The Atheistic Critique of the Old Testament Genocidal God

by Alan Anderson

Over the last decade or so, many outspoken atheists have strongly expressed their resentment for the Old Testament God. They condemn Him as a Being they wouldn’t want to worship even if they could be convinced of His existence because of the ‘moral atrocities’ He has brought upon groups of people throughout history. Many of their complaints revolve around the Mosaic Laws and the destruction of the Canaanites because they perceive these laws and actions as being evil, genocidal, misogynistic, homophobic, hateful, and the like. In fact, all of the New Atheists have been very deliberate in their expression of disgust towards the Old Testament God. Richard Dawkins summarizes the New Atheism’s sentiment perfectly when he writes 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

The late Christopher Hitchens remarked on the Old Testament God when he wrote God is Not Great,

The Bible may, indeed does, contain a warrant for trafficking in humans, for ethnic cleansing, for slavery, for bride-price, and for indiscriminate massacre, but we are not bound by any of it because it was put together by crude, uncultured human mammals

Daniel Dennett writes in Breaking the Spell: Religion as a Phenomenon,

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Part of what makes Jehovah such a fascinating participant in stories of the Old Testament is His kinglike jealousy and pride, and His great appetite for praise and sacrifices

Lastly, Sam Harris writes the following in Letter to a Christian Nation while attempting to use (‘misuse’ is a better description) Deuteronomy 13:7-11 to support his claim that stoning is what “God had in mind”,

One look at the book of Deuteronomy reveals that he [God] has something very specific in mind [stoning] should your son or daughter return from yoga class advocating the worship of Krishna

All of the New Atheists have gratuitously commented on their dissatisfaction with the Old Testament. If someone had nothing to go on other than the mere opinion of one of these embarrassingly confused atheists, it would be easy to see how someone could become convinced. After all, they are all brilliant wordsmiths who make a convincing case for their position on paper. It’s pretty easy to see why many youngsters who aren’t prepared to tackle these challenges become influenced by the rhetorical power of these scholars. However, as Oxford mathematician and philosopher John Lennox brilliantly observes…

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