God or Evil – Part 3

This is the third part in a series on the nature of God. In the last episode we began looking at the Bible and what it tells us about God’s nature. In this article we will continue to explore the evil acts of God, so without further ado let’s get started.

Animal Abuse

Animals have rights. Just because we might be the apex species on the planet doesn’t mean that we aren’t required to treat other animals with care and respect. According to the Christian tradition God created all of the creatures so one would imagine that he would be obligated to treat them with respect. So why is it that in Joshua 11:6 God commands Joshua to hamstring horses? What purpose does this serve? The armies were already defeated so the horses could not be used further against the Israelites. Had these horses committed some kind of offence against God? In case you’re unfamiliar with the practice; hamstringing involves severing the hamstring muscles which results in crippling the person or animal and causes tremendous pain. Because of this hamstringing has been used as a form of torture which often results in the death of the victim.

Slavery

It is universally accepted nowadays that slavery is a terrible and archaic practice that is inhumane and unacceptable in a civilized society. Christians will often argue that the Bible does not support slavery but this is a dishonest position. I want to give you an example: let’s say that a person writes a rulebook on how to abuse children. This book would have guidelines on what is an acceptable way to abuse children according to the author. It would provide rules for how much you can beat a child so as not to over abuse them, according to the author’s beliefs. The book doesn’t say that one should abuse children, it is simply providing guidelines for those who want to abuse children. Would you say that this book does not support child abuse? I didn’t think so! But this is exactly the situation with the Bible. The Bible provides guidelines and rules on how to keep slaves, how to beat them and also rules for slaves on how they should serve their masters. This implicitly condones slavery. The Bible contains no verses which say that slaves should not be kept or that slaves should always try to escape from their bondage. The Bible tells us that people should be put to death for working on the sabbath for goodness sake, but no punishments for practices of slavery. It provides no punishments for slave owners or those who would seek to put people into slavery. In doing so it tacitly supports the practice of slavery. Let’s have a look at some examples:

Lev 25:44-46 says “As for your male and female slaves whom you may have—you may acquire male and female slaves from the pagan nations that are around you.”

No comment required really! God tells Israelites that they can keep slaves.

Exodus 21:7 says “If a man sells his daughter as a female slave, she is not to go free as the male slaves do.”

Women were sold as chattels and sometimes bought as wives. So we have biblically commanded slavery, misogyny and authorised rape.

Exodus 21:20-21 tells us “If a man strikes his male or female slave with a rod and he dies at his hand, he shall be punished. If, however, he survives a day or two, no vengeance shall be taken; for he is his property.”

It’s crystal clear here that God regards slaves as the property of the slave owner. And it is okay to beat slaves almost to death, as long as you don’t actually beat them to death. A few verses earlier we are told that if someone is found guilty of kidnapping that they should be put to death. But in this verse we see that if you kill a slave you will receive an unspecified punishment. So there is a list as long as your arm of sins that God considers to be worthy of capital punishment, but beating a slave to death is not one of them.

1 Peter 2:18 says “Slaves, in reverent fear of God submit yourselves to your masters, not only to those who are good and considerate, but also to those who are harsh.”

This further condones the use of violence and unfair treatment of slaves. And not only that, it commands slaves to be obedient. Who would benefit the most from a commandment from God that slaves be obedient? Interestingly, it seems that the slave owners themselves would benefit the most. It does make you wonder if the scriptures weren’t written by those sympathetic to civil authorities and the rich and powerful in order to best benefit them.

There is clearly no defence here for the fact that God completely condones slavery. Some people suggest that slavery was just too much of a radical thing to do away with at the time. But allow me to retort: when Jesus came along and spoke, particularly in the Sermon on the Mount, he introduced a large number of radical ideas that would shake up the society. He challenged Jews that Gentiles were to receive the gospel message also, he introduced a wide variety of political, social and ethical alterations to the Bible and Jewish code. So an indictment on slavery would not have been particularly radical. And even if it was, is God afraid to upset the apple cart? He wasn’t particularly shy about giving radical commandments in the Pentateuch. When one is commanded not to worship other gods, or covet a neighbour’s possessions, or work on the sabbath day are these not radical orders. It should also be noted that God is guilty here of racism because he condones keeping foreigners as slaves but for the most part Israelites are exempt. Slavery is the unavoidable elephant in the room and no amount of dodging will circumvent the fact that it is condoned in the Bible.

Rape

Rape is a serious offence which is both physically and emotionally humiliating and can have long-term serious effects upon the victim. Anyone who condones rape is justifiably regarded as a villain. So what if God condoned and even commanded rape?

In Numbers 31:17-18 God commands the Israelites to kill every male child and married woman, “But all the girls who have not known man intimately, spare for yourselves.”

In this instance God tells the Israelites that these virgins could be kept as the spoils of war. In fact he commanded it. What did men do with young women who were the spoils of war? I’ll leave that to your imagination.

In Genesis 19:8 Lot speaks to a crowd that have gathered, apparently for the purpose of raping two angels that have come to his house. What does Lot do? Does he call the authorities or try to reason with the crowd, suggesting that rape is not okay? No! Instead he offers his two virgin daughters for the crowd to do whatever they want with. You may argue that God didn’t command him to do this, but later in 2 Peter 2:7-8 God condones Lot’s actions by calling Lot righteous. Apparently these are the acts of a righteous man. This confirms the idea that women were second class citizens in the Old Testament, their bodies could be traded like produce.

2 Samuel 12:11 says “Thus says the LORD, ‘Behold, I will raise up evil against you from your own household; I will even take your wives before your eyes and give them to your companion, and he will lie with your wives in broad daylight.”

Here we find God admitting that he will perform an evil act. He acknowledges that he will personally take these people’s wives and have them raped and forced to commit adultery right before their eyes.

Deuteronomy 22:28-29 says “If a man finds a girl who is a virgin, who is not engaged, and seizes her and lies with her and they are discovered, then the man who lay with her shall give to the girl’s father fifty shekels of silver, and she shall become his wife because he has violated her; he cannot divorce her all his days.”

So in this instance rather than punishing a rapist with a severe prison sentence God commands that the girl who was raped must marry her rapist… Nice one! Can you think of anything worse? I have not been raped, but I can imagine that the worst thing in the world after being raped would be being forced to marry the man that had just raped me. This is an appalling practice and everyone should be stunned that it is found in the Bible. In addition to rape this is an extreme form of emotional and physical abuse.

Cannibalism

Do you know what’s not cool? Cannibalism, that’s not cool! So is God a fan of making people eat other people? You bet he is!

In Jeremiah 19:9 God says “I will make them eat the flesh of their sons and the flesh of their daughters, and they will eat one another’s flesh in the siege and in the distress with which their enemies and those who seek their life will distress them.”

I’ve got to admit, I’m kind of speechless at this point let’s move on to the next one.

In Leviticus 26:27-29 we find that God is annoyed with some people again, what a surprise. In verse 29 he says “Further, you will eat the flesh of your sons and the flesh of your daughters you will eat.”

Fantastic! More forced cannibalism of people’s children. Well, I suppose consistency is a good thing. If you’re going to be bad you may as well do a proper job of it.

At this point I was going to talk about abortion, which may surprise you. But instead I’m going to leave that one out because I will write an article dedicated to this topic at a later date. But the short story is that God does not value human life less than one month old, you can forget about all of this “life begins at conception” stuff that you might hear from Christians, that is not the biblical position. God condones and indeed commands abortion at various times.

Betrayal

You might think that the example I am about to give is a little obtuse, but bear with me. In the book of Genesis God places the serpent in the garden. The serpent is generally recognised to be Satan, the deceiver. God’s reason for putting the serpent in the garden appears to be for the purpose of tempting Adam and Eve. This does not seem like the act of a good God. If you wanted to give Adam and Eve a fair shot why would you go out of your way to tempt them into sin? This is especially true because Adam and Eve were both completely naïve, not having been exposed to evil before this act. It is akin to placing a real snake inside an infant’s crib. This is most certainly a betrayal of the trust that Adam and Eve placed in God.

Lying

According to the scriptures and Christian tradition lying is a sin. In fact lying is included on some of the New Testament sin lists so we wouldn’t expect to find God lying would we?

In Genesis 22:2 God told Abraham to sacrifice Isaac, but this was deceitful, God had no real intention of killing Isaac. In Genesis 8:21 following Noah’s flood, God promises that he will never again destroy the earth and every living thing but in 2 Peter 3:10-11 he says that he will destroy the earth again. In Exodus 4:21 in the story of Moses and Pharoah we see that God hardens Pharaoh’s heart, effectively forcing a lie upon him. At several times during the story Pharaoh intended to change his mind, but God did not permit him to do this (denying Pharaoh his free will) and instead hardened his heart. The result of this was of course an enormous amount of suffering and death.

In 1 Kings 22:22-23 it says “The LORD said to him, ‘How?’ And he said, ‘I will go out and be a deceiving spirit in the mouth of all his prophets.’ Then He said, ‘You are to entice him and also prevail. Go and do so.’”

In this instance God himself operates as a lying spirit in the mouths of his prophets. God doesn’t just tell other people to lie, which would be bad enough, he lies himself.

And finally in 2 Thessalonians 2:11-12 we see “For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie and so that all will be condemned who have not believed the truth but have delighted in wickedness.”

God personally sends a deceiving influence upon people so that they will believe a lie. So he doesn’t just lie to them, he manipulates their mind, altering their free will, so that they will believe something which is false. The result of this is that these people will be condemned for believing the lie that God forces them to believe. How messed up is that? This is yet another instance in the scriptures where God messes with people’s free will, that is if the Bible considers human beings to have free will at all, which is highly questionable. What you can conclude from this is that salvation is a coin flip, if God decides that you are saved then you’re lucky, but if he decides that you are not saved it doesn’t matter what you believe he will manipulate your mind so that you believe a lie. This is far worse than simply telling a lie, this is the creation of deceptions and falsehoods ex nihilo.

This has been a long list of problem verses and I applaud you if you have stayed with me so far. In the next article I hope to close out this series by discussing some of the arguments that are used to attempt to defend this arsenal of condemning evidence against God’s goodness. I will conclude this article by repeating a question that I have asked in the past. I ask it again because it is so pertinent and so important. If after the examination of this evidence you still do not consider God to be evil, what would it take for you to say that God is evil? We have confirmed thus far that God is guilty of murder, genocide, war crimes, hate crimes, torture, child abuse, animal abuse, slavery, rape, cannibalism, betrayal and lying. I would be interested to know, if you are a believer, how many other friends you have that are guilty of all these things? Is it possible that the deity you worship is just the construct of Bronze and Iron age authors, whose character reflects the brutality of their times? Try as they might to construct this image of a perfectly good God their limited understanding of philosophy and morality has painted their writing into a corner. If you apply reasonable contemporary thinking to the scriptures you can arrive at no other conclusion: if the God of the Bible exists at all, he is necessarily evil. The good news is that the evidence for his existence is also frail.

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