Biblical Moral Mayhem

Christian Apologetics Failure: Morality

Today is going to be one of those rant style posts.  I apologize if it seems disjointed.  Just yesterday, I wrote that I “never write in anger”…well as the cliché goes, there is a first time for everything.  I was on Twitter last night having a discussion with a Christian.  The subject turned to the morality of the bible.  I was uneasy about this shift, as I knew where it would eventually end up…and it always angers me.  The person in question, Christopher, was either surprised, truly ignorant (neither of which I believe), or playing dumb when he asked me to provide examples of Yahweh acting immorally in the bible.

I and a few others gave him several.  Our conversation settled around the genocide of the Canaanites, Midianites, and others.  Let’s be very clear here.  We are talking not just about genocide, but rape, slavery, and the slaughtering of animals as well—a ton of suffering condoned and/or ordered by Yahweh directly, depending on the story we are discussing.  This is indisputable, though, at first Christopher did try to dispute it.  Through the end of the conversation, long after I went to bed, he was still trying to blame all sorts of people and was ignoring or failing to recognize his god’s hand in all this.

Let us look at some of his (and many Christian apologists, like William Lane Craig and others’) defense of this.  His first line of defense was that Moses was doing the commanding of the Army during a Holy war—not god.  This is pure fantasy.  Everything Moses did was at the behest of god.  Though this only led me to ask him one question—In the Moses story, was it not Yahweh, who “hardened Pharaoh’s heart” to then only inflict untold suffering on the Egyptian people for the Pharaoh’s supposed, but in reality Yahweh induced, transgression?  Anything that would unleash plagues, and kill the firstborn male child of an entire people is immoral by any standard you want to use.  Yahweh is a monster.

Christopher then tried to say some nonsense about the book of Numbers being a history and not necessarily showing what Yahweh condoned.  What exactly is this the history of?  The relationship between Yahweh and the Israelites, during which this god is a central character in the narrative.  This is pure apologetic nonsense.

Christopher then has the nerve to inform us that the story of the Jericho genocide (Josh 6:21-24) was really, to use his words, “a hard truth: Men, women, children, and animals are destroyed due to God’s command”.  Let me pause here to ask—WTF?  A hard truth?  Genocide is a hard truth?  Let’s assume for a moment that the adults of Jericho were guilty of a terrible crime.  In what scenario would it ever be justified to kill them all?  What did the children do?  Did they all deserve to die?  How about the animals?  Did the animals sin against god?  Did they deserve to suffer?  A hard truth?  The only hard truth that needs to be learned from this story is that Yahweh is a monster.

Christopher tries to get around my objection to this story by exploring my moral foundation.  Here’s a tip, my moral foundation is irrelevant to this conversation.  If you don’t understand how the systematic slaughter of every living thing in a town is immoral, my moral code ain’t gonna help you.  I inform Christopher that his god is a monster.  He tells me that he, as a lowly sinner, has no right to judge god.  My response was, “Oh Bullshit”.  Not much more to be said there.  Christopher is living in denial and delusion and thinks his god can do no wrong.

Realizing (at least I hope that he is) that his argument is falling apart, he accuses me of cherry picking only the bad parts from the bible.  How this is relevant to Yahweh’s monstrous ways is beyond me.  However, let me clarify.  The bible has booth good and bad parts.  The good parts are fine and well, some decent moral teachings, etc.  However, those good parts are not unique to the bible.  Second, I am not cherry picking anything.  We cannot talk about the bible as a moral compass without discussing the moral disasters and failings in the book.  They far outweigh any good.

Christopher, who somehow is not a serial killer or mass murderer, at least to the best of my knowledge, continues this conversation with a new person on Twitter as I have gone to bed.  I wake this morning to see that they have discussed the Canaanite genocide.  Christopher makes a VERY disturbing argument.  He argues that the Canaanites deserved to be punished and that the punishment fit the crimes.  WHAT?  What crime could be so offensive as to warrant, genocide of the adults and animals AND the raping AND enslaving of young girls “who have not known man”?  This is beyond barbaric.  What could these people have done that was so offensive that mass slaughter, rape, and slavery could be a just punishment?  Christopher replies, “The Canaanites were morally corrupt.  For one thing, sacrificing their children to the “god” Molech!” (quotes and exclamation point are his).

The only response I have to this is WTF?  Let me get this straight, the Canaanites were worshiping the wrong god, so mass murder of all adults and rape and slavery are just punishments?  Clear something up for me Christopher, and any other theist who reads this.  When the hell, or in what moral code, is rape a just punishment for anything?  How about slavery?  Yet, this is the moral code that your omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent, and omnibenevolent god supports, abides by, and commands?

This is disgusting on several levels.  You want proof that the Christian god doesn’t exist?  Here it is.  No omnipotent, omnibenevolent, omnipresent, and omnibenevolent being would ever ever ever ever use rape as a punishment.  This deity would know that this is not moral.  That future human societies would very much frown on this and would move past it morally.  Do you know what this is?  This is a god that was created by Bronze Age men.  Period.

Christopher would believe, according to his god’s moral compass, that if we went to war with say…India, we would be justified in committing genocide, selling kids into slavery, killing all of their  animals, and raping their young girls, because most of them are Hindu and worship the “wrong god”.  This is what Yahweh would command.  This is Christopher’s moral code.

But wait…Christopher informs us that he feels that it is “no longer acceptable to kill kids today, that this was ancient Israelite society”.  That doesn’t work Christopher, unless you have a new god.  Your god was the same god who commanded those disasters?  Did he err then?  Has he changed his moral code to fit with our views today?  What about his omniscience then?  You can’t walk both sides of that line.  This is the same god who commanded two bears to slaughter 42 children for making fun of a bald guy (II Kings 2:23-24 23).  Think about that for a minute.  Imagine being torn apart by a bear.  Imagine putting your arms up in self-defense.  Imagine the bear ripping through your forearms.  Tearing flesh and muscle.  Breaking bones.  Ripping you to pieces before you either suffer an instantaneously fatal wound or slowly bleed to death.  Not a good way to go.  Now imagine it happened to 42 kids—for making fun of someone.  Now realize this action was committed by YOUR GOD—YOUR OMNISCIENT GOD.  The god whose knows all, past, present, and future.  He would have no need to change his morality for this century.  Those are his morals.  That is his moral code.

Naturally he would respond that we have no right to judge or criticize his mighty and omni-whatever god.  BULLSHIT.  This is pure dishonesty on Christopher’s part.  This is delusion.  This is fantasy and apologetics at its worst.  I have zero respect for anyone—anyone who will try to defend the barbarous actions of Yahweh in the Old Testament as moral.  They are not living in reality.  They are trying to fit reality to their worldview.  They are trying to square the moral peg.  It doesn’t work, and is completely and utterly dishonest.

You want to know where Christianity fails?  Forget cosmology.  Forget biology and evolution.  It fails right here—the question of morality and evil/suffering.  It fails every time.  No amount of apologetic spin, throughout the centuries can save it—regardless of what people like Lewis and Craig tell you.  They fail too.  The simple fact of the matter is this.  If my completely ordinary self can sit at my desk and know that genocide, animal cruelty, rape, and slavery are wrong—in every possible scenario—no matter what.  Then surely and omniscient, omnipotent, omnipresent, and omnibenevolent being would as well.  The Christian god can’t exist as he is defined.  Why?  I am none of those things and I can get to better answers than he can.

Thanks for reading.  I look forward to your comments.

—-RB

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11 thoughts on “Biblical Moral Mayhem

  1. Ahab from United States

    I'm relieved that people are recognizing the morally revolting content of the Bible. If someone's moral code requires them to justify genocide, slavery, rape, honor killing, oppression, and a host of other evils in the scripture, then they made a SERIOUS spiritual wrong turn somewhere. I'm so sick of fundamentalists refusing to recognize Biblical content for what it is.

    Reply
  2. Loren Miller from Bedford, OH, United States

    The fact is that you don't even have to look at the actions of the protagonists of the old testament to find fodder for the immorality of the bible. Just look at the law proposed by its supposed author (Yahweh) and you'll have all the grist you need for your mill. Everything from simple ignorance, in proscriptions on eating pork or shellfish to misogyny expressed in the treatment of rape victims under various circumstances to a blanket condemnation of a naturally occurring phenomenon – homosexuality. Further note that none of these transgressions has any practical or philosophical explanation attached to them. The only justification is that they displease the boss and therefore are not to be entertained. It all amounts to: "This is the way I want things. I don't care that this seems illogical. It's my way or the highway."

    With the above as foundation, should it be any surprise at all that those who received these supposedly divine commandments act like assholes? When you have a patriarchal SOB in the front office who leads by threat and intimidation, it should be no surprise that the pecking order down from that point displays the same behavior. What is frightening is that belief in such absolutist morality persists in the face of alternative models, based in empathy and mutual respect. Of course, when the order goes out that everyone MUST believe in a given something because some all-powerful deity said so, there are plenty of people who will grab at that dictate as a means to their own power, as well as those who will cower before its putative authority.

    Reply
    1. reasonbeing from Duluth, MN, United States Post author

      "The only justification is that they displease the boss and therefore are not to be entertained. It all amounts to: "This is the way I want things. I don't care that this seems illogical. It's my way or the highway." —The problem that I encounter the most, is that this idea is still completely acceptable to many fundamentalist Christians. They are completely okay with not using reason to examine those teachings…it's maddening.

      Reply
  3. @cherrmann77 from Newtown, New South Wales, Australia

    Dear Reason Being,
    It would be nice to know at least your first name! If you wish to remain anonymous, that's your call.
    Thank you for the discussions we have had so far on Twitter. Considering the character limitations of the medium it has been an engaging series of conversations.

    Can I state in no uncertain terms that I am against genocide, rape, animal cruelty and slavery. The reason I am against these things is that I serve a God who has progressively revealed his character and his plan to us through the Scriptures (the 66 books we know as the Bible).

    In very general, simplistic terms: God created the world good; sin entered the world through man and ever since man and the natural world has been suffering the effects of sin.
    At certain times in history the moral corruption of man became so prevalent that God, because he is holy and a just judge, had to intervene or use sinful man to minimise the corruptive effect of sin across the whole human race. The moral and ceremonial laws were established for the nation-state of Israel. These laws were not an end to themselves but were meant to minimise the awful effects of sin in society. God could have just wiped us all out and started again but he didn't, for reasons unknown to me.

    Ultimately when the time was right, Jesus came into the world, corrected the corrupted following of the Moral Law and made a way (through the Cross) to restore the broken relationship with God and each other that sin created. Doing so he gave the ultimate Law which is that of Love. Justice and mercy – those two otherwise irreconcilable concepts – met together on the Cross.

    To be sure there is still a judgment to come which Jesus will adjudicate as the just Judge of all humanity.

    Occasions such as the conquest of Canaan by Joshua and the Israelites must be viewed in this whole context of revelation. As far as I know, no command of the Lord Jesus gives us any room to do again what was done then. The Law of Love is in effect now.

    I hope this helps. You are free to dismiss this but this is where I stand.

    Thanks again,
    Christopher

    Reply
    1. reasonbeing from Duluth, MN, United States Post author

      Chris—The idea that god 'progressively reveals his character and plan…" is nonsense. You are completely ignoring and/or excusing the fact that your god is a monster by any moral code you wish to adopt today—killing kids for making fun of someone, rape, genocide are all monstrous—-You can't spin your way out of this—apologists have tried to years and only those who already believe buy it because they want to buy it. The fact is, Christian Morality is a joke. There is as much "bad" being promoted in the bible as "good"—by almost whatever standard you want to use to define those two terms.

      The idea that god created the world is problematic of course, but leaving that aside for now, let us look at what you say. "Sin entered the world through man". This does not hold. An omniscient god would know this was going to happen. An omnipotent god could prevent it from happening. He is to blame for what you call sin entering the world, not some foolish human who screwed up. Let's say that I give a loaded gun to a 5 year old. Then let's say this 5 year old blows away your entire family except you—dead. All of them. Who are you going to hold responsible me or the 5 year old. The notion of free will is nothing more than a cop out. An omniscient god would know we would screw it up. An omnipotent and omnibenevolet god have prevented that failure. God giving us "humans" free will, which would, according to many Christians, damn our entire species, is no different than my giving a 5 year old a loaded gun–completely irresponsible and completely his fault. So there is no "moral corruption" of man any more than our fictitious 5 year old is morally corrupt—what we have is a morally corrupt god and morally corrupt adult giving a kid a gun he can't comprehend the consequences of.

      You are not thinking clearly. You are continually falling into the fallacy of argument from exception—you are cutting your god slack that no one else can ever receive. You state god could have wiped us out and started again…well sure, but then he wouldn't be perfect would he? He would have screwed up his creation by giving us powers, that he didn't know we would mess up. This is the fundamental problem behind the Noah story–an omniscient god would have eternally known that whole thing would go down…yet still created the whole shebang knowing he would kill millions. What is that?

      There are so many problems with Christian morality it is hard to get into here in one response. —RB

      Reply
  4. NoGodNoGov from Paramus, NJ, United States

    Christopher,
    If your god created everything and is omniscent and omnipotent, why did it create sin and then punish man for the very thing that it had created?

    Reply
  5. Sabrina from Almere, Flevoland, Netherlands

    I couldn't agree more. I have the same problem with all religious people – of any religion. I wrote a blog post in which I disputed the argument of a christian who claimed all atheists are evil, and compared all atheists to serial killers (even though there are plenty of examples of serial killers who were christian or even quoted the Bible). I also had numerous discussions with muslims regarding freedom of speech, especially after that film Innocence of Muslims reached a large audience. Inevitably, and eventually, we got down to the crimes against humanity committed in the name of Islam, but they kept saying it was wrong to generalize.

    Truth is, religion calls for intolerance, and if you read the scriptures right, even violence and worse. Well, I could go on for hours but that'd make another blog post. Haha :)

    Reply
    1. reasonbeing from Duluth, MN, United States Post author

      Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment Sabrina. The common idea among many theists that we atheists have no morals is quite absurd, frustrating, and often quite offensive. It is a complete ignorance of the facts–both of what atheism is and the statistics on who is committing crimes…I will be sure to stop by and check out your blog.

      Reply
  6. hausdorff from Oak Park, MI, United States

    This post is making me think of a topic I've been wanting to blog about for a while but I just can't get it to come out right. Maybe I'll just ask it as a question here.

    What is the basis of the claim "God is the source of morality"? As you have done a great job of pointing out, the god of the bible is a fucking monster. Why would that god be the source of our morality? He certainly doesn't lead by example. It's starting to get the the point that when I see people ask "how can you be moral without God?" I want to respond "How can you be moral WITH him?"

    Reply
    1. reasonbeing from Duluth, MN, United States Post author

      I agree. I just finished reading 'The End of Christianity" edited by John Loftus. The last chapter is by Richard Carrier and is about morality. It is quite good. He basically talks about the logical impossibility of Christian morality from several different perspectives, complete with deductive proofs. It was a good read.

      Reply

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