Christians believe their God is all-good and all-loving. Atheists counter that, according to Christian’s own Bible, God is instead “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” (as Dawkins puts it).
- In Genesis 7:21-23, God drowns the entire population of the earth: men, women, children, fetuses, and animals.
- In Exodus 12:29, God the baby-killer slaughters all Egyptian firstborn children and cattle because their king was stubborn.
- In Numbers 16:41-49, the Israelites complain that God is killing too many of them. So, God sends a plague that kills 14,000 more of them.
- In 1 Samuel 6:19, God kills 50,000 men for peeking into the ark of the covenant.
- In Numbers 31:7-18, the Israelites kill all the Midianites except for the virgins, whom they are allowed to rape as spoils of war.
- In 2 Kings 2:23-24, some kids tease the prophet Elisha, and God sends bears to dismember them.
“This is a singular event.”
Craig says these horrifying commands of God are a singular event related to the conquest of Canaan.
Wrong. Even the few examples I gave above are not focused on the conquest of Canaan, and there are hundreds more atrocities performed by God or at his command, scattered throughout the Old Testament.
Second, even if it was a singular event, why would this matter? The Oklahoma City bombing was a singular event for Timothy McVeigh, but we couldn’t possibly say McVeigh was “all-good” despite this. Likewise, even if God only commanded genocide “a few times” during the conquest of Canaan, would we then be justified in calling him all-good? No. At the very least, such a god momentarily lapsed into an anti-social psychotic fit.
“God gave Canaan to the Israelites.”
Craig says God gave Canaan as a gift to the Israelites, so they had to wipe out the other people groups who were living there. First, this doesn’t explain away all the other atrocities committed by God throughout the Bible. Second, I’m sure the other tribal groups felt their God had given them that land, too. In fact, people groups in Israel and Palestine are still fighting over this.
Third, why couldn’t God just have these other people groups move, for Christ’s sake? There was plenty of empty land available! Heck, even shoving them off to Siberia is better than cutting to pieces all the men, women, children, animals, and fetuses of neighboring tribes. What a maniacal twat!
“Back then, things were different than modern warfare, in which we distinguish non-combatants.”
Craig says there is a distinction to be made between modern and ancient warfare. In modern warfare, we avoid killing innocent women and children and other non-combatants. But then, Craig doesn’t explain how this is any different from ancient warfare. Surely the Israelites could distinguish unarmed women and infants. In fact, it would have been even easier to do so, since everyone was killed one at a time by a sword or bow, not by missiles that destroy entire buildings.
“All this would prove is that the Bible is incorrect, not that God doesn’t exist.”
True. Biblical atrocities don’t disprove an all-good God (though, the abundance of suffering in the world just might). Biblical atrocities could just as well show that the Bible is incorrect – but this only makes Judaism and Christianity look all the more like foolish human inventions. Or it could mean that God exists, but is incredibly evil – in which case he is not worthy of worship or obedience. Or it could mean that Yahweh was invented to justify the human thirst for power and bloodshed – as seems to be the case with so many other gods.
“God can do whatever he wants.”
Craig says that because God is God, he can do whatever he wants. So, if he wants to violently destroy an entire nation of innocent people, he is morally allowed to do so. But what kind of “morality” is this? How awful! Craig really seems to believe that even things like genocide and rape can be moral if God feels like it.
“God gave us life, and he can take it away when he wants.”
How atrocious. When scientists are able to create new living beings that have desires and can feel pain, will we then be morally permitted to torture, rape, dismember, and murder them if we feel like it? This seems to be what Craig is arguing.
“Genocide is God’s punishment for sin.”
Craig says that before he sent the Israelites in to slaughter the Canaanites, God waited for the wickedness of the Canaanites to become so great he could allow it no longer. So, genocide is God’s punishment for sin. But what about all the infants and animals? Were they guilty of “sin,” too?
Laughably, Craig points out that one of the “abominable” sins of the Canaanites was that they were killing innocent children as human sacrifices. So, the punishment for killing innocent children is… killing more innocent children? Woah.
As for the children murdered at God’s command, Craig’s excuse is that this was another “object lesson” for the Israelites, who were commanded not to have sex with someone outside their race. So, God has the Israelites kill all the Canaanite children to prevent the Israelites from later interbreeding with them.
So, murdering innocent children is morally better than sleeping with someone of another race. Holy shit how racist and horrifying is that!? This, from a “respectable” Christian philosopher!
Finally, Craig says he believes in the doctrine of infant salvation; that babies will go to heaven if they die before they reach an age where they can make a decision about Jesus (even though there’s nothing in the Bible about that; it just feels nice). So, Craig says, “the destruction of these children was in fact their salvation.” In this way, Craig says that when God has innocent children violently slaughtered, he “does no wrong to them.” I guess you’d have to believe “God told me so” in order to believe something so awful!
This reminds me of the Spanish conquistadors, who would baptize infant Native Americans and then bash their brains out so they would go to heaven instead of growing up to worship their native gods and go to hell. And, if Craig’s right, why not kill all infants, or at least those most likely to grow up as non-Christians, in order to get them through the loophole to heaven?
And just to add the icing on this moral shitcake, Craig finishes by saying, “If anybody is wronged by this… it would seem to be the Israeli soldiers themselves… because… of the brutalizing effect on them of having to go and kill women and children.”
I don’t even know how to respond to this kind of thing. I guess we should pity the Nazis for having to rape and kill so many Jews because they thought God wanted them to do so.
This podcast, in which Craig defends a genocidal maniac as the most morally perfect being who ever existed, is a perfect example of how dogma can twist even the brightest minds. Craig does intellectual cartwheels to defend his invisible friend, instead of just admitting that “Yeah, maybe Yahweh is just a myth like the other 5,000 gods out there.”
But I know how this works. I used to believe all these things, too. Christian dogma gave me these horrifying moral ideas, too. Only my escape to reality allowed me to develop a better moral sense.
P.S. If anyone thinks what I’ve said is invalidated because I used “naughty words,” you need to examine your moral priorities, along with your basis for thinking some words are permissable but not others.