"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."
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. For example in Job 42:11 God is described as doing evil to Job as part of its test of Job even though Job is described as holy and blameless. In other words, the evil done by God on Job was not the result of Job's free will. Also, his children and animals are all slaughtered too, as collateral damage1. God doesn't merely create evil and suffering as possibilities, it actively chooses to do them itself.
Psalm 104:27-30 notes that God sometimes makes animals happy and sometimes "terrifies them" as part of the daily rhythm of life as described in general by Psalm 104, although the King James Version nicely tones this down to "troubles" them.
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)
“And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light.”
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. Another example is 1 Timothy 1:20, where God mentions "Hymenaeus and Alexander; whom I have delivered unto Satan, that they may learn not to blaspheme". Satan isn't a being that freely chose to reject God; it is a hidden part of God, that God uses as a tool so it doesn't have to sully its own name. 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.
A similar confusion of roles happens in the Book of Job. In Job 1:8-12 Satan approaches God and asks to test Job's loyalty to God. In Job 1:11 it is God who is asked "put forth thine hand now, and touch all that he hath, and he will curse thee to thy face". Satan's idea is that if God demolishes Job's good life, then Job will no longer be faithful to God. But Satan can't do this itself as it is God that has the power to do evil. In the next verse God gives that power to Satan:
“And the LORD said unto Satan, Behold, all that he hath is in thy power; only upon himself put not forth thine hand.”
Job 1:12 [KJV]
So, Satan acts only when God gives it power to do so. Once again, we see that God and Satan are merely two facets of the same being. One final verse seals this idea. Who, when it comes to the concluding of the story in chapter 42, is given the credit for bringing evil against Job? It is God itself:
“[Job's friends and family] comforted him over all the evil that the LORD had brought upon him.”
Job 42:11 [KJV]
Other translations such as Young's Literal Translation phrase it in the same way. God and Satan are intertwined. Satan can't do anything except by the will of God. Psalms 139:12, 1 Chronicles 21:1-2 and 2 Samuel 24:1-2, and Job 1:8-12, 42:11 all confuse good and evil, God and Satan into one single creative force, with God being described as not only the source of evil, but as its actual instigator. God cannot be benevolent.
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?
The best route to improving people's behaviour is to educate them on the effects of their actions, so they want to do good. The suboptimal route is to force people into good behaviour through threats. The greater the power and wisdom of a teacher or parent, the more possible the moral route. The more tyrannical and hateful the teacher, the more appealing the fear route. Religious texts have strongly veered towards the lesser of the two approaches, reflecting human values at the time of their writing.
There are many occasions where "and fear God" is added to other instructions, seemingly without adding anything except highlighting the poor persuasive power of the author. Examples include Lev. 25:17, Deut. 6:2, 31:12-13, Joshua 4:24, Psalms 96:4, Proverbs 24:21, Ecc. 5:7, Jer. 5:22.
There are verses where "fear God" is given as a primary instruction, as in Deut. 6:13, 10:12, 10:20, 1 Sam. 12:14, Job 28:28, Psalms 19:9, 33:8, 111:10, Proverbs 1:7, Ecc. 12:13, Ecclesiasticus 1:8,11, 7:29,31.
And many verses where it is implicit or explicit that if you fear God, you'll get rewards, such as in 2 Kings 17:39, Psalms 25:14, 33:18, 34:9, 103:11,17, 112:1, 115:13, 128:1, 147:11, Proverbs 22:4, Ecclesiasticus 1:12-13,18, 2:8-10, Ecclesiasticus 19:18. These verses are written to appeal to the selfish, who are looking out for their own self-interest. For this reason, the "fear God" parts of the Bible are probably best considered to be a human construct, rather than the demands of a good god.
Contradictions are inevitable with such a large text as the Bible, and Ecclesiasticus 2:12 says that fearful hearts bring woe upon themselves.
Biblical morality so stunted ethical thinking that "the third century Church Father, Tertullian, could not imagine how God could not demand fear"3:
“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 Hebrew Scriptures, which the Christians adopted as their Old Testament, are infamously violent. The endorsements of violence, mass murder and rape & pillage are dramatic, and are conducted under the direct commands of God for the betterment of the believer's religion4. The worry is that this gives justification for anyone who hears voices in their head telling them to murder for their religion that actually they should do so, and indeed, historically many have used the Bible to justify murder. For example, Emperor Theodosius tricked, trapped and murdered several thousand civilians from Thessalonia, and when his Bishop complained, he argued that he was acting as did David from the Old Testament5,6. Many Jewish terrorists have followed this line of logic and for hundreds of years Europe fell into the barbaric and ignorant dark ages under the terrible machinations of Christian institutions that embraced the Bible's endorsements of violence.
Exodus 15:3 states that God loves war, but it is not just enemy combatants that are the target. Exodus 22:18 has been used as the basis for murdering women accused of all manner of daft superstitious things ("thou shalt not suffer a witch to live"). Exodus 32:27-29 has the God of Israel command the army to murder sons, brothers, friends and neighbours and they are then blessed for doing so. In Numbers 31:17 they are told to murder all the children amongst the enemies and any woman who might be pregnant. Deuteronomy 7:1 tells the Israelites to occupy their future land and exterminate the original inhabitants because they are infidels: "you're to make no compromise with them or show them any mercy". Deuteronomy 13:6-9 says that if your relatives or friends try to get you to worship other gods, you must kill them "without mercy" - a deed that Abraham attempts in Genesis 22:1-18. In Deuteronomy 20:16-18 they are told to exterminate "everything that breaths". Joshua 6:21-24 and Judges 20 tell stories where God wants them to kill "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 looted all they could. All with no morality nor sense of loss at all. 1 Samuel 15:1-8 has it that because the indigenous people of Amalek opposed God's murderous army, they killed all the men, women, children, babies, cattle, camels and donkeys there7. Likewise, in 1 Kings 18:21-40 the great prophet Elijah murders 450 followers of Baal because they follow the wrong God. Not all the slaughter is on God's chosen land: In Esther 9:12-16 the Israelites slaughter over 75,000 enemies in an internal strife in the Persian empire. In Hosea 13:16 the infants of Samaria will be "dashed in pieces" because the people no longer follow Israel's bloody God. If you are in any doubt that God commands bloodshed in his name then Jeremiah 48:10 declares that you will be cursed if you refrain from bloodshed. These examples are where it is Humans carrying out God's will and don't include the many times where God leads by murderous example.”
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.
Some think that the New Testament is nicer than the OT. They are correct; it was written in much more enlightened times. But the NT still endorses violence and murder. 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). But for what ends is this violence to be executed? Luke 14:23 says "Compel people to come in!" for the purpose of "filling" the Church. And henceforth, Christian history contains many unfortunate chapters where Christian groups anathematized one another as heretics, and proceeded 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, "witches", 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 XII8
Aside from the New Testament's endorsement of killing in the name of religion, God itself leads by example. The Book of Revelation is the climax of the New Testament. God reverts to his Old Testament ways. The suffering and pain described in the apocalypse is something that a good god could never let happen. Some excerpts:
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.
God itself sets some very poor examples when it comes to parenting.
“Genesis 6:7 says "And the Lord said, I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth; both man and beast, and the creeping thing, and the fowls of the air; for it repenteth me that I have made them". What does this teach us? If our children do not turn out how we wished, then, we can follow the example of the perfectly just Christian God, and destroy them. And anything around them, including animals and other people. We can deliver group punishments in accordance with the worst offenders amongst them, and, the less bad amongst them are simply unlucky to have been around at the wrong time. It seems that when it comes to good parenting, it is not to the Christian God that we should look!”
Genesis furnishes us with some additional horror in the stories of Lot and his family who lived in Sodom, and, of Abraham and his precious first son Isaac. In Genesis chapters 18 and 19, Lot is rescued from destruction by God's actions for his noble and commendable actions. What did he do? He tried to protect 3 male guests who had arrived at his house, from a mob outside who wanted to rape them. His method of protection was to send out his two virgin daughters and tell the crowd they could do as they pleased with them. In case we doubt God's judgement of Lot, Lot then goes and has children by both of his daughters. The story of Abraham and Isaac in Genesis chapter 22 has Abraham obey the voices in his head which tell him to murder his only son Isaac on an altar as a sacrifice to God. Abraham complies, and is massively rewarded by God (who uncharacteristically stops him at the last moment). Any moral person would have sternly told Abraham that he failed God's test. These two stories tell us that obediance and male honour are valued far ahead of the protection of the family; rape of young daughters and child murder are both preferable to disobeying voices in your head, and risking your male guests from being mobbed.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". Genesis 17:10,12,14 teaches that newborns are to be circumcized, and, those who are not are to be cast away from their friends and family. There seems to be no way to view such teachings in a moral way. The author(s) of the Bible severely lacked moral compassion and a sense of justice. Even when aiming at noble goals, such as respect for family life, the moral teachings derived from this instinct go instantly awry in the Bible - note that the punishment for cursing one's father or mother, and for adultery, is death (Exodus 21:17).
Throughout the Old Testament, male children are promised by God as the ultimate reward, women are often unable to bear children (but this fate never happens to men). Throughout the Old and New, the unequal and barbaric position of women in the family compared to men is infamously misogynistic - there are too many related verses to repeat here.
There are many morals in the Bible that offer very poor advice and which also manage to contradict other moral instructions. Colossians 3:20 says "children, obey your parents in all things: for this is well pleasing unto the Lord" and this is backed up by Deuteronomy 21:18-21 which says that stubborn and rebellious sons are to be stoned by the community (and you might as well accuse them of being drunkards too, because that'll make the elders more likely to comply with the stoning). These messages are of course not actually aimed at children. Very few would read such a sentence and decide to completely abandon childhood in favour of becoming an automaton. And, imagine, if the parents told their children to do immoral things, or instructed them in (god forbid!) the wrong religion, then I am sure that this particular verse would be the first to be overlooked. The Bible itself ignores this "obey your parents" verse when it says to believe in God and abandon your family (remember Matt. 10:34-37, Luke 12:51-53, 14:25 and 18:29). No, these messages are not really aimed at children but at adults, telling us to obey God, the ultimate father-figure, else we suffer the consequences.
All that divine immorality is all Old Testament stuff, isn't it? Unfortunately, in the New Testament the teachings of Jesus do not bring much in the way of hope for family life:
The concept of "Honour Thy Parents" was washed away by Jesus in the New Testament. It contradicts Jesus, who says: "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 a man's foes shall be they of his own household" (Matthew 10:34-37 and Luke 12:51-53). And in Luke 14:25-26 and 18:29, Jesus says "If any man comes to me without hating his father, mother, wife, children, brothers and sisters, yes and his own life too, he cannot be my disciple".
“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.”
“If any man comes to me without hating his father, mother, wife, children, brothers and sisters, yes and his own life too, he cannot be my disciple.”
Jesus and his own immediate relatives, especially his mother:
“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 instead of his family, his fans were his brethren and mother. Luke 2:41-49 tells a story of a 12-year-old Jesus; he wonders off for three days and his parents search for him, before finding him in a temple. They exclaim to him that they've been looking for him sorrowfully, and his cold response is covered by the last two verses of that story: "How is it that ye sought me? wist ye not that I must be about my Father's business? And they understood not the saying which he spake unto them". In both places a little courtesy would have cost nothing. The lack of respect continues in another story in Luke:
“When one of his women listeners was so entranced by his teaching that she cried out 'Happy the womb that bore you and the breasts that you sucked!' Jesus shrugged off this praise of his mother. She was irrelevant: 'Still happier those who hear the word of God and keep it.' (Luke 11:27-28).”
Jesus only speaks to his mother three times in the Bible. The first time is the story above, where he reprimands her for not guessing where he was (when he was 12). The second time, at the feast in Cana, Jesus says to his mum, "Woman, what have I to do with thee?". And the third time was during the crucifixtion, when he said to her: "woman, behold thy son". Not a single positive comment from Jesus to his mum10! In "The Woman's Bible" by Elizabeth Cady Stanton11, the author despairs at the misogyny, and asks:”
“How is it that not one word is said about the death of Mary, not one word about the death of Joseph? How did it happen that Christ did not visit his mother after his resurrection?”
Jesus cared so little for his family that he never sent them messages informing what he was up to even when he was in their immediate locality. In Mark he is found preaching in Galilee, at the start of his ministry. His family "found out" through rumour and gossip, and presuming that he had lost his mind, set out to retrieve him back to their home to recover12.
According to the Gospel of Mathew, a man wanted to follow Jesus, but he had duties at home looking after his old and sick father. He wanted to take care of his father until he died, and then follow Jesus. He says to Jesus "let me go and bury my father first" and Jesus replies coldly "follow me, and leave the dead to bury the dead" (Matthew 8:22). This heartless response stems from the fact that all non-followers of Jesus might as well already be dead, and, that in the Bible, it is said that "the end" was so nigh that there was no more time to wait. You had to follow Jesus now or never. Karen Armstrong says that in today's terms, Jesus' answer could be understood as "put him in a geriatric home and come and follow me"13.
It is strange to hear Christians promote Christian family values as if they were a good thing, when the feelings of relatives are of such little concern to Jesus.
Lance Sievert wrote:
“If I was The Devil I would manifest myself inside of a virgin, say that I am the Son of God and convince everyone that they can now be forgiven for every sin just by asking, thus opening the floodgates for an unprecedented and unending torrent of sin.
I would start with the uneducated and the poor. I would impress them with some magic tricks, teach them to pretend to eat my flesh, drink my blood and always, ALWAYS, use MY name when speaking to God.
I would most assuredly use my immortality to fool them into thinking I came back from the dead as proof of my divinity.
What better way to channel more souls away from God and straight into Hell?”
For a fuller analysis of the illogical nature of the crucifixion, see:
The evidence and logic is even more compelling than the anecdote above. The whole scheme of the life of Jesus does not add up, and it is very hard to reconcile it with the plans of an all-knowing, good God.
The crucifixion makes no sense. The crucifixion did not empower God as God is omnipotent. It did not aid its understanding of Humanity, as God is omniscient. God did not need to become Human to experience Human suffering: God already knew. God is able to judge us perfectly, because God is perfect, just and all-knowing. The crucifixion of Jesus did not improve God's judgement of us, as God's judgement was perfect both before and after the crucifixion. The crucifixion did not aid us, as "knowing Jesus" was not the point of the crucifixion unless God has arbitrarily condemned everyone to hell who happened to live before the founding of Christianity. That those who lived before the time of Jesus' crucifixion are also judged fairly by (perfect) God means that there was no actual point to it all except as a needless public relations exercise. The entire escapade seems to be an irrational story copied from pre-Christian myths.
But it does make sense if the God of the Bible is evil. Then the magic tricks make sense, as Lance Sievert has said, as the successful attempts of an evil god to impress us simple mortals.
“The Bible teaches that there is no free will. Examining Exodus, Ecclesiastes 7, Ephesians 1, Ephesians 2, Matthew 5:45, 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. Augustine15 (one of the founders of Western Christianity), Martin Luther (founder of Protestantism) and John Calvin (founder of Calvinism).”
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.
The Book of Numbers in the Hebrew Scriptures / Old Testament contains two examples of some very limited communication methods used by God. Both would have serious deleterious consequences if we didn't ignore these verses.
Numbers 12:6 has God say "Hear now my words: If there be a prophet among you, I, the Lord, will make myself known unto him in a vision, and will speak unto him in a dream". But this is a clear-cut path to chaos and anarchy, and would immediately undermine all religion. If we trusted Numbers 12:6, then, it would mean that Christianity isn't true, because too many people have had visions of Krishna and Buddha. Likewise, Hinduism cannot be true because too many people have had visions of a monotheistic God. Instead, it must be the case that most visions are actually wrong - they are delusions and illusions. Fortunately for us, we have learnt much about human neurology and we know many of the physiological and neurological causes of visions (see: Experiences of God are Illusions, Derived from Malfunctioning Psychological Processes). We now know simply to disregard Numbers 12:6.
Numbers 22:21-34 tells a rather odd story where a man, Balaam, is travelling one way, when God wants him to go another. God's method of communication here - out of all the means available to the miracle-worker Creator of the Universe, is to have the donkey do things. At first the donkey merely resists because God sends an invisible angel to stand in their way, that only the donkey can see. The man, of course, has no idea why the donkey is being stubborn and strikes the donkey a few times. I could not think of a poorer method of communication than an unspeaking invisible angel. It is so daft that the Qur'an makes fun of it in Sura 31:19 - "indeed, the most disagreeable of sounds is the voice of donkeys". When the donkey speaks, things get a little clearer - eventually. The moral of the story is somewhat shaky: if an animal resists doing what you want, then do not make it obey you because it might be God trying to communicate with you.
The parables of Jesus are famous for two reasons. Firstly, because they are often catchy and often repeated by many in the influential Christian world. And secondly, because they are so confusing that consensus on their meanings is very rare, and, often in the New Testament itself it describes Jesus' very own disciples as not understanding them.
“It seems that not only does the Bible describe a God who is a very poor communicator, but that the Bible itself is communicated very poorly.”
It is theologically problematic that Jesus decided not to write anything down. For thousands of years, mistranslations of important Biblical verses have misinformed the masses on even important points, such as whether Jesus' mother was a virgin or not. The Bible has caused endless confusion with the irregularities, inconsistencies and ambiguities of its text. On top of that are the mistranslations, cultural misunderstandings and outright subjectivist attempts at exegesis by those who are genuinely and passionately trying to understand the core text of their religion. It seems that not only does the Bible describe a God who is a very poor communicator, but that the Bible itself is communicated very poorly.
It cannot be the case, therefore, that people need the Bible nor that people have to know the right things, or have the right beliefs, in order to fulfil God's plan. (In-)famous playwright Tim Rice once had this idea, too, and put it to verse...:
You'd have managed Peter better if you'd had it planned
Now why'd you choose such a backward time and such a strange land?
If you'd come today you could have reached a whole nation
Israel in 4 BC had no mass communication!”
Jesus Christ Superstar (1971)
Written by Tim Rice
We have seen that God's communication methods in the Bible are portrayed in a highly unclear, indirect and obscure way (at best). Sometimes (such as with Balaam) God seems to be an incompetent communicator. Is there an underlying reason? The answer depends on your notion of God's personality. You see, its poor communication is only a problem if you happen to think that God wants us to know the truth and to believe the right things. What if God wants us to have different beliefs and religions at different times and in different places? Then, God's ambiguous whisperings make more sense.
“If we knew the truth, our existential crises, mental angst and warring world religions would have no grounds to vex. If god revealed itself to everyone, in no unclear terms, there could be no disagreement. But god does not do this. God remains hidden - and if god is the source of any of our world religions, it seems that it is intentionally giving conflicting messages. Saying one set of things to one group of people; appearing as a multitude of gods to others, and appearing not at all to many. These appear to be the tactics not of a god that wants us to understand and unite, but of one that actively encourages division, war, conflict, confusion and stress. [...]
Religions that fight each other tend to make their adherents believe in them even more strongly. Group solidarity comes into effect: when you have enemies, you keep a closer grip on your friends and also reinforce your own group identity. So, an evil God would appear to mankind in a variety of guises and preach a number of powerful, but conflicting, religions. It would therefore create maximum confusion, and maximum suffering, through war and intolerance. It would preach to each religion that its followers were right and other followers were wrong! These groups would all wholeheartedly believe that as God (or, the gods) has revealed the truth to them, other religions must be wrong and ungodly. That way, most of the weak, inferior, pathetic people that the evil god creates would fall foul of one religion or another, and be duped! Once duped, they'd cling to the lies even more the stronger because of the existence of competing religions. An evil God, indeed, would do this, and this is exactly the state the world is in. Coincidence? If there is a God, it is surely evil!”
If you think it is far-fetched to say that the Christian god intentionally causes confusion and division, and is therefore evil, then perhaps one more story of the Bible will help, from Genesis chapter 11:
1Now the whole world had one language and a common speech. 2As people moved eastward* they found a plain in Shinar [Babylonia] and settled there. [...]
4Then they said, "Come, let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we may make a name for ourselves; otherwise we will be scattered over the face of the whole earth."
5But the Lord came down to see the city and the tower the people were building. 6The Lord said, "If as one people speaking the same language they have begun to do this, then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them. 7Come, let us go down and confuse their language so they will not understand each other."
8So the Lord scattered them from there over all the earth, and they stopped building the city. 9That is why it was called Babel - because there the Lord confused the language of the whole world. From there the Lord scattered them over the face of the whole earth.
Some justifications that mankind was attempting to steal God's power or aiming to be like God (i.e. 'reaching the heavens') don't make sense, as God is all-knowing and would have known that this was impossible to do by building a tower, no matter how high.
If you accept this story as fable and myth, then, it is clear to see that it is the attempt of a primitive people to explain why Humans have different languages. As such, the story isn't really a religious one and ought to be ignored. If you accept that Bible is the Word of God, however, it shows the Christian Biblical God to be the author of confusion and division, just as we already suspected.
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)17. Such arguments have been used by many philosophers as evidence against belief in god18,19. 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.”