An Evil God?: Introduction
November 17, 2008 by Daniel Florien

This is the introduction for the series An Evil God?

“The Bible may be an arresting and poetic work of fiction,” says Richard Dawkins, “but it is not the sort of book you should give your children to form their morals.”

Like most Christians, I once thought that the Bible was the only source of morality for humanity. The thought that it could teach immorality would have been blasphemous. It was the most beautiful book in the world, written by God himself.

In other words, I was delusional. Even though I had read the Bible many times, I could only see it through the lens of faith. If anything was confusing or seemed out of place, it only spoke of my unfaithfulness and ignorance — it couldn’t be anything wrong with the Bible itself.

With that perspective, the Bible cannot be proven wrong. The Bible doesn’t contain contradictions, only paradoxes. God isn’t schizophrenic, he’s mysterious and beyond our understanding. And if your prayers don’t work, well, it’s because you don’t have enough faith.

It’s amazing that anyone can escape the cult of Christianity after using that kind of circular logic for so long.

The Bible Can Support Anything
As history attests, the Bible can be cited to support almost anything. It can inspire both good and evil, for it contains both.

It can be used to support pacifism (Jesus says “do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.”) and war and genocide (God commands Saul to “strike Amalek and [destroy] all that they have. Do not spare them, but kill both man and woman, child and infant…”).

It can be used to support slavery (Paul says “slaves, obey your masters with fear and trembling … as you would Christ”) and human dignity (Jesus says “love your neighbor as yourself”); misogynism (Paul says “women are not permitted to speak [in church], but should be in submission,”) and equality (Paul says “there is no male or female … you are all one”); in obeying government (Paul says “let every person be subject to the governing authorities”) and disobeying government (The apostles refused to obey the Roman authorities saying they “must obey God rather than man”).

It can support killing those who disagree with you (God said “you shall not permit a sorceress to live”) or to love and pray for them (Jesus said “love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you”).

It can support intellectualism and reason (God said “come, let us reason together”) and blind faith (Jesus said “blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed”); family values (Paul says, “if anyone does not provide for his relatives … he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever”) and family hatred (Jesus says, “[whoever] does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters … cannot be my disciple.”); monogamy (Paul said “each man should have his own wife and each woman her own husband”) and polygamy (God said “if [a man] takes another wife to himself, he shall not diminish her food or her clothes…”).

It is the same with God. He is a forgiving God who “forgives iniquity, transgression and sin” and an unforgiving God who sends a flood to destroy everyone on earth and banishes anyone who does not believe in Jesus to everlasting torment in hell. He insists he is a just God, yet to prove his justice he cites his unjust practice of “visiting the iniquity of fathers on the children and on the grandchildren to the third and fourth generations.” He is love itself, yet hated Esau from birth. This can go on.

Is it any wonder there are so many sects of Christianity that all disagree?

Because It was Written by Men
The Bible can support all these positions because it was written and changed by men throughout thousands of years. It is not, as Christians often claim, a cohesive, peaceful, loving, perfect, God-written treatise.

I am not denying that the Bible has many inspiring and morally uplifting stories and teachings — it does. But I also think we too often ignore or forget the dark side of the Bible.

I’m going to show you that side by looking at some of the stories from a different perspective. As we will see, Yahweh is not just the God of love and justice, but a God full of wrath and jealousy, who delights in acts that most of us — without the blinders of faith — would consider the height of evil.