VT Debate–Response to the Atheist Objection that God is a Moral Monster

by Max Andrews

There were two main objections, which my atheist opponents defended during the VT debate on the existence of God.  One of the objections was from the problem of gratuitous evil, particularly natural evil, which I have already responded to here. The other objection raised during the debate was presented first after my opening statements. The argument was that because me and my debate partner were Christian theists the Christian God cannot exist because of the supposed atrocities in the Bible and other doctrines such as hell.

The argument began with the problem of predisposition. In other words, why you must approach your faith of choice with objectivity and skepticism and not confirmation bias.  However, in response, in order to identify and affirm the discovery of a truth one must not exhaust all possibilities.  Additionally, it works both ways.  If the criterion is applied fairly how can one deny the proposition, in this case, God exists, without examining all possibilities?  This criterion is untenable.  Also, to suggest that one is a Christian because of environment or spatiotemporal location is to commit the genetic fallacy.

The argument then unfolded into a list of lengthy examples and references to Levitical laws, the conquest of Canaan, etc., to demonstrate that God’s commands are morally insufficient of a perfectly moral being.  In response to this objection, understanding the role and background of Levitical laws requires an advanced knowledge of hermeneutics (for an example of an exegesis of Levitical law please see my exegesis of Leviticus 19.26-28).  With regards to how we should understand divine command theory please read What if God Commanded You to do Something Wrong?.  In essence, there must be a lengthy response with a proper understanding of the role of sin, divine holiness, and historical background in order to understand Levitical law and divine command theory.  Mere assertions without any meaningful exegesis doesn’t do any justice to biblical text nor does it help the objection without substantial exegesis to suggest that what is being purported as morally insufficient is what the text is actually saying.  Hopefully, my examples and explanation of divine command theory can help dilute and remove the objection.

The objections based on God’s morally insufficient laws and commands were then followed by examples of biblical inaccuracies.  On the blog that was operated by one of the atheist’s he had a document nearly fifty pages in length with arguments against Christian theism, which was created by an apostate youth pastor.  I went through the entire document and responded to the main points prior to the debate.  It was certainly well researched with gathering these supposed examples.

What I found interesting about these arguments is that they are utterly irrelevant to the topic of the debate: Does God probably exist, or not?  These twenty minutes were spent constructing a red herring.  What he was really objecting to was biblical inerrancy and not the existence of God.  The atheist was treating biblical inerrancy as a necessary condition for the existence of God.  In other words, the commands and laws found in the Bible must be true if God exists.  This would take the form of a modus tollens argument:

  1. If God exists then the laws and the commands in the Bible are morally sufficient of a perfect being and true.
  2. It is not the case that the laws and the commands in the Bible are morally sufficient of a perfect being and true.
  3. Therefore, God does not exist.

This is a valid modus tollens argument. However, this is utterly unsound. Certainly, biblical inerrancy is a sufficient condition for the existence of God (if biblical inerrancy is true then God exists), and must be nuanced, but it is definitely not a necessary condition.  It’s a non-sequitur, the consequent simply does not follow.  If it is even possible that God exists without the Bible being true the objection rests stillborn from the pen.  Is it possible that God exist and not reveal himself through special revelation via a written text?  Sure, that’s possible.  Thus, the Bible alone is not a necessary condition for God’s existence.  God can still exist and biblical inerrancy be false.  The objection suffers the death of utter irrelevance.  It doesn’t even get off the ground.  I was able to respond to this during the Q&A and point out that this argument has absolutely no relevance to the existence of God but I wanted to elaborate on this in more detail.

Now, I am a biblical inerrantist and I don’t want to simply ignore these issues. I don’t want to appear to simply ignore them because I’ve provided examples of a proper exegesis of Levitical law and an explication of divine command theory.  My main point and concern is that in order for the Christian to defend inerrancy an exhaustive exegesis and proficiency in background knowledge of the text is necessary.  This applies to any atheist who wants to make this objection too.  In order to demonstrate that these texts say what he/she think they  say an exhaustive exegesis and proficiency in background knowledge of the text is necessary.

In conclusion, this objection is a red herring–it’s utterly irrelevant and off topic.


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