Atheist Richard Dawkins has become famous by hating the One True God who reveals himself in the pages of the Old and New Testament. He, like many other so-called New Atheists, attempts to level the charge of immorality against God. Despite the obvious category errors that such accusations necessarily exhibit, the same old complaints continue to flow from Dawkins and those who follow him. How a creature whose most valued moral sentiments are nothing more than “the outcome of accidental collocations of atoms” (to quote Bertrand Russell) thinks he has the right to judge the behaviors of another person is an inexplicable mystery. How this creature thinks he has the authority to judge the behaviors of God is even more impossible to comprehend! Nevertheless, as I read Scripture some time ago I stumbled into that part of the Old Testament that Dawkins & Co. have left out of their analyses of God’s moral character.
In particular, I was reading through Exodus 22 and came across the following commands.
“You shall not wrong a sojourner or oppress him, for you were sojourners in the land of Egypt. You shall not mistreat any widow or fatherless child. If you do mistreat them, and they cry out to me, I will surely hear their cry, and my wrath will burn, and I will kill you with the sword, and your wives shall become widows and your children fatherless.
“If you lend money to any of my people with you who is poor, you shall not be like a moneylender to him, and you shall not exact interest from him. If ever you take your neighbor’s cloak in pledge, you shall return it to him before the sun goes down, for that is his only covering, and it is his cloak for his body; in what else shall he sleep? And if he cries to me, I will hear, for I am compassionate.” (vv.21-27)
God commands the Israelites to not wrong a sojourner, and to not oppress him. God commands Israel to not mistreat any widow. God commands Israel to not mistreat any fatherless child. God commands Israel to be compassionate to the poor, not demanding interest from him or repossessing the only cloak that he owns. And God promises to pour out his wrath on all those who break these laws.
I’ve never seen an atheist comment on these laws. Why? Perhaps atheists haven’t read them. Perhaps atheists have, in a fit of blind fury and mouth frothing, read past these verses in search of something they could misinterpret as immoral. Perhaps God has blinded their eyes to these words in order that these atheists will continue in their unbelief and hatred of God and so heap up wrath for the day of judgment.
Perhaps their intention is to accuse God of sin, in spite of all evidence to the contrary.