Monday, December 1, 2014

Why Did God Kill 25 Million People In Old Testament? (A Brief Response To The Atheists)

                 That God killed 25 million people seems to be a guesstimate of some atheists, but those numbers do not matter.

            Justice is God’s attribute, so HE cannot unjustly kill even one person. Justice, moreover, is an ontologically necessary attribute for a maximally great and perfect being - God. Therefore, God cannot be unjust.

            Since God created everything – humans included, and because God is a just God, HE alone has the sole authority to give and take life. To reiterate then, metaphysically a just God cannot unjustly kill even one person, for God cannot act contrary to HIS nature.

            All that matters is if God has revealed morally sufficient and justifiable reasons for eliminating lives. 

            Hence 25 million is not a number we are concerned about; instead we are concerned about God’s justice. So our question is, “Was God just in killing a large number of people as recorded in the Old Testament?”

            Two introductory remarks are essential.

            First, Bible records God’s killings. If God is evil and unjust, HE need not have allowed HIS people to record those deaths. So to begin with, the fact that God allowed the deaths of people to be recorded in HIS revelation to mankind a.k.a the Bible, suggests that HE is a just God.

            Second, this hue and cry about God being a ruthless killer is predominately posited by atheists. Their intent is to establish that God does not love (for if HE loved, HE would not have killed), and hence there is no such loving and a just God.

            Atheists do not believe in objective moral values / law (e.g. killing of people is morally incorrect). If an atheist believes in objective moral values, then he should posit an objective moral law giver, who is none other than God. When atheists appeal to an objective moral law to deny God’s existence, they are merely invoking God’s presence. So their argument is self-defeating.  

            Despite their self-defeating argument, atheists persist in excoriating God. They ridicule God to render the Christian Bible as unworthy of trust. Thus atheists attack the inerrancy of God’s Word – The Bible.

            Think about this. Although an atheist ridicules God for killings, he never has a reasonable answer (than the answer posited by Christians) to explain the evil in our world.

            If an atheist is questioned about evil and its cause, his most reasonable response would be that people are merely dancing to the music of their DNA. While discussing the reason for evil from within the atheistic perspective, an atheist social media debater remarked, “Oh evil just happens.” This is their best answer.

            Do these answers genuinely satisfy a rational mind? No.

            As much as an atheist loves to excoriate God, much to our chagrin, he consistently fails to come up with reasonable responses. But on the other hand, he vehemently and irrationally denies the rational responses posited by the Christians. Such is their hypocrisy.

            Having said this, a just God has morally sufficient reasons to kill people, so God is justified and none can fault God. What then is one morally sufficient and justifiable reason for God to kill people?

God Can Kill Wicked & Unrepentant People

            Deuteronomy 2:34, 3:6, 20:16-18, Exodus 23:23, Deuteronomy 7:1-2, Joshua 3:10, 9:24 and 1 Samuel 15:2-3 record God’s command to exterminate people. Take for instance the Canaanites, who were they?

            They were wicked. They practiced idolatry, witchcraft, soothsaying, sorcery, incest, adultery, child sacrifice, homosexuality and bestiality.1

            But wasn’t there a chance for these people to repent and be good? Yes. Genesis 15: 13-16 teaches that God refrained from his judgment upon the Canaanites for 400 years during which time God’s own people languished in slavery.

            If Canaanites did not repent in 400 years, common sense suggests that they would not have repented even if God had given them another 400 years. But God is omniscient (God possesses middle knowledge2 as well). Thus God knew precisely that Canaanites would not repent. Hence God judged them.

            What about children who were killed? Was God unjust in killing children? No!

            Death is either a gateway to heaven or hell. When children die, God in HIS grace takes them into HIS own presence (Cf. 2 Samuel 12: 23). So the death of children is in fact their salvation. Children who die will be with God in heaven.

            Just as how the owner of a building possesses all authority to demolish a building, God, the owner of every life, possesses all authority to create and to eliminate life. Instead of allowing the children to grow in the Canaanite practice, God in HIS mercy takes them away, and by doing so, favors the children from an eternal perspective.

            Having said this, let us engage some objections:

Objection #1: God Killed Millions But Satan Killed Only 60!

            Obviously this objection accuses God as the greater evil. Since the source of the data for this objection is the Bible, it’s only reasonable that we posit a response from the Bible.

            The Bible does not refer to Satan as a good being. Satan opposes God. The Bible terms Satan as an accuser (Revelation 12:10), tempter (Matthew 4:3; 1 Thessalonians 3:5), and a deceiver (Genesis 3; 2 Corinthians 4:4; Revelation 20:3).

            If Satan opposes God, and if God is an evil killer (as proclaimed by the atheists), then Satan should be intrinsically good. But Satan is not good, instead Satan is purely evil. Therefore, the inverse condition is more reasonable i.e. since Satan, the evil being, opposes God, God should be intrinsically good.

            Significantly, those who raise this objection against God display a serious inadequacy of biblical comprehension. God is sovereign, whereas Satan is not. It is also evident from the Bible that Satan is not independent of God. Satan cannot kill anyone without God allowing him to. Therefore, attribute the 60 or whatever number that one wants to add to Satan’s credit into God’s account.

            Every single death by Satan can be reasonably explained. Consider Job’s family that was killed by Satan.

            God allowed it for a particular reason. While God commends Job’s righteousness, Satan accused Job of being godly and righteous for selfish reasons. If the godliness of a righteous man in whom God delights can be shown to be a terrible sin, then redemption is unimaginable, for the godliest of godly will be the most ungodly. More importantly, God’s judgment about Job’s righteousness would have been proven erroneous.

            Therefore, God allows Job’s travails, and true to God’s commendation, Job emerges as godly and righteous after that severe trial. Satan was proven to be a false accuser.

Objection #2: God Cannot Murder

            If you and I cannot murder, then God cannot murder as well.

            Because the universe in its creational intent is temporal, human life is also temporal. Therefore the creational intent is that death is inevitable for every human life - that which is born should die. As said before, only the creator God can eliminate life when HE determines the appropriate time and reason according to HIS perfect knowledge and justice.  

            God does not murder when HE eliminates life from this temporal world. God judges people for violating HIS laws. The consequence of God’s judgment is death initiated by God.

            A case in point is that a just human judge does not murder when he sentences a convict to death; instead the judge pronounces a judgment upon a law-offender. A judge has the authority to sentence a criminal to death, if the said criminal is a proven offender of the law.

Objection #3: If God Can Kill, So Can A Parent

            Life is created by God. A father and a mother do not create life. They merely provide the sperm and the egg, which is the creational design of God. Thus father and mother are a means to creation of life.

            Parents are created beings themselves. Parents are not creators of life. Therefore, parents are merely stewards of life created by God.

            Since parents are not creators, they are not owners of life, hence parents, as created beings themselves, do not have the authority to eliminate life. Only the creator God has the authority to eliminate life. No one else has this authority.

Objection #4: Why Did God Not Offer Sodom & Gomorrah 400 years To Repent?

            We posit God’s deferral of judgment upon Canaanites for 400 years as justification for the Canaanite massacre. But this act of God requires a greater understanding.

            God is omniscient – HE knows everything with respect to the past, present and the future. God possesses middle knowledge as well.

            To begin with, God would have known that even in 400 years the Canaanites would not repent. So to infer that God hoped for the Canaanites to repent and believe in HIM is incorrect.

            Why then did God wait for 400 years to judge Canaanites? On one hand, God waited for 400 years to judge the Canaanites but on the other hand, God punished Sodom & Gomorrah rather quickly. Why?

            Both Canaanites and the residents of Sodom and Gomorrah were guilty of sins against God. Neither of them repented before God’s judgment. So it was morally sufficient and justifiable for God to judge them both for their sins.

            The Bible teaches us, “Will not the Judge of all the earth do right?” (Genesis 18: 25c, NIV). God, for reasons that are just, but best known to HIM, defers judgment upon people, according to HIS will.

            But the Bible does provide a clue about God’s judgment of Canaanites and Sodomites. In Genesis 15: 13-16, God says that “…the sin of the Amorites has not yet reached its full measure.” So God waited for their sins to reach its full measure to pronounce judgment upon the Amorites - a Canaanite clan. Similarly it is possible that the sins of Sodom and Gomorrah had reached its full measure when judgment was pronounced (Cf. Genesis 19: 13).   


            We can go on and on reasonably dealing with every objection that are posited against God. When a mind compulsively argues against God, then it’s a given that that mind integrally refuses or does not innately desire to comprehend God. This is a mind that has rejected God. This mind, as long as it continues to integrally reject God, will not comprehend God, barring a divine intervention in the likeness of an intervention on the road to Damascus.  

            Then there are honest objections against God. These objections are from a mind that earnestly desires and seeks to comprehend God and HIS actions in this world. An infinite being’s actions in this world are not effortlessly comprehensible by finite minds, such as yours and mine.

            Therefore, our starting point is to earnestly seek God in all humility for all our doubts and confusions. May we, by the grace of God, endeavor to assimilate the humility that Christ practiced, and may the peace of God that transcends human comprehension fill our hearts and minds and guard us in Christ Jesus. Amen.   



2 Dr. William Lane Craig defines middle knowledge as the knowledge of what every possible person would freely do in any circumstances in which God might place him, God knows what sort of evidence will be non-coercively conducive to belief on the part of each human person.

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