I find this objection to Christianity to be increasingly common among Christian defectors. I thought it might be worth while exploring it further. As you’ll see later in this series, I don’t really thing it is as much an argument as it is an objection or a rationale.
The God of the Old Testament is Not Moral
The objection is that Yhwh, the God who takes Israel out of Egypt, does or commands immoral things. The list usually includes at least some of the following:
- Commands Abraham to sacrifice Isaac
- Drowns most of humanity and the animals in a world wide flood
- Brings plagues against Egypt and kills the first born of Egyptian people and flocks
- Commands Israel to take the land of Canaan and commit genocide by clearing out the Canaanites.
Because of these things God fails a morality test, a standard that many in Western culture would consider to be obvious, basic and self-evident.
In very few cases do I actually hear people articulate the moral standards that are violated. I’ll try to do this:
- Human sacrifice is wrong
- It is immoral to kill people and animals indiscriminately (flood and plagues)
- It is immoral to bring genocide (mass, indiscriminate killing or extermination) against a national, cultural or religious group.
How I Chose to Stand With Respect to this Immoral God, Real or Imagined
Because this God as portrayed, embraced and espoused is immoral, the people asserting the objection tend to make the following statements:
- “I don’t wish to associate with this God, therefore I’ll renounce any allegiance or identification with Christianity or a religion connected with the Hebrew Scriptures”
- “I don’t wish to obey any such religion or teacher of this religion nor encourage my children to be exposed to this.”
- “Because I believe the presentation of this God disqualifies him as a moral God or a moral judge I will reject any other teachings of these religious traditions as suspect unless I embrace them on a case by case basis independent of their connection with him. (In other words I can still agree with “you shall not kill” or “you shall not steal”…)”
- “Because this God is morally objectionable I don’t believe any God exists.”
- I should point out right away that this point looks silly as quickly as you write it down and look at it. Someone’s moral quality doesn’t impact their existence. We’ll have to come back to this one later too.
- “God’s moral character should disqualify him from being worshiped or having people pledge allegiance to him.”
- “Promotion of this God and the moral rules in the Hebrew Scriptures encourages people to do harm to women, children, gays, Palestinians and offers believers justification to do violence against their enemies.”
My Request for You
If I’ve short changed my argument or am missing something, please throw it in the comments section for me. Thanks. pvk
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I would say that the atheist response to this morally objectionable God is more likely stated thus:
“This God is tribal and murderous, not transcendent or actively working toward the betterment of all humankind. This only further suggests that “God” is a human construct, reflective of ancient xenophobia and political posturing.”