Good God??

 

The God of the Bible is described as representing the epitome of compassion and goodness.  For example, He is said to be merciful, gracious, longsuffering and abundant in goodness, truth, and loving kindness. (Exod. 34:6; 1 Chr. 16:34, 41; 2 Chr. 5:13; Ps. 103:17, 106:1; etc.)  It is also said that His work is perfect and that everything He does is just and fair. (Deut. 32:4)

 

These glowing testimonials notwithstanding, on closer examination it becomes evident that, in the context of modern standards of moral decency, God’s purported omnibeneficence and ethical superiority is not born out by many of His actions and attitudes.  Through the words of its “divinely inspired” authors, the Bible informs us that, in one or another of His various triune manifestations (God, Holy Spirit, Jesus), God involved Himself in a number of activities of dubious moral worthiness.  Listed below are some examples.

 

 

Unfailing Jots and Tittles

 

Although other examples of God’s problematic behavior could be included in the list, it does serve to illustrate what even most biblical apologists will grudgingly admit – in many cases, Old Testament Law is unjustifiably harsh and unethical by modern standards.  In an attempt to rationalize their own moral relativism (which they are so quick to ridicule in others), these apologists frequently argue that the laws in question pertained only to the tribes of Israel, in that particular time period.

 

In order to make such an argument, the defenders of the faith conveniently overlook the statements, supposedly made by Jesus, which claim that every niggling detail of the O.T. Laws is universally applicable and remains in effect until the end of the world as we know it.  According to the Good Book, “…one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.”  “Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments…he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven…” (Matt. 5:17-20)  “The law and the prophets were until John…”  “…And it is easier for heaven and earth to pass, than one tittle of the law to fail.”  (Luke 16:16-17)  (See also Deut. 4:2 and 12:32)  Furthermore, we are also informed that God does not change his mind (Num. 23:19 and 1 Sam. 15:29), or anything else for that matter (Mal. 3:6; Ps. 102:25-27; and Heb. 13:8), and that He has revealed his law and we and our descendants are to obey it forever. (Deut. 29:29 and Ps. 119:51-52)

 

Unless biblical apologists are willing to ignore the aforementioned verses, they will have to find some other way to extricate themselves from the horns of their self-inflicted moral dilemma.

 

[No doubt apologists will be able to cherry-pick selected passages that say just the opposite of some of those citations I have used in my discussion.  Far from working to their advantage, all such passages will do is leave no doubt that the Bible is rife with inconsistencies and contradictions.]

 

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Footnote:

 

The Case For The Flood Doesn’t Hold Water

 

The Genesis flood raises a rather interesting theological conundrum for those who take it literally.  If God is omniscient, as most Christians claim, then He must have foreseen, before He allowed the world to become populated with “sinners,” that He would eventually exterminate them in a worldwide flood (not to mention that He would ultimately torture most of humanity in hell).  Either we must assume that, knowing full well He would eventually subject virtually every living thing on earth to the torment of drowning, He proceeded with His abortive creation plan anyway (in which case He is not exactly the epitome of loving kindness). Or we must assume that He desired to create a better world to begin with that would not require Him to exterminate most of the world’s biota in a flood, but was powerless to do so (in which case He is not omnipotent).  Then there is the matter of overkill.  Why annihilate all but a tiny fraction of the other innocent creatures on earth for the misdeeds of humankind (another strike against His beneficence)?  If He were truly interested in eliminating every human except for Noah and his crew, an all-powerful God should have been able to accomplish that task more selectively with a simple wave of His hand.  By adhering to a literalist interpretation of the Genesis flood account, creationists are portraying God as some kind of mad scientist who botched a creation experiment and then sadistically drowned his experimental subjects in a fit of pique, knowing full well that He was going to do so before He entered the laboratory.

 

Theological considerations aside, there is abundant scientific evidence which shows that a flood of the proportions described in Genesis has never occurred on earth.  If such a flood had actually taken place, there should be unmistakable evidence available in the geological record.  If this evidence does exist, it does so only in the minds of the creationists; no mainstream geologist has ever been able to find any of it.  It has become obvious to geologists that the earth’s surface has never been completely submerged by water at any one time during man’s history.  While sediments, which later were consolidated into rocks such as sandstone and shale were being deposited in one place, some other area had to be above sea level undergoing erosion to furnish the sediment.  Limestone is formed by the precipitation of carbonates from the sea.  However, even the most extensive limestone deposits known, those of the Cretaceous Period, were not formed everywhere on earth.  If a flood of the magnitude of that described in the Bible had actually occurred, continental surfaces should all be stripped of sediments (similar to the Eastern Washington Scablands), all the continental margins should be deeply eroded on all sides, and jumbled sedimentary deposits should be found in all the oceans surrounding each continent.  These conditions do not exist in nature.  The geologic evidence firmly establishes that complete submergence of the earth’s surface, if it occurred at all, would have happened more than 3.5 billion years ago.  Furthermore, the ordered chronological arrangement of fossils in the Earth's rock layers is entirely compatible with (and predicted by) evolutionary theory. However, it makes no sense in terms of a global flood that occurred as described in the Bible.  (For more scientific evidence which shows that the creationists’ rendition of the biblical flood is not consistent with the geologic facts, see here.)

 

The best biblical scholarship shows that the Noachian flood story was most likely borrowed from earlier Mesopotamian myths which were first composed some 1,000 years before the Hebrew version.  Indeed, as the Bible indicates, the proto-Hebrews (Abraham) allegedly came from Mesopotamia, and later some Israelites spent time in Babylonian captivity.  It is most likely during this captivity that the ancient Hebrews were exposed to this legend of a world-wide flood and expropriated it, after considerable embellishment, for themselves.  No doubt the inhabitants of this region endured frequent flooding of their environment.  To these ancients, it must have appeared that sometimes their entire world was under water.  Couple frequent, wide-spread flooding in the area with the human tendency to employ hyperbolic language to describe such disasters and it is not difficult to imagine how the myth of a world-submerging flood was born. 

 

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