Dawkins' Criticisms

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Evangelistic atheist Richard Dawkins charges in his book The God Delusion that:

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.[1]

Following is a point by point examination of Dawkins' absurd accusations:

Jealous

Dawkins argues for some reason that jealousy is wrong. God does describe Himself as jealous. (Exodus 34:14) Where does jealousy stem from but anger against that which is wrong, and seeing what is good misused? Only those with no conscience will not be jealous. One could just as easily argue that the lack of jealousy is evil, since it indicates no concern for the ways of righteousness. However, the most liberal Democrat will exhibit jealousy when seeing the Democratic Party or principles like environmentalism criticized, and quickly argue for what they believe. Why? They are jealous of their beliefs, and defend them accordingly. As Proverbs 6:34 points out, "jealousy is the rage of a man." However, jealousy is not inherently wrong, just like anger is not inherently wrong, though the actions proceeding from them can be. There is such a thing as righteous jealousy just as there is such a thing as righteous anger.

Infanticidal, Ethnic Cleansing

Dawkins unknowingly makes two contradictory claims, that God supported infanticide and ethnic cleansing. To the contrary, the reason God did destroy nations was that THEY were committing infanticide. God took steps to destroy whole nations to purge the world of the evil of child sacrifice that Canaanite nations engaged in, which arguably is at least as justifiable as America's bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki during WWII to stop the genocide by Hitler and world domination by the Axis forces. For more on this, see Destruction of Canaanites. Other buzz words used by Dawkins like bloodthirsty, genocidal, and capriciously malevolent likewise apply here.

Unforgiving

This seems a particularly ridiculous claim by Dawkins since forgiveness of the kind available through Jesus was not even known to the world until Jesus. There were no teachings about grace prior to Jesus. God gives mercy as with anything else based on conditions. Namely that we turn from our wicked ways and seek after righteousness. This is a necessity however for maintaining justice.

Evil people cannot simply be forgiven unconditionally for all the horrible things they do if they insist on continuing to do evil. They will keep perpetuating wickedness and harming others. Evil people are the source of evil in this world (see Problem of Evil) so when the atheist asks why evil exists in the world if God is all-powerful, they are unwittingly asking why God doesn't destroy them along with other evildoers. Through Jesus even the most evil people can be changed and made new inside, but they must consciously choose that salvation, that righteousness, completely rejecting sin and their own desires.

As Paul points out, God is not unjust for rendering harsh sentences to evildoers in the Old Testament, for how else could He judge the world to create justice and a safe environment for the righteous? (Romans 3:5-6) God is not destroying evildoers right now like was done in the Old Testament because He is giving time for evil people to repent, change, follow the Gospel, and do what is right. (Matthew 13:29-30) However, God is not mocked, those who do evil will reap the consequences of their actions, and this fleeting time of repentance nears an end. (Galatians 6:7-8)

Misogynistic

Without a specific accusation it's hard to tell why Dawkins thinks this, although today's feminist movement arguably engages in misandry and the idolization of women. Because of the Garden of Eden, God did set an order of authority for the marriage relationship where the husband was to have the authority (Genesis 3:16; 1 Corinthians 11:3,8-12), but the husband was also punished with difficulty in his labors. (Genesis 3:17)

Only since the 1970s has this been claimed a wrong view, and the perspective has yet to stand the test of time. Both husband and wife have responsibilities to one another; wives to respect their husbands and husbands to love, nourish, and cherish their wives as Jesus loved the church and as their own bodies. (Ephesians 5:22-33) Both husband and wife are called to submit to one another. (Ephesians 5:21) The Bible likewise tells us to respect the authority of parents (Ephesians 6:1) and government authorities (1 Peter 2:13-17) even when we disagree with them so long as to do so does not mean disobeying God. (Acts 4:19, 5:29)

The same feminist pro-choice movement that claims to support women has resulted in the deaths of 200 million missing women in Asia through forced abortion and caused the global sex trafficking of women in that region. (See Abortion#Asian Gendercide) In comparing the two perspectives it is only fair to evaluate the destruction of female life that the feminist movement has caused. The movement may claim to support women but the fruits of it have resulted in some of the most widespread harm to women imaginable. It is a far cry from the original Women's Suffrage movement which included pro-life suffragists like Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton.

The Bible nonetheless does have cases of women leading such as Deborah (Judges 4:4-9) or the Queen of Sheba (1 Kings 10:1) and teaching such as Priscilla (Acts 18:26) though these are rare. Many cases are recorded of prophetesses (Exodus 15:20; Judges 4:4; 2 Kings 22:14; Nehemiah 6:14; Isaiah 8:3), including those said to be widows. (Luke 2:36-37; Acts 21:9) Widows were a special honored group in the early church like deacons and elders. (1 Timothy 5:3-16) At any rate, there is no basis for Dawkins' claim of misogyny.

Homophobic

See also Homosexuality

God clearly and repeatedly says homosexuality is a wrong, sinful behavior. (Lev. 18:22, 20:13; Deuteronomy 23:17; Romans 1:26-28; 1 Corinthians 6:9; 1 Timothy 1:10) However, the Bible also says divorce (Matthew 5:32, 1 Corinthians 7:10-11), adultery (Exodus 20:14), bestiality (Exodus 22:19), incest (Leviticus 18:6), promiscuity (Hebrews 13:4), and lusting after the wives of others in one's heart (Matthew 5:28) are all sinful behaviors as well. Rather than singling out homosexuality, the Bible says the entire world is guilty of death before God, and that all need to repent and turn from their wicked ways to the salvation available through Jesus Christ:

Romans 3:9 What then? are we better than they? No, in no wise: for we have before proved both Jews and Gentiles, that they are all under sin;
10 As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one:

Romans 3:19 Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God.
20 Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin.

Romans 3:23 For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;
24 Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus:
25 Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God;
26 To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.

Galatians 3:22 But the scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe.

Homosexuality until 1973 was considered by the American Psychological Association to be a mental disorder.[2] Biblically, effeminacy is the result of soft living.

Matthew 11:8 But what went ye out for to see? A man clothed in soft raiment? behold, they that wear soft clothing are in kings' houses.

Luke 7:25 But what went ye out for to see? A man clothed in soft raiment? Behold, they which are gorgeously apparelled, and live delicately, are in kings' courts.

Jesus had no problem eating with those society considered sinful including tax collectors and prostitutes. (Luke 5:30) As He put it, "They that are whole need not a physician; but they that are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance." (Luke 5:31-32) Jesus showed that we cannot put others to death for crimes because we ourselves are sinful, yet at the same time did not excuse sin, telling the adulteress "go and sin no more."

John 8:7 So when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.
8 And again he stooped down, and wrote on the ground.
9 And they which heard it, being convicted by their own conscience, went out one by one, beginning at the eldest, even unto the last: and Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst.
10 When Jesus had lifted up himself, and saw none but the woman, he said unto her, Woman, where are those thine accusers? hath no man condemned thee?
11 She said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more.

Rather than singling homosexuals out as sinful, the Bible says "all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God." We cannot righteously condemn others as sinful because we are guilty before God of similar things. (Romans 2:1-4) The Bible certainly calls homosexuality wrong, which it is, but says everyone is guilty before God and in need of repentance for such wrong actions. Rather than an excuse for hate, it is simply one of many wrong behaviors that humans are guilty of.

Racist

Skin Color?

Solomon's love, as seen in the Song of Solomon, describes herself as "black... as the tents of Kedar" and states such dark skin occurs because of the sun, and is no excuse for discrimination.

Song 1:5 I am black, but comely, O ye daughters of Jerusalem, as the tents of Kedar, as the curtains of Solomon.
6 Look not upon me, because I am black, because the sun hath looked upon me: my mother's children were angry with me; they made me the keeper of the vineyards; but mine own vineyard have I not kept.

I would challenge those claiming the Bible is racist to show any other ancient document dating before the time of Christ which states discrimination based on dark skin color is wrong and dark skin is caused by sun exposure. Furthermore, when Moses' siblings Aaron and Miriam displayed racist behavior towards his Ethiopian wife, God very fittingly punished Miriam with leprosy making her "white as snow."

Numbers 12:1 And Miriam and Aaron spake against Moses because of the Ethiopian woman whom he had married: for he had married an Ethiopian woman.
2 And they said, Hath the LORD indeed spoken only by Moses? hath he not spoken also by us? And the LORD heard it.

Numbers 12:9 And the anger of the LORD was kindled against them; and he departed.
10 ¶ And the cloud departed from off the tabernacle; and, behold, Miriam became leprous, white as snow: and Aaron looked upon Miriam, and, behold, she was leprous.
11 And Aaron said unto Moses, Alas, my lord, I beseech thee, lay not the sin upon us, wherein we have done foolishly, and wherein we have sinned.
12 Let her not be as one dead, of whom the flesh is half consumed when he cometh out of his mother's womb.
13 And Moses cried unto the LORD, saying, Heal her now, O God, I beseech thee.
14 And the LORD said unto Moses, If her father had but spit in her face, should she not be ashamed seven days? let her be shut out from the camp seven days, and after that let her be received in again.

On the contrary, the God of the Bible did not tolerate racist behavior because of skin color, and displayed a sense of humor in punishing those who engaged in it. Such verses provided one of the earliest recorded condemnations of racism to be found in history.

Anti-Semitic?

Much confusion occurs about whether the New Testament is anti-semitic because the books of John and Acts often refer to the Jewish leaders as simply "the Jews" when elsewhere they are referred to as scribes or Pharisees.

John 9:22 These words spake his parents, because they feared the Jews: for the Jews had agreed already, that if any man did confess that he was Christ, he should be put out of the synagogue.
John 12:42 Nevertheless among the chief rulers also many believed on him; but because of the Pharisees they did not confess him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue:

John 2:18 Then answered the Jews and said unto him, What sign shewest thou unto us, seeing that thou doest these things?
Matthew 12:38 Then certain of the scribes and of the Pharisees answered, saying, Master, we would see a sign from thee.

John 5:10 The Jews therefore said unto him that was cured, It is the sabbath day: it is not lawful for thee to carry thy bed.
Luke 6:2 And certain of the Pharisees said unto them, Why do ye that which is not lawful to do on the sabbath days?

John 18:12 Then the band and the captain and officers of the Jews took Jesus, and bound him,
Matthew 26:47 And while he yet spake, lo, Judas, one of the twelve, came, and with him a great multitude with swords and staves, from the chief priests and elders of the people.

Whereas the Greek word Ioudaios translated Jews appears 66 times in the book of John it appears only 16 times in the other 3 Gospels combined. It appears 79 times in the book of Acts. All in all, the word translated 'Jews' is found 145 times in the books of John and Acts out of 187 occurrences in all for the entire New Testament.[3]

While the New Testament strongly criticizes the Jewish leaders, the scribes and Pharisees, it actually speaks quite well of the Jewish people as a whole, saying they revered Jesus and John the Baptist as prophets. It even says this love of the people for Jesus and John the Baptist was the reason the Pharisees and Herod feared to move against them publicly, and ultimately resorted to a capture of Jesus by night. Likewise the Roman leaders feared the people's support of the apostles.

Matthew 14:3 For Herod had laid hold on John, and bound him, and put him in prison for Herodias' sake, his brother Philip's wife.
4 For John said unto him, It is not lawful for thee to have her.
5 And when he would have put him to death, he feared the multitude, because they counted him as a prophet.

Matthew 21:45 And when the chief priests and Pharisees had heard his parables, they perceived that he spake of them.
46 But when they sought to lay hands on him, they feared the multitude, because they took him for a prophet.

Mark 11:18 And the scribes and chief priests heard it, and sought how they might destroy him: for they feared him, because all the people was astonished at his doctrine.

Mark 14:1 After two days was the feast of the passover, and of unleavened bread: and the chief priests and the scribes sought how they might take him by craft, and put him to death.
2 But they said, Not on the feast day, lest there be an uproar of the people.

Luke 20:6 But and if we say, Of men; all the people will stone us: for they be persuaded that John was a prophet.

John 11:47 Then gathered the chief priests and the Pharisees a council, and said, What do we? for this man doeth many miracles.
48 If we let him thus alone, all men will believe on him: and the Romans shall come and take away both our place and nation.

John 12:10 But the chief priests consulted that they might put Lazarus also to death;
11 Because that by reason of him many of the Jews went away, and believed on Jesus.

Acts 5:26 Then went the captain with the officers, and brought them without violence: for they feared the people, lest they should have been stoned.

For more examples see Matthew 21:26, 26:3-5; Mark 11:18,32, 12:12; Luke 19:47-48, 20:19,26, 22:2,6; Acts 4:21.

The Apostle Paul clearly stated God had not cast away His people, the Jews, and that a remnant would be saved according to God's mercy, that these were the "natural branches." Jesus Himself said "salvation is of the Jews." (John 4:22, Matthew 15:24-27) God allowed Israel to reject His Son so that He might extend mercy to the Gentiles, but now intends the Gentiles to preach to the Jews that He might have mercy upon all. (Romans 11)

Romans 11:1 I say then, Hath God cast away his people? God forbid. For I also am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin.
2 God hath not cast away his people which he foreknew. Wot ye not what the scripture saith of Elias? how he maketh intercession to God against Israel, saying,
3 Lord, they have killed thy prophets, and digged down thine altars; and I am left alone, and they seek my life.
4 But what saith the answer of God unto him? I have reserved to myself seven thousand men, who have not bowed the knee to the image of Baal.
5 Even so then at this present time also there is a remnant according to the election of grace.

Romans 11:11 I say then, Have they stumbled that they should fall? God forbid: but rather through their fall salvation is come unto the Gentiles, for to provoke them to jealousy.
12 Now if the fall of them be the riches of the world, and the diminishing of them the riches of the Gentiles; how much more their fulness?
13 For I speak to you Gentiles, inasmuch as I am the apostle of the Gentiles, I magnify mine office:
14 If by any means I may provoke to emulation them which are my flesh, and might save some of them.

Romans 11:23 And they also, if they abide not still in unbelief, shall be graffed in: for God is able to graff them in again.
24 For if thou wert cut out of the olive tree which is wild by nature, and wert graffed contrary to nature into a good olive tree: how much more shall these, which be the natural branches, be graffed into their own olive tree?
25 For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in.
26 And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob:
27 For this is my covenant unto them, when I shall take away their sins.
28 As concerning the gospel, they are enemies for your sakes: but as touching the election, they are beloved for the fathers' sakes.

Romans 11:30 For as ye in times past have not believed God, yet have now obtained mercy through their unbelief:
31 Even so have these also now not believed, that through your mercy they also may obtain mercy.
32 For God hath concluded them all in unbelief, that he might have mercy upon all.

Furthermore, the early church did not even believe non-Jews, Gentiles, even could become Christians, until God showed them otherwise. (Acts 10-11)

Acts 11:18 When they heard these things, they held their peace, and glorified God, saying, Then hath God also to the Gentiles granted repentance unto life.

Filicidal

God is nowhere seen killing His children so Dawkins' claim makes no sense. To the contrary, according to Jesus' parable, the Father is seen as a parent who sends His Son only as a last resort after His other servants have been murdered, and the wicked people refuse to reverence His Son.

Mark 12:1 And he began to speak unto them by parables. A certain man planted a vineyard, and set an hedge about it, and digged a place for the winefat, and built a tower, and let it out to husbandmen, and went into a far country.
2 And at the season he sent to the husbandmen a servant, that he might receive from the husbandmen of the fruit of the vineyard.
3 And they caught him, and beat him, and sent him away empty.
4 And again he sent unto them another servant; and at him they cast stones, and wounded him in the head, and sent him away shamefully handled.
5 And again he sent another; and him they killed, and many others; beating some, and killing some.
6 Having yet therefore one son, his wellbeloved, he sent him also last unto them, saying, They will reverence my son.
7 But those husbandmen said among themselves, This is the heir; come, let us kill him, and the inheritance shall be ours.
8 And they took him, and killed him, and cast him out of the vineyard.
9 What shall therefore the lord of the vineyard do? he will come and destroy the husbandmen, and will give the vineyard unto others.

Regardless, for it to be filicide, there must be a dead child, and the only Son involved is living. God the Father journeyed straight into Hell to save His Son as told in the book of Psalms. (16:8-11, 18:4-24, 55:9-23, 86:12-14, 88:4-18, 116:1-9, 144:5-7)

Sources

  1. Dawkins, Richard (2006). The God Delusion. pg. 51. Houghton Mifflin Company. http://books.google.com/books?id=yq1xDpicghkC&pg=PA51&lpg=PA51.
  2. Herek, G.M. Homosexuality and Mental Health. University of California Davis. Retrieved from http://psychology.ucdavis.edu/rainbow/html/facts_mental_health.html.
  3. Thayer and Smith. Greek Lexicon entry for Ioudaios. The KJV New Testament Greek Lexicon. Retrieved from http://www.biblestudytools.com/lexicons/greek/kjv/ioudaios.html.