Tag Archives: richard dawkins

Is God Good?

Is God good? If so, then why is there evil and suffering in the world? Have you heard this before? If you’re like me, you’ve wrestled with it yourself.

It’s a legitimate question that we must answer.

Epicurus (Greek philosopher, 4th cent. BC) is believed to be the first to argue the following:

  1. If an all-powerful and perfectly good god exists, then evil does not.
  2. There is evil in the world.
  3. Therefore, an all-powerful and perfectly good god does not exist.

David Hume (Scottish philosopher, 18th cent. AD) said…

“Is he [God] willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then is he impotent. Is he able, but not willing? Then is he malevolent. Is he both able and willing? Whence then is evil?” (Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion)

Theologians and philosophers throughout history have responded to the scoffing of skeptics and accusations made by agnostics against a “good” God creating a world where evil is possible.

From Irenaeus, Augustine, and Aquinas to contemporary voices like John Hick, Alvin Plantiga, and William Lane Craig, a great deal of ink has been devoted to the issue of theodicy (moral defense of God in the face of evil).

I personally subscribe to the Trinitarian Warfare Worldview proposed by Greg Boyd. It is a serious theological, as well as philosophical, treatment of the problem of evil. See my summary of Greg’s views here.

Is it logical for a good God to create a world where evil is possible? Yes, I believe so. However, philosophy (logic & reason) must also make room for theology (natural & divine revelation) for a full, satisfactory response.

God has expressed his true nature in the cross of Jesus. Contrary to the sentiments of Richard Dawkins, the crucifixion is not a “petty” matter inconsequential to human history and the cosmos.

In orthodox Christian perspective, the cross of Christ is the climax of incarnation. God displays the depths of his love for all of creation by bearing the ultimate consequence of the evil our free will has brought into the world.

We also learn that God’s omnipotence doesn’t look like that of Zeus, king of the gods. The power of God is revealed in Jesus’ giving of his life by his own free will for the purpose of reconciling a broken humanity.

Greg Boyd writes…

“The cross refutes the traditional notion that omnipotence means God always gets his way. Rather, the cross reveals God’s omnipotence as a power that empowers others—to the point of giving others the ability, if they so choose, to nail him to the cross. The cross reveals that God’s omnipotence is displayed in self-sacrificial love, not sheer might. God conquers sin and the devil not by a sovereign decree but by a wise and humble submission to crucifixion. In doing this, the cross reveals that God’s omnipotence is not primarily about control but about his compelling love. God conquers evil and wins the heart of people by self-sacrificial love, not by coercive force.”  God of the Possible, p.18

The logic is sound, but the true beauty of it is only discovered in faith.

Do you find this video helpful in articulating God’s righteousness in the face of evil? Let’s renew our belief in the goodness of God by looking upon Jesus as the full and final revelation of his character. 


God Behaving Badly

God Behaving Badly: Is the God of the Old Testament Angry, Sexist and Racist? (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2011) by David T. Lamb

In his 2004 bestseller, The End of Faith: Religion, Terror, and the Future of Reason, Sam Harris first introduced the world to the popular New Atheism. Listen to leading apologist William Lane Craig talk about the new atheists.

Christopher Hitchens followed with his attack on God in his 2007 book: God is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything. The very next year, Richard Dawkins made his claim that the God of the Old Testament is “arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction” (The God Delusion, p.51).

David Lamb, associate professor of Old Testament at Biblical Theological Seminary in Hatfield Pennsylvania, believes that Dawkins “simply isn’t reading his Bible well” (p.16).

Lamb, with refreshing wit and respect, responds to accusations being made against God in his book, God Behaving Badly: Is the God of the Old Testament Angry, Sexist, and Racist? (June, 2011).

Lamb says that the avoidance of certain texts by Bible teachers has actually made it seem that atheists are reading the Bible more carefully than those who accept it as God’s word. Far from ignoring problematic texts, this OT scholar writes from his extensive study of history and Scripture to provide insight into the biblical context, which he claims is the key to proper interpretation.

Lamb notes that the God of the OT has a bad reputation. Are the critical perceptions valid? He doesn’t deny the difficulty with certain texts, but he insists that God’s hesed (love) is abundant in the OT. He rejects the Marcionite heresy that the God of the Old Testament is cruel and vindictive, not the same loving God of the New Testament.

He writes “compared to other ancient Near Eastern literature, the Old Testament is shockingly progressive in its portrayals of divine love” (p.23).

Lamb addresses those OT texts that reveal God’s anger, commands of violence, appearances of sexism, racism, legalism, and what seems to be a stubborn inflexibility in God. Lamb touches on those passages that are most often quoted to show that God is a big meanie.

Why did God kill Uzzah for touching the ark (2 Sam 6:1-8)? Does the Bible present an unfavorable view toward women (Gen 3:1-19; 19:5-11)? Is slavery, racism, and genocide being supported in the biblical text (Josh 10:40; 11:12-15)? Does God endorse child sacrifice and violence against enemies (Gen 22; 2 Kings 2:23-25; 19:35)? And what about all those pesky out-dated commandments (Ex 20-23; Lev 17-26; Deut 12-26)?

Lamb believes that the OT text should be harmonized with the life and teachings of Jesus. He seeks to accomplish this by finishing each chapter with relevant passages from the Gospels.

What is God like? Lamb wants to make it clear that “this book is essentially about the nature of God” (p.177). He writes: “Instead of ignoring passages that seem to portray Yahweh negatively, we need to study them, discuss them and teach them to gain understanding. While all our questions may never fully be answered, we will find that Yahweh and Jesus can be reconciled and that the God of both testaments is loving” (p.178).

I’m recommending this book to all of those wrestling with what seems to be a dichotomy within the biblical text—where God appears to be bi-polar and where Jesus finally managed to satisfy the bloodlust of his abusive Father.

God Behaving Badly should be required reading for all skeptics and students of theology, especially those Christians who habitually yank verses from their OT context to skillfully ignore the teachings of Jesus.

I want to thank Adrianna Wright at InterVarsity Press for sending me Lamb’s book to read and review.

D.D. Flowers, 2011


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