Wednesday, November 17, 2010

An Atheist Responds to the "Genocide of the Canaanites"

One atheist responded to my essay on the “Genocide” of the Canaanites this way:

• “Could there have been a better way to approach the issue other than genocide?The answer should be an obvious "yes". You're deity, if it existed, is supposed to be omnipotent, omniscient and omnibenevolent. The fact that you seem to think that the massacre of people by people is the best option available to such a being makes your entire argument ridiculous in the extreme. Your deity could have ceased their existences, caused them to repent freely (he would know exactly what that would have taken), kill them all with a thought, not have set things up such that they sinned to begin with.”

Basically your argument goes like this:

1. God could have chosen a better solution than the destruction of the Canaanites.
2. I can even think of better solutions.
3. Therefore, your concept of god is incoherent and even sub-human!

Here are some of the problems with your reasoning:

1. Your understanding of “omnibenevolence” isn’t a Biblical one. Clearly, God has presented Himself as a judge of wickedness, and I suspect you would be the first to complain if there wasn’t any punishment for the criminal who mugged and raped you.

2. Once again, you position yourself as if you have a true moral standard by which to judge God, and because He hasn’t performed up to your standard, He can’t be God. However, as an atheist, you lack any basis for an objective moral standard. You fail to realize than you need God in order to judge God! (I love the way He set things up!)

3. To conclude that God could have chosen a better solution to deal with the Canaanites would be like a first grader concluding that his math teacher could have chosen better materials. The first grader lacks the knowledge to make such a judgment, and perhaps you do too! We can’t even comprehensively answer the simple questions about God’s workings – “Why is the grass green or the sky blue; why does water boil at 212F?” In fact, it is easy for us to naively question about any aspect of this world, “Why couldn’t have God done things better? Why does there have to be pain, loneliness, disease and death?” You can make any of these questions into an indictment against God, if you lack the humility to understand the limitations of your own knowledge?

4. Meanwhile, you think that your solutions are better! You think that you would make an excellent Creator! Do you really know enough? Can you define the nature of light or time or even matter? Can you explain where DNA comes from, or life, or freewill, or consciousness, or the laws of physics? Can you explain how it is that the universe is so incredibly fine-tuned? Yet you believe in all of these things, but you deny the God who so clearly made them (Romans 1:18-32)!

5. The source of Christian assurance doesn’t rest upon the fact that we understand everything that God tells us. Instead, we recognize that if the Bible is truly His Word, there will be many things that we don’t understand. Likewise, our belief in science isn’t based upon our ability to understand everything about His world. We certainly can’t! How much less so the Creator Himself! However, there are many other reasons upon which to base our faith in science.

6. You suggest that God could “kill them all with a thought, not have set things up such that they sinned to begin with.” Perhaps His glorious plan depends upon visual and profound reminders of judgment and the price that sin exacts? Maybe we first need to learn about the consequences of our hatred of truth? How can you conclusively rule out this possibility? Perhaps instead, your objections are not a product of rationality but your aversion to God and His promised judgment? This is Jesus’ conclusion:

• “This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed.”
(John 3:19-20)

I pray that you will seek so that you will find (Matthew 7:7-11). I sincerely pray for this!

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