God or Evil – Part 2

Welcome to part 2 of our discussion about the nature of God. If you have not read part 1 I suggest that you do that now before continuing on with this article. In the first article I discussed good and evil and the nature of God that can be determined from an observation of the natural world. In this article we will begin to explore what can be determined about God’s nature from the pages of the Bible. The first thing to mention is that if a person is writing a book and claiming to be perfect then they probably shouldn’t be stupid enough to talk about all of the imperfect things that they do inside that book. The second key thing to remember here is that actions speak louder than words: I can say that I am good, but if my behaviour betrays a different character trait, one should always determine my status by what I do rather than what I say.

I’ll ask you a simple question and please make sure that you answer this question to yourself before continuing on: “if a person said that it is wrong to kill, and particularly wrong to commit genocide, but then went around killing people and inciting others to kill and commit genocide, is that person good or evil?” I certainly hope that you answered “evil” to that question. The person is not only a hypocrite but also a murderer and someone who incites murder. Now that we’ve cleared that up lets continue on.

There are so many stories, statements and incidences in the Bible that reveal God’s evil nature that there is no possible way for me to list them all in this article. In fact I’m not even going to focus on the big ones; I talked about some of them in other articles, and will talk about some of the others in the future. What I will do here is talk about the sins of God (I know, great isn’t it!) in categories just so that there is an easy way to correlate all of the data. What I’m going to present is not an exhaustive list, just some of the key scriptures that jump out. So many are God’s crimes in fact that I can’t even put all the categories in this article, I have had to split them up. So let’s begin.

Murder

Killing is wrong right, it says so in Exodus chapter 20, in amongst all the “thou shalt nots.” So there’s no way that we would find God commanding people to do something that he had outlawed is there? If a human being was to kill another human being we know that it is a heinous act and worthy of punishment. It is fair to say that murder is evil. However, we see God killing people in scripture all the time.

At Sodom and Gomorrah[1] God killed an entire city, personally! In this instance he didn’t even get anyone to do it on his behalf, he just killed them himself. He killed them because he claimed that they were lustful homosexuals and rapists. And while that may have been true of a number of the citizens there, is it reasonable to say that all of the citizens of Sodom and Gomorrah were rapists? There were women and children living there also, but maybe they just don’t count in God’s ruling. And is death an appropriate punishment for being a homosexual or a rapist? Should we even be categorising those two groups together? I’ll leave that argument there, this one is an open and closed case.

In Acts chapter 5 the Holy Spirit struck down Ananias and Sapphira for lying. That’s right God directly killed these people, who were as far as we are aware faithful Christians in every other sense, for lying. Not only is this murder, it also represents another aspect of evil – unfairness. It is completely unfair for God to let off a number of people who do heinous things in the Bible, David jumps to mind, and kill these two for lying. I won’t go into this because it’s not the point of this article, but if God is unfair it means that he is not good.[2]

Job 9:22 says ““It is all one; therefore I say, ‘He destroys the guiltless and the wicked.’”

This verse does not point to a specific incident but rather a general state of mind. It is telling us that God destroys people regardless of whether or not they are good or bad. In fact there are a number of scriptures which support the idea that God will destroy people regardless of their deeds. What motivation does this provide for people to behave well? God does not appear to be encouraging good behaviour here. Instead he destroys the guiltless. What would we say about a human being who destroys the guiltless?

In Exodus 12:29 we see God personally strike down all the first born in the land of Egypt. That’s right God killed all of the babies, infants and grown children who were the first born. I don’t know the exact number, but Egypt was one of the largest civilisations around at the time, this had to be a lot of people. These people were killed regardless of whether or not they were good or bad. In fact you can argue that the children were innocent, they had not had any time to be good or bad in their lives. By what right does God think that he can go around killing innocent children? Anyone who believes that this is okay needs to get their head checked.

In Exodus 32:27-29 God says the following “… Thus says the LORD, the God of Israel, ‘Every man of you put his sword upon his thigh, and go back and forth from gate to gate in the camp, and kill every man his brother, and every man his friend, and every man his neighbor.’ So the sons of Levi did as Moses instructed, and about three thousand men of the people fell that day. Then Moses said, “Dedicate yourselves today to the LORD—for every man has been against his son and against his brother—in order that He may bestow a blessing upon you today.”

Take a moment just to think about this. God commanded the Israelites to slay three thousand men in cold blood. And for doing this he gave them a blessing. This was a cold-blooded murder and also a war crime. These men were killed for their race, not for specific crimes. So in this instance we see God committing murder, hate crime and war crime. This type of scripture is designed to instil fear into people who lived back in the Bronze Age, but for an educated person living in the 21st century it should be identified as nothing more than antiquated, tribalistic behaviour, for which there is no place in our civilized society.

Numbers 31:17 says “Now therefore, kill every male among the little ones, and kill every woman who has known man intimately.” He is referring to the people of Midian who worshipped a different God. The deal here is that God commands the Israelites to kill every child and married woman, or non-virgin belonging to this tribe. And what have these people done that is so heinous? They worshipped a foreign God, who was worshipped by all of their ancestors in exactly the same way that Yahweh was worshipped by the Israelites. So these people were killed for doing the exact same thing that the Israelites had done, but just with a different God. This is another example of tribalistic genocide, hate crime and now religious murder. So much for freedom of religion!

The last instance of murder that I’ll mention is that of the execution of Jephthah’s daughter.[3] Essentially the story goes that Jephthah promises to sacrifice to the Lord the first thing that he sees coming out of his door after he returns. That happens to be his daughter and so he murders his daughter as a form of child sacrifice. Some suggest that Jephthah’s daughter in fact was not killed in this incident. However, the text certainly reads as though she was killed, so if she was not killed why is God so reckless as to allow the misinterpretation of this and so many other scriptures for that matter. Surely he should know that down the track this story is going to be misinterpreted by people as murder. Is God not powerful enough or insightful enough to make sure that this does not happen? The fact is that it is only speculative to say that this event did not result in murder. If it looks like a duck!

Torture

Is torture a good thing? Hopefully we are smart enough to recognise that even when torture may be necessitated as a means of extracting information vital to national security that it is morally questionable. If we were able to live in a world without torture that would be far preferable to the one we have. I’ll just present two examples under this heading.

In chapter 9 of the cryptic book of Revelation God sends psychotic locusts which have the power to torture people for five months. The torture is described as being like the pain experienced when being stung by a scorpion. I have never personally been stung by a scorpion, something to put on my bucket list, but I imagine that it is extremely painful. Having had my share of pain I can testify to the fact that experiencing extreme pain for a long period of time is a form of torture. So why would God want people to suffer like this unless he is malicious?

Of course the ultimate form of torture didn’t even exist until the New Testament came along. Gentle Jesus meek and mild is responsible for presenting the new and improved form of torture. Now God not only torments you throughout your life, but follows you into the afterlife. That’s right you can’t even escape God and his heinous vision of a perfect world by dying.

Revelation 20:15 “And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.”

Without a doubt the most horrible thing ever dreamed up is the idea of hell. Because torture alone is not bad enough it seems that an eternal, perfectly loving God requires everlasting torture to satisfy his grotesque appetite. In modern human terms we consider prison to be the highest form of punishment, at least in most civilized parts of the world. We recognise that having our freedoms removed is a severe punishment, and the loss of valuable time as the ultimate penalty for breaking our laws. We do not send criminals to prison in order to be punished, prison is the punishment. If the prison authorities were to engage in the torture of prisoners they themselves would be convicted of a crime. We recognise that torture is an unacceptable form of punishment. So what does it say about a being who would create not only a place of torture, but a place of eternal torture, in order to punish those who simply could not believe in him? This would have to be the most heinous being in existence.

Child Abuse

In society we recognise that children have to be protected because they are vulnerable. One of the crimes that we view most harshly is the abuse of children, whether it be physical or emotional. What would it say about God if he was involved in child abuse?

Starting small (kind of) and working our way up we can begin in Genesis 22 where God instructs Abraham to sacrifice Isaac. It’s generally regarded in Christian circles at least that Isaac was a teenager at this time. But, even as a teenager how would you feel if your father was going to kill you because God had told him to? At the very least, in this instance, God can be accused of psychological child abuse.

Moving along we arrive in 2 Samuel chapter 12 where God kills a child in order to punish King David. So where were the rights of the child in this situation? Did God care at all about the child himself? Every human being has rights, and no human being should simply exist to serve the purpose of somebody else’s life. For God to kill this child in order to punish King David shows a total disregard for the value of this boy’s life. It is also extraordinarily unfair because it represents the punishment of one individual for the wrongs of another.

It has already been mentioned but it is worth addressing once again from a slightly different angle. Exodus 12 in which God strikes down all the firstborn children in Egypt is also child abuse in addition to being mass murder. Of course it is abusive to the children who were killed, but think about what must have been going through the minds of the children that were left behind. Were they going to be next? And consider also the other plagues that were visited upon Egypt. Children as well as adults were the victims of these atrocities. It was children who were left starving after the locusts consumed the food, it was children who were covered in boils, infected with lice and left terrified when darkness covered the land. And all of this was apparently justified because Yahweh wanted everybody to know that he was God. It is clear from this that God’s intention was to rule by fear, not by love. And any being that would be prepared to do these things to children, or adults for that matter, is not worthy of anybody’s worship.

Finally I’ll mention 2 Kings 2:23-24 in which God kills forty-two boys by having them torn apart by a wild bear. And what horrific action did these children undertake to make God so angry? They mocked Elisha the prophet! Really?… Overreact much? The God that is worshipped by millions of people around the world every day considers it justified to kill children for making fun of one of his servants. And this is the awe-inspiring creature that we are supposed to look up to so much.

Conclusion

I haven’t even made it a third of the way through the list of sins committed by God in the Bible. I’m overwhelmed by the number of evil acts that God has committed or commanded in the Bible and underwhelmed by his motivations for performing these acts. In the next episode of this series I will explore further the evil actions of Yahweh. I will close this article by asking a question. If you have read these passages and seen the actions that God has undertaken but still don’t consider him to be evil, then what would he have to do for you to call him evil?

 

[1] Genesis 18 and 19.

[2] Fairness is a key component of goodness. Think about what makes a good judge, fairness is the key characteristic.

[3] Judges 11.

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