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Is the Bible's God Perfect?
Recently, there has been some question as to whether or not the god I'm examining in me essay about the Judeo-Christian God is the Bible's God, or a strawman that I just made up. It has been alleged that, since I don't consider the Bible's God to be perfect, I am not examining the Judeo-Christian God. Personally, I find this absurd, but it is a somewhat valid attack. However, I am examining the Biblical God. There is a difference between the Christian God and the Bible's God. The Christian God is believed to be all-loving and merciful, by the Catholic Church and many of the Protestant denominations. As I will show in this essay, this belief runs contrary to what the Bible says. Christian apologetics will often try and justify God's reprehensible actions in the Bible by claiming that he is perfect, and that anything he does is right, even when it contradicts other things that he says or does. I believe that this topic deserves its own essay, since I only dedicated a small portion of the more generalized God essay to this idea.
What is perfection?
If we're to examine the Bible's God and measure him against perfection, we must first know what perfection is. Perfection, in and of itself, is a little general. We need only look at definitions of perfection in justice, perfect morality and perfect love to see that God, as portrayed in the Bible, is far from perfect.
So, what would a perfectly-just being act like? Well, he would not allow personal bias to enter into the rendering of his verdicts. Thus, if someone committed a crime, that person would be judged guilty. The perfectly-just being would also render a sentence made to fit the crime perfectly. Thus, someone would not be put to death for stealing, or recieve fifty years in prison for a speeding ticket. Also, a perfectly-just judicator would be consistent. He would give the same sentence for the same crime to two individual's with identical past criminal records, regardless of the perpetrators' respective social status or wealth.
Perfect morality would come from a set of moral standards that is perfect. These standards would apply to everyone, all the time, regardless of social status or wealth, just like perfect justice. So, murder, outside of self-defense, would be murder, regardless of who does it. All would be answerable to this standard. Most of all, the standard would not change, because it is perfect. Any change would mean that the standard would no longer be perfect. The perfect moral code would serve to reduce the amount of suffering in the world. The closest thing we have to this perfect system is the humanist moral code. Under the humanist moral code, all human beings have the same rights (outside of those in incarceration), and any violation of those rights, outside of necessary punishment for a crime, is considered immoral. Thus, murdering someone is a violation of that person's right to life, and is evil, because every person in the world has the right to lead a happy, joy-filled life.
What about perfect love? How does a being who loves each and every human perfectly and eternally act? The best benchmark we have to compare this idea to is a parent's love. Ideally, a parent will love his or her child unconditionally. This means that, no matter what the child does, the parent will always love the child, and the child's well-being will be a higher priority than the parent's. A perfectly-loving being is not restricted from dispensing punishment upon his children, but he will not lay down sentences that are greater than the crime demands.
Is God perfectly just and moral?
These quotes are obvious displays of religious bigotry and injustice. In today's society, we do not accept the destruction of another culture simply because they don't agree with us.We do not accept the brutal murder of people for practicing a faith other than our own. What most people don't know is that the Bible demands that God's followers commit such atrocities. No perfectly just being would command that a culture be annihilated for the "crime" of worshipping their own gods and practicing their own beliefs, because everyone has the right to practice their religious beliefs however they wish, provided that their practices do not infringe on anyone else's rights.
Notice that these quotes occur after God passes down the Ten Commandments, one of which states quite explicity that the Israelites shall not kill. Also, notice how this commandment ceases to apply when God sees fit. Moral relativism of this sort is far from perfect. If President Bush told every American to beat any Arabs that they came across, would that make it alright and acceptable? No, of course not. So, why is God any different? Because he's "perfect"?
Is God perfectly loving?
There are a few different schools of thought on this one. Radical right-wing Christians think that God loves only them, and that he hates everyone else (namely, gay people and the porno industry). The more progressive ones (Catholics, some Protestant denominations) believe that God loves everyone unconditionally.
It's a sad fact that, when you go through the Bible, you're more inclined to believe that fundamentalist bigots' interpretation. God is more than willing to condemn souls to an eternity of torture in Hell for "crimes" like practicing other religions, being sexaully active before marriage and looking at pornography. God destroys Sodom and Gamorrah for their sexual practices (namely, homosexuality and anal sex before marriage). God engages in genocide when the world makes him unhappy, killing all life save Noah and his family and two of every animal. God approves of Moses' relentless slaughter of thousands of Israelies when they worship another god. God repeatedly refuses to use his power to prevent evil in the world, allowing such tragedies as the September 11 attacks, even though he has the power to stop them (allegedly).
Are these the actions of a being who loves everyone unconditionally and perfectly? Would your parents torture you for all eternity because you didn't obey them? How one can believe in an all-loving god and still have no qualms about believing in Hell is mind-boggling. Hell is not a punishment that God "must" dispense as a parent-figure. Punishments have lessons to be learned. Eternal torture never ends. You can't learn anything from it. It's needless pain and suffering.
Catholics are undoubtedly aware of this discrepancy, so they invented the "God doesn't send people to Hell, people send themselves to Hell" mantra, so that God could not be held accountable for inflicting immeasurable amounts of suffering on souls, even though he created Hell for that explicit purpose, and he is the final arbiter of eternal fate. Not to mention that he is supposedly omnipotent, so he can do anything, even send everyone to Heaven, or stop evil.
God and Christians are analogous to an abusive husband and his wife. The husband beats the wife relentlessly, but has instilled such fear in the wife that she cannot possibly conceive of her husband being wrong. Thus, she believes that it is her fault that she is being beaten, and that her husband has no other recourse. This is not tolerated in today's society, but, when God does it, it's perfectly alright. This is what Christians who accept the belief of Hell do to themselves. They've been brought up to fear God from birth. This fear forces them to accept the completely illogical and unbacked statement that God is perfect. Thus, whenever they question the existence of Hell and how just it can be, the leash of God's perfection tightens around their necks. They simply recite the above mantra and put all the blame on themselves, absolving God of all responsibility for his actions, allowing them to live comfortably with their illusory belief in the biblical god being perfect.
This is yet another reason why the Bible should simply be thrown out of the Christian religion, or at least censored. Many passages simply do not point to a perfectly-loving God. The fact that people in the world spend a great deal of time justifying the mass-murderous actions of God is almost sickening. A perfectly-loving god would not condone slavery, would not sentence those who disobey him to eternal torture, and would not commit genocide, under any circumstances. You can believe in an all-loving, perfect God all you want, but the Bible contradicts you.