Today we’re continuing our critique of the Richard Dawkins book, Outgrowing God. We have been talking about his main criticisms of Christianity in each chapter. In this episode, we are in Chapter Four: “Is God Really Good?” We are going to take a few of Dawkins’ examples and channel Paul Harvey as we look at the rest of the story and see if they really show that God isn’t good, as Dawkins claims.

Main Points Covered:

  • Quick Note: At 8:37, we mention the episode will be about child slavery, but we meant to say child sacrifice.
  • In Chapter Four, he discusses the deaths in the Bible (including the Canaanites, Noah, and child sacrifice).
  • He comes from the standpoint that from this view, we should be able to determine whether or not God is good.
    • He then compares God to villains in pop culture and mythologies (Moriarty, Zeus, Thor, Darth Vader, etc.)
  • There are two ways you can read the Bible, prescriptively (“this is what you should do”) versus descriptively (“this is what happened”). Depending on how you read the Bible and how literally, you will have different views on Christianity.
  • Despite what Richard Dawkins has studied in Evolutionary Biology, his studies in Theology have not surpassed what 9 to 16-year-olds know.
    • He has a couple of arguments but doesn’t dig any deeper.
  • We talked about the debate between Matt Dillahunty and John Ferrer in 2018 where they discuss whether or not God is good. In this debate, the question is raised by John Ferrer: “Do you care about the context? Do you care about the history in which this was written?” and Matt Dillahunty said, “No.”
    • If you take context out of it, you can twist it into anything you like.
  • Three places we have used as examples of when the Bible speaks of child sacrifices are with Jeremiah 32:35, Leviticus 22, and Genesis 22.
  • In Genesis 22, there is use of the word “testing,” which begs the question to be asked, “Is testing a bad thing?”
    • In the Hebrew connotation, testing is used when meaning either to tempt or to prove. When we say prove, we mean to prove something as solid or reliable.
    • This phrase (to test) is sometimes used by Satan (as in, to tempt into sin), but with God, it is to prove with faithfulness. There are also plenty of places in the Bible which talk about God proving himself as well. A few examples are in Exodus 17:12, Numbers 14:22, and Deuteronomy 6:16.
      • It is inappropriate to ask God to put Himself to a test, especially if you are to think of the authority and subordinate relationship.
    • The idea of testing is meant to increase someone’s belief because if you put your money where your mouth is, you’re more likely to stick with it.
    • Context is important, especially in historical times and documents. In a time when there was talk of child sacrifices, it was during a period where sacrificing children was rampant, so the idea of sacrificing your own child was normal during that point in time.
    • God disapproves of this practice. Deuteronomy 12:31: “You must not worship the Lord your God in their way, because in worshiping their gods, they do all kinds of detestable things the Lord hates. They even burn their sons and daughters in the fire as sacrifices to their gods.”
    • We also talk about typologies (in studying scripture, typology refers to something that is like Jesus) when we speak of “Take your son, your only son,” to mean unique son instead of the one son you have.
    • God tested Abraham, He didn’t command child sacrifice – a big difference. Verses 4 and 5 say we will come back to you.
  • Richard Dawkins’ argument that God was mean doesn’t have basis because God had reasoning behind all of the things He did. Otherwise, He would have seemed wacky. There was a whole design and purpose – a telos (Greek work for “end goal”).
  • Richard Dawkins perceives that God was mad at the Israelites when they served other gods, when in reality, you have to look at what the Israelites were doing to understand His righteous jealousy out of a love for them. They were worshiping other gods by having sex in the temples to these gods as an act of worship, and then sacrificing the babies conceived from that sex as offerings to those gods. Yahweh knew this was not good for the moral health of His people and would not stand for it.
  • Jephthah is an example of why not to make stupid vows. His vow was to sacrifice his daughter to God (which was what he would do in order to serve other gods). This is a story about why we don’t make vows and what happens when we think we can transfer our worship from false gods to Him. Jephthah tried to serve God in the way that he served the other gods and the Lord allowed him to suffer the consequences.
  • The Takeaways:
    • God is against human sacrifice, always was, always will be.
    • Contrast between the ANE (ancient Near East) pantheon of gods from God

Resources Mentioned:

Outgrowing God by Richard Dawkins

Atheist Debates – Do we need God for Morality? Matt Dillahunty and John Ferrer Debate 2018 – We compared this debate to Richard Dawkins’ question “Is God Good?”

From Creation to the Cross: Understanding the First Half of the Bible by Albert H. Baylis – This is a really great book which is a readable survey of the Old Testament.

Discovering Jesus in the Old Testament by Jean E. Jones – This book pointed out that the phrase “Take this son, your only son,” has a different meaning that most people think. The term “only” meant “unique” and not “one.”

First Person: Human Sacrifice to an Ammonite God? – A resource used to clarify the history of human sacrifice. Specifically, this article talks about the archaeological evidence of human sacrifices.

Hillary’s article – “How Dawkins’ Outgrowing God Capitalizes on Our Culture’s Inability to Think Critically” – In order to delve into the topic more, read more about it in Hillary’s article.

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Quotable quotes:

That is one of the unfortunate tendencies that you do see at times with folks who are atheists and who are tackling scripture, is that they don’t exactly give a fair presentation of what the argument is. Click To Tweet

– Amy Davison

One of the things we’re trying to (accomplish) in Mama Bear Apologetics is (teaching others to ask) how do we think through this and present things fairly? Click To Tweet

– Hillary Morgan Ferrer

The heart cannot follow what the will cannot obey. Click To Tweet

– Hillary’s Pastor

Because God is going to bless Abraham, He’s going to make him into a man of faith…Yahweh tests them as He tests all: not to tempt to sin but to cause increasing recognition of His ways. Click To Tweet

– Albert H. Baylis in From Creation to the Cross


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