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Column 19

God's predilection for mass murder

By © Martin Foreman
Word Count: 799 words
Publication date: June 12, 2005

Last week I suggested that many who call themselves “pro-life” are abusing the term, campaigning vociferously for embryos and fetuses and falling silent when confronted with actual lives at risk.

There is no doubt that the campaign against legalized abortion in the United States owes more to hysteria than reason. The language is ridden with emotion and inaccuracy. The aim is to preserve life where life does not exist. Success – the overturning of Roe vs Wade – would be a Pyrrhic victory, with terminations continuing illegally and women permanently injured or dying from botched operations.

Most absurd, from the Christian point of view, is the idea that God himself is pro-life. This canard is based on the Sixth Commandment. The fact that “thou shalt not kill” comes so low down on the list (the first four commandments are variations on the theme “worship me!” and the fifth is a reminder to honor Mom and Pop) is a good indication that the deity doesn’t consider human life a priority.

Don’t take my word for it. Anyone who flicks through the Bible and assumes that it’s true soon sees that God makes a habit of terminating people. Sometimes he kills them one at a time, but he has a penchant for multiple deaths and once, early in his career, he goes for total annihilation.

That first genocide was the Flood, when all but a handful of people died. Perhaps millions lost their lives on that occasion. The records are equally vague on other occasions but sometimes the Bible keeps a strict record. The Book of Numbers helpfully tells us that 24,000 died of the plague when Israelite men started sleeping with Moabite women.

That incident is enough to tell us that the Jewish-Christian God may be all-powerful, but he is not compassionate enough to give his victims instant, painless deaths. At times he offers pain (remember the fire and brimstone in Sodom and the other cities on the plain) and suffering (various plagues and mass drowning in the Flood).

Not just the wicked die. Time and again it’s the young, the innocent or the merely mistaken. Among Jehovah’s victims are King David’s seven-day-old son, who died because his father took another man’s wife, and the sons of Aaron, who died for the crime of offering God the wrong incense.

Jehovah definitely isn’t selfish – he lets his chosen people join him in the killing fields. Many times he helps the Israelites slaughter their enemies. These include the Amorites and the inhabitants of Bashan, every last man, woman and child of whom died because they lived on land God had promised the Jews.

Yahweh is actually a fan of abortion. In Hosea 11:16, he promises to kill his enemy’s unborn children. Check Numbers 31:17, Hosea 13:16 and 2 Kings 15:16 for further examples of feticide. And don’t forget Judges 11:30 onwards, where Jephthah has to sacrifice his daughter to his deity.

In the New Testament, God takes a back seat while his son presents a different face to the world. Out goes the violence, in comes love and compassion. Instead of killing people, Jesus feeds them, cures them of blindness and disease, even occasionally bringing them back to life.

But there’s a sting in the tail. In the Final Days, while the once-compassionate Jesus watches, millions of men, women and children are scheduled to die and be tossed into the eternal flames.

This predilection for mass murder is, at the very least, an embarrassment for believers. While some are unaware of God’s eagerness to kill, others argue, unconvincingly, that these stories of death are myth or metaphor or an aberration,  God really loves us – honestly! really! truly!

Fundamentalists, who believe that the Bible is literally true, have the greatest problem. The God they worship is the epitome, not of good, but of evil. And we have only scratched the surface of God’s violence; see for a closer look at the atrocities committed in God’s name.

A hundred years ago Mark Twain wrote “Our Bible reveals to us the character of our god with minute and remorseless exactness… It is perhaps the most damnatory biography that exists in print anywhere.”

Twain exaggerates, but not much. The Yahweh who emerges from the various Hebrew gods who precede him is egoistical, jealous, petulant, hypocritical and prone to violence. In short, he is immature and not fully aware of the implications of his supernatural powers.

Believers may be reluctant to let go of their flawed deity. The rest of us can only conclude from the Old Testament and the Book of Revelations that the Biblical God does not exist, for a God that truly loved its creation could not behave in the way that these scriptures suggest.

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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

wear the Scarlet letter

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