By Vexen Crabtree 2006 Jul 11
Isaiah 45:7 affirms that God creates darkness and disaster. It is not a creation of mankind, nor of fallen beings or Satan. The Hebrew word here that is translated as "disaster" could also mean "wickedness", "hurt", "affliction" or "adversity". God creates these things directly. Any argument that asserts that evil is a result of Human free will must first get over the fact that the Christian Bible states that God creates evil and disaster itself. Not only does this God create darkness and disaster, but it actively "does" them too. It doesn't merely create them as possibilities for other people, it actively chooses to do them itself.
The Book of Lamentations confirms that free will cannot stop evil, when evil comes from God, nor can man stop goodness, when goodness comes from God:
Who is he that can speak, and it happens, when the Lord command it not?37
Out of the mouth of the Most High proceedeth not both evil and good?38
“Yea, the darkness hideth not from thee; but the night shineth as the day: the darkness and the light are both alike to thee.”
Psalms 139:12 (KJV)
As various authors copied copies of the Hebrew Scriptures, changes accumulated in the stories. Sometimes, the same story appears twice. There are even two accounts of the Creation that contradict each other in the details. One such doubled story shows us clearly that the Old Testament God is evil, and Satan itself is not a separate being, but is actually part of God, a face of God. There is one occasion when David took a census of his men in order to count how many could fight in the armies of Israel. 1 Chronicles 21:2 and 2 Samuel 24:2 both contain a copy of the exact same text:
|“So David said to Joab and the commanders of the troops, "Go and count the Israelites from Beersheba to Dan. Then report back to me so that I may know how many there are."”||“So the king said to Joab and the army commanders with him, "Go throughout the tribes of Israel from Dan to Beersheba and enroll the fighting men, so that I may know how many there are."”|
What had happened is that God had a rule: That David was not allowed to 'number' Israel. But, for some reason, David went ahead and did so. As a result, God punished them all for breaking his rule. But, it is very telling when we examine the preceding verse: Who inspired David to count Israel's fighting men?
|“Satan rose up against Israel and incited David to take a census of Israel”||“The anger of the LORD burned against Israel, and he incited David against them, saying, "Go and take a census of Israel and Judah."”|
In one copy of the story, we are told Satan told David to do so. In the other, it was God. How can this be? It is because in the Old Testament, Satan and God are the same being. Satan in the Old Testament is merely the face that God puts on when it is testing its people. "The anger of the Lord" is Satan. It was common in old religions (Hinduism, Roman religions, etc) for gods to have multiple faces, each associated with different emotions. In the Christian Bible, Satan is God. It is not just the Old Testament that contains such revealing truths, the New Testament tells the same story:
"The LORD is a man of war: the LORD is his name"
"For thou shalt worship no other god: for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God"
"Blessed is everyone that feareth the Lord."
The Old Testament describes God as angry, fearsome, destructive and vengeful. In continual deviance from what a good god would do, and feel, the God of the Old Testament sometimes repents of its own actions and thoughts. How can a god that knows everything, and is never wrong, repent? How can a good god even have evil thoughts, let alone do evil actions?
It seems one thing that Old Testament gets right is its assertions that we should fear god. See Lev. 25:17; Deut. 6:2, 6:13, 10:12, 10:20, 31:12-13; Joshua 4:24; 1 Sam. 12:14; 2 Kings 17:39; Job 28:28; Psalms 19:9, 25:14, 33:8, 33:18, 34:9, 96:4, 103:11, 103:17, 111:10, 112:1, 115:13, 128:1, 147:11; Proverbs 1:7, 22:4, 24:21; Ecc. 5:7, 12:13; Jer. 5:22. We should definitely fear such a god as this!
In Old Testament times, people were exposed to many different Gods. Frequently, people would simply have to be scared into worshipping one god over another. By representing it as powerful, destructive, jealous and harsh, the Jews who wrote the Old Testament were affirming that they believed their God should be worshipped, and other Gods should be abandoned.
"The third century Church Father, Tertullian, could not imagine how God could not demand fear":
“But how are you going to love, without some fear that you do not love? Surely [an unfeared God] is neither your Father, towards whom your love for duty's sake should be consistent with fear because of His power; nor your proper Lord, whom you should love for His humanity and fear as your teacher.”
The immoral doctrine of original sin, where children are punished for the sins of their parents is hardly the scheme of a moral god. Adam and Eve were punished with death, pain, suffering and caused the evil of all mankind... yet they themselves 'sinned' before they knew the difference between Good and Evil. God must be immoral, if it punishes innocent people for sins they do not understand and could not resist.
The author of the Gospel of Luke wrote that Jesus said that 'a tree is known by its fruit' (Luke 6:43-44): "Good trees do not produce rotten fruit, and rotten trees do not produce good fruit". The Old Testament God, who says that he "creates evil" (Amos. 3:6, Isaiah 45:7), cannot therefore be a 'good tree', but must be a rotten one. Luke 12:5 warns us to fear God above anything else in life. An ancient form of Christianity was preached by Marcion, who realized that the God of the Old Testament must be Evil. As Marcion believed that the Good News of the New Testament was the plan of salvation from a good God, he believed that through Jesus the evil god the Old Testament had been defeated.
Jesus and the Disciples accepted the Old Testament as God's word. They could only do this if they themselves believed that God was not benevolent. They also preached the goodness of God, despite his apparent evil. This is because they, like the writers of the Old Testament, do not care if god is 'good' or 'evil', they merely wish to do its will, in order to get rewards in heaven.
The Book of Revelations is the climax and final book of the New Testament, where it is said that God will once again revert to his Old Testament ways... the suffering and pain described in the apocalypse is something that a good god could never let happen. To even believe that God do this is to believe in a monstrous demon of a God.
The Bible teaches that there is no free will. Examining Exodus, Ecclesiastes 7, Ephesians 1, Ephesians 2, Acts 13, Romans 8, Roman 9, 2 Timothy, 2 Thessalonians, Titus 3:4-5 and Revelations, we see that God's plan overrides our free will; those that do good do the specific good that God predestined them to do, and all others are ruled by Satan because God sends "powerful delusions" to them. The Christian Bible frequently states that God creates our future and decides our fates, no matter what our own will is. It constantly denies that we have free will. Some of the foremost Christians in history have taught that there is no free will, including St. Augustine (one of the four great founders of Western Christianity3), Martin Luther (founder of Protestantism) and John Calvin.
The doctrine of predestination is like the doctrine of original sin. They affirm that God is not just, not moral, and is actively evil and arbitrary. Not only do god's plans override free will, but, God also punishes those who it has predetermined to be punished. There is no grand moral plan to god's will. It makes no sense to say that this is the behaviour of a good god. The New Testament makes more sense if its schemes are the plan of an evil god, rather than a good one.
Deuteronomy 13:6-9 says that if your relatives or friends try to get you to worship other gods, firstly you must not give in to them, and secondly, you must kill them. That's right - kill your relatives if they try to draw you away from your religion, "without pity".. Jesus said:
"Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. And a man's foes shall be they of his own household."
"Suppose ye that I am come to give peace on earth? I tell you, Nay; but rather division: For from henceforth there shall be five in one house divided, three against two, and two against three. The father shall be divided against the son, and the son against the father; the mother against the daughter, and the daughter against the mother; the mother in law against her daughter in law, and the daughter in law against her mother in law."
Milder verses continue the theme; Jesus in Mark 3:31-35 leaves his "brethren and his mother" outside after they call for him; giving no reason at all for shunning them, he instead says that his follwers were his brethren and mother. Luke 2:41-49 tells a story of a 12-year-old Jesus; he wonders off and his parents spend days searching for him, before finding him in a temple. They exlaim to him that they've been looking for him sorrowfully, and his cold response is covered by the last two verses of that story: "49How is it that ye sought me? wist ye not that I must be about my Father's business? 50And they understood not the saying which he spake unto them". In both places a little courtesy would have cost nothing; it is strange to hear Christians promote Christian family values as if they were a good thing!
The Old Testament was rife with occasions when God not only sanctioned the murder, pillage and rape of the enemies of his chosen people, but, often God itself joined in, directly smiting people itself. Jeremiah 48:10 declares: "A curse on him who is lax in doing the LORD's work! A curse on him who keeps his sword from bloodshed!". It reminds me of Exodus 15:3: "The LORD is a man of war: the LORD is his name".
It is clear that violence has a divine Biblical endorsement. But for what ends? Luke 14:23 says "Compel people to come in!" for the purpose of "filling" the Church. Jesus himself declared "think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword" (Matthew 10:34). And henceforth, Christian history contains many unfortunate chapters where Christian groups anathematized one another as heretics, and proceded to burn, torture and murder those who disagreed. Victims have been anyone who disagreed even on confusing technical points of Christian doctrine, members of other religions such as Muslims and Jews, and it seems, many other innocent victims ranging from outcasts who were accused of witchcraft ("Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live" - Exodus 22:18), homosexuals and finally, a small number who have genuinely plotted against the Church.
“The death sentence is a necessary and efficacious means for the Church to attain its end when rebels act against it and disturbers of the ecclesiastical unity, especially obstinate heretics and heresiarchs, cannot be restrained by any other penalty. [...] If there be no other remedy for saving its people it can and must put these wicked men to death.”
Pope Leo XII4
Some of the genocides committed by God in the Bible are of the young, the innocent, and some are even the results of accidents. (Click the links below for full descriptions):
This collection of Biblical genocides was started by a different author whose credentials I misplaced in the 1990s; it is not a complete documentation of divine slaughter in the Bible, but there are numerous books which do have fuller lists. Here is a snapshot:
Exodus 32:27-28 "[Moses' orders to his army] he said to them, "The Lord God of Israel commands every one of you to put on his sword and go through the camp from this gate to the other and kill his brothers, his friends and his neighbours. The Levites obeyed and killed about 3000 Men that day."
Exodus 32:29 "Moses said to the Levites, "Today you have consecrated yourselves as priests in the service of the Lord by killing your sons and brothers, so the Lord has given you his blessing."
Numbers 31:17 (Moses) "Now therefore kill every male among the little ones, and kill every woman that hath known man by lying with him (in other words: women that might be pregnant)."
Deuteronomy 7:1 "When Yahweh your god has settled you in the land you're about to occupy, and driven out many infidels before you...you're to cut them down and exterminate them. You're to make no compromise with them or show them any mercy."
Joshua 6:21-24 "With their swords they killed everyone in the city, men, women, young and old. They also killed the cattle, sheep and donkeys. ... And they burnt the city with fire, and all that was therein: only the silver, and the gold, and the vessels of brass and of iron, they put into the treasury of the house of the Lord."
Judges 20: Description a battle and city-burning, with no morality or sense of loss at all.
Judges 20:42-48 "... and them which came out of the cities they destroyed in the midst of them. ... And there fell of Benjamin eighteen thousand of the best Benjamine soldiers; ... and they gleaned of them in the highways five thousand men; ... and slew two thousand men of them. So that all which fell that day of Benjamin were twenty and five thousand men that drew the sword; ... And the men of Israel turned again upon the children of Benjamin, and smote them with the edge of the sword, as well the men of every city, as the beast, and all that came to hand: also they set on fire all the cities that they came to."
1 Kings 20:30 "But the rest fled to Aphek, into the city; and there a wall fell upon twenty and seven thousand of the men that were left."
1 Samuel 15:1-8 "Now listen to what the Lord Almighty says. He is going to punish the people of Amalek because their ancestors opposed the Israelites... 3-8 : With 210000 soldiers they killed all the men, women, children, babies, cattle, camels and donkeys."
Esther 9:12-16: The Jews slaughter enemies in an internal strife in the Persian empire, at least 75800 enemies are killed.
Hosea 13:16 "Samaria shall become desolate; for she hath rebelled against her God: they shall fall by the sword: their infants shall be dashed in pieces, and their women with child shall be ripped up."
Revelations is full of genocides. Here are some.
Revelation 6:8 (the 4th seal) "I looked, and there before me was a pale horse! Its rider was named Death, and Hades was following close behind him. They were given power over a fourth of the earth to kill by sword, famine and plague, and by the wild beasts of the earth.
Revelation 9:15 (the 6th seal) "And the four angels who had been kept ready for this very hour and day and month and year were released to kill a third of mankind."
Revelation 4th Seal and 6th Seal. Here's a quick calculation assuming an initial population of 6 000 000 000:
1/4 are killed when the 4th seal is opened: 1/4 of 6.0 billion is 1.5 billion, leaving 4.5 billion survivors.
1/3 are killed then the 6th seal is opened: 1/3 of 4.5 billion is 1.5 billion, leaving 3.0 billion survivors.
Exactly half of Humankind are killed, and this calculation uses only two of the seven seals!
It is an incredibly difficult task to explain to Christians who decide to kill in god's name that they are in fact going against the Bible, because this is simply not the case.
If God is all-powerful and all-good, it would have created a universe in the same way it created heaven: with free will for all, no suffering and no evil. But evil and suffering exist. Therefore God does not exist, is not all-powerful or is not benevolent (good). A theodicy is an attempt to explain why a good god would have created evil and suffering. The most popular defence is that it is so Humans could have free will. However the entire universe and the natural world is filled with suffering, violence and destruction so any Humanity-centric explanation does not seem to work.
The existence of such large quantities of suffering, despair, pain, of natural disasters such as earthquakes, of the death of the unborn and the immense suffering of lovers & kind-hearted people means that god is evil and intentionally creates life in order to create suffering. That all life exists in a food chain means that life is completely tied to death, and such a barbaric biological cycle could only have been made by an evil god. Also, that such a god appears not to exist, or actively hides itself, is a source of confusion, conflict, war and stress and is again more likely the antics of an evil god. Given the state of the natural world, it is impossible that a good god exists. It is more likely that an evil god exists, but, it is sensible to assume that there is no god of either type. Even if there is not a god of either type, as the dominance of death and violence in the natural world, a result of nature being abused by life and not being designed for life, I think the evil symbol of Satan is the best representative of the state of reality and the universe, whether or not an actual evil god exists.
If God did exist and was evil, it would undoubtedly lie and tell everyone it was a good god and that it loved them. It would create maximum confusion by preaching multiple conflicting religions. It would create heaven and make it hard to get to in order to tease and torture people into making their own lives hell. As all of those things happen, if there is a God, it is doing the things an evil God would do!
Once I recognized and accepted this state of affairs and adequately called myself a Satanist, I could concentrate my life on happiness, love, stability and peace. Because I know and understand that death always wins, that life is temporary, I waste no time on short-term whims that reduce my quality of life, or of those around me, and I waste no time with spiritual pipe dreams. Recognizing Satan as the personified meta-figure of reality is self-affirming, life-affirming, positive, honest and clarifying.”
The Bible (NIV). The NIV is the best translation for accuracy whilst maintaining readability. Multiple authors, a compendium of multiple previously published books. I prefer to take quotes from the NIV but where I quote the Bible en masse I must quote from the KJV because it is not copyrighted, whilst the NIV is. [Book Review]
The Dark Side of Christian History (1995). Published by Morningstar & Lark, Windermere, FL, USA.