That Megalomaniac of a God
by Max Andrews (http://sententias.org)
Interestingly, John Piper recently did a blog post on the same issue I’m writing on today but I’ll be looking at the issue from a different perspective. I’ve been thinking about Paul Copan’s recent book Is God a Moral Monster (and here), though I haven’t read it, the main thesis to the book is important.
One of my favorite objections to the existence of God is an objection to the moral caliber of such a being. A pop-atheist website, evilbible.com, is a good example. Richard Dawkins’ rant in The God Delusion will paint a nice picture of the problem,
The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully. (51)
Who can believe in a God like this? Surely such a transcendent being is impossible, right? Yes, such a transcendent being is impossible. So is this a good argument for the atheist [or non-Christian]? No, I don’t think it’s a good objection to the existence of God at all. It’s misplaced, it’s really an objection to inerrancy. Let’s refer back to Anselm, God is a maximally perfect being or the greatest conceivable being. This would entail maximal ontological perfection. The “megalomaniac objection” (what I prefer to call this) objects to God’s moral attributes (all things being equal, a lack of perfection). If you drop inerrancy from one of the presuppositions of the objection then it implodes on itself because what the objector is referencing may indeed be false information, thus not an objection at all.
Now for those of us who hold to inerrancy, how do we respond? If it comes up in a debate on the existence of God you need to explicate the objection’s misplacement. It doesn’t belong in a discussion on the existence of God, it belongs in a discussion on inerrancy and that is an inter-Christian debate. At that point you’ll need to have understanding of the Bible as a whole and the metanarrative (take that postmodernist, I used your word!) and construct a proper exegesis of the text. So many times these objections are made by those who have a horrible exegesis in hand.