Old Testament God (2)

Old Testament God (2)

Frank Mobbs

Is God of the Old Testament a "moral monster", as arch atheist Richard Dawkins claims?

Commenting on the ABC TV Q & A debate between Cardinal Pell and Dawkins (June AD2000), I mentioned that Dawkins holds that the Old Testament reports God has an evil character in that he commands grossly immoral acts, such as ordering the massacres of innocent people.

I argued that Christians are free to disbelieve that God so acted because the character of God as presented in the person of Jesus is incompatible with such a characterisation of God and the evidence provided by Jesus for God's character is incomparably more valuable than that found in the Old Testament.

Fr Harrison sides with Dawkins: "I believe God did those things" because the Bible reports them and the Church guarantees the truth of every assertion in the Bible.

Of course, only parts of the Bible are assertions which can be true or false.

A creed should be simple. What a burden on Christians if they are required to believe thousands of assertions!

Were all biblical assertions true, the consequence would be unbearable. There are thousands of assertions in the Bible, all guaranteed by God to be true, according to Fr Harrison. In that case his Creed would go like this: "I believe in one God, in Jesus Christ, ... and that God ordered the slaughter of innocent children, Ruth married Boaz, Joash was buried in the city of David, God spoke to Ahaz, Paul and Barnabas fled to Lystra, and the author of the Third Letter of John wrote with pen and ink."

Dawkins argues that the God of Christians is morally evil. Christians believe God knows which choices are morally right and wrong and that God always chooses what is right and never chooses what is wrong. The Old Testament reports God ordering atrocities. One example: "And Yahweh our God gave him over to us ... and we utterly destroyed every city, men, women, and children" (Deuteronomy 2:33-34. Cf. 3:3-7, Numbers 21:1-3, etc.). Are these true reports?

No - because we have much more reliable evidence of the character of God in the person and teaching of Jesus. Does anyone know better the nature of God than the Son of God himself? Read the Sermon on the Mount. Therein "your heavenly father" is anything but morally atrocious.

Gosford, NSW

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