Book Plunge: God’s Gravediggers Part 5

Is there a moral argument for atheism? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

In this chapter, Raymond Bradley tells us that there is a moral argument for atheism. Now I did find this intriguing. After all, it usually works the other way. Unfortunately, any such argument is nothing new. It’s all about the atrocities that God allegedly committed and this should show there is no God.

Those who know me know I don’t use the moral argument so much as I do the argument from goodness. I contend that God is not a moral being, but rather that He is a good being. Morality is doing what one is required to do and what one ought to do, but God has no set of laws He has to obey. Morality would have to be something above Him. Instead, God, whose nature is goodness, does the good that is His nature.

At the start, Bradley makes a statement off the cuff saying “Knowing the Bible as I do.”

It’s still a laugh every time I read it.

He also says that God is the creator of evil, no doubt with Isaiah 45:7 in mind. This is just more of Bradley keeping up his fundamentalist reading. Hint. Don’t talk about knowing the Bible if it is clear that you do not.

He also has a statement about it being morally wrong to provide one’s troops with women to use as sex-slaves. Again, no doubt Numbers 31 is in mind. I have responded to that here.

He also says that God allowed the people to indulge in cannibalism when they abandoned the covenant. What’s the problem here? God was very clear and said that if they abandoned Him then they would not get the benefit of His protection. Does God owe them protection in some way?

Finally, there is the sacrifice of Jephthah. I will refer to my ministry partner for that here. Thus far, it’s pretty much Bradley has a PhD and yet is bringing out the same old tropes that any internet atheist would bring out.

Of course, Bradley talks about Hell and the endless torture in Hell. He never seems to have considered that most evangelical scholars today do not believe in a fiery hell but believe that the flames are a way of describing judgment and not to be read in a wooden and literal sense. After all, Hell is also described as a place of darkness. I have my own view on the topic.

He also says Jesus invented the doctrine of Hell. For this, I want to thank my friend Chris Date who I asked if he had any resources on this as I knew Hell came from the intertestamental literature, but since he spends so much time on this doctrine, I figured he had the resources. He was kind enough to supply several passages. Consider Psalms of Solomon 2:31-34.

 the One raising me up to glory, but putting to sleep the arrogant for eternal destruction in dishonor, because they did not know Him.

2:32 And now, magnate of the earth, see the judgment of the Lord, that He is a great and righteous king, judging what is under heaven.

2:33 Praise God, you who fear the Lord with understanding, for the Lord’s mercy is upon those who fear Him along with the judgment

2:34 in order to separate between the righteous and the sinner and to repay sinners forever according to their actions,

Or consider 12:4-5?

12:4 May God remove far from the innocent the lips of the lawless persons in confusion, and may the bones of the slanderers be scattered far from those who fear the Lord. May the slanderous tongue be destroyed in flaming fire far from the saints.

12:5 May the Lord protect the quiet soul who hates injustice; may the Lord guide aright the men who makes peace at home.

Or 1 Enoch 46:4

He shall hurl kings from their thrones and their dominions; because they will not exalt and praise him, nor humble themselves before him, by whom their kingdoms were granted to them. The countenance likewise of the mighty shall He cast down, filling them with confusion. Darkness shall be their habitation, and worms shall be their bed; nor from that their bed shall they hope to be again raised, because they exalted not the name of the Lord of spirits.

There are just a few. I was not sure to use some of them because some do come shortly after Christ and I did not want to risk skeptics crying foul. All references are found in Edward Fudge’s The Fire That Consumes. We can disagree on the nature of Hell, but we can be assured Jesus did not invent the doctrine.

Bradley also raises the problem of those who never heard. Again, there is no interaction with any different thought on this. Bradley speaks about how it is under the name of Jesus everyone is saved, thinking that means the phonetic name instead of the authority of the name. One is judged by the light they have and Jesus is the authority who determines if they are allowed into the Kingdom or not. Again, there are plenty of resources that could have been read on this topic by Bradley, but apparently, he chose to not interact with them.

Finally, in all of this, Bradley has throughout the chapter assumed good or evil. I agree he is right on their reality, but he gives no basis for them. This is just a chapter of indignation ultimately. It does not surprise me that emotional outrage is the fountain of many an internet atheist.

We will continue later.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)

 

 

Isaiah 45:7

Did God create evil? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

You’re reading in Isaiah and you come across this passage in 45:7.

“I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these things.”

If you’re a Christian, this doesn’t seem right. If you’re an atheist, you jump up and down like you just found buried treasure and go straight on Facebook to share your profound knowledge that even the Bible teaches that God created evil. Take that Christians! Your God is the source of evil Himself!

But if you’re thoughtful on either side, you pause and ask what is going on in the passage. That’s really a much more rational approach to take. After all, if something seems to go against the whole thrust of the story, then you need to see if you might be misunderstanding something. To my atheist readers, you should also want to be sure of this. You know how you think some Christians can embarrass themselves, and they do, when they don’t know anything about evolution and argue against it? Don’t be the same with the Bible.

So what is going on? This passage is talking about Cyrus going out before the Lord to bring about judgment. Like Babylon, Cyrus will be an instrument of God. Yes. I know atheists are already having an issue about a man’s name being given 200 years in advance, but the dating of Isaiah is a separate point to this one so let’s bookshelf that one for now. We’re taking the passage as is.

God is then talking about what He brings about in the world. Light and darkness are the first examples. Many of us don’t like the dark, but darkness does not necessarily equal evil. The night time is not an evil time. In Scripture, God is the God of the night time just as much as He is of the day. The night is a blessed time where we can all sleep and recharge for the next day.

However, we can see light and darkness as opposites. These are parallels. Sometimes in Hebrew, this is known as a merism. You mention two opposite things to include everything between them. When the Bible says God created the Heavens and the Earth, it is talking about two contrasting objects that really means in essence, everything. God made it all.

When we see the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, this is also a merism. It doesn’t mean that the couple had no idea of good or evil beforehand or any epistemology. It is speaking in language of wisdom more than anything else. It is saying that Adam and Eve by taking the fruit would make themselves to be the source of wisdom and order for their lives and not God. We should all know in Scripture wisdom is kind of a big deal.

So it is with this, we see light and darkness to form a contrast. Then we look at the next topic. That’s peace and evil. Attentive readers should realize this doesn’t exactly work the same way as light and darkness. We know those two are opposites. Peace and evil are not necessarily opposites. We can say peace is good, but is it always. Suppose no one ever went to war to stop Hitler and his concentration camps. Jews were rounded up around Europe and destroyed. Would Europe have peace? Sure. Would that be good. No. War was a good thing here because it brought an end to suffering. I realize one could say the Jews didn’t have peace, and that is true, but the good benefit of World War II was we brought peace to them and to Europe by stopping an evil man.

Even more, we can look at the Hebrew words here. The word for peace is Shalom, which is to be expected, and the word for evil is ra. Ra can mean evil, but it can mean a variety of things, even bad figs. Hebrew is in some ways a limited language where one word can have multiple meanings.

The word is used in Genesis to describe the bad vines and cows in the dreams of Pharaoh. Jacob uses the word to describe sorrow if he lost Benjamin. It describes mischief in Exodus 32. It describes beasts in Leviticus 26, which I don’t think can be considered evil. The thing is, I could easily keep going and list more examples. If you want to see more, they’re all available online. I have no need to keep demonstrating the point.

Not only that, the best opposite word for evil would be Tov. That would mean goodness, as it does in Genesis 1. That is not what is used. So what is being said?

It’s talking about calamity. God can bring that about on a people that He says are doing evil. God is a God of judgment. If people do evil, God will judge them eventually which can be in the form of calamity. Why should He allow peace for a nation that is evil and disregards Him? If we want justice at all in this world, we have to realize some people will experience calamity.

So to Christian readers, no need to panic. God did not create evil. To atheist readers, no need to jump up and down as if you found the Fountain of Youth. The argument you want is not here.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)