In the previous blog, we took a look at some of the violent and immoral things found in the Bible and whether that means God approves of such things. Of course initially we established that just because it is recorded in the Bible does not mean that God approved of it. But then we did see that in many cases, God caused suffering as a means of judgment. We don’t like to think of God as a judge – we either want to only focus on His love or want to say He must be evil because He judges. However, He must judge our wickedness and sin in order to NOT be evil. Only an evil judge would never punish someone for their crimes. A judge who never punished the wicked would be terribly wicked himself by allowing victims to suffer and the wicked to go free. Another reason for suffering and war in the Old Testament also goes to the nation building of the Israelites. Though it is not a pleasant thing to consider, wars are how nations are built.
But what about other examples of violence and suffering in the Bible that many people reference, like slavery and rape and capital punishment (like stoning for blasphemy)? I’m sure we could take several weeks to analyze each and every example to try to understand why that happened and whether God commanded it or approved it or should have punished it differently. Instead though I suggest we look at the heart of the question. By accusing God of being “violent” or “harsh” or “unkind” with those things, we are implying that we universally agree those things are wrong. If we are going to say God’s morality is wrong because it allowed murder, or rape, or slavery then we are agreeing that murder, and rape, and slavery are bad things; that those are wrong no matter the circumstance. It means those things are objectively wrong based on an objective morality that declares certain things are wrong regardless of what popular opinion says.
And now we find ourselves in a logical conundrum. We can’t accuse God of being evil for those things without relying on objective morality. But without God, we have no objective morality. What basis could we possibly have to say that rape, murder, and slavery are wrong if morality came only from the mind of man? That was actually the point of my initial question: how can an atheist declare things are evil? The atheist framework has no god so the only source of morality for the atheist would be from nature (evolution), from society (the mind of man), or from himself (instinct). When we consider those things, however, we see that none of them adequately explain the moral framework that governs our day to day lives. If morality came from evolution, then anything that progresses the species would be morally good. It would mean that if rape led to a stronger human species to ensure propagation of certain stronger traits, then we could not say that was wrong. If morality only come from society or man’s ideas of right and wrong, then we could never judge another society as being more or less moral than another. We would have as many moral codes as we have men and all would have to be equally valid. Who is to say which man’s opinion is “better” than another…unless there is some standard to compare it against, some standard that is outside of man’s mind? If morality only came from our instincts, then we could never explain why we still have a compulsion for which instinct to act upon. In every scenario we face, there are conflicting instincts, fight or flight, herding or self-preservation, but something rises above our instincts to tell us which one we should do. That moral compulsion for the instinct we ought to act upon can’t itself be an instinct.
None of those explanations adequately account for the moral framework in which we live. We do consider certain actions in the animal kingdom to be immoral for humans. We do find it morally good to protect the weaker species instead of just saying only the strong survive. We do judge other societies as being morally better or worse than others. We do find the moral code of Hitler and ISIS to be a bad moral code. We do expect man to behave morally above just his instincts. We do make moral judgments for which actions we should take instead of simply responding through instinct. So for the atheist to accuse God of being evil he must invoke the very existence of God. Making moral objections against God requires an objective morality. And without God, there is no objective morality.
Aside from the logical fallacy found in morally objecting to God, we must then consider the life that God led here on earth through Jesus Christ. That would be the only example of what God’s morality was really about. With the life of Jesus, it wasn’t God using a sinful group of people to build a nation, it was how one man lived His life in perfect harmony with God’s morality. With the life of Jesus, it wasn’t God wiping out wickedly sinful people out of judgment, it was God allowing man’s wickedness to crucify His very Son to bring salvation to those wicked people. So what morality did Jesus show? How did He live His life? We know that God had already provided a moral code in the Ten Commandments. But Jesus made the standard of those Ten Commandments even tougher. The Ten Commandments said, “Do not commit adultery.” Jesus said if a man lusts within his heart, he has committed adultery. The Ten Commandments said, “Do not murder.” Jesus said do not be angry. Before it was to love your neighbor, Jesus said to love your enemy. If people couldn’t even obey the moral code from God with their actions, we certainly couldn’t obey it with the attitudes of our hearts and with the thoughts in our minds. So how did Jesus measure up to that standard of morality? Yes, God’s people sinned in the Bible - and God judged the wicked. But the life of Jesus is what our eyes are to be on. We must look at Jesus, not at Christendom or the Israelites, to determine God’s morality. So what is it that you find wrong with Jesus?