Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Is God a Moral Monster? #2

Are the New Atheists still relevant? Cool? My sense is... they are not. They are so "2006."

How big are they? When I poll the 100 students in my three philosophy classes no one has heard of Richard Dawkins. At most, one or two have. And they have not read his books. Absolutely none of them has heard of Sam Harris. And not one of them has or ever will hear of Daniel Dennett. Christopher Hitchens is also, among these students, unknown.

A few (just a few) of my students have issues with the God of the Old Testament. Maybe 1-2% of them. And, among those few, it's virtually guaranteed none of them has actually studied things either pro or con re. the character of the OT God.

Today some Christian theists are writing in response to Dawkins-type complaints. Dawkins writes:

"The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all ficiton: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynist, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully." (Quoted in Paul Copan, Is God a Moral Monster? 21)

Copan has "accumulated quite a working list of charges coming from the New Atheists:

  • Canaanite "genocide"
  • the binding of Isaac
  • a jealous, egocentric deity
  • ethnocentrism/racism
  • chattel slavery
  • bride-price
  • women as inferior to men
  • harsh laws in Israel
  • the Mosaic law as perfect and permanently binding for all nations
  • the irrelevance of God for morality
Copan's book addresses these charges. I'll be reviewing them chapter by chapter.