allows you to remain in your decision."
Back to what I originally said about this... It isn't just to condemn someone to be tortured because they didn't like you or didn't think you existed. Forget about free will in all this.

"Just because you know what someone will do does not mean that you made them do it"
If you were able to know for certain that someone would perform a certain action, they would not be able to perform any other action. If they did, you would not have really known. The god of the bible is typically thought to be all-knowing, thus you cannot make any decision apart from the one he already knows about. If this is the case, you ultimately do not have free will. You may have the illusion of free will but that's largely irrelevant.

"Again, I think you have heard a misconstrued version of who God is. God does not wish that the people would go to Hell, but inadvertently they choose it for themselves."
I'm not sure you understood my point, having written a response like this. Tell me where, logically, I am wrong. As an analogy, if I were to make a world where I legitimately did not want people to get snake bites, I would not create snakes.

"Certainly, but by rejecting God, they are operating in rebellion, so they send them-self there."
So by rejecting Allah, are you operating in rebellion and sending yourself to hell if Islam is the correct religion? I find this whole idea of "you send yourself there" to be largely incoherent. Who but a small fraction of people would actually want to be tortured forever? And how do they get there if God doesn't put them there?

"The fact is we do deserve to be smitten, because we cannot commit perfection at all times."
That sounds like a nasty trick for God to pull then, if he does exist. Creating a world where we can't live up to the standard and when we break the standard even one tiny way in one moment in our life, we are condemned to hell. That's a system rigged for you to lose if I've ever heard of one.

"Positively you cannot say from the definition of sin, you could live without sin for a day."
Sure, but I don't buy into the concept of sins. Sins and wrongs are two different things. Wrongs have to do with morality and sins have to do with acting against the wishes of a god. And those two often cross paths in nasty ways.

"You just defined vanity; immense pride. Hitler killed out of pride for the Aerian race."
Sure, that was part of it. But you still haven't provided any justification for God to command genocide. And I don't think it's possible to justify it without making a special pleading case.

"You understand the difference between the Old and New Covenant, I mean you must if you speak with such authority, so you understand that Christ came to fulfill the law, and so that we may have life and life abundantly."
Sorry but... what did that have to do with what I said? The supposed New Covenant doesn't negate what happened in the old testament.

"Might I add that it seems like you are only repeating Richard Dawkins arguments, so why don't you attempt to answer Allister McGrath's questions, or William Lane Craig's questions?"
It is true that Dawkins has said some things much like what I've said here, but that doesn't reduce their validity. And can you be specific about which claims you're talking about from McGrath and Craig?


Also, sorry about the posting issue. I think Blogger was acting weird today. I deleted all of the posts that said the same thing but if I accidentally removed a point you made feel free to reiterate.

Anonymous said...

God is not the vindictive asshole religion makes him out to be , its religion that is vindictive . Its the fruitcakes coreligionist who spread hate within religion , when Jesus said do this in memory of me did he mean spread hate and mistrust within his churches ?? .

Anonymous said...

I'm wondering why the writer didn't address the fact that the ppl of the land God commanded to kill were involved in child sacrifice and bestiality! How convenient to skip over that part of their response..

Unknown said...

You make some valid points for things not being fair or just with God. I lost my husband yesterday to cancer. He believed in God and Jesus. And I do too. There's too much evidence supporting their existence. I agree with most of your points though. God does this stuff for His own glory because He is a jealous God. I can accept that. Who are we to tell Him who to be. What I'm having the issue with is what people people say about his loving kindness and mercy. I begged for mercy. To restore my husband, but nothing. "When His people humble themselves and pray.."He will give us the desires of hearts. seems like the most loaded bull I've ever read (in the Bible)right now. Believe me, most people would describe me as a poster child for being a Christian. I love people, never gotten in trouble with the law, loved God, etc all things He calls us to do. But when we humble ourselves and pray that He spare our husband (wife, child, sibling etc) and that is our desire is to see them restored to us and He doesn't do it, doesn't that make Him a liar? All this to say, I believe in God. I believe people were created, but I don't necessarily believe that He loves/ cares about each and every one of us and has a "special plan" for our lives.

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