Atheist's Attacks

Answering Humanist's Accusations Against the Bible

Christian Resources

God Incites Human Violence?

Do God's actions in the Bible incite humans to violence?

Free Atheist's Answers Book

THE CLAIMED PROBLEM: God’s Violence Incites Human Violence

A serious problem with the violence and injustice in the Bible is that, all too often, the teachings and example of the biblical God have incited cruel acts by his followers.

Many of them reasoned that since God, who is considered just and loving, committed or approved of the most brutal acts, good Christians need not have qualms about behaving likewise. Such logic led the American patriot Thomas Paine to say, “The belief in a cruel god makes a cruel man.”

I would hope by now you can quickly identify a problem with this statement. As we've seen, all of God's actions are just and appropriate. He has defined law breaking, established the penalties for breaking the law, and He has warned people, in advance of judging them, when they are breaking the law. In many cases He gives nations hundreds of years to change their ways. And, although I've not mentioned this before, God... in His mercy... often does not impose the specified penalty on the guilty. God's love, patience, and mercy shines throughout the Bible.

What Did Thomas Paine Believe?

Thomas Paine is held up as an expert who certifies the humanist's claims to be true. What did Thomas Paine believe about God and religion? He believed there was a god that he could know through his own mind, and he rejected all religions. In The Age of Reason he wrote:

"I do not believe in the creed professed by the Jewish church, by the Roman church, by the Greek church, by the Turk church, or by the Protestant church, nor by any church that I know of. My own mind is my own church."

"All institutions of churches, whether Jewish, Christian, or Turkish, appear to me no other than human inventions set up to terrify and enslave mankind, and monopolize power and profit."

Humanists love Paine because he denied Jesus is God and he denied the virgin birth. He also believed the Christian church was based in "heathen mythology," and the Bible was written by men and was full of problems. So he was fully in alignment with humanistic beliefs. But, an expert on the Bible and it's impact on humanity? Nope. Paine was no authority in this area.

So we have an assertion that the Bible incites violence, but nothing to back up that claim. Let's continue reading their web page:

Joseph McCabe’s treatise The History of Torture illustrates the reasoning process. McCabe reports that during the Middle Ages, there was more torture used in Christian Europe than in any society in history."

The main cause of this cruelty was the Christian doctrine of eternal punishment. McCabe explains: “If, it was natural to reason, God punishes men with eternal torment, it is surely lawful for men to use doses of it in a good cause.”

Okay... who is Joseph McCabe? Before I start evaluating a statement, I want to know about the person who wrote it. For example, are they really an authority on the subject? In this case we are looking for authorities on the Bible and world history.

To quote the SecularWeb website here is who Joseph McCabe was:

One of the giants of not only English atheism, but world atheism, Joseph McCabe left a legacy of aggressive atheist and antireligious literature that remains fresh and insightful today. His many works-- he wrote nearly 250 books--could constitute a library of atheism by themselves.

Born in 1867, Joseph McCabe became a Franciscan monk at the age of nineteen. But disgusted with his fellow monks and the Christian doctrine, he left the priesthood for good on February 19, 1896.

He was a failed monk and a giant of an atheist. He is best known for being an propagandist and evangelist for atheism. That's their authority on the Bible and world history? Not even close.

The statement that "more torture used in Christian Europe than in any society in history" is a compelling statement, if true (it's not). First, however, we need to define torture.

Does torture include medieval machines such as the rack and thumb screws? Certainly. Does it include starving people to death? Or working people to death? Yes, to both. What about killing people in furnaces or gas chambers? Yes. So when we think of people who do things like this, who comes to mind?

Hitler, of course. He murdered 12 million people (6 million Jews), many as the result of painful experiments. Hitler was a humanist. But, Hitler doesn't even come close to the top of the list.

There is Stalin, who not only murdered millions of Russians, he intentionally starved millions of Ukrainians. Starvation is not a pleasant way to die... it is slow and painful. It is estimated that 6 to 7 million Ukrainians starved to death. Plus Stalin killed an additional 11 million people in other ways. That's 18,000,000 dead. Stalin was a humanist. But, Stalin wasn't even close to the man at the top of the list.

The biggest mass murderer in all of history took more lives than Hitler and Stalin combined. You can even add in Pol Pot and a few others. The winner is another humanist, Mao Zedong. From 1958 to 1962, his policies resulted in the death of an estimated 45,000,000 people – from starvation, overwork, and lack of medical care (all methods of torture).

The Middle Ages lasted from AD 500 to 1500, and the estimated population varied from 23 million to 73 million. Taking the time when the population was the greatest, Stalin killed the equivalent of 25% of those people, and Mao killed off 61%. These are impossible percentages. Looking at all of the Middle Ages, far more people were killed by torturous means in just the 100 years of the 20th century, then were tortured and killed in all of the 1000 years of the Middle Ages.

In a History Today article about violence and law in the Middle Ages, Sean McGlynn, a lecturer at the University of Bristol, writes:

The awareness of danger and violence was in itself a major driving force behind society's seemingly cruel and bloodthirsty acts that have often come to characterize the medieval world. This was most clearly manifested in the area of crime and punishment

Throughout the whole medieval period there was popular demand for malefactors to receive punishment that was both harsh and purposefully terrifying. This reflected people's investment in the social order and their anxiety at any perceived threat to it.

Unlike what the humanists state, the brutality of the Middle Ages was the result of a desire for order and safety, and had nothing to do with the Bible inciting people to violence.

The Logical Conclusion: So far everything that is being said on this part of the humanist web page is total fiction.

But wait! There's more. A whole list of "atrocities" that were driven by human wisdom, not Biblical teaching. Here's what comes next on the humanist's web page:

Other historical examples of violent and unjust acts supported by biblical teachings include: the Inquisition; the Crusades; the burning of witches; religious wars; pogroms against Jews; persecution of homosexuals; forceful conversions of heathens; slavery; beatings of children; brutal treatment of the mentally ill; suppression of scientists; and whippings, mutilations, and violent executions of persons convicted of crimes. Those acts were a regular part of the Christian world for centuries.

Are these supported by Biblical teachings, as claimed?

It depends on what the humanists find as problems with these. They don't provide those details. For example, the Inquisition was persecution by a heretical church against, in man cases, Biblical Christians.

And forceful conversions of heathens?" How does that work? The Bible clearly teaches that there is nothing we can do, it is God who gives us the faith we need to believe.

For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. - Ephesians 2:8-9

So, based on the Bible it is IMPOSSIBLE to force someone to convert to Christianity. It can't happen. All it accomplishes is to make false converts. Yes, some missionaries used force to "convert heathens" to Christianity. But, that's not supported by the Bible, nor was it successful.

What about persecution of homosexuals? If by that they mean calling homosexuality a sin, that isn't persecution, that is reality. It is a sin that leads to death. It is loving to warn someone that they are engaged in activities that will seriously harm them eternally... especially since in today's world that loving action brings persecution down on the Christian.

What about slavery? The Bible does not condemn slavery. I talked about slavery on a previous page. Slavery in the Bible was nothing like the 19th century slavery we are familiar with.

I assume this list is intended to represent things that are evil. I see no evil on this list that is supported by the teachings of the Bible. None. It is another fiction, most likely created as the result of not understanding scripture, and a strong desire to promote humanist beliefs.

Conclusion: There is nothing but fiction is the claims in this section of the humanist web page.

Next humanist accusation: The Bible Has Teachings Inconsistent with the Laws of Nature

Many of the Bible’s claims are inconsistent with the laws of nature. Humanists believe that those claims are both wrong and harmful.

This is an interesting claim, since it is God who created the laws of nature and who also upholds and maintains the laws of nature. Click here to for more on this from the humanist web page, supposedly supporting this claim.