The God of the Old Testament: Righteous or a Monster?

Modern Atheists have published a lot of ink criticizing the acts of God in the Old Testament. Popular writer Richard Dawkins makes it a central theme of his key works.

This blog has dealt with this previously, which you can find here. This week Ravi Zacharias’ Ministry have put on their website an excellent response by John Dickson. If you are at all interested in this question, I would encourage you to spend a few minutes of your life listening. You can download the MP3 file from RZIM, here. (Look for the Let My People Think broadcast titled “Violence In The Old Testament” by John Dickson).

Dickson makes several excellent points, not the least of which is that it is not acceptable to separate a historical account from the narrative explanation of that historical account. Yes, the Old Testament has God instructing Israel to kill the Canaanites. But it also has God saying that the reason is due to the wickedness of the Canaanites, and not because of anything good about Israel.

Dickson also points out that Dawkins & Co. do not give the Bible the same level of consideration they do with basic scientific theories, namely focusing on isolated data without bothering to read the models the experts use to interpret the data.

In reality, the God of the Old Testament is both merciful and just, showing the same grace as Jesus in the New Testament.


About humblesmith

Christian Apologist & Philosopher
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8 Responses to The God of the Old Testament: Righteous or a Monster?

  1. “But it also has God saying that the reason is due to the wickedness of the Canaanites, and not because of anything good about Israel.”

    But the issue is that, in the Bible, God orders the death of all the Canaanites and Midianites…even the children and babies.

    Which is a monstrous thing.

    • humblesmith says:

      As described in this post and the one I linked above, God gave the Canaanites warning, they failed to heed it, so He was using Israel to judge them. If God had not done so, he would have been blamed as being an unrighteous judge, allowing evil. The truly mosterous thing is the acts done by these people, which included child sacrifice. After 400 years of warnings, God finally sent Israel to stop it by destroying all these peoples. Israel failed to do so and did not kill all the people God told them to. Therefore for most of the rest of the Old Testament, those nations kept sacrificing their children to Molech. God ultimately judged both Israel and all the nations equally. Again, we cannot blame God for both allowing evil acts and for stopping them, which is what many sceptics try to do. Stay tuned for the next post, which has a more reasonable atheist’s approach.

      • I can certainly blame the god character for both allowing evil and then using the most inefficient and cruel way to ‘solve the problem’.

      • Ryan says:

        So God sent His people to kill instead of Him killing them all Himself?

        • humblesmith says:

          The people of Canaan worshipped Molech (Milcom) by burning their children alive to the idol.
          Because of this, God sent Israel in with a specific task of eliminating these people and getting their land back. Israel failed to complete the task (see the end of Joshua) and therefore people kept burning their children to Molech, even influencing Israel to do so. (Jeremiah 32:35).
          Solomon, by contrast, set out to NOT kill the same peoples, but marry into them and let them live. Instead of eliminating Molech worship, this tactic ended up expanding it even more into Israel (see 1 Kings 11:5, 7, 33). If Israel had done what God commanded, it would have judged this evil and stopped it; because they did not, the evil spread and more innocents were murdered. This is the first paradox you are trying to impose on God: if He orders their death, He’s bad; if He does not, He allows evil.
          The second is this: If God zapps the pagans before they commit the evil, then He’s not allowing freedom and being a dictator and an ogre; if gives humans freedom and does not, He’s immoral.
          You can’t have it both ways, and the box you’re trying to squeeze God into is logically inconsistent. I still find it amazing that you’re spending so much time trying to blame a passage in the Bible, which people did not follow, instead of blaming the people of today who are murdering in the name of their god.

  2. humblesmith says:

    You again attempt to put God in an impossible paradox: if He allows us to disobey His righteous commands, He is allowing evil. If He does not allow us the freedom to disobey, He is a divine ogre.

  3. Epicurus says:

    It is amazing what people can rationalize to avoid real thinking.

  4. Wes says:

    I think humblesmith has posted a reasonably logical reply to the arguments put forward by both Ryan and NotAScientist. One perspective I am using now is, should one want to have a God or believe there is a God, would one want that God to be loving, and just and honourable and of impecible moral standards. I would have thought so.
    That being the case, and I believe the God of the Bible displays such characteristics (and more) then the acts in the old testament one views as being dispicable are indeed necessary.One could not have just a loving God, who just want everyone to be happy, because that would allow attrocities like the child sacrificing to occur in an ongoing manner. How would God then be loving towards those who were being sacrificed? Or put another way, if God be only loving, how can we call on Him when we feel injustice has been done to us by another. He could not act in a way to help us as he would be ‘unloving’ to that other person – therefore why would we bother calling out in desparation and why would there be a need for such a deity? He would just “be” – and that would be pretty useless.
    As humblesmith correctly says, it is a position that cannot logically be explained. A loving God must have a moral standard and must enforce it through some measure to indeed be loving, just and caring.

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