Tagged: Richard Dawkins

Is God an ethnic cleanser?

In The God Delusion, atheist Richard Dawkins vents:

“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.”

It seems odd that Dawkins, who has made a career out of pillorying a God he says does not exist, charges this fictional character with a plethora of crimes, including ethnic cleansing.

But the question itself is a valid one. When God instructs the Israelites to annihilate seven nations inhabiting the Promised Land to make room for His chosen people, He uses unambiguous terms.

In passages like Deut. 7:1-2 and 20:16-17, God tells the Israelites: “you must completely destroy them … you must not let any living thing survive.”

And the biblical narrative suggests the commands are taken quite literally: “They [the Israelites] completely destroyed everything in the city [Jericho] with the sword — every man and woman, both young and old, and every ox, sheep and donkey” (Josh. 6:21).

Does Dawkins have a point?
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Why the world is broken

Nearly everyone admits the world is broken, at least to some extent. There’s a disconnect between “what is” and “what ought to be.”

People pursue happiness, only to die sad and alone.

Our stuff wears out, loses its luster, or gets stolen.

Buses run late, baristas can’t make a decent latte, and the wrong team wins the Super Bowl.

Worse, evil runs rampant. ISIS bombs innocent concert-goers. Governments starve their people, even in resource-rich countries. Twitter wars trash reputations.

And on it goes. When we stop to ask our friends why they believe the world is broken, we get a variety of opinions.
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Is God guilty of genocide?

GODIn 1 Samuel 15:3 God commands King Saul: “Now go and attack the Amalekites and completely destroy everything they have. Do not spare them. Kill men and women, children and infants, oxen and sheep, camels and donkeys.”

Bible stories like this are fodder for atheists like Richard Dawkins, who writes in The God Delusion, “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.”

Though less strident than Dawkins, other cynics struggle to see God as loving and merciful in light of such scriptures. So we must ask, “Is God a genocidal maniac?”

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