Was God being cruel for striking Uzzah dead for touching the ark of the covenant?

If you want to find a story where Yahweh looks like a merciless dictator, critics will say look no further than the story of David returning the Ark to Jerusalem. There was dancing in the streets as they were bringing the Ark back when all of a sudden the proverbial needle scratched off the record. Uzzah was struck dead for trying to keep the cart from falling when one of the oxen stumbled. Here’s the passage in question: “David again gathered all the chosen men of Israel, thirty thousand. And David arose and went with all the people who were with him from Baale-Judah to bring up from there the ark of God, which is called … Read more

Did Jesus cleanse the temple twice? Was he throwing a temper tantrum?

Noted biblical scholar and critic Bart Ehrman says that the gospels have hopelessly irreconcilable differences. Therefore they can’t be trusted as reliable documents. One big difference would be the story of the cleansing of the Temple when you compare John and Mark (and the other synoptic gospels). Here’s Bart:  The Gospel of Mark indicates that it was in the last week of his life that Jesus “cleansed the Temple” by overturning the tables of the money changers and saying, “This is to be a house of prayer…but you have made it a den of thieves” (Mark 11), whereas according to John this happened at the very beginning of Jesus’ ministry (John 2). Some readers have … Read more

The way skeptics argue against God reveals why God is so hidden to them

Christianity says that God loves everyone. It also teaches that God is all-powerful and he’s worked some crazy-amazing miracles in the past. The Bible also says that God knows everything, so he’d know what kind of convincing people need. So why are there atheists? Therefore, the reasoning goes that there probably is no God, or at least not one who cares enough to communicate clearly with us. This is a pretty common thing you’ll hear when talking to skeptics. There are certainly fancier ways of laying out this argument, but this is what philosophers call the problem of divine hiddenness. One of the things that critics of this argument have pointed out is that God … Read more

How could an all-loving God command Abraham to sacrifice his son Isaac?

is god into child sacrifice?

In 2003, Deanna Laney stoned two of her young children to death. She tried to kill her third child, who was only 14 months old, but the child survived his injuries. During the police investigation, Laney claimed God ordered her to kill her sons. Horror stories like this often get co-opted by anti-religionists. The question posed to the believer goes like this: If God told you to kill your children, would you do it? If you say yes, you’re deranged and insane. If you say no, then you’re not as faithful as God’s man Abraham. According to the critics, the story of Abraham and Isaac shows that God is not above child-sacrifice. How could an … Read more

Marry your rapist? Female POWs as war trophies? Does the Old Testament really condone rape?

When attacking atheism, Christians will say without God, there is no objective right or wrong. With no divine lawgiver, everything is permitted. Rape might be taboo, but there is no way the atheist can say that it is truly evil. If the skeptic knows a bit about the Old Testament, they might be glad you brought up the R-word. “Oh really!? Well, then how can morality be based on a divine lawgiver that condones and allows rape?” Admittedly, there is some funky sounding stuff in the Old Testament. For example: We read in Judges that the Israelites hatched a scheme to allow the pathetic Benjaminites to essentially rape 400 women at Jabesh-Gilead so their clan’s … Read more

Killing the Canaanites: Why can’t atheists like Richard Dawkins tell the difference between genocide and justified capital punishment?

Critics of Christianity (and Judaism) have said that the God of the Old Testament is worse than Hitler, Stalin and Mao Zedong put together. Richard Dawkins has famously wrote in his book The God Delusion: “The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully.” Dawkins must have had his thesaurus handy when he wrote that, but I digress. It’s not as if Dawkins and other critics have no basis for these claims. Deuteronomy 20:16-17 reads “… in the cities of these … Read more