This 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.
Previous posts here:
The next section of "Is The Bible An Immoral Book?" goes by the weighty heading "Does God Force People To Sin, Then Punish Them For It?".
So begins the next part of my response.
(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!)
The third law basically claims that God can make people sin, and then He kills them for it. This is not the case in any of the examples he actually brings out.
And again, we have this problem that because CMI's web editor hasn't/won't share the link to the original video/article they're trying to rebut. I can't tell if Cosner is being accurate in her summary of the article she is trying to criticise, so I'm just going to have to go by faith that Cosner isn't attacking a strawman.
But on the basic claim that God can make people sin? I kinda agree - a God as powerful and omnipotent as what we are told the Christian God is should indeed have the ability to make people do anything he wants them to do - otherwise, that goes against the very definition of omnipotent. It may be against his nature (to use the cop-out that modern Christians use to explain away contradictions), but certainly not outside of his abilities.
And does he kill them for it? In my opinion, given that God has shown a tendency to kill people for any number of minor reason, regardless of guilt or innocence, it would totally be in the general character of God to kill people after he has done what he wants them to do.
God is said to harden Pharaoh’s heart, but in an equal number of places he hardens his own heart...
Even if God does it once, God is still guilty of overriding someone's free will. You only need to be found guilty once of robbing a bank to be called a bank robber...
Let me put a hypothetical to you - I put you in an mind control helmet and influenced your mind, in whatever way, shape or form that this mind control helmet works, such that I made you start swimming from Melbourne to Launceston - a distance of 447km.
To swim this distance is humanly impossible, not to mention dangerous due to all the cargo ships and sharks around, so by making you swim, I am basically condemning you to serious pain before an early death.
But in my defence, when your family attempts to sue me, I would then say something like:
"The deceased enjoyed swimming regularly at the beach, which is basically an accessible part of the ocean. The deceased has also been on the Spirit Of Tasmania on one occasion, so for an equal number of times that I made him swim that distance, he had already travelled that by boat. What's the problem here?"
If my hypothetical court defence doesn't stand up, neither does Cosner's theology.
...so there is at minimum a level of cooperation—and it is simply a reinforcement that God is involved throughout.
This is modern Christianity trying to be cute.
The plain text of the Bible clearly states "...and the Lord hardened Pharaoh's heart..." (Exodus 9:12, for example). There's no two ways about it. The text doesn't say "...and Pharaoh hardened his own heart...", or "...and Pharaoh hardened his own heart by co-operating with reinforcement from God...".
Either the text means what it says, or the text doesn't mean what it says.
Christians say God is not the author of confusion, but I'm definitely confused - how and when do I know that a Biblical text doesn't mean what it literally says in plain English?
And my criticism here goes back to a point I made in a previous post about Biblical Literalism - why is it that Fundamentalists will force a literal reading of some passages down your throat and make you feel guilty for not accepting that literal reading, then as soon as something becomes morally uncomfortable, they hide behind the defence of extra-Biblical texts or behind the defence of "it doesn't really mean what it says".
And by the way, how can a book be called perfect and inerrant if we have to resort to fanciful heuristics in order to deflect valid criticism?
It could also be said that Pharaoh is being punished for his crimes against the Jewish people—namely attempted genocide by killing the baby boys.
So God kills babies to punish baby-killers for killing babies? That makes sense...I think.
I recently got into a debate with a Christian about this general topic, and his defence was that God needed to kill the babies of the foreign nations to make sure the children of the parents the Israelites killed didn't grow up to take revenge.
So now, not only does modern Christianity require you to shun the most logical and scientifically-sound definition of morality in favour of being compelled to say nice things about God (because you're guilty of something unspecified if you don't), but Christianity now requires you to think that picking up sticks is treason and that babies are dangerous.
If you needed proof that Christianity requires you to twist your morality, re-read the above paragraph.
This is even more serious on a spiritual level, since the Messiah was to be born from the Jewish people.
So God could do literally anything at all to protect the Jews - create magical forcefields, give Jews the special power of immortality, or even translocate the entire Jewish race to another planet (if God can make one Earth, surely he can make a second) to keep them safe until the Messiah arrives - but God modus operandi goes, "To protect you guys, I'll need to kill LOTS AND LOTS OF BABIES. Don't be outraged - be thankful!".
And here I was thinking God is all about peace and love and kindness. If I, as a mere human, can think of ways to protect the Jews, why can't God?
The case of David’s census is another case where God is said to act unjustly by inciting David to sin, then punishing not just him, but the whole nation, for it.
Hold on, Cosner! I've read the Bible and I'm confused - was it God that incited David to sin, or was it Satan?
2 Samuel 24:1 - "Again the anger of the burned against Israel, and he incited David against them, saying, “Go and take a census of Israel and Judah.”"
1 Chronicles 21:1 - "Satan rose up against Israel and caused David to take a census of the people of Israel."
In what reality is God causing David to take a census the same as Satan causing David to take a census?
So much for the Bible not having any contradictions...
At this stage, I can just imagine a Fundamentalist preacher saying something ridiculous like, "it's not a contradiction - there were two censuses!", as if David didn't learn his lesson the first time around (as well as each Old Testament writer only writing about one census each and completely forgetting about the other one...)
...so David’s sin could not be in the mere fact that he carried out a census. Rather, it is probably that he didn’t require every male counted to pay a half-shekel ransom...
So God released a plague that killed 70'000 people because his reps didn't get enough money. Can someone please explain how God is not a mob boss?
But you notice something else about this passage - the reason the plague happened in the first place was because David was given three choices for a punishment - three years of famine, three months of military defeat, or three days of plague.
David's answer - "...I am in deep distress. Let us fall into the hands of the , for his mercy is great..."
If 70'000 people died because the Lord's mercy is great, then two things:
1. If God's mercy wasn't great, then how many people would have died? Millions? Billions? Trillions?
2. I have never killed anyone. Why does no-one say my mercy is great?
The next section is titled "What About Jesus?" and will be discussed in the next post.
Until next time, stay happy, healthy and keep a positive frame of mind.