The Part that Dawkins Left Out

DawkyAtheist 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.

-h.

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9 thoughts on “The Part that Dawkins Left Out

  1. peddiebill says:

    Although I count myself a progressive Christian, I think in this instance you are not quite understanding what I believe Richard Dawkins was on about. He appears to taking issue with the sort of God that fundamentalists insist he should believe in. I actually agree that that sort of God should be despised. Because notions of God evolved rather slowly through the ages there are many verses in the gradually evolved Bible that portray the sort of judgemental and racist God we could not possibly want to follow. (I am presuming you are sufficiently well educated to be able to locate the following…….) For example you are probably aware that if we were to take the Bible as all literally true we can cheerfully have you stoned to death for shaving your sideboards, wearing mixed fibre clothing, eating ham or bacon, eating with Egyptians etc etc. We are certainly commanded to kill any child who curses his parents….and you agree?????? To promote historical ideas of God would be following a God who approves of (and on occasions orders) genocide. You may want to follow a God who approves of babies’ brains being dashed out against the rocks, who orders Joshua to kill every living thing in Jericho, tells you who you should take as slaves etc etc
    Surely it makes a lot more sense to follow the evolution of the idea of God through to the notion of a God of Love. If even modern scientists cant tell us about how creation actually works so surely you can see that any definite statements about the creator are speculative and liable to error.

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    • Hiram says:

      Bill, I understand where Dawkins is coming from. And I understand that he hasn’t taken into consideration the whole of the teaching of the Bible regarding who God was, is, and will always be. God does not change, and his revelation of himself shows that to us very clearly.

      As I’ve shown above, in the very Old Testament passages that Dawkins thinks he grasps there is ample evidence of God’s mercy and love for those who are powerless (e.g. infants, children, widows, foreigners, etc). Go back to Genesis and reread the passages where God provides clothing for Adam and Eve because they are naked and ashamed. Go back and read about the mercy of God toward Cain, a murderer, evidenced in God protecting Cain from vigilante justice. Go back and read about how God strove with sinful men before sending the flood to eliminate nearly all of humanity. Read about how God saved 8 humans, of whom 1 engaged in drunkenness (Noah) and another reveled in the embarrassment of his father’s nakedness and shame (Ham). I can go on and on. God is constantly demonstrating kindness and patience toward wicked men. Is it wrong for God to judge those who are deserving of judgment?

      Who are you to speak against the Only Holy God?

      Ironically, moreover, while Dawkins does not want to believe in the God of the Bible because of the so-called genocide passages where God commanded the Israelites to execute the children of nations falling under God’s judgment, Dawkins sees nothing wrong with murdering infants that are not to his liking.

      Are you an advocate of abortion? Then you are an advocate of murdering children. The difference being mainly this: You have absolutely no moral justification for taking the life, or advocating for the taking of the lives of children too small to defend themselves against you or those whose approval you grant.

      I am sufficiently educated to know that the volumes of unbelieving “scholarship” on the Scriptures done since the early modern era is entirely vacuous, riddled with logical fallacies, and does nothing to prove any of the wild claims it makes about the Scriptures.

      The theology of the BIble is not a human concoction but a divine revelation of the Divine King who has no problem expressing himself clearly.

      If you are a Christian, then why do you disagree with him? He is, after all, the God whom Moses saw on Mt. Sinai. He is the I AM who spoke to Moses from the burning bush. He is the God of Israel who commanded the stoning of homosexuals, adulterers, and wicked and abusive children.

      -h.

      Liked by 2 people

    • Nadine says:

      Even if you take out verses about the “judgmental and racist God we could not possibly want to follow” (whatever those are), that doesn’t remove the fact that people still die horrible deaths that God could prevent, if He is indeed all-powerful (not sure if you believe that or not) and yet doesn’t. In fact God gave death as a punishment to humans in the garden. God gave us death! He allows every person to die. God is the giver and taker of life, and he can do so without apology because he is perfectly moral and his reasons for giving and taking life are always good, whereas we are not good and our judgment regarding life and death is subject to sinful error.

      And if God is perfectly moral and good while we are not, then His reasons for not eating certain types of meat or mixing certain types of cloth were perfectly good, and it is us who fail to understand these reasons. And we may disagree about the degree of punishment a rebellious son or daughter (the Bible doesn’t specify a child here by the way; read Deuteronomy 21:18–21 and it refers to “a glutton and a drunkard”) should receive, but we would probably agree that such behaviour is wrong and requires consequences.

      I’m not sure what you mean about the “evolution of the idea of God through to the notion of a God of Love.” Where do you put Jesus in this picture of God’s “evolution”? Because Jesus constantly quotes and affirms the OT…. Also Jesus himself heaped judgment left right and center during his ministry.

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  2. peddiebill says:

    Extracting quotes to present God as compassionate and caring is fairly straightforward. After all the writiers of the Old Testament could be caring and loving. However your presentation of an impression of god which remains constant through the Bible is grossly over simplified. Those claiming to follow the Biblical God have done hideous things in the name of that God and readily find scriptures to back them up. (google Kelsos Victims of Christianity)
    Does God favour hitting children. The wi riter of proverbs certainly thought so. When children step out of line we should hit them with a rod. (Proverbs 13:24, 20:30) If they talk back this God wants us tio kill them Exodus21:15, Leviticus 20:9 Deuteronomy 21:21: 18-21, Mark 7:9-13 and Matthew 15: 4-7
    If someone comes offering other Gods – kill them Read Deuteronomy 13:6, 8-15
    Doesnt Matthew think Jesus endorses this law eg Matthew 5:18-19
    Using sections from the BibleSt Augustine and Thomas Aquinas thought heretics should be torturered and both John Calvin and Martin Luther advocated the murder of heretics, apostates, Jews and witches. (Hitler often referred to Jesus clearing the Temple as an example to follow in ridding Europe of Jews.)
    The Old Testament God is portrayed as excusing taking slaves Leviticus 25:44-46 and Exodus tells you how to go about selling your daughter into slavery (Exodus 21-7-11)
    Paul goes along with this Ephesians 6:5 and 1 Timothy 6:1-4
    The mysterious and ambiguous stuff in the Book of Revalation was used to encourage the wholesale murder in the Crusades – some historians claim more than a million died.
    I know you think all is wisdom with this God but I can point you to many scientific errors in this Bible you extol. Maybe Galileo had it wrong and the world is flat and the centre of the solar system like the Bible literalists have claimed!
    I go back to my original claim about the Bible. If you follow through the evolution of the ideas it fits nicely with the development of contemporary knowledge. If it is all true for all time and God is described accurately I am afraid that version of God wouldnt pass first year University mathematics, science, astronomy or history and that is just for starters. Worse, because rather dim fundamentalists are sure that they have a direct line to the divine, we get end-of-the -world nutters making fools of their followers and themselves, and millions followed George W Bush when he told them that God wanted him to invade Iraq! If I have it wrong show me by googling Bill Peddie the Shaping of God and show me where I have it wrong.

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    • Hiram says:

      The presentation is not mine, bill. It is the Scriptures that say “I, the Lord, do not change.” I accept that proposition by faith, and apparently you do not.

      Whether or not atrocities were performed by professing Christians is irrelevant to the point of this blog, so why mention them?

      I can only take your mentioning of them as a redherring to throw the reader off course, or else it is an axe to grind that you have. In either case, I don’t see the relevance at all.

      Now, you should be sufficiently educated to know that the “rod” has been understood by a large percentage of theologians symbolically. Have you studied the matter? Or are you picking cherries?

      But should children who are disobedient die? According to God, yes. But that isn’t in my power or anyone else’s. God once had a theocratic nation to whom he gave the responsibility of executing justice according to the Mosaic code. They failed in their own obedience to that law and God cut them off. The Mosaic covenant is done away with. Christ alone has the authority to judge men, women, and children.

      God is merciful, btw, and also gave the Israelites a system of propitiatory sacrifice pointing to the work of Jesus Christ in shedding his blood for sinners. Sins were forgiven in the Old Testament, were they not? Then why do you not mention this?

      So, yes, Jesus the God who spoke from Mt. Sinai “endorsed” the Law of God. It is HIS Law, bill. If you don’t believe that, then why go on about being a Christian? Your Christ, if he does not identify the Mosaic code as holy, good, and altogether perfectly just, is not the real Jesus Christ who said: “The Scripture cannot be broken.”

      As far as science goes, the enterprise is a tissue of logical fallacies that never arrives at truth. However, again, that is irrelevant to my discussion above. The Law of God demands capital punishment, yes; however, God also commands loving-kindness to our neighbors. Dawkins is dishonest or an ignoramus to not mention both sides of the law, viz. punishment for guilty sinners and protection for marginalized and powerless peoples.

      Ironically, you want to claim to adhere to “contemporary knowledge” but you sound like a modernist liberal bible critic. The idea that science is on an upward trajectory from brute facts to “truth” about the universe is a tall tale that has been abandoned by philosophers. The contemporary apathy toward ascertaining truth, in any form, is fairly evident if you look at the laziness of men like Dawkins and others who speak boldly out of both sides of their mouths, and do so either as calloused liars or ignorant chatterboxes.

      If you want to be in step with contemporary knowledge, as you call it, then abandon the idea that you can hold to a metanarrative of progression. Theological liberalism, which you espouse, is way behind the contemporary state of philosophy which is more or less only concerned with achieving pragmatic justification for knowledge claims it makes. Truth is not a concern for many today, just as progress is not, for both have become myths to the post-postmodern man.

      “If it is all true for all time and God is described accurately I am afraid that version of God wouldnt pass first year University mathematics, science, astronomy or history and that is just for starters.”

      Then you are grossly ignorant of the Scriptures. Have you done detailed research into the axioms of mathematics as they appear in the Scriptures? I think you haven’t. It’s old hat, and intellectually lazy, to say that the bible has mathematical errors and yet not be studied enough in the Scriptures to know that they teach the axioms of arithmetic. Do some research at the TrinityFoundation.org and you’ll be rudely awakened by the God you blaspheme.

      But all of this is not the point of my original post, now, is it?

      These redherrings presented by you are meant to accomplish what exactly? You have a book to sell, right? Or a blog to promote?

      Well, the considerate and rational reader of Scripture doesn’t need to google your book or site to tell you that you have it all wrong. And why should you care anyway?

      Isn’t your god evolving? And if so, then what makes you think that your concerns today will be of any relevance tomorrow?

      Why speak against God as if you have knowledge of right and wrong, when you claim your god is evolving?

      Your objections are old hat, as I’ve already said. And they’ve been dealt with by very good scholars. If you don’t know of them, then perhps you should rethink promoting your book as if it contained some revelatory knowledge that Biblical scholars have not already addressed and refuted time and again.

      So to get back to the original point of the post:

      Dawkins deliberately or ignorantly only presents one aspect of the Old Testament Law in order to blaspheme the God of the Bible. He is refuted by the texts to which he alludes. And you are in the same camp with him.

      You are no Christian, bill. You are an atheist, at best; and at worst, you have been duped into thinking you are some kind of a “Progressive” Christian.

      -h.

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    • Nadine says:

      “I can point you to many scientific errors in this Bible you extol. Maybe Galileo had it wrong and the world is flat and the centre of the solar system like the Bible literalists have claimed!”

      Er, you might want to get your own scientific facts straight. Galileo has nothing to do with a “flat earth” theory, either for or against, and the church itself has never in all of history endorsed a “flat earth” theory either. Galileo believed that the Earth revolved around the sun, and he was never persecuted by the church for such a belief either.

      There are multitudes of verses in the Bible that show that God is loving and there are multitudes of verses in the Bible that demonstrate His wrath. I have no interest whatsoever in focusing on one set and ignoring the other. In fact, God’s wrath and love are THE two essential passions of God that every Christian comes to grips with upon being saved and neither passion can be ignored. First, His wrath is revealed to us when we comprehend our sin and are compelled to repentance; then on our knees we feel his love wash over us as he extends to us His grace and forgiveness. it is necessary to accept both of God’s passions. People who focus solely on God’s wrath are atheists (Look at how cruel God is, he doesn’t love you etc) and people who focus solely on God’s love are Progressive “Christians” (Look how loving God is, he doesn’t hate you etc). But the irony of the PCs is that in rejecting God’s wrath, they don’t, cannot, fully fathom God’s love. Jesus says it is easy to love a friend, harder and more noteworthy to love an enemy. And if we don’t understand that we are first God’s enemies and that He has reason to be angry with us, then His forgiveness will not only seem not very extreme or admirable, but almost DESERVING. But that is not the true Gospel. The true Gospel is that our forgiveness is undeserved, and that’s what makes God’s mercy so astounding. It’s because of God’s wrath that I have to pinch myself everyday to make sure I’m not dreaming up this amazing love story where God Himself comes down to Earth and selects for Himself a battered prostitute for His bride…. If there be any reason atheists mock Christianity as a fairy tale, THAT should be it, that such a story is too good to be true and God’s mercy and grace could never be that deep and wide.

      I know the culture demands a “more” merciful God (actually He is much more merciful than they could ever comprehend) and it is tempting to want to give them what they want (read Jeremiah for this exact topic!!) because we don’t want to be hated. But if you are a true Christian you are not doing them or yourself any favours by ignoring/rejecting God’s wrath! And being hated by the culture is one of Jesus’ promises to us, if we are obedient to His Word, and remember in His words he endorses and affirms the entire Old Testament (wrath and all).

      Also, although we need to accept God’s love and wrath (remember they were both poured down on Jesus Christ – don’t forget that! Jesus received a bigger cup of wrath from God than we will ever have to drink) there are many verses in the Bible that do describe His anger lasting for a day, while His favour lasts for a year, and that our blessings will be double our trials etc. So in that way God’s love IS greater than His wrath, and I believe we will experience “the year of His favour” eternally.. And what a great promise that is. But again, there is no mercy without wrath in the first place.

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