blog post is part 4 in a series responding to the Creation Ministries
International article, "Is
The Bible Immoral?",
where I take a rational look at the claims made by one of the more
prominent Christian apologetics organisations in its defence that the
Bible is not an immoral book.
begins the next part of my response. This is a long one, so grab a coffee and a muffin and a comfy seat...
(Note: CMI have a plethora of articles available to peruse over at https://creation.com/qa, including some which may already answer points I have made in this series. Head on over, have a read, compare both sides of the argument!)
second is based on a false premise:
Yeah? And just
what would that false premise be?
God routinely orders killing, and for arbitrary reasons.
I had to pick myself up off the floor after reading that and
accidentally hit my keyboard on the way up.
dear! I've come across bad apologetics, but after reading this, I need to question if the author even trying to defend God, or just throwing platitudes out, hoping to squeeze a bad apologetic through an ajar door of doubt.
Please don't read this as an atheist merely being critical for the
sake of being critical - I want anyone who accepts, or even espouses, this
kind of apologetic to seriously consider just how wrong and how bad
Before I expand further on this topic, I again have to point out what I feel is the author being disingenuous. By limiting the term to 'God's orders to kill', instead of the broader topic 'God role in killing people', she narrows the scope for criticism.
Atheist: I believe God is immoral. See how many thousands of people God has killed!
Cosner: That's a false premise. God does not routinely order killing. God's orders for killing are comparatively rare.
We call this moving the goalposts. By trying to deflect the argument by limiting the scope to God's mere orders to kill rather than all the times God has killed directly, when it is the corpus of deaths associated with God's actions and choices that we want to take in to account to consider God's morality, Cosner wants to minimise the target Bible critics can hit (then claim atheists have it all wrong).
However, this could all be avoided is CMI actually provided the link to the original article they are criticising - then we can truly say the author's rebuttal is accurate.
But even if I consider only the times God has ordered people killed, as opposed to all the times he has actively killed people, I can still come up with a fairly comprehensive list:
1 Samuel 15:2-3 - God commissions the Amalekite genocide.
Numbers 31:1-2 - God commissions the Midianite genocide.
Genesis 19:13 - The angels sent to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah state that they were sent by God.
Numbers 21:33-34 - God commands Moses to kill the king of Bashan and enslave the people.
Deuteronomy 20:10-13 - God tells Israel that when they approach a town in the land whose inhabitants they will dispossess, they are to either make slaves of that town, or kill all the men in the town and take the women and children as captives.
And that list didn't take long to find.
If, as an alternative, you want a comprehensive list of all the recorded instances of God actively killing people in the Bible, RationalWiki have a page dedicated to the topic.
fact, God’s orders for killing are comparatively rare in the Old
The only way you can truthfully say that is by again moving the goalposts.
"God's not a killer. His orders for killing are rare!"
The point isn't just how many times God has ordered killing - it's also all the times God has commanded killing, such dictating death as punishment and killing people directly, especially when there was no active threat or when God could have averted danger another way instead of killing, that we need to look at
So with that in mind, God's involvement in killing is so
comparatively frequent that in the first
fifteen books of the Old Testament, there are only two books where God does
not either kill someone, order someone killed, pronounce death as
judgement on someone, or help Jews kill people (and between the those two books, there is a marked change in theology on one particular topic - first one to correctly tell me what that topic is wins a prize!).
Any god that decides that they wanted to be represented to humanity by the Bible has to accept any criticism that comes their way...
non-existent in the New
While there may not be any verses in the New Testament where God, directly speaking, orders or demands someone die as punishment, there are three summary divine executions (which could not happen without God's divine foreknowledge and predestination) recorded in the
New Testament - which is the exact opposite of non-existent.
These, however, are all recorded in the Book
of Acts - which may indicate a
theological slant the author of Acts was
trying to bring across that wasn't present in either the gospels or
then this all changes when it comes to the last book of the
14:19-20, we see God will kill so many people in his winepress
of wrath that
the blood of his victims will flow for 1600 stadia, which translates
many people need to die for a 300 kilometre river of blood to be produced? A
bit over 83
or almost 12'000 times the current population of the earth (many
thanks to inaweofeverything for
So either Revelation is foretelling what is to come, which means God will kill 83 trillion people; or Revelation is only metaphorical, which then means the author of Revelation had
no problem tying God's character to the violent murder of over 83
trillion people in a fit of rage.
Whichever way you look at it, the people who wrote the correct things about God (because how else would your book make the canon?) had no problem tying him to the murder of trillions of people!
one fundamental principle is overlooked by the atheists: God as the
Creator of life has the right to take it.
This, frankly, is bad. To
put this apologetic out as a defence of God is frankly admitting
defeat, because rather
than argue a case that morality ISN'T about maximising human
well-being and minimising suffering, anyone who uses the "God has the right to take life" apologetic is basically saying:
don't care what my God does, how many people he kills, how many
children he kills or how many babies his chosen people murder, whatever
reason, in whatever number. I will defend God to the last and for one
of two reasons: either I haven't considered the evidence, or I am
afraid of what God will do to me if I reach an adverse finding about
know what this is? This is called being in a cult, and
any argument made under the influence of emotional manipulation
should not be considered valid or honest.
Get out. While you can.
are not, therefore can take life only if delegated this duty by the
One who owns life.
life and delegates who has the authority to take it? I may have made the point elsewhere, but this kind of statement confirms that Fundamentalist Christianity really does require you to warp your morals to fit in.
trying to argue Cosner's theology has two problems:
Under Cosner's theology, it is entirely possible that I could kill
someone, anyone at all, in whatever number and by whatever method,
then absolve myself of guilt by claiming divine
mandate by delegation. I ain't a lawyer, but I can't see that holding up in
Imagine both the scenario and the injustice...
Honour, the creator of the universe spoke to me (and only to me) and told me to kill that woman. Sure, I took
the opportunity to rape her, steal her car and money while I was at it, and then I dumped the body in a shallow grave as a mark of divine dishonour. But what are you and her family going to do? Argue against God? The creator of the universe personally delegated the responsibility of murdering that woman to me, so I was merely doing God's will. You
people should be thanking me!"
mandate is something only psychopaths use as a defence.
even if it wasn't, is God going to come down, walk into a courtroom and testify on your
behalf that he indeed did command you do kill someone?
And even if he did, there is nothing in any court of law anywhere on earth that allows God to personally override legislation.
Judge: "Due to the fact that God Almighty has honoured us with his presence in this very courtroom and testified that he indeed did command the defendant to murder the victim, on the count of murder, the state finds the defendant not guilty by reason of divine mandate by delegation...".
Defendant: "Thanks, God! I was getting worried you weren't going to turn up.".
Judge: "...and on the counts of sexual assault, theft of a motor vehicle, theft of property, and interference with a corpse, the state finds the defendant guilty."
Defendant: "Hey, God, aren't you going to get me off those other charges?"
God: "I only told you to kill her. The other stuff is on you, buddy!"
For a God who apparently owns life,
he sure has done very little to ensure that the life he owns goes on
for as long as possible and as pleasant as possible.
Advances in medical technology? Preventing terrorist attacks? Providing potable drinking water? Mental health awareness and treatment? Global communications and travel?
these are done by humans.
God is neither involved nor needed. He is at best ambivalent.
God owns life, not only he is completely negligent, but the life he
created has actually worked out how to make life work better than
actual author could himself.
God were a project manager, he would be that guy that makes other people do all the word, takes the
credit, then gets angry when you don't thank
him enough in the client presentation.
to understand the Creator/Creature distinction underlies a lot of
Fundamentalist tripe. Pure and simple. Sure, there are some versions
of atheism that are based on fallacies, but an apparent failure to recognise this Creator/Creature distinction underlies none of
even if you want to push the Creator/Creature distinction,
you are then admitting that morality isn't about maximising human
well-being - morality is just whatever God says.
just forfeited the argument...
it’s important for Christians to understand it.
most of the Christians in my friendship circle have no concept of
this dynamic. Some of them even explicitly have problems with all the
killing and bloodshed in the Bible.
And I dare CMI to state my
Christian friends aren't Christian. I remember one of their representatives once said something
along those lines about Dr. Francis Collins because he supports the
theory of evolution...
God has sentenced all of us to death, first as descendants of
Adam, and secondly because we deserve it for our sin, and He
even took on human nature to suffer this penalty on our behalf.
plenty of criticisms of the concept of original sin and of
substitutional atonement out there so I won't hash them out, but my
understanding of this paragraph is that because of the curse of sin,
Jesus had to come and rescue humanity from the curse of death.
have two things to say:
If Jesus came to take the punishment for sin, why did Ananias and
Saphira die for their sins in Acts 5?
The best summary of the role of Jesus' death and resurrection is as
sacrificed himself to himself to serve as loopholes for rules - rules
he created and that he foreknew wouldn't be able to be kept - in
order to stop us going to hell, the very same hell that he personally
created and the very same hell that he personally determines the
criteria of entry for.
And I've never had a Christian tell me I'm (factually) wrong!
are two relevant scenarios here: the first is in the course of the
conquest of the holy land where they were commanded to go into the
land and kill the inhabitants.
the Bible teaches that the people had lost their right to the land
because of centuries of sin
This just says
that, yes, God is a killer, but you don't care.
you're trying to defend and deflect the charge that God is homicidal,
you won't have any success by confirming that God indeed did order his
people to kill and dispossess other people.
And once again, the author has the unintentionally confirmed that Christianity
is not a morality system where we use a rational understanding to work towards a goal - Christian morality is just a series of decrees by God.
Cosner isn't arguing that
morality is about humans living long and prospering, or that the
basis of morality is having humanity's best interest at heart -
Cosner is just arguing what God says goes and no-one has any right to
argue back because it's God word!
furthermore, the idea that God dispossessed the original inhabitants of the land of
Israel to make way for the Jews to come in is just window dressing -
for anyone who wants to defend God, they will find any way to absolve
God of culpability.
case of a woman showing insufficient evidence of virginity is brought
out as if every woman who was even suspected was stoned. But again,
this is the most severe allowable punishment —the
wronged husband would have the right to accept lesser punishments.
And he would be seriously shamed and face economic consequences if he
were proved to be dishonest.
Here, again, I feel the author is being quite disingenuous with how they present the
passage that CMI are referring to is Deuteronomy
22:13-21, which are instruction for what a man is to do if he
believes his wife wasn't a virgin prior to their marriage.
In these cases,
the husband is to take his wife and make the case before the woman's
father and the elders. If virginity can be proven, the man is to be
fined and punished, but if it cannot be proven, the explicit
instruction is to have the wife executed at her
And this is
where the author is misrepresenting scripture. Stoning was not merely the
maximum punishment allowed - it was the only punishment
allowed. Which means the assertion that execution was the maximum
punishment allowed is flat-out wrong, and serves as an example of
how, if you don't know to look for them, it is very easy to be
deceived by half-truths and the slick sales pitches of modern Christianity.
passage is immoral and goes against any sense of justice and
proportionality, for a number of reasons:
1. Despite the
fact that it was actually the wife who is being slandered, the 100
shekel fine the husband is mandated to pay doesn't go to his wife -
it goes to his father-in-law.
2. Assuming the
wife can prove her virginity, the man is then not permitted to
divorce his wife.
This doesn't indicate
that the wife cannot reciprocally divorce her husband, but given
the general lack of support and rights given to women by the
scriptures, it could well mean that the woman is trapped in an
unhappy marriage - right off the bat, the husband has accused his
wife of harlotry, which would make romance a bit of a hard task.
3. The onus is
on the woman to prove her virginity, not for the husband
to prove the lack of virginity.
marriage is supposed to be solely between the husband and wife, why
would the father-in-law be in any position to prove his daughter's
last line of that passage, "you must purge the evil from
among you", actually makes consensual adult sexual contact
a moral crime. This should strike anyone with a sense of fairness and
proportion as horrifying.
6. The discrepancy in punishments. If the man is found to be wrong, he merely gets fined, or maybe even beaten. But if the woman is wrong, she gets executed. That is so completely fair...
the rabbinic commentary on the law...
exacerbates one of the issues I have with this article in general -
Cosner is relying on interpretation (which is what rabbinic commentary is) given by fallible humans (i.e. the rabbis providing the rabbinic commentary) to try
show that the law given by the Almighty God doesn't really mean what
we actually read it to mean.
should strike anyone as strange, especially given the absurd
reasoning found espoused modern apologists.
video claims that God orders the murder of children for their
father’s sins, but this can only be deduced by ignoring genre.
quite. On more than one occasion, God has either directly killed a
child or commanded a child be killed for the sins of its father. My previous post, Five Uncomfortable Facts (Part 2), goes more in to this topic.
criticism of this section is based on Fundamentalist's claims that
the Bible is literally true.
I don't want to put words in peoples mouths, but while CMI don't say outright that they're Biblical
Literalists, they don't deny that they're not Biblical
Literalists, and they say and do all the things that Biblical Literalists say and do.
And one of the problems with Biblical Literalism is this: either the Bible is 100% literally true - but if this
is the case, you then can't fall back on the defence of genre because
what the text says is literally true - or, the Bible is a collection
of texts from a variety of sources and genres, including genres such
as poetry and rhetoric - which then means isn't 100% literal,
and also means you have to have a heuristic for determining what is
literal and what isn't. What is that heuristic, and isn't your heuristic merely personal incredulity, which is just a another way of saying personal bias.
Put it like this - I've
never met a Fundamentalist who states, with authority, "In
the beginning, God made the heavens and the earth" who then has a cogent and rational explanation for why, one, God (foreknew he would) make a talking snake with legs, only to take those legs away, and two, how they
know that snakes had legs and could talk for the Genesis account to be literally true.
the passages that talk about people eating their children are
describing circumstances that will come about due to their
rebellion—God is not actively causing or advocating it.
search of the Bible showed me two passages where familial cannibalism
is mentioned (though there may be more).
of the suffering your enemy will inflict on you during the siege, you
will eat the fruit of the womb,
flesh of the sons and daughters
the Lord your God has given you. Even
the most gentle and sensitive man among you will have no compassion
on his own brother or the wife he loves or his surviving
children...The most gentle and sensitive woman among you—so
sensitive and gentle that she would not venture to touch the ground
with the sole of her foot—will begrudge the husband she loves and
her own son or daughter the
afterbirth from her womb and the children she bears...
this isn't God directly pronouncing cannibalism as
punishment, this was all stated by Moses, who was speaking with the
authority and the backing of God - so it may as well be God directly
speaking. It's not as if God went to Moses and asked him to retract
it gets worse. In Ezekiel
5:8-10 (paraphrased below, emphasis added),
God does directly
endorse familial cannibalism:
this is what the
Sovereign Lord says:
I myself am against you, Jerusalem, and I will inflict punishment on
you in the sight of the nations. Because
of all your detestable idols, I will do to you what I have never done
before and will never do again. Therefore
in your midst parents will eat their children, and children will eat
to say that God doesn't endorse cannibalism is plainly false.
let's use the data we have to answer the question, is God a homicidal
Firstly, let us consider, what would a relevant definition be for us to categorise some as a homicidal maniac.
Now, homicidal maniac is more a pejorative, or a social categorisation, rather than a clinical diagnosis.
So let us break it down in to homicidal, and maniac.
Murderous; Willing to and/or capable of murdering.
So, could we reasonably consider God to be homicidal?
Has God killed people? Yes. Multiple times.
Has God directly commanded other people to kill on his behalf? Yes. Multiple times.
Has God shown a willingness and desire to kill people in future? Yes. Multiple times.
Has God ever shown any repentance or remorse for any deaths he has caused? No. Never (also, is it possible for a God who knows everything to ever regret anything?).
What about maniac?
One exhibiting wild, unstable or violent behaviour.
Let's go through the data:
Are God's punishments in proportion to the offences committed? No. God's punishments often go beyond the harm caused by the initial transgression.
Does God always and consistently respond in a proportionate manner to the situation at hand? Definitely not. God kills plenty of people for merely complaining.
Could God's character be rationally understood to be equivalent to someone who is emotionally healthy? No.
If God was a human, would the actions ascribed to him in the Bible warrant war crimes charges? Yes.
So, is God homicidal? Yes.
Is God a maniac? Yes.
God is, in my opinion, a homicidal maniac.
The only way Christians could escape that uncomfortable fact is by falling trap to a trilemma:
1. Either the Bible does not accurately represent God (fatal to the Fundamentalist cause).
2. Or participating in mass murder is morally OK (confirming you need to twist your morals to make Christianity acceptable).
3. Or, God does not actually exist (rendering the Bible as pure mythology).
Until next time, stay happy, healthy and positive.