Can anybody refute this from Richard Dawkins?

“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.”
– Richard Dawkins, The God Delusion

This is a very popular quote from Dawkins among the Neo-Marcionites in the New Atheist movement. Can anybody refute these charges, individually, concerning the personality and actions of Almighty God as He is revealed in the Old Testament? Thank you.

I would just ask him (just like in that movie God’s Not Dead) “why do you hate God?”

All of those negative descriptions imply a standard that God is falling short of; and that it is **bad ** to fall short.
“unpleasant” character implies pleasantness exists, and is desirable;
“unjust” implies justice exists, and should be upheld;
“malevolent” implies “benevolent” exists, and should be preferred;
And so on.

Dawkins is making 2 kinds of assumptions here, he has not proven anything.

  1. Where did those standards come from, from which he finds shortcomings, that the normal standard was not upheld?

  2. Why is it good to be normal in the first place? Why is it bad to be unpleasant, unjust, malevolent, etc? Why should he, or his readers care about this?

Scientists tend to be skeptical by nature. If someone claims something to be true, they want to prove or disprove it before they repeat every good and bad idea as “true”.
If someone makes a statement that assumes A, B, and C, they challenge those assumptions. Where did they come from?

Unfortunately Dawkins suspends his healthy skepticism here.

God gave the first humans life, special gifts, and a beautiful garden in which to live. We squandered that. He went on giving; we turned away from Him. Maybe we should look at the character of most of humanity in the OT: selfish, ungrateful, murderous, greedy,… … …

Listening to RD is kind of like listening to a whiney teenager, who is illogcal to boot (Life on earth brought by aliens from outer space?!?!?!)

=Tolkien13;13475939]“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.”
– Richard Dawkins, The God Delusion

This is a very popular quote from Dawkins among the Neo-Marcionites in the New Atheist movement. Can anybody refute these charges, individually, concerning the personality and actions of Almighty God as He is revealed in the Old Testament? Thank you.

Actually I can, but what purpose:shrug:

The character of the OT God may often be more reflective of OT man, as we tend to succeed in making God in our own image anyway, supporting our own agendas. The NT God much more completely and accurately reveals His character or nature, while NT man may or may not have changed much depending on how much that revelation or light has affected him, how much it has served to challenge our own positions.

Refute? Refute implies an actual argument, not just a bald statement. “You’re a meany potty-head” is about as convincing.

I’ve watched the John Lennox v Richard Dawkins debate on “The God Delusion Debate”.

It would be no easy task debating with someone as anti-religious as Richard Dawkins, but John Lennox was very successful in my opinion.

No, because as it is, his claim is unsupported–no reasons have been given for it for you to refute. I would say to him:
“Right now I can only see this claim as ridiculous, and have no more need to respond to it than the things like it that homeless people occasionally mutter at pedestrians. I have no need to defend God, especially not the straw-god you seem to be attacking here.”
This takes you out of the defensive. Then ask him why he believes these things. When he quotes an Old Testament passage out of context at you accordingly, you are in a better position to respond, on the offensive now, “this passage has universally been interpreted as allegorical, because of this and that element, and with this and that clear meaning.” Or “You are really stretching here. This traditional interpretation clearly fits much better.”

You could eventually say: “Look, even if I were an atheist, I wouldn’t have anything but deepest respect for the Church. Taking any kind of objective look at Christian teaching or the Christian way of life, I could still think ‘That’s wonderful!’ even if I thought the religion wasn’t true. And anyway–why would knowing better than religious people make it OK for me to smear or slander them or their beliefs? What is with the animosity and cantankerous attitude in the first place?”
Which is when of course his heart would grow three times its size and he reveals that all he really ever wanted was a hug.

The Dawkins Delusion
The Irrational Atheist

Are two I would suggest.

Yeah. I guess a guy could say the same thing about his boss. Or a stern parent. Or some judge in a case he just lost.

Right. So the idea’s that God’s not always going to do things that we think are fair. Wow. That’s just phenomenally too bad isn’t it? I mean to think that we were expecting to have a lenient, pliable, push-daddy of a divine being handing us candy like a genie. Whenever we wanted it. And when we figure out that He’s got His own deal in this we cry foul?

We argue about it? We stand up to Him and start telling Him the score?

I mean it’s like your hamster suddenly telling you that you’re not shredding all the cardboard in your house the right way to make the best bedding for yourself. I mean what’s good for us is not necessarily the same thing as what God’s got in mind on all sides.

I don’t know. I guess I just have to think that God’s a bit smarter than a guy like Dawkins is giving credit.



Refute it?
He’s describing the OT God that way because of what he does and says in the Old Testament, because of what is there, written down.


Dawkins himself has given many reasons–in his books and his debates and lectures–but the poster did not include them here.

When Dawkins says this, he isn’t really looking for someone to defend God.
This is his opinion after reading the Old Testament.

But he’s not smearing or slandering religious people with this quote…he is giving his opinion on the personality of the OT God.

I wouldn’t say he’s cantankerous. This is his opinion and he usually delivers it very calmly and rationally.


The Old Testament is a narrative and often written in symbolic language. The problem is that he’s reading it like a Protestant and not learning what the words mean according the Sacred Tradition.

I can guarantee you that he has not studied the OT like a Catholic Biblical scholar (or from a Catholic Biblical Scholar).

God Bless.

[quote=Dawkins]“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.”


I’d probably just say, “better than being a dawk.”

JPII had something to say about it:

“The Old Testament, according to Marcion, came from a god unworthy of the name because he was vindictive and bloodthirsty, while the New Testament revealed a God of reconciliation and generosity. The Church firmly rejected this error, reminding all that God’s tenderness was already revealed in the Old Testament. Unfortunately the Marcionite temptation is making its appearance again in our time.”

A rational response to what I’ll admit was a more emotionally heated comment by me.

I’ll also admit I’ve never read anything by Dawkins. On its own, though, this quote is pretty crazy. The main reference I got was “jealous and proud of it,” referring to Exodus:

…you shall not bow down to them or serve them;
for I the Lord your God am a jealous God…

Eye-roll. No Jew or Christian has taken this line literally for over two millennia–what makes Dawkins think we’re going to start now?
If he’s going to be as willfully narrow-minded as this in all his Biblical studies, what reason would Christians have to listen to him?

And that’s just it: Dawkins has a major authority problem. How are people supposed to distinguish him from the throng of wackadoo TV preachers and doomsayers who construct their own radical conclusions from a few carefully chosen and out-of-context Bible passages? Compare the relatively extreme Biblical interpretations of Dawkins, a ‘new atheist’ with little credibility in Biblical studies or theology, to over 2000 years of great Christian thinkers, where even relatively minor points were thought over with extraordinary care for centuries in cases… Does he really expect to convince anyone–with Biblical study, at least–except those who already think like him? Christian theologians have far greater motive to try to interpret a passage objectively than Dawkins does.

Well, perhaps that’s just what he’s doing: bolstering his own base…

I guess the main thing that gets me fired up about Richard Dawkins is this: what exactly is his problem? Why is he against Christianity at all? I can understand an atheist trying to argue that Christianity isn’t true philosophically and rationally, and at most being patronizingly condescending of the religious like Isaac Asimov. But he seems to have his own vendetta against what is arguably the greatest force for good in the world today. Does he really believe trying to vilify Christianity is a good thing to do? Does he just like to say shocking things for the public attention? I don’t understand his motives.
Even if I were an atheist, I would dislike Dawkins as I dislike Ebeneezer Scrooge. I would defend my beliefs if challenged, but having lived among Christians living full and happy lives as Christians for over 20 years, what possible reason would I as an atheist have to try to take that away from them?

H.E. Most. Rev. Pablo Virgilio S. David, Titular Bishop of Guardialfiera, Auxiliary Bishop of San Fernando (Phillipines), noted:

"While theology often dwells on the power of the Word of God; we will always need exegesis to remind us as well of the humility of the Word of God. Do we not too often find ourselves speechless when confronted by serious readers of the Bible among our faithful who feel scandalized by Scriptural passages that are full of violence, bigotry, cruelty, duplicity, and all other contradictions that are characteristic of the humanity we share with all other sons and daughters of Adam? And yet we have not cancelled them out from the canon of Scriptures. We have in this canon texts that deny the resurrection and afterlife and texts that affirm them. We have texts that regard Satan as part of the heavenly court with a specific task and texts that present him as a fallen angel. We have texts that declare evil as a consequence of human sin and insist on human culpability and texts that present evil as a disease and human beings as mere victims that can only rely on God’s forgiveness. We have texts that emphasize divine grace, and texts that put a prime on human effort.

Ascent and descent, the divine and the human, the sublime and the wretched-these are aspects about the mystery of divine revelation, about God’s Word in human words, about the God made flesh, that will always require both the contributions of exegetes and theologians, and above all of the pastors who have to keep us all together in humility and with the proper disposition of listening and self-emptying, keeping our focus on Jesus-the God with a human face- on his power in weakness, on his wisdom in foolishness, on his exaltation through humiliation."


Well, he doesn’t really know the God of the OT, only the god of his invention. I’m not a Jew, but I Don’t think even Jews without the aid of the NT see God that way. That alone should be enough to refute him.

And without the Holy Spirit and the Church he is seeing things from his limited and biased atheistic perspective.l

BTW, his assertion is one without substance. Full of sound and fury signifying nothing.

It’s interesting how in our fallen natures we can manipulate scripture to say whatever we want it to say through the lens of our sin. Whether we are Protestant, atheist, or anyone. Listening to the ‘Journey Home’ program this week brings that home for me. Thankfully Catholics have more than just their own fallible interpretation of scripture to rely on (or even someone else’s). You can be intelligent but that Doesn’t guarantee correct scripture interpretation.It just means you are a clever at manipulating the scripture so that you can make it say what you want it to.

One thing that heretics do is to focus in on only a few scriptures that they can manipulate to make their point while ignoring all the other scripture that negate it.

For me Wisdom 12 is a great antidote to suxh thinking as Dawkins.

You should read the OP again. Dawkins doesn’t say that God is vindictive, genocidal etc. He says the ‘God of the Old Testament’ is all those things. And here’s a heads up for everyone. Dawkins doesn’t believe any of it happened just the way it is written.

Yep, he already knows that. And he’s hardly having a pot shot at God because, and another heads up here, Dawkins doesn’t believe in Him.

So…I wonder what he is actually saying? What IS he complaining about in that whingy Oxbridge, plum-in-the-mouth, grating English accent?

Well, here’s one of those heads up kinda thingys again. He is actually having a go at all those people who actually think it all did happen exactly as written and who try to justify it in any way they can. People perhaps like, I dunno, those Protestants you mentioned.

Instead of brushing it off, saying something along the lines of: ‘Well, mate, I’m sure you know that those stories were written, not as an accurate account of what happened, but more as a way to put, literally, the fear of God into people’, they say things like: ‘Well, He’s God. He can do whatever He wants. Killing men, women and children, no problem if God says it’s OK’.

An argument which, taken to the extreme, can lead to all sorts of problems. If you believe that God did indeed command people to kill men, women and children, then what’s to stop that happening again.

Dawkins in railing against a fundamental approach to, in this specific instance, the bible. I’m sure all Catholics everywhere would join him in that. Well, wouldn’t you…?

If Dawkins acknowledge that God of the OT is the Creator and has sovereign right over his own creation and the manner he sees fit to terminate his creation, in what way would God of the OT be deserving of those negative tags? Everyone dies, just a matter of time and how. Does the way (or timing) that someone dies determine whether God is evil or good? By accident, suicide, homicide, sickness, war etc does that determine whether God is good or bad, especially when he owes nothing to anyone, especially non-believers and evil doers.

If you find a brood of vipers/scorpions in your backyard, won’t you snuff them out immediately, especially if your family members have been stung and bitten again and again? If Dawkins is referring to the Amalakites, God is merely doing what God does, sovereign lord snuffing out evil attacking his people. The same anyone would do defending their family. BUT, with the benefit of omniscience, so that a greater good may prevail.

Since Dawkins believe that we all dance to our DNA, he is merely dancing to his DNA to bad mouth anyone he sees fit. He doesn’t have a moral standard to go by since that is determined by his genes. He is just molecule driven. Hence anything he said or wrote is merely his DNA acting. Similarly those OT Bible believers are also dancing to their genes. So why would Dawkins deride them for something which he believes is so natural for them, merely to dance to their own DNA? Does his drivel on those Bible believers (that you claimed is his target) reflect a gentle , reasoned and sober discussion of moral behaviour that he touted for atheists? Apparently not. Because he disagree with those Bible OT believers and hence all those negative superlative tags are assigned to them. So anyone who does not subscribed to his way of thinking gets ridiculed in all sorts of ways and all who do are smart. That is the New Atheism? That’s a kind of apartheid that we can do without. Either he believes that everyone dance to their own DNA or he thinks his DNA is superior to others.

I’m not even sure most Catholics would argue that all of the dark stuff that happens in the OT is simply an allegory. Really, I think one of the only credible answers to Marconianism has been Divine Command Theory, and that’s a position most Christians instinctively disavow.

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