Is God evil?

Hey .. you true believers out there – will one of you please explain why your group always seems to run away from the tough questions? It’s not like you can’t see them .. or maybe you can’t, but when they are pointed out to you – why don’t you answer? Please, try and prove me wrong. I don’t want to believe that the ‘one’ God in the bible is evil – but the facts seem to speak for themselves. What do I mean? How can I possibly say that? Well, to start with, I don’t believe there’s only one God .. so let’s be a little specific and look only at the OT one, for now.

Is God evil?

First let’s define evil.

1. Morally bad or wrong; wicked: an evil tyrant.
2. Causing ruin, injury, or pain; harmful: the evil effects of a poor diet.
3. Characterized by or indicating future misfortune; ominous: evil omens.
4. Bad or blameworthy by report; infamous: an evil reputation.
5. Characterized by anger or spite; malicious: an evil temper.
n.
1. The quality of being morally bad or wrong; wickedness.
2. That which causes harm, misfortune, or destruction: a leader’s power to do both good and evil.
3. An evil force, power, or personification.
4. Something that is a cause or source of suffering, injury, or destruction: the social evils of poverty and injustice.
adv. Archaic
In an evil manner.

TheFreeDictionary – evil That is a fascinating page. I am grateful to the creator of the page for all the information on it.

Here’s a simply hypothesis – did God create all things? Let’s look in Genesis. The first two chapters are very specific – he created the heavens and the earth and everything in it. Paul in Colossians (or whomever actually wrote it, since the author is under dispute) 1:16 certainly thinks so. So says Revelation 4:11, 10:6, Isaiah 42:5, 45:12 and, creation through Jesus is stressed in Colossians 1:15-18, John 1:1-3,10, Ephesians 3:9. That’s pretty clear.

Since God created everything, where did evil come from? It can’t have come from some outside source if God IS everything, and it must have God within it since God is IN everything. So where does that leave us with this very brief question? Yes, God ‘is’ evil, just in the same way he/IT ‘is’ good. Back to Genesis 1:27 “So God created humankind in his image, in the image of God he created them, male and female he created them.” Now we know where we get it from.

Not enough, hey? Ok, let’s look at the concept of ‘morally wrong acts’.

Is it morally wrong to give a bomb to a child and ask it not pull the pin? Or a loaded gun and ask it not to point and shoot? Yes, I’m talking about Adam and Eve. Why put them into a garden of perfection, and then deliberately point out the only tree they were not allowed to touch? And how did the serpent get in there in the first place, to ‘tempt’ them to their own destruction? Don’t tell me the all knowing God didn’t know Satan (for want of a more accurate name) was there? Doesn’t that remove the whole concept of ‘all knowing’? Did God expect too much of it’s innocent (childlike) creations? And on that thought, why did God create beings that couldn’t change? Because hanging around in a beautiful garden, without having to do a thing ever, is not going to teach anyone anything .. but pop in a bit of temptation, and suddenly the humans had to fend for themselves in an unknown wilderness .. that’s a great way to learn to survive, or perish.

Now let’s step out of the garden and into Lot’s life. Is one act of evil mitigated by another act of evil? Is it morally wrong to destroy two entire communities of people who are acting in morally wrong ways? How does anyone get a chance to learn and change if you take away their lives .. and where did they go when they were dead – because hell was not really an OT topic? But that’s another story. And why kill Lot’s wife for looking over her shoulder, and not kill her daughters for acts of incest, that God later decided were not good behaviour? What changed his mind?

Then we’ll look at Abraham. Is it morally wrong to ask a man to kill his son to prove his faith? Is lying wrong too, because God obviously had no intention of allowing the boy to die, so why put Abraham through that psychological torture (and it had to be torture, unless the man was a nut), when God thought Abraham was a true believer?

And talking about true believers, how about Job. He’s a conundrum all to himself. I really should go back to Saul, another of my favourites .. one of God’s favourites for a while, until he disobeyed the order to ‘murder an entire tribe of people’ (shades of Sodom and Gomorrah?) just because God didn’t like them at the time. God sent ‘an evil angel from the Lord’ to torment him into insanity. Is that a moral act? After all, he murdered hundreds, perhaps thousands, of innocent people, and only spared one and some food.

Is the OT God evil? Well, how would those people feel about it? And why should we love such a God, if IT cannot be trusted to speak first before pulling the trigger? If a person like that breaks into your home what would you do?

And then we have the NT God who teaches “love one another as I have loved you”. The most evil act IT did seems to have been to ask Jesus to sacrifice himself for love of us. I think I’ll stick with EL.

Love & Peace
Ama

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Lot – a righteous man?

After the university course I realised I will never be an academic. I don’t think the same way. I am taught to keep things simple and understandable. Dissecting God’s Word to find all the hidden meanings leaves me cold, because I don’t think that, if God had written this book, he/IT would have wanted it to be so complicated that no one could understand what it was about, except God’s especially trained scholars – but who does the training, and where do they get their ideas from? From other scholars, from other eras, and other viewpoints (nations, beliefs and ancient religions) of the world. And where do those scholars get their wisdom? And how much of it is affected by what they ‘want’ to believe, rather than what is actually the Truth? We all measure Truth by our own wants, needs and experiences – for none of us is perfect, and none of us is God. But then, the thought occurs to me, that perhaps this OT God did want the book to be confusing, and need to be explained .. so that IT could get away with behaviour that would be unjustifiable if ‘we’ did it? Or is it simply a record of what happened in those times, to those people, with a God that loved one minute, and smited you the next?

So the ordinary folk were told the basic stories, and perhaps had some of their questions explained away, but how many of them had the intelligence, or the desire, to dig any deeper into what God ‘might’ have meant, or the motives behind what he/IT did? No, it took the minds of men, seeking to make God reasonable and understandable, to make excuses for confusing, or frightening, behaviour.

And I am still in Genesis right now, going from one story to another, looking at Jehovah, while Jehovah is looking at Lot and his family, and the towns of Sodom and Gomorrah.

Sodom and Gomorrah, two towns of five, in the region, that housed unrighteous men. What does righteous actually mean? “Righteousness (also called rectitude) is an important theological concept in Zoroastrianism, Hinduism (dharma), Judaism, Christianity and Islam. It is an attribute that implies that a person’s actions are justified, and can have the connotation that the person has been “judged” or “reckoned” as leading a life that is pleasing to God.” Its chief meaning concerns ethical conduct. Righteousness – Wikipedia. Simply put it means integrity, equity, justice and straightness.

So God saw Sodom and sent two angels in to find ten righteous men, thanks to Abraham’s very determined bargaining, for Lot was one of his family and lived there. (Genesis 18:26-33) On the night they arrived all the men of Sodom gathered around Lot’s house and demanded that he send the ‘men’ out to ‘know’ them, which I am told means ‘have sex with them’, and Lot refused. He was happy enough for his two virgin daughters to be used and abused (19:8) by the mob, and he almost took a beating to try and protect God’s messengers, but some of the mob were struck blind, and the doorway was hidden from them, and all the others left. The next morning Lot and his wife and daughters had to be dragged out of town, because he was reluctant to leave. He would not obey the angels when they told him to run to the hills. Instead he sought safety in the next small town. On the way his wife could not restrain her curiosity, so she had turned back to watch her home being destroyed and, in that moment, was turned into a pillar of salt. Why? I was taught that she had disobeyed the angels who said ‘do not look back ..’ and so God punished her.

Before we stop and analyse what was happening, the story has to continue. Lot and his daughters tried to settle in Zoar, but still feeling unsafe moved up into a cave. While in cave the daughters decided that having sex with their father would secure the family line, giving birth to two sons.

And so the questions start. Were the angels/men looking for Lot, since Abraham had pleaded for the town because of him? He obviously acted as a good host to them. Did the men of the town always act that way with newcomers? How did they trade with other towns if the travellers were always accosted after dark if they did? Or could the townsfolk see there was something different about those men? Could Lot tell they were angels after they entered his house? Did they tell him of their mission? Fearing God, and because of that the angels, did Lot then feel he was trapped between a rock and a hard place when the townsfolk came knocking? Why didn’t he trust God to take care of the angels, rather than offering the men outside his virgin daughters .. given that the men were homosexuals anyway, the offer was completely pointless .. perhaps he should have offered them himself? For him God had to be more important than his own offspring, which is one way Lot is described as a righteous man, but I don’t see him that way. He didn’t ‘trust’ God to look after the angels, and therefore himself and his family. The town was already lost, given the behaviour of the mob. What good would it have done to give his daughter’s over to them who were not interested in ‘knowing’ them? It wasn’t going to change the outcome anyway.

To me, Lot is a no hero, nor a righteous man. It appears he was willing to sacrifice his own daughters for his God, even though he didn’t trust God, and he didn’t think the angels could look after themselves. In the morning, knowing the fate of the town, he was still reluctant to leave when he was told to. Perhaps his motive was to try and protect the town, but he was defying God’s wishes in staying. Later he wouldn’t go to the cave when he was told to by the angels. And then how drunk was he actually when his daughters came to him for sex. I believe alcohol tends to stop a man from being able to do the ‘act’, so he couldn’t have been so drunk that he didn’t know what he was doing.

And I have questions about Lot’s daughters. Why did they not seek out husbands to replace those who had died in Sodom? There were still three other towns in the region they could have chosen from? Or were they so frightened by what had happened to Sodom and Gomorrah that they would rather break social norms .. or did they? Was incest acceptable to God, given that Abraham married his half-sister? Some brief research later – it seems that incest was allowable for the first 1500 years, but after that God made a law that outlawed it. (Leviticus 18:6-18) Why did it take so long? Or had the ‘all-knowing’ God not thought of genetic abnormalities?

And why did God rescue Lot and his family? It was not because he and his family were righteous. Lot betrayed God by not trusting him, his wife by her curiosty, and his daughters .. well, the new rule didn’t get made for a few years after that, but I think I would be very angry with my father for his willingness to place me in harms way ‘for God’. But that’s just me. I don’t think doing evil ‘for God’ makes us justified.

Lastly, what does it say about the ‘love everyone’ God? Does ‘everyone’ not mean all the people created by God? Were the people in Sodom and Gomorrah created by someone else? And what about ‘righteous’ women? The men might have been unforgivable, but were all the women? I realise the Bible was written by patriarchal men, and women had little value back then, or did they? But, hang on, I thought God wrote the bible? Does he/IT value women less too?

Always more questions!

Love & Peace
Ama

I have questions …

I was talking to my daughter today, who has been reading this blog, and she suggested I put my opinions into all my discussions. Having just read the articles again, I think I already am .. but mostly my opinions come out with about a thousand questions, because I am trying to make sense of what I am reading .. I am in fact, just like Hedley Lamarr, “My mind is a raging torrent, flooded with rivulets of thought cascading into a waterfall of creative alternatives”. (Blazing Saddles, 1974) My mind leap frogs from one thought to another, trying to understand how the God of the OT can be the same God as the NT, when he/she/it (yes, I will call it IT from now on) does things like let Satan ‘test’ Job by destroying his whole family; not punish Lot’s daughters for sleeping with their father, even after their mother is turned into a pillar of salt for looking back to her home be destroyed; and asking Abraham to kill his own son, to prove his faith; and then IT turns around and says, through Jesus, “Love one another as I have loved you”. If we went by actions alone, the OT god has proved ITself totally untrustworthy, and the NT God then turning around and saying ‘trust me’, is kind of like the vampire in Buffy (the movie) doing the same. Why would I want to? I can’t turn my back on you. What’s the other message – incest is just fine, but curiosity isn’t?

So I have questions –

Let’s talk about Abraham. Abraham’s legacy, or legend, is that he had two sons late in life, the first by his wife’s servant/slave, Hagar, and the second by his wife (after God healed her of barrenness), who was his half-sister (same father). Now Sarah, not wanting competition for their legitimate heir, had Abraham turn Hagar out into the desert with Ishmael. My first question would have to be why didn’t God cure Sarah’s barronness before Ishmael was conceived, and after that we hit the cascade – what did Hagar and Ishmael do to deserve being tossed out, and how could Abraham do it, knowing it was entirely possible that both of them would die out there? Does this make Abraham a good man to be the founder of the Jewish faith, not to mention the Christian and Muslim? Is infanticide acceptable to God? Did Ishmael suddenly lose importance to God, not just Abraham, because Sarah had a baby at around 90 years – no, God was there, he was the one who advised Abraham to do what Sarah asked, and afterwards IT came up to Hagar and helped her, but if IT is all-knowing and all-wise, why did IT (God) allow the situation in the first place?

How about this thought – last night I watched a TV program about the history, and legacy, of Abraham and his decision to cast away his first son. It seems that God blessed both Ishamel, and Isaac, Sarah’s son. Ishamel’s descendents became the Muslims, and Isaac’s became the Christians, and the hatred between them .. is still present in the modern day. And why? How does having a willingness to kill your own child prove you are a good man and one worthy of being honoured by God – by IT bestowing the gift of ‘land’ on you and your descendents? Hence the conflict between Israel and Palestine. The Israelites believe God gave them the land the Palestinians live on, and they want it back .. and they are not adverse to just ‘taking’ it .. after all, God gave it to their Ancestor .. but .. which one of the son’s is actually supposed to hold it? Was that what the ‘love everyone’ God was trying to create .. a war that began perhaps 4000 years ago, and continues today? Or was that why IT wanted one of the son’s killed, to simplify the situation? And who’s angel was it that stopped Abraham’s hand? But that’s another thought completely. And then .. which son did God actually ask Abraham to sacrifice to IT? The Jews say it was Isaac, and the Muslims say it was Ishmael. I think it really doesn’t matter. What loving God would demand a sacrifice of anyone’s child, to prove a person’s faith? And not just once . oh no …

Let’s talk about Job.

Job, a true believer, a ‘blameless and upright’ man, who feared God and turned away from evil (Job 1:1), had seven sons and three daughters when God told Satan is was all right with him to test Job’s faith. Job worried for his family, and made sure that all of them were ‘right’ with God, but who looked after him? What did he do to God to make God turn him into an example? Nothing. Up until the moment of Satan’s discussion about Job’s faith, God had blessed Job with abundance, but within minutes it was all gone. What did Job do? He tore his robe, shaved his head, and fell on the ground and worshipped God. Was that enough? Oh no. Satan demanded to ‘test’ Job more and God said “very well, he is in your power, only spare his life” (Job 1:6). And Job was then ‘inflicted by loathsome sores’ all over his body. And yet Job still worshipped God. He blamed himself for doing something wrong, rather than questioning God’s judgment upon him (Job 6:24). Even his wife demanded he curse God and die, and his friends turned against him and told him it had to be his fault that the suffering was happening ‘because God doesn’t punish people for no reason’, and yet we know, from the story itself, that the only reason Job lost all his children and possessions was because God told Satan he could be tested. In the end God restored Job’s fortune, and he went on to have more children, but who was Job then, how could what had happened not changed him in some way? Or was he simple crazy, or the story an allegory .. because God is not the loving God in this one. Was Job the sacrifice to show Satan that IT had one true follower? What does that mean for the rest of us, who are not as strong, or as crazy, as Job? What will happen to us when we blame God when things go wrong in our lives, as people so often do?

.. now that is an interesting thought – because, in this age of mass media and instant communication, if God smited someone for losing faith in IT, you would have thought we’d hear? Because people lose faith all the time, and the story of Job is one of the reasons why they do.

So the next question has to be – what changed God? Or did we change one God for another? But that will be for another time.

Love & Peace
Ama