Is God evil? Is the Bible evil?
Question: "Is God evil? Is the Bible evil?"
The web site evilbible.com endeavors to do two things: (1) demonstrate that the Bible is not the Word of God, but instead is only a book written by “evil” men, and (2) disprove the God of Christianity. The arsenal it attempts to use to prove its assertions is one common to many other atheist web sites and publications. Supposed Bible contradictions are put on display, atrocities and immoral practices that are recorded within the pages of the Bible are referenced, and various philosophical and moral arguments are used to assert that the God of the Bible is an impossibility or at best not a God to be worshipped.
While a number of these specific arguments will be addressed in the sections that follow, certain topics on the evilbible.com web site that have already been thoroughly tackled on Gotquestions.org (e.g., slavery) will not be covered, but anyone wishing more information on those subjects is encouraged to review the material that already exists and which sufficiently answers evilbible.com’s charges in those areas. Instead, the focus of this article will be the three broad problems that cause nearly all (or perhaps all) of evilbible.com’s arguments to fail:
• A misunderstanding of God’s Word
• A misunderstanding of God’s character
• A misunderstanding of God’s creation
Let’s now review each of these issues and cite specific examples from evilbible.com’s web site that illustrate how and why their assertions against the Bible and God are false.
Is God evil? – A Misunderstanding of God’s Word
The first problem area for evilbible.com is a misunderstanding of God’s Word. In its efforts to attack the Bible, the evilbible.com web site makes two key assertions: 1) the Bible is full of horrible atrocities, and 2) the Bible is full of contradictions. As to the first point, evilbible.com is absolutely correct—the Bible is indeed full of atrocities and immoral behavior. From start to finish, the Bible records many terrible things, with the worst being the premeditated murder of the innocent and perfect Son of God. But where evilbible.com’s argument in this area falls flat is that they fail to understand that the Bible does not approve of everything it records. This is absolutely crucial to understand. For example, in Judges chapters 19 and 20, the Bible records the brutal rape and murder of a young woman who was a Levite’s concubine. Moreover, the actions of the Levite are less than honorable, and the crime results in a vicious civil war within the nation of Israel. But a careful reading of the text will show no approval of the actions that took place, and no commendation from God for the Levite’s behavior. So evilbible.com’s argument that atrocities being recorded in Scripture prove that it isn’t God’s Word simply does not hold up.
Another argument in this same vein on the evilbible.com web site focuses on the command of God for Abraham to sacrifice his son Isaac. Obviously, they claim, since God initiated this request, and human sacrifice is abhorrent, surely this proves the Bible is not anything produced by a loving and good God. But where evilbible.com’s argument in this area fails is that the web site’s writers don’t understand that God never intended for Abraham to sacrifice his son to Him; the story is a powerful narrative typology of God Himself sacrificing His own Son Jesus for the sins of mankind. And whereas Abraham was stopped by God from going through with his act, God Himself did not stay His own hand when it came to His Son, and the end result was salvation for all who would believe in Him.
With regard to point number two above, evilbible.com lists a number of supposed contradictions in the Bible they use to assert that the Bible is not inerrant but is instead a fallibly written book. When it comes to assertions of biblical contradictions, it should be noted that a number of good books on this subject address nearly every one (if not all) of evilbible.com’s claims. Second, it should not come as a surprise that non-Christians trip over the issues that evilbible.com brings to the table. The Bible is a spiritual book, and while it exhibits what is called perspicuity (clarity of expression) in regard to its core teachings, there are spiritual significance and lessons for much of what the Bible speaks about, and only those who have been quickened by God’s Spirit will arrive at their true meanings (1 Corinthians 2:14). For example, Leviticus 19:19 says, "Do not mate different kinds of animals. Do not plant your field with two kinds of seed. Do not wear clothing woven of two kinds of material." Critics look at this obscure Old Testament passage, laugh, and reach the conclusion that God doesn’t want people to wear wool and polyester blends. However, in this case God was using physical things to act as reminders of spiritual principles. He was telling Israel not to mix their pure religion with the pagan religions that literally surrounded them; they were not to be syncretistic, but instead they were to be devoted to the one true God and not assimilate other pagan teachings.
Spiritual lessons such as the above are found in a number of errors that evilbible.com makes. For example they argue for the following set of contradictions:
Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven... earth... [or] water. - Leviticus 26:11
And thou shalt make two cherubims of gold, of beaten work shalt thou make them. - Exodus 25:18
First, it should be noted that evilbible.com does not reference the proper book/chapter/verse in the first quote – it is actually Exodus 20:4. That error aside, their argument fails because they quote the verse out of context; if one continues reading the next verse, the true reason for the prohibition is given: “You shall not worship them or serve them.” The command of God to not make images concerned objects of worship, not objects used for decorative or educational purposes as Exodus 25:18 records.
Another example of a supposed contradiction argued by evilbible.com in the New Testament is the following:
For by grace are ye saved through faith... not of works. - Ephesians 2:8-9
Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only. - James 2:24
Again, evilbible.com should not really be faulted for not understanding these two verses clearly; they are spiritual two sides to one coin. The Bible makes it clear that Christians are saved by faith alone. But the Bible also makes it clear that faith in the life of a true Christian is always evidenced by good works. Good works are not the means of salvation; they are the evidence and the proof of salvation. So to put them together in one sentence: Christians are saved by faith alone (Ephesians 2:8-9), but the faith that saves is not alone (James 2:24). True faith will always manifest good works; faith which does not evidence good works is a dead faith which cannot save (James 2:26). This principle is viewed elsewhere in Scripture, for example by Jesus, who referenced the fact that good trees bear good fruit, but bad trees yield bad fruit (Matthew 7:17).
To summarize, we can see that evilbible.com’s claims of atrocities and contradictions in God’s Word simply do not hold water. There have always been critics who claim the Bible is wrong. For example, many used to maintain that the reigns and times of the Israelite kings were recorded in error (e.g., Joram-Jehoram), but then came Dr. Edwin Thiele’s book The Mysterious Numbers of the Hebrew Kings, which proved that they are indeed correct. In the end, the Bible always survives the challenges leveled against it.
Is God evil? – A Misunderstanding of God’s Character
The second problem is that evilbible.com suffers from a misunderstanding of God’s character. The web site routinely speaks of God as a tyrant and an unabashed killer. Evilbible.com takes the position of Socrates who once said that it is better to suffer injustice than to do it, better to be the victim than the perpetrator. Apparently the site’s writers would be more comfortable with God if He were a victim rather than a sovereign. In making such assertions, evilbible.com also follows the lead of atheist Robert Wilson who wrote, “The Bible tells us to be like God, and then on page after page it describes God as a mass murderer.” In addition, evilbible.com charges that God is the creator of evil and wickedness, and therefore asserts that God cannot be the holy and righteous deity described in the Bible. In theology, this is the problem of theodicy, which is the branch of theology that vindicates God’s divine attributes (particularly holiness and justice) in the face of the existence of physical and moral evil.
With respect to the first assertion—that God is a tyrannical murderer of the innocent—evilbible.com displays a gross misunderstanding of history, which compounds their misunderstanding of God’s character. Referencing Old Testament accounts of God imposing judgment on various cultures and peoples, evilbible.com says:
“The people slaughtered in the Old Testament were almost uniformly blameless (with a few exceptions, of course for instance, the Sodomites violated the conventions of hospitality.)”
It is interesting to note that this absurd statement—that the sin of Sodom was a lack of hospitality, a position straight out the homosexual activists’ handbook—is completely illogical. The statement asserts that God was justified in “slaughtering” the people of Sodom because they were inhospitable. Yet they go on to claim He was not justified in punishing cultures who practiced true wickedness. And when, incidentally, has anyone who displayed a lack of hospitality ever been referred to as a Sodomite? The sin of Sodom was gross immorality and violent homosexuality, as Genesis 19 accurately records.
The claim that those God punished were “uniformly blameless” is completely without merit and historically inaccurate. The Bible records the exact opposite about the peoples whom God acted upon in judgment. A few examples include:
“After the LORD your God has driven them out before you, do not say to yourself, ‘The LORD has brought me here to take possession of this land because of my righteousness.’ No, it is on account of the wickedness of these nations that the LORD is going to drive them out before you. It is not because of your righteousness or your integrity that you are going in to take possession of their land; but on account of the wickedness of these nations, the LORD your God will drive them out before you, to accomplish what he swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob” (Deuteronomy 9:4-5, emphasis added).
“Anyone who does these things is detestable to the LORD, and because of these detestable practices the LORD your God will drive out those nations before you. You must be blameless before the LORD your God” (Deuteronomy 18:12-13, emphasis added).
"Do not defile yourselves in any of these ways, because this is how the nations that I am going to drive out before you became defiled. Even the land was defiled; so I punished it for its sin, and the land vomited out its inhabitants" (Leviticus 18:24-25, emphasis added).
Evilbible.com overlooks the historical evidences that these nations and cultures practiced the very things that evilbible.com decries as morally reprehensible. As just one example, the Assyrians who inhabited Nineveh during the time of Jonah were an incredibly barbaric and cruel people. When archaeologists uncovered Nineveh, the TV specials produced from their work had to be filtered because the evidence of brutality was so great. The discoveries unearthed facts such as how the Assyrians used to slowly impale their victims by sliding them down sharp poles, and that they also made handbags from their victim’s skins. In a stone pillar found at Nineveh, one Assyrian ruler boasted of “nobles I flayed” and “three thousand captives I burned with fire. I left not one hostage alive. I cut off the hands and feet of some. I cut off the noses, ears and fingers of others. The eyes of numerous soldiers I put out. Maidens I burned as a holocaust.” Such things certainly speak against evilbible.com’s claims that the people who fell under God’s judgment were innocent. Other examples include the inhabitants of Jericho who history has shown practiced child sacrifice, cultic prostitution, and much more.
Evilbible.com also overlooks the patience of God in dealing with such people. God always waited for the nations who ultimately experienced judgment to turn from their despicable ways and always warned them of the judgment that was coming. The book of Jonah describes God’s patience with the Ninevites, who finally did turn from their evil ways and avoided destruction. Other peoples and cultures could have repented of their sins, but they chose not to. As an example, the people of Amalek (described in 1 Samuel) routinely attempted to commit genocide against Israel, but were given 400 years by God to repent. But Amalek continued to commit their atrocities against Israel and so God judged them via Saul and the Israeli army.
Evilbible.com does not stop to consider that if one were to catapult the practices, genocide, and barbarism of these cultures/peoples into the 21st century and broadcast it around the world via CNN, there would most certainly be a global outcry for severe military action and punishment. And if modern, “enlightened” man would call for such severe judgment against such atrocities, why should evilbible.com criticize God for carrying out the same thing?
Lastly, in regard to evilbible.com’s claim that God is creator of evil, they present the following rationale and verse from the King James Version to support their position:
“God Is The Creator Of Evil: Secondly, I want to reinforce the fact that God is indeed the creator of evil. Please read verse Isaiah 45:7. ‘I form the light and create darkness. I make peace and create evil. I the lord do all these things.” The Christian God outright claims that he is indeed the source of evil. So how can he then claim to be sinless?”
In evilbible.com’s defense, the verse from Isaiah 45:7 has been misunderstood by many people, primarily because of a poor translation in the King James Bible (and ASV). Parts of the book of Isaiah are of the poetry genre, and there is a literary technique used at times in Hebrew poetry called antithetical parallelism which sets two thoughts in complete contrast to one another, which is exactly what is happening in Isaiah 45:7. For example, if you were asked what the opposition of “light” is, you would likely respond “darkness,” which is what Isaiah 45:7 says. But if you were asked what the opposite of “peace” is, would you respond “evil”? No, you likely wouldn’t. This is why nearly all other translations of this verse (including the New King James Version) translate the word “calamity” or something similar, as that is what the antithetical structure of the verse mandates. God does not bring moral evil upon anyone, but He does bring about calamity and disaster upon those who oppose Him, but such a thing does not make Him evil; it makes Him a just and righteous God.
So, in the end, the above examples (and others present on the web site) show how a misunderstanding of history and wrong biblical interpretation lead to the wrong conclusion about God’s character.
Is God evil? – A Misunderstanding of God’s Creation
The last broad issue found on the evilbible.com web site is a misunderstanding of God’s creation, which manifests itself most in the problem of evilbible.com borrowing from the Christian moral worldview to carry out its arguments against God and the Bible instead of using its own atheistic foundation. In essence, evilbible.com invokes a Christian framework to deny the Christian God, a technique that is irrational and disingenuous, to say the least. For example, evilbible.com declares:
“It violates my morality to worship a hypocritical, judgmental, self righteous murderer.”
Here’s the problem with making such a statement: without God, evilbible.com has no real foundation for the morality it claims, no moral framework from which to attack God. Why is this the case? Because before a person can call something bad (as evilbible.com does God and the Bible), a person must know what good is. But before a person can call something good, he must have a moral framework to distinguish between good and bad. But before someone can have a moral framework to distinguish good and bad, he must have absolute moral laws to build that framework. But before a person can have absolute moral laws, he must have an absolute moral Lawgiver (laws don’t give themselves). Now the atheists have backed themselves into a corner, because the only absolute moral Lawgiver you can have is God. This is why intellectually honest atheists, such as Richard Dawkins, rightly understands that an atheist can’t ever call anything bad or good —the atheist foundation doesn’t support such a stance. In his book, River out of Eden, he writes, “Humans have always wondered about the meaning of life...life has no higher purpose than to perpetuate the survival of DNA . . . life has no design, no purpose, no evil and no good, nothing but blind pitiless indifference” (emphasis added).
Since, being atheists, the writers of evilbible.com cannot be intellectually honest and use the term “evil,” they should rename their web site to something that is not prefaced with the word “evil.” All evilbible.com can assert is what atheist evolutionist William Provine calls “approximate morals,” but they can never have ethics that are globally, eternally, and universally binding upon everyone, and thus cannot call anything evil.
Another misunderstanding of God’s creation is exhibited in evilbible.com’s claim that God Himself is impossible. Evilbible.com puts forth a variety of common arguments against God, but the overall theme is that creation as we know it refutes the existence of the God described in the Bible. Here again the argument of the existence of evil is used to reject God. Evilbible.com wrongly rejects the argument of free will being the catalyst of evil (which it is/was) and mistakenly rejects the fact that, yes, there is evil in this world, but perhaps God has a good reason for permitting it. Jesus dying on the cross appeared on the surface to be the epitome of gratuitous evil, but out of that event, mankind was redeemed from the misery it finds itself in. God’s gift of freedom, and the misuse of that freedom, clearly explains the moral evil we experience. As Augustine said, “Such is the generosity of God’s goodness that He has not refrained from creating even that creature which He foreknew would not only sin, but remain in the will to sin. As a runaway horse is better than a stone which does not run away because it lacks self-movement and sense perception, so the creature is more excellent which sins by free will than that which does not sin only because it has no free will.”
Moreover, evilbible.com posits God is impossible because of supposed contradictions in His nature that do not match the world, yet they are perfectly happy to accept that an impersonal, amoral, meaningless, purposeless universe accidentally created personal beings who are obsessed with morality, meaning, and purpose in life. If, as they argue, a cause must resemble its effect, then what explanation do they give for this contradiction? Mindless matter has no way of producing mind or anything similar.
The fact is, the Being who is the cause of everything in the universe perfectly mirrors the God described in the Bible. This is evidenced by what one can infer just from the fact of creation alone:
• He must be supernatural in nature (as He created time and space).
• He must be powerful (incredibly).
• He must be eternal (self-existent, because there is no infinite regress of causes).
• He must be omnipresent (he created space and is not limited by it).
• He must be timeless and changeless (He created time).
• He must be immaterial because He transcends space/physical.
• He must be personal (the impersonal can’t create personality).
• He must be necessary as everything else depends on Him.
• He must be infinite and singular as you cannot have two infinites.
• He must be diverse yet have unity as unity and diversity exist in nature.
• He must be intelligent (supremely). Only a cognitive being can produce cognitive beings.
• He must be purposeful as He deliberately created everything.
• He must be moral (no moral law can be had without a giver).
• He must be caring (or no moral laws would have been given).
The Judeo-Christian God perfectly fits this profile.
Is God evil? – Conclusion
A misunderstanding of God’s Word, His character, and His creation all result in the argumentation errors found on evilbible.com. A fitting summation of their stance is this statement made on their web site:
“I don’t think I could ever complete a whole list as to what I find objectionable regarding the bible.”
For certain, there are apparent difficulties that arise when one begins studying the Bible. But a person should not assume God doesn’t exist and/or the Bible is in error just because he encounters a problem in the Bible that he can’t immediately understand or explain. The scientist doesn’t throw out science just because he/she sees something in the physical world he can’t immediately explain. Neither should we do the same with theology or the study of Scripture. Misunderstandings like those committed by evilbible.com are the result of not thoroughly investigating matters or dismissing a belief based on a presupposition that is buried deep in a person’s heart or lifestyle (or both). And the danger in both cases is something Pascal warned about many years ago: “People almost invariably arrive at their beliefs not on the basis of proof but on the basis of what they find attractive.” What self-described atheists find attractive about denying God is that they think if they deny Him, they will never have to deal with Him in any way. Sadly, they couldn’t be more wrong.
Knowing God by J.I. Packer.
While he is not the author of every article on GotQuestions.org, for citation purposes, you may reference our CEO, S. Michael Houdmann.
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