I used to wonder why the ancient Hebrews wrote God in like they did. When I was a kid, and throughout my entire education, I was taught that God was love, but I just didn’t know how to square that with all the stuff in the Bible. Is it love to make someone sacrifice their only child? To drown all but 8 of your children? To tell some children that this part of the house belongs to them and they can kill the others for it?
Regulating slavery, co-signing murders, wars, capturing women as trophies, condemning gays, killing a bunch of innocent Egyptian children, killing 42 boys simply for making fun of a prophet, etc. You know the list. Christian apologists seem to think that atheists bring these verses up just to be obnoxious, but honestly, how is this even done?
It takes a remarkable amount of spin to say that all of those things that I mentioned above are not only not what they appear to be in Scripture, but representative of perfect love. But it’s routinely done.
If we use basic reading comprehension, the god of the Bible doesn’t come out looking like love, he comes out looking more like this:
The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction; Jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully. – (Richard Dawkins)
So why did the Hebrews write God the way they did?
Check this out. If you look at the God of the Old Testament, and you see how the Hebrews wrote him, it makes you think, “Hmm….why would they write God this way if they LOVE him?” And you begin to understand that they wrote him that way because they thought that was good. The God of the OT reflects their values.
But they have tremendously different values than people today. Literally, than every person that I know, Christian or not.
So why are Christians attempting to model their lives after people with such clearly different values than them? Given the strong universal reaction to groups like the Taliban and ISIS, American Christians do not seem to believe that our country should be modeled after the countries of the Middle East, so why the ancient Middle East?
And this isn’t the argument that what is old is automatically obsolete or unnecessary, but it is to say that if you don’t think that we should model other countries now because we all have intensely different ways of living (and we do), then why would you not think the same way about an ancient, foreign culture? Not to mention that in many instances, who actually wrote a given piece of the Bible is very difficult to ascertain, so Christians are literally saying that an unidentified, ancient person holds the keys and insight into how we are all to live and what our laws should be and who is and isn’t an abomination in the 21st century.
I vote no on that strategy.
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