Thursday, February 21, 2013

"Would a Most Perfect Being Command Genocide?"

I'm still reading Randal Rauser's The Swedish Atheist, the Scuba Diver and Other Aplogetic Rabbit Trails (I'm a slow reader). In an earlier chapter Randal has offered the modal ontological argument, which states that if a most perfect being (God) is possible, then it must exist. Now Randal and his atheist acquaintance, Sheridan, are considering the question of whether the God of the Bible could be a most perfect being. In chapter 21 they consider the problem of God's commanding the Canaanite and Amalekite genocides. Randal is very honest:

 "If I were considering whether the deity of some other religion could be the most perfect being, I probably wouldn't go any further in processing his or her application if there were atrocities like that on the resume. Which of us would consider a religion other than our own if it had a sacred text depicting its divine being commanding a holy genocide?.... "

"Look," he tells Sheridan, "I'm not here to defend the 'home team.'  I'm only trying to pursue the truth as best I can, just like you.  There's a lot of great stuff in apologetics these days on lots of topics like intelligent design, cosmic fine-tuning, the resurrection of Jesus and countless other topics.  But it seems to me that the standard apologetic treatments of biblical violence and Old Testament genocide are very unconvincing by comparison."

Randal and Sheridan discuss various proposals that have been offered to deal with the issue, finding most of them inadequate.  Randal eventually offers his own.  I think the book is worth purchasing and reading to find out what it is, but also just to experience the honesty that Rauser displays in discussing this and other problems that Christians need to confront if they are going to insist that they worship the most perfect being.

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