god is love?

photo by Luciano Meirelles

One of the most common disputes non-believers have with Christianity (and I would think Judaism, considering the circumstances) is the depiction of morality in the Bible.

As a Christian, I was constantly reminded that God is special and unlike other gods because he valued fallen sinners. I was taught the bible was honestly written because the book shows imperfect people doing horrible things and still God uses them to bring forth his Perfect Plan™. At the time, I believed this was an amazing, praiseworthy reason to trust what the bible said and to love the so-called Author.

Did I ever take an honest look at the morality of God himself? No. God received a Get Out of Jail Free card because according to my beliefs, he was the source of everything that was good, perfect, loving, and just. If he was the source of morality, then he had to be 100% moral (i.e. good). Any evidence to the contrary had to be based in misunderstandings or closed-minded hatred. There was no ability in my mind to think of myself as more moral than my God. If I was, then why worship him? Why trust him? Why should I give up my life for him if my standards seem to surpass those of the Almighty? I wasn’t able to even consider these questions. I had built a protective wall inside my mind: critical thinking and challenging my assumptions on one side—God and faith on the other.

It wasn’t until after I deconverted from Christianity that I took the time to critique this deity and the depictions of its so-called “goodness” that I had accepted my whole life.

Is God moral?


Many non-theists cite God’s illustrated cruelty and abominable actions in the bible as a main reason why they left the faith. This is often a poking point for Christians who think that if they could show how God is all love and lollipops, these nonbelievers would come running back. It’s fuel for the “You just hate god!” and “If you really had a relationship with him, you’d ___” arguments. (Perhaps) Fortunately for me, I left for other reasons besides disgust at God’s behaviors. But now, as I re-examine the biblical accounts of what God condones, encourages, and does, I can’t deny that I find this deity to be exactly as Richard Dawkins states 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.” (Chapter 2, p. 31)

Of course this censure focuses on the Jewish scriptures–The Old Testament–and leaves out the 27 newer and more digestible writings Christians fully endorse. Even so, the scriptures say: God does not change, neither in character nor decision (Malachi 3:6; James 1:17; Numbers 23:19). Thus, what he said once stays forever; and what he wanted, liked, or hated will be the same.

Let’s take a gander at some examples of the morality of this unchanging, perfect deity!

By corthew:

by NonStampCollector:

Is this a moral deity worth worshiping? Is this a god worth dying for? You decide.

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14 thoughts on “Morality from an Immoral God”

Luciana Aleman · March 8, 2012 at 6:56 pm

I’m so disgusted with your site. If you do not love God, at least you should have a little bit of respect for who put you in this earth.
You never knew the same God I know and love and respect above everything else.

The videos are not even saying what the Bible says.
As proverbs 9:7 says:
So don’t bother correcting mockers,
they will only hate you

    allison · March 29, 2012 at 2:13 pm

    I’m not really sure I understand the logic you are using here. It’s not that atheists “do not love God”; we don’t find it plausible that god(s) exist. I don’t hate god(s) any more than I hate unicorns, nor do I disrespect them by not believing in the healing properties of ground-up unicorn horn.

    And I don’t quite see how a Bible verse used in a snarky way is meant to enlighten anyone. If you have actual credible information to share, it will be well received.

    If you truly believe that a personal relationship is the vital missing key, and that you have it, why would you not be excited to share it? Why would you hurl disgust and a snippy Bible verse instead of trying to share this personal experience with a god that you “love and respect above everything else”? I would encourage you to take a look at what this means. You believe in something based on personal experience and not evidence that is universal, tangible, and accessible to all people. You then get upset when people don’t respect something that is valid to you based on your personal experience that we don’t share.

    Try to apply this logic to something else and see if that seems credible. Would you believe in unicorns because I told you I’d seen and ridden and fed one when no one else has? What if a group of unicorn-ists all believed based on their individual experiences and said you could only understand if you knew the same unicorn we know and love and respect above everything else. Would you find them credible? I should hope not. It would also be petty of them to try to change your mind by telling you how disgusted they are that you don’t respect unicorns (they give you healing horn dust, after all). It would be silly to try to shame you by calling you irreverent to non-existent creatures with cure-all body parts.

    I personally don’t hate theists, but I see no reason to give unearned respect for a supernatural being that cannot prove itself apart from the highly fluctuating and subjective experiences of other people. I can only conclude that either your particular god (along with every other theist’s particular god(s)) does not choose to reveal itself to me, can’t reveal itself to me (making it fairly ungodly), or does not exist. The latter is the simplest and most plausible explanation to me. It explains the most about life and requires no blind faith on my part.

    If you have additional knowledge, I would love for you to enlighten me. But you must understand if I am skeptic and point out what I see as contradictions. If your god is real, it should encourage this skepticism and it should have confident, reliable evidence for its existence.

    Phantom · January 3, 2013 at 6:43 pm

    Even though I am not an atheist I do know a lot and am in contact with the view often and I’ll agree to some degree with Allison.

    Atheists are not, as a whole, a group of “we hate God” people. Most atheists seems to simply not be able to convince themselves, logically of the existence of a higher power and therefore may say that by their logic a god cannot exist, but it doesn’t mean that they wouldn’t believe in a god if they logically concluded that there was a deity.

      allison · March 7, 2013 at 6:56 pm

      Exactly! 🙂

Lori · March 30, 2012 at 2:48 pm

I think this is one of the best responses I have seen in a while. This made my day! 🙂 I am normally not so polite in my response because I get tired of people acting like I am supposed to just believe in their god because they do. I get pissed. lol

Lori

Ryven Cedrylle · August 19, 2012 at 8:29 pm

We had a mini-series on this in seminary* – God and Justice. Basically you can’t hold God to any sense of human justice (see also, goodness, love, etc) because God created everything. Therefore whatever God says is just is just because God is God. That.. is a bitter pill to swallow, I’m not gonna lie. You’ve got to really want.. heck, not even want, but NEED to believe in God and be willing to tolerate no small amount of mental gymnastics to stay in; I certainly don’t blame anyone for bailing on account of logic.

Going to poke around your site some more. Seems interesting. Also, FWIW (and because I like to know this sort of thing for my websites) I found you from Twitter in reply to 2d6.org.

*No, I did not finish seminary but I do still consider myself Christian, although heretically so.

The Dave · December 22, 2012 at 12:49 am

Where does faith come into play if God were to simply reveal himsel? I do believe God wants us to educate ourselves and come to our own conclusions, but any belief (or non-belief) to which a person chooses to subscribe requires some leap of faith. There’s just far too much (Won’t even get started on all of that) that science cannot explain. An atheist (I used to be one) simply overlooks the shortcomings of man’s explanation of things, just as many theists are accused of overlooking scientific evidence (I don’t see it) which supposedly refutes the possibility of intelligent, creative design. Am I to assume that science cannot or will not explain these things to me? Either way it would seem quite unreliable.

As for your references of Malachi, James and Numbers: First of all, I think it important that a bunch of individuals don’t run around trying to interpret scriptures written in an ancient time and in an ancient language, as some translations are flawed and have numerous other possibilities concerning vernacular and style of the time and culture. Also, Christ’s words are final and many of them conflicted with things that God The Father said in the O.T.

    allison · December 22, 2012 at 4:47 pm

    1. Blind faith is not a virtue. If god(s) are going to make this a matter of eternal life and death, it is a cruel, sadistic expectation to not reveal itself simply because it expects its creation to have blind faith. A god like this should be bending over backwards to ensure every bit of evidence was available so that no one could deny its existence. What would be so horrible about too much evidence? Would it make god(s) any less real? No. Would it make our belief any less real? No. But it would give us an actual reason for belief.

    Now, justifiable faith (eg. basing one’s faith in fact and logic) is all well and good, but if your argument is that your god can’t reveal himself to us lest we actually have a reason to believe in him based on evidence, your god is a monster, and this type of “faith” is based on empty wish-thinking.

    2. No one chooses to believe in something. You may choose to say you subscribe to something you don’t believe in (making your faith a lie that your god arguably would see through), or you may choose to ignore evidence and actually impose a cognitive dissonance on your own thought process (eg. taking a “leap of faith” by making yourself blind to actual evidence and again reducing your belief to empty wish-thinking), but you do not have the luxury of forcing yourself to think of something as true when you do not see a reason to do so based on actual evidence (or lack of evidence).

    As an atheist, I am not overlooking the shortcomings of science, I am accepting them and embracing them as the next area of research and study. I am saying that there are things about this universe that are not YET answered, but based on past precedence, science has consistently grown in its ability to answer these questions, and therefore I have justifiable faith that we will see science answer more and more as we continue to study the world around us. I am not comfortable playing make believe about the potential possibility of a supreme being simply because it “answers” all questions with a magic supernatural explanation. I am saying that we do not know YET, and therefore we certainly cannot believe in an unproven, unnecessary deity unless we start to find some proof of its existence. I am not willing to put blind faith in a possibility of a deity, especially when a deity like this should be capable of proving its existence on its own.

    The universe has made no promise to me. Science has no responsibility to prove itself to me. I learn because I want to learn, not because I need absolutes or because I deserve an explanation. I put no blind faith in science (or anything), and I still find this world a fascinating place full of wonder and intrigue, and I base that on the evidence I can see and test and observe around me. I have no need for a placeholder answer, and I have no need for blind leaps of faith.

    Samuel · January 22, 2013 at 5:17 pm

    If such God chooses not to reveal itself to humans and wants us to come to our own conclusions, then why punish humans for something we can’t be held responsible for (Coming to wrong conclusions)? Before video cameras, God seemed happy enough to interfere and reveal itself wildly.
    And not only is this God supposed to punish atheists but punishments also await other theists who don’t worship it in a particular way. Infinite punishment for finite crimes… Seems pretty just to me.
    Finally this same God tells us to love our enemies and treat our enemies the way we want to be treated then its own supposed enemies get the exact opposite? I call bullshit

Phantom · January 3, 2013 at 6:38 pm

Once again I find this quite intriguing and well thought out.
I’d beg to differ. From an unbiased standpoint… The whole thought process of “God get’s a get out of jail free card” doesn’t really logically make sense. If there was a deity and the deity made a world and thought out the people of the world and if this deity put the world into motion then this deity, this god is infinitely higher than the things that he has made.

If a clock maker designs a clock to keep perfect time and winds the clock so that it continues to keep perfect time then when the clock decides that the clock maker has the time wrong then who is destined to be right? The one who made or the one who was made?

Of course we run into a dilemma. If you refer to the God of the bible then It’s all great until you get to the old testament’s cruelty and all the acts of violence. How could a God do something like that when he says things like “Do not murder.” “Do not steal” and “Love your neighbor.”?

There are 2 possible answers. Either this higher power is a double minded, worthless, back stabber, who is no better than the gods of the greeks. Or this God has a plan that is beyond the grasp of the mind of the made (us).

Another quick (or maybe not so quick) thought.

Often Philosophers, theologians, skeptics, and Christians say things about the God of the Old Testament and the God of the New Testament. They seem so different.

If you look at the context of the two parts of the Bible you’ll see that in the OT God is controlling a government, leading a large number of people. In the NT there is a focus on the personal and community based aspect of God. All things are on a personal level. Jesus speaks directly to people in a one on one basis and doesn’t attempt to govern them.

If the US government decides that a mass murderer deserves a death sentence or that a threatening nation needs stopped and blood it is accepted and should (most likely) be accepted as a necessary act of government.

If I were to decide that another human being was deserving of death or that another country should be opposed then I would be considered a criminal. It is beyond my right.

God’s government vs. God’s promotion of personal morality would most likely differ.

    allison · January 22, 2013 at 9:19 pm

    Unfortunately, there is a large difference between “necessary act of government” and annihilation of entire societies. People claiming guidance by the OT god didn’t simply doll out justice for the protection of their people, they obliterated nations because these foreign nations were on land this god supposedly called dibs on for them. People claiming guidance by the OT god were often encouraged to rape and pillage and enslave. People claiming guidance by the OT god engaged in infanticide in order to further wipe out a people.

    The NT god (Jesus, at least) did focus on personal relationships, and often there are positive messages of love and respect. But Jesus also encouraged breaking friendships and families in order to properly follow him (Matthew 10:34-40). He certainly didn’t advocate equality between Jews and gentiles (Matthew 10:5-6). And it is with him that we see the first instances of an eternal hell. At least OT god was finished with you once he wiped out your family, murdered your mother, father and brother, and forced slave marriage on the virgins.

    I would suggest that there are more than 2 possible answers here. Option 3: god does not exist, and these books were accurate reflections of their time in history.

    In this case, the OT and NT gods seem very different because they were from different periods of history, and the local lore was different in each time period. Tribal cultures valued war-like gods, so you get OT god, Baal, Molech, etc. These people envisioned gods that liked sacrifice, hence OT sacrifice of animals and crops and children (not just close calls like Abraham, but also Jeptha’s daughter, Judges 11). During the writing of the NT, they were more society-based, and the local areas had personal “savior” gods like Jesus, Buddha, Odysseus, Krishna, Romulus, Dionysus, and Horus.

    This explains why, 200 years ago, the bible was used to justify slavery. This explains why 100 years ago, the bible was used to justify subjugation of women. This explains why, currently, the bible is being used to justify anti-gay agendas. This also explains why most Christians are eager to obfuscate the OT god as “beyond our ability to grasp”, or that hell is a “separation from god” and not eternal torture… because our current morality as a society does not allow for these versions of god to be true.

    Give us another 100 years and, if Christianity is still around, we will be rationalizing the bible in an entirely new light that will be in line with the morality of that generation.

faith quotes · March 6, 2013 at 2:31 pm

Similarly, a man cannot put away God’s glory by not worshiping Him

    allison · March 7, 2013 at 7:45 pm

    Similarly, man cannot put away the magic of unicorn horn dust by not using it to clear up their eczema.

aanrechtblad · May 21, 2015 at 6:00 am

Sometimes when you innovate, you make mistakes. It is best to admit them quickly, and get on with improving your other innovations.

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