God is a murderer! That was one of the conclusions by Luke Muehlhauser on March 24, 2009 http://commonsenseatheism.com/?p=682 . The article points out some startling events that portray God as a being who in the words of Richard Dawkins in The God Delusion is, “the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleaner; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully.” For many of us Christians if not all of us, we can go up in arms and condemn this position with utmost vehemence. But let us be real, if you look at the following scriptures, do you think that Dawkins is way off the mark?
- In Genesis 7:21-23 God drowns the entire population of earth: men, women, children, fetuses, and animals.
- Exodus 12:29, God slaughters all Egyptian firstborn children and cattle. Numbers 16:41-49 the Israelites complain that God is killing too many of them.
- God sends a plague that kills 14,000 more of them.
- 1 Samuel 6:19 God kills 50,000 men for peeking into the Ark of the Covenant. Numbers 31:7-18 the Israelites kill all the Midianites except for the virgins.
- 2 Kings 2:23-24 some kids tease the prophet Elisha, and God sends bears to dismember them. The atrocities go on and on.
With such an endless list, how do you persuade a person from holding similar views as those espoused by Dawkins? How do you reconcile that all-loving God can commit mass murders? Any layman will agree that this is a pure contradiction of His divine nature. Does it make sense to believe in a God who orders innocent people and worse still children to be killed? With this in mind, is it wrong to castigate people who hold contrary views on the nature of God? Who is wrong, the person who chooses to believe in the nature of an all-loving God; even though the scriptures show some incidences that present grounds to hold a contrary view or a person who opts to believe in an all-loving God in spite of the perceived disturbing incidences in the Old Testament?
Before we delve into the views alluded above, we must all agree on this point, violence in the Old Testament is indisputable. Due to this fact, Christians will continue to face harsh criticism on these grounds. While it is easy to claim that God is unjust, vindictive and violent; it is also important to look ask the intention of the incidences in the Old Testament.
Let us have a look at some of the basic arguments supporting the Christian view of the justice of God in light of the perceived atrocities in the Old Testament.
To begin with, who is God with a special regard to life. God is the giver of life and He is the one that takes life. He is the ruler, He is holy and everything He does is good. What was God’s goal in all these? God never instigated any murder of the people without an objective. In the case of the Canaanites, their culture and behaviors revealed moral wickedness. Primarily, Canaanites were brutal, practicing incest, bestiality, and child sacrifice. Their acts were so repellant that it was prudent for God to preserve young ones from the perverse Canaanite religion. Essentially, this was not murder; it is a punishment of sin committed.
Secondly, life is not our own. This is purely God’s life and He takes it whenever He pleases. It is wrong for us to take life (which is murder) except in circumstances such as self-defense and war. God does not have to an obligation to anyone about explaining how we die. Every day people die and it is God is always in control.
Thirdly, if God allowed the Canaanite children to grow up, they would have ended up just like the others in this repugnant society. Since He is the giver of life, taking the children before they hit the age of moral accountability, they would end up straight in heaven.
In light of this, it is not sufficient to look at the perceived mass killings in the Old Testament from a single perspective. In fact, for one to hold a plausible position regarding the justice of God, it is important to check the context and motive behind it.
God does not break His own rules. If this were the case, He would not be God in the first place!