It is disappointing that God's compassion falls short of our own, but he is God and it's up to him to decide how compassionate he wants to be. But does he have compassion for the very young and innocent?
By causing the weak and innocent
to die and by encouraging his followers to kill in his name, the Biblical / Quranic God demonstrates that he has no claim to compassion. An alternative explanation is that the Biblical / Quranic God does not exist.
2.6a God claims to be compassionate...
The Jewish-Christian-Muslim (J-C-M) God is all-powerful; he can overcome the laws of nature to do anything. If he is not all-powerful, he is not God.
The J-C-M God is also compassionate; he loves his creation. This is most explicit in the Quran, where every sura (chapter) begins with the words "In the Name of Allah, the Compassionate, the Merciful".
God's compassion is also an essential element of Christianity, where God's love for humanity is expressed through Jesus' many words and actions. The parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37) is a typical example.
The word also comes up several times in the Jewish Bible / Old Testament, but usually with some reservation. 2 Kings 13:23 tells us "the LORD was gracious unto them [the Israelites], and had respect unto them, because of his covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and would not destroy them, neither cast he them from his presence as yet." (King James' Version)
2.6b ...but only to the sinless
Note the "as yet". God's compassion is not limitless. Throughout the Old Testament and Quran he regularly condemns sinners and unbelievers to death, while in the New Testament they are condemned to everlasting hell.
God's message is basically: "only if you obey my commandments will I have compassion for you." That's disturbing, because even imperfect human beings can have compassion and its fellow-emotion forgiveness for those who do not meet every moral standard.
2.6c What about the innocent?
Problems with God
Chapter One showed us that if there is a God, we cannot be certain about his nature. So let's look at the question from another perspective: Is there a form of god that can exist?
We start by looking at the god described in the Bible and Quran; does the information there support or reject the idea of God? Then we look at general concepts of God and see if they make sense.
2.1: In the Bible
Do inconsistencies in the Bible make it irrelevant?
2.2: The Jesus myth
Biblical evidence suggests that the Son of God never lived
2.3: Other scriptures
What do other scriptures tell us about God?
2.4: Forgotten tongues
Why can God not speak modern languages?
2.5: Male order
God's fondness for men
2.6: Compassion and bloodlust
God claims to be compassionate but frequently causes pain and death
2.7: Disease and disaster
Why do they happen?
2.8: Omniscience and free will
One or the other, not both
2.09: Miracles and prayer
How does God make his presence known?
2.10: Eternal life
Do we really want to live forever?
2.11: Alien beliefs
Do they know God on Betelgeuse?
Finished this chapter? Move on to
God the creator?
God does not have to be the creator of the universe; in some religions the world comes first and then the gods apprear.
In Judaism, Christianity and Islam, however, God is the
creator of the universe. How does he do it?
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Unfortunately not. There are several incidents in the Old Testament where God kills infants and - presumably blameless - young children.
The most notorious incident is the Flood, where all humanity, except for Noah's family, dies (Genesis 7:21-23). This scene is highly disturbing. Drowning is a highly unpleasant form of dying. The agony that young children went through, not to mention the agony of their parents watching them die, is undescribable. God - who is, as we know, all-powerful - had the compassionate option to put all his victims painlessly to sleep but he chose not to do so.
The Flood is only one example of God's lack of compassion in the Jewish-Christian Bible.
Other incidents where the deity either kills indiscriminately or orders his followers to carry out indiscriminate killing include all the first-born in Egypt (Exodus 11:5);
the deaths of all the inhabitants of 60 cities (Deuteronomy 3:4-6), the slaughter of all the inhabitants of Jericho (Joshua 6:21); the death of 70,000 of his own people (1 Chronicles 21:14).
In his guise as Allah, God is more restrained. Unlike the Bible, the Quran is less as a history book than a resource for present and future behaviour. References are made to Biblical characters, such as Moses and Lot, but the emphasis is much more on "do as I say, or else..." In essence, it combines the many religious laws of the Old Testament with the picture of Hell presented in the Book of Revelations (New Testament).
Whether he is the Jewish-Christian Jahweh who condemns the innocent and the guilty or the Muslim Allah whose wrath is aimed only at those who disobey him, God fails us. Compassion is understanding, sympathy and ultimately forgiveness. Without these three components, there is nothing.
A mother who forgives her child for breaking a valuable possession, the victim of crime who forgives the perpetrator, the giver of charity who does not ask if the recipient has sinned - all these people show greater compassion towards humanity than the God described in either the Quran or Bible.
By causing the weak and innocent to suffer pain and death and by encouraging his followers to kill in his name, the Biblical God demonstrates that he has no claim to compassion. The Quranic God appears more just but equally cruel.
Reading the Bible and Quran leads inexorably to one of two conclusions: either
a. the Biblical / Quranic God lacks compassion or
b. the Biblical / Quranic God does not exist.
Some of the issues in this section were covered in earlier articles on this site: Pro-death
and The mask of compassion.
Chapter Two: Section 7 Disease and disaster
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If God existed, he would...
admire the beauty of a universe that he did not create
recognize that eternity is meaningless
deny both heaven and hell
disown all men and women who speak in his name
denounce the harm caused by religious "morality"
help the human race to thrive without him
If God existed, he would be an atheist.
What is the difference between science and faith?
science is certain of nothing and requires proof of everything
faith is certain of everything and requires proof of nothing
Which do you trust?
"I know there is no God"
"I believe there is no God"
Check the answer