Why do people think God in the Bible is mean or a monster?


#21

I struggled with this for decades…no more.


#22

so should everyone be able to live forever then, or should we place an age limit on who can pass on, or should he just wipe out disease, or just heal amputees, or just cutout wrongdoing, etc? Where should God draw the line as to who to help and when?

I think that even if that were the case and he intervened to stop case 1 (hypothetical here) then when case 2 dies, someone would still say “well why does’t he help now, why not me?” Must not love me, must not be a God!! My point is that this life is NOT supposed to be paradise, everybody suffers and everyone has pain, some worse than others.

If God chose to stop all thats wrong with the world then we would no longer have free will and would just be “programmed” to do good and that would break his pact with us. I can’t even imagine how much worse off the world would be if people didn’t have the consequences that they do now! (i.e. live forever, no disease, no consequence, etc)

Oldcelt, who exactly do you believe Jesus Christ was then? If you’ve accepted that he was a historical man, what do you believe was true/false?


#23

God created us. He has a right to mould us. To choose. To have choices. For me, in the Old Testament, civilisation was being crafted. God was shaping things. Thing is, people didn’t want to know! What can God do? He has to instruct the people. Teach them.

Now we have a saviour to follow. We know the rules etc. we know the truth. God has given us a way to salvation.


#24

Also we dont know what happened to the people He had killed, maybe they were also saved by that.

we can’t understand God, but we must understand that whatever He does is perfect, yes we are not perfect, but that would make us the imperfect ones not His reasons.


#25

People seem to think that a snobby popularizer of biology, a drunkard with a rhetorical flair, and two **** poor “philosophers” with heads so big you could see them from space are somehow good exegetes of holy scripture.


#26

God is omnipotent, so solutions to these problems are well within his reach. You site life expectancy and overpopulation, so let’s work with that. If everyone were immortal, how could life be sustained on Earth? Let’s list some possibilities:

  1. God could increase Earth’s surface area to accommodate more people. If this would cause Earth’s destruction, he could just tweak the laws of physics.
  2. God could prevent starvation by changing our biology so that it requires less consumption of food/water.
  3. God could split up human populations and distribute them amongst multiple universes (think multiverse theory) once the population size grew sufficiently large.
  4. God could simply disable human reproduction and let his current population of humans live forever.

We can’t say that God can’t be expected to solve certain problems just because we lack imagination. If you’re omnipotent, you’re capable of anything that isn’t logically contradictory, so the Problem of Evil still stands.


#27

You’re right, IF there were a God he could do anything he willed but were aren’t meant to live forever (Adam & Eve) and honestly, IF there was a God I really wouldn’t want to live forever. I love my relationships on earth but I strive for heaven. In your opinion, how well do you think the human race would handle immortality? I happen to think they would do more harm than good…


#28

Forgive me if someone already said something similar to this - I have to admit I only skimmed the thread.

I think their conclusion comes from two fallacies (if not formal ones, at least theological ones):

  1. Reading the Bible like a Fundamentalist, or worse, a Biblicist. Atheists (and those other groups) tend to forget that God hadn’t revealed Himself fully to the Jews, and that this means that Christianity doesn’t see OT as a perfect description of God. Revelation was completed with Christ (excepting that we won’t see Him clearly until we’re in Heaven). Of course the OT is inspired by God, but it is at the same time written by people with an imperfect understanding of Him. So while there’s no doubt there’s also a wrathful side to God, as evidenced by some of those passages, I think some of those passages may first and foremost be a testimony about how the ancient Jews saw God, and not about God Himself.

It’s difficult to express this without saying something heterodox, but then I also think taking everything literally, even those passages who describe God, may (or, definitely does) result in heterodoxy. So there’s a very thin line to balance here.

  1. Reading the text through modern eyes. While the Jewish Law obviously is harsh by today’s standards, and even contradicts modern standards of justice and the human rights, it has to be compared to other laws of the time. And in that light, it’s rather mild. “An eye for an eye” was restrictive, not permissive - a much more common standard at the time was “a life for an eye”. The same goes even for some of the more absurd rules, like when to punish a woman for being raped and not - I suspect that even the acknowledgement that a women was innocent in some cases was more humane than the views of neighboring cultures. Today we know even better, but most historians, even non-Christian ones, who know anything at all about that time period, would agree that the Jewish Law was humane, compared to the surrounding cultures.

So if we acknowledge that some (if not most) of the specifics clearly can’t be directly dictated by God (I mean, God would know that women should not be stoned for being raped in a town), what most certainly IS from God, is the fact that the law is milder and more merciful than anything else at the time.


#29

That depends on the changes one makes to bring about this immortality. Let’s say that humans are made immortal by slowing down metabolism at a certain age or perhaps some other biological adjustments. That will change humans’ personalities, because they effectively will reach a point where they stop ageing. So dementia, senility, hormonal imbalances, etc., would be eliminated. Our entire culture would change, because almost all of our industriousness stems from the fact that we know our time here is limited.

Would they do more harm than good? If so, God could simply change our personalities to make us more fit to be immortal.


#30

Actually no, the logical problem of evil is dead and has been since the 1970s. Go look up Plantinga’s free will defense.

It always makes me laugh how internet atheists think they understand things better than professional philosophers who public in academic journals. Even these atheists have accepted the death of the logical problem of evil but internet “infidel” atheists still keep on putting it out there.


#31

But now you’d have him change our being mortal, then change our personalities which would make us more of a program than human. If all that were to happen we would KNOW of God and I don’t believe that’s how he wants it.

Example would be any relationship…just take you and a wife/gf/whoever, if you were “having” to love her, the relationship wouldn’t be as fruitful as you “wanting” to love her. If we knew for a fact God was real, you’d pretty much have to love and worship him, if you didn’t you’d just be foolish. I don’t believe that’s how he’d want it and that’s why we have to put forth a little effort to search and find


#32

Very well said. God, as we’ve come to know him, had not yet been fully revealed. Also, I think the OT is meant to tell us about God’s justice, whereas the NT is a revelation of His love.

Pax,

Sean


#33

I completely agree, however that is not what was asked. The OP asked why some people think God is a monster. Not whether He is one. Of course He isn’t. He is our loving Father.


#34

Meh. I’m not a fan of Plantinga’s ontological argument; he has a propensity for circular arguments. I suspect his free will defense will be more of the same.

Of course, it depends on one’s definition of free will. If free will is simply the ability to make decisions, then free will is compatible with determinism. But for those decisions to qualify as “free” in any meaningful sense of the word, the outcome of the decision can’t already be set in stone. If it is, then what’s the difference between free will and regular will?

It always makes me laugh how internet atheists think they understand things better than professional philosophers who public in academic journals. Even these atheists have accepted the death of the logical problem of evil but internet “infidel” atheists still keep on putting it out there.

I think Socrates would laugh at the notion that philosophy could become a profession. Anyone can philosophize, which is something Socrates greatly emphasized.


#35

But we’re already programmed according to Christianity. Are we not “made in God’s image”? I assume that quote is talking about personality and abilities, not physical appearance.

Example would be any relationship…just take you and a wife/gf/whoever, if you were “having” to love her, the relationship wouldn’t be as fruitful as you “wanting” to love her. If we knew for a fact God was real, you’d pretty much have to love and worship him, if you didn’t you’d just be foolish. I don’t believe that’s how he’d want it and that’s why we have to put forth a little effort to search and find

Firstly, I don’t see how revealing one’s existence forces anyone to love you. Going with your analogy of human relationships, one cannot get a girlfriend if the girl in question doesn’t know you exist.

Also, there’s really no such thing as “having” to love anyone. You said it yourself: a person could fail to love someone and the worst that would happen is that they’d look foolish. That’s already the case with some human relationships, isn’t it?


#36

That’s cool, but one thing most internet atheists don’t understand, and this was pointed out in (the atheist) Thomas Nagel’s review of Dawkins terribly poor book “the God delusion”, just because somebody, somewhere disagrees with an argument doesn’t mean that it’s not logically valid. Logically speaking, there IS no problem of evil. This is what I mean by the logical problem of evil:

p1 If evil exists, God does not exist.
p2 Evil exists


C God does not exist

However, if God has a morally sufficient reason to permit evil, then you divide up the logical space of this binary syllogism and negate the argument. THis is what Plantinga demonstrated and has closed the books on this problem for the most part. The mere fact that one can introduce this possibility into the logical space means that Boom, the argument is done. What’s next for the atheist is the emotional argument that atheists have called “the evidential problem of evil”, but this doesn’t replace the fact that the logical problem of evil is dead.

No what I’m talking about is how most internet atheists think they know better than the majority of experts on the subject. Have you ever talked with a Young Earth Creationist? It’s like that - you’re talking with someone who is following a totally inept line of thinking but who thinks that he’s got this amazingly incontrovertible proof that all the experts are getting it wrong. It’s the same thing with history: historians have totally destroyed the myth that the middle ages were “dark” over the past 60 years, but most internet atheists keep putting forth bad history. The problem when you’re talking with people who are basically holocaust deniers, who mold the past to suit their own ideological desires, is that you just aren’t going to get anywhere. These internet atheists have totally thrown aside any commitment to logic or reasoning, they just stick with preconceptions, emotions and rhetoric.


#37

We were instilled with intellect and will but the earthly decisions are ours to make. The will tells us what’s right but we can still go against it. As humans we are dominated by our passion and imagination so it’s a constant inner struggle but if we master it rather than the other way around, then he will grant us faith, hope and charity…at least that’s my understanding.


#38

The “experiential problem of evil” isn’t simply emotional, and emotions should not be discounted anyway.

Probably a better way to describe the two “problems of evil” is deductive vs. inductive.

What is usually called the “logical problem of evil,” which it is generally considered to have been answered by Plantinga, is a deductive problem. But this isn’t really the form of the problem that exercises most people.

What I’d consider the really serious problem of evil is the inductive problem. Is the world such as to make it likely that it is ruled over by an omnipotent and omnibenevolent God?

If one has excellent, rock-solid reasons for believing in God otherwise, then this (unlike the logical problem, which if valid would disprove God’s existence) isn’t enough to overthrow those reasons.

But most of us are putting together a lot of experiential considerations when coming to the decision to believe or not to believe. And the problem of evil remains a huge consideration (almost certainly the single biggest one, at least for me) on the negative side of the scale.

Edwin


#39

I agree that, even pragmatically, attempting to solve the problem of evil by positing that “you cannot prove that God doesn’t have sufficient reasons for doing it” still leaves a lot for a believer – or non-believer – to struggle with.

For one thing, it’s an argument from ignorance; it falls short of saying that you know what God’s reasons are. Instead, it’s an admission that one is ignorant of what those reasons are, but that one knows that – logically speaking – those reasons could exist. In a very real, pragmatic and emotional sense, a believer’s relationship with God is going to be materially affected by the dynamic between instances where they can feel and appreciate God’s love – a miraculous saving of life; an answered prayer – and instances where the best they can do is say, “I believe God has a reason, even though I don’t comprehend what those reasons are” (e.g., a seemingly senseless tragedy).

I think it’s also true that what apologists gain in saying “you can’t prove that God doesn’t have sufficient reason for permitting what you call evil” is lost in its complete open-endedness. Anything and its contrary could exist in a world where God loves us. Jesus could never have come to this earth – and it would not, in itself, disprove that God loves you. There could be no plan of salvation – and this would proves nothing, because God may have had sufficient reasons for having no plan of salvation. There could be no immortality of the soul, no heaven for those who believe – and, again, this would prove nothing, would not prove that God doesn’t love us. Indeed, by the standards of slaying the problem of evil by saying, “God has sufficient reasons that you do not understand” even a statement such as “for God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten son” itself becomes relativized, as it were; God could have not given his only begotten son, and you still would not be able to prove anything against God, because you cannot presume to understand God’s ways. And, just as what you subjectively would call “the bad stuff” doesn’t prove anything against God, so would the “good stuff” not prove anything for God, in and of itself. Your interpreting “bad things” as a sign that God doesn’t love you could be mistaken, but so too could your interpreting “good things” as a sign that God loves you be mistaken.


#40

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.