By John Fraysse
The Biblical God appears Evil to me and millions of others. I am NOT necessarily critiquing "God" per se, but more assuredly, the Biblical accounts of his dealings with individuals, groups and nations. By-in-large, I believe that God, if he/she/it exists, has been misrepresented in at least some of the Bible's many chapters. The reason I think this is because God’s actions appear inconsistent with his own teachings, so the Bible must have some of the aspects of "God's Principles and Nature" wrong. In a sense, while not certain of God's existence, I may, nevertheless, be perceived as "Defending God’s Honor". I will leave this matter to you and God.
There are many Biblical examples supporting the “Evil God” assertion, but for now, I would like to focus only on God’s seemingly murderous and capricious nature. These attributes can not be those of a Good and Kind “Heavenly Father” unless, of course, one DEFINES anything that God does or has been reported to have done as “Good”. So, at the outset, I am not allowing the possibility that “everything that God does is ok” or “God can do anything he wants” as he should, at the very least, be consistent with his own rules and teachings set forth in the Bible.
Much effort has been expended trying to explain away the god-commanded annihilation (genocide?) of the Canaanites, Amorites, et al in Num 21 and Deu 20. While I still think these are horrible acts, if they did indeed occur, at least these nations were a nasty, unrepentant bunch that had been killing Hebrews for generations or so the story goes. Further, let me state that I do believe that there ARE legitimate reasons for waging WAR. In fact, in this case, I tend to go along with Clint Eastwood’s classic line, “THEY NEEDED KILLIN’ “! I am also tempted to ask a) what took God so long and b) why didn’t God utterly destroy them HIMSELF rather than requiring that Israel do it, since vengeance is “The Lord’s” Psalms:94:1 and Na:1:2 (and others). He will repay! Right?
Anyway, here are five examples (and there are more) that I think are worse than God’s dealings with the Canaanites, because they caused the death of seemingly innocent parties, most of Jewish descent, that were NOT THREATS to God’s “Chosen Nation”. Yet, God rails against “… hands that shed innocent blood” Proverbs :6:17. How could he do or allow the following?
1. Joshua 7:18-25 - The Stoning and Burning of Achan (the guilty party), but also his sons, daughters, animals and tent. All of this after Achan ADMITS his sin, tells Israel where to find the “unclean things” and appears to be REPENTANT. Where was God’s mercy for Achan? Worse yet, where was God’s Justice and Mercy for Achan’s innocent family and animals?! So much for Mercy toward the repentant or the seemingly innocent!? And the point? FEAR of an Unjust God!
2. Judges 11 - The Story of Jephthah’s Daughter and the burnt offering human sacrifice of his innocent, obedient, virgin daughter and his only child. I certainly would not argue that Jephthah’s vow, was an irresponsible act of the highest order, but God didn’t stop the sacrifice, as he did with Abraham and Isaac, nor did he utter even a single word of rebuke!
Where was the Justice for Jephthah’s daughter? I hope Jephthah had the “mercy” to kill her first before he burned her. What a Dad! What a great example? The Point? Heck, I don’t know. It might be to make us sick as I am trying not to puke!
3. Samuel 24: 9-25 – God strikes down 70,000 of Israel for David’s sin of “numbering”, David’s numbering was forbidden by God and David was repentant and fell upon the mercies of God to determine his punishment. However, David received no direct punishment. Instead, God kills 70,000 of David’s men. Where was the Justice for the 70,000?
The point is not only FEAR due to disobedience, a potentially healthy fear, but also FEAR that someone else deserves to die for something you or your leader did wrong! This, unfortunately, happens in real life, but this situation was in the control of the “Perfect Biblical God” who is infinite in Mercy and Justice AFTER David had REPENTED. So David did wrong, repented and didn’t die BUT 70,000, presumably innocent, souls of the House of Israel were turned into buzzard bait! So God is also to be FEARED for his occasional MISDIRECTED ANGER! Geesh!
4. 2Ki:2:23-24: Elisha and the Little Children: “And he (Elisha) went up from thence unto Bethel and as he was going up by the way, there came forth little children out of the city, and mocked him, and said unto him, Go up, thou bald head; go up, thou bald head. And he turned back, and looked on them, and CURSED them in the name of the Lord. And there came forth two she bears out of the wood, and tare forty and two children of them.”
Wow! A blatant violation of the “eye-for-an-eye” principle or punishment consistent with the crime! Where was the Justice in this response to an arguably foolish, but possibly just playful, childish behavior? And not a word about God’s disapproval, in fact, the result of the curse was the mutilation death of 42 little kids and was “miraculous” in its focus and timing, so it would appear that God had a hand in it directly in deference to Elisha’s curse. “Suffer the little children to come unto me” in this circumstance appears to mean, “so that I may tare them to shreds” for pointing out the truth that I (Elisha) might look better in a hair piece? Childish “fun” is “No Joke” to God or his Prophet! What is the point of this story, if not FEAR of an Evil and Unjust God?
5. 1Ch:13:8-12 God’s Execution Style Murder of Poor Uzza: King David and all Israel had just worshiped God with all their might with singing, harps, psalteries, timbrels, cymbals and trumpets. This must have pleased God because “God inhabits the praise of Israel” (Psalms 22:3), right? Well, apparently not or God has a very short memory! For as they were moving the Ark of the Covenant, the Oxen pulling it stumbled and Uzza, one of its bearers, touched the Ark in an apparently successful attempt to keep it from falling. But this caused the “Anger of the Lord” to be kindled against Uzza, and God smote him, because he put his hand to the Ark and there he (Uzza) died before God. King David was understandably upset and displeased, because the Lord had made a breach (of justice) upon Uzza and David was AFRAID of God that day.
If this is not an evil, ungrateful and capricious act on God’s part, I don’t know what is! Even the “Man after God’s Own Heart”, King David, did not understand this act and was afraid of God. Again, the point is FEAR but, this time it is fear of an Unpredictable or Capricious God!
The above atrocities look suspiciously like the folklore of MEN – Ancient Fictional War Stories or Soap Operas. They simply can’t be from the heart of an All-Good and Loving Heavenly Father! How can the serious, truth-seeking Bible Student reconcile these horrible incongruencies when Orthodox Christianity teaches that God’s Nature is all-powerful, all-knowing, unchanging, all-loving and all-good?
Try reading these five “Bible Stories” to your young kids and see what reaction you get. You might be surprised. If they have been taught (by you or someone) that everything God does is ok, they may not even flinch at these stories. Boy, that’s scary! But if you have not indoctrinated your kids with this “truth” then even a child will understand these stories as a “breach of justice” and not consistent with the actions of a Loving, Father-God.
Finally, I fully accept the theory that God may not exist, but I’m not smart enough to know this as an absolute truth and I will likely never be. Nevertheless, I am very grateful for my life, my many blessings, my family and friends and the country in which I live (USA). My life has meaning because I matter to others, others matter to me and I matter to me! I love science and discovery and feel a strong bond with my fellow man and seek to improve the human condition with my talents and resources. I try to glean positive lessons, if possible, from everything that happens to me and pass these lessons on to my kids. I read the Bible the same way I read Richard Dawkins, that is, with no predispositions and let the “wisdom find me”, if it is, indeed, there. In all things, I attempt to apply the good, reject the bad and encourage others to do the same, consistent with their conscience and ethical model, but I will not make excuses for the “Biblical God”.
The required “child-like” faith that Jesus taught assumes a Good and Loving God. It is interesting to me that Jesus was the first to refer to God as “Our Father” – A loving, benevolent image of God that I personally adore and, admittedly, require, if I am to believe in Him, Her or It. But alas, I don’t see consistent evidence of God’s Good Nature in the Biblical Record.
In summary, I conclude that the Bible is flawed and/or that God is Flawed. Since not even Atheists want “God to be Flawed”, I assume that the Bible is the culprit.
I know this rant is a “shot across the bow” for all of the “True Christians” and Orthodox Jews out there, but I honestly don't mean it as an affront. I’m simply weary of making excuses for the Biblical depiction of “God’s Character”. This is why I conclude that places in the Bible (certainly not all) are nothing more than fictional stories concocted by man and designed to instill the FEAR of God. This fear was extremely useful to Rulers and Priests in the Theocratic Society of Ancient Israel.
I’m sure that I’m going to get some seriously convoluted “Good Answers” and rebukes, but please, one ground rule. Please don't say, “God did it – That makes it ok”, ok?
Online Reading List
- An Outline of Intellectual Rubbish by Bertrand Russell (1943)
- Bible Teaching and Religious Practice by Mark Twain
- God is Imaginary
- Is there an Artificial God? by Douglas Adams (1998)
- Skeptics Annotated Bible
- The Age of Reason by Thomas Paine (1795)
- Which Way? by Robert Ingersoll (1884).
- Why I Am Not A Christian by Bertrand Russell (1927)