Deeper Waters Podcast 7/19/2014: Is God A Moral Monster?

What’s coming up on this Saturday’s episode of the Deeper Waters Podcast? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

One of the most common charges today leveled against Christianity is the God of the Old Testament. One of the most memorable lines against Him comes from Richard Dawkins in “The God Delusion.”

“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.”

Is this really the case?

In order to investigate this question, I’ve decided to invite on the show a Biblical scholar who has written a response directly to such a claim and shown how the battles in the OT do not show that God is in fact a moral monster. He should know since he wrote the book “Is God A Moral Monster?” I of course mean none other than Dr. Paul Copan.


According to his bio:

“Paul Copan (Ph.D. Philosophy, Marquette University) is Professor and Pledger Family Chair of Philosophy and Ethics at Palm Beach Atlantic University, and he has served as president of the Evangelical Philosophical Society. He is author and editor of thirty books including The Rationality of Theism, The Routledge Companion to Philosophy of Religion, Philosophy of Religion: Classic and Contemporary Issues, The Gospel in the Marketplace of Ideas, An Introduction to Biblical Ethics, Is God a Moral Monster? and “True for You, But Not for Me.” He has contributed essays to over thirty books, both scholarly and popular. Paul and his wife, Jacqueline, have six children, and they reside in West Palm Beach, Florida. His website is”

Paul Copan has been writing several excellent books aimed at a general audience to deal with popular objections, a much-needed niche if there ever was one. This started largely with his book “True For You But Not For Me” and has progressed all the way to his book “When God Goes To Starbucks.” I have never been disappointed by a Copan book and “Is God A Moral Monster?” is no exception.

So we’ll be spending our time talking about the charges that God does in fact inflict genocide in the Old Testament as well as getting into other issues that seem to paint the God of the Old Testament in a highly negative light. We could also be discussing the critiques that Thom Stark has brought towards Copan based on the book and see what he thinks about them.

Also, this will include a lesson on how we are to read the Old Testament. Is it really a straight forward narrative every time or does it use terminology that would have been recognizable to an ancient reader but is not so recognizable to us today?

And of course, is it really justified for God to take life in this way? Surely there could have been something else to be done besides using the Israelites as a force of war. Right?

I really look forward to having Dr. Copan come on to discuss this important topic and I hope you’ll be listening. Remember, we’ll have the link up on ITunes as soon as possible for you.

In Christ,
Nick Peters


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10 Responses to “Deeper Waters Podcast 7/19/2014: Is God A Moral Monster?”

  1. labreuer Says:

    Where is the best response/analysis of Thom Stark’s Is God a Moral Compromiser?: A Critical Review of Paul Copan’s “Is God a Moral Monster?”?

    • apologianick Says:

      I plan on asking Dr. Copan about that.

      • labreuer Says:

        Excellent. One more question: have you come across ChristianThinkTank’s How could a God of Love order the massacre/annihilation of the Canaanites?? The author, Glenn Miller, argues that the OT is focused on culture destruction, not people destruction. I find this an absolutely fascinating hypothesis, given stuff like 2 Cor 10:3–6. Recently, philosophy instructor Jonathan Pearce blogged Can religion be destroyed?; it is startlingly similar to culture destruction. Finally, Wikipedia’s Genocide § Etymology indicates that it was originally meant to include “destruction of essential foundations of the life of national groups”, including “of culture…, religion”.

      • apologianick Says:

        Yep. Glenn Miller is a friend of mine.

      • labreuer Says:

        Well I’ll be! When I’ve brought up his Canaanite article, it’s either been ignored, or denied in very non-scholarly ways, ways that hint strongly of motivated reasoning. However, I’m not nearly enough of a scholar to know whether his points are truly defensible. What has re-sparked my interest in Miller’s culture destruction idea:

        1. Owen Barfield’s Unancestral Voice, in which he proposes that mind precedes matter.
        2. John Walton’s The Lost World of Genesis One, in which he says that ancients thought functionally more than materially. (Something doesn’t exist until it has a function.)
        3. Ron Garret’s Quantum Mechanics Google Tech Talk, in which he advances Quantum Information Theory and argues that we are our thoughts/ideas.
        4. Charles Taylor’s Sources of the Self, in which he argues that it is our sense of ‘the good’ which is most central to our identity.
        5. 2 Cor 10:3–6, in which things are destroyed: arguments and opinions, not flesh.
        6. Jacques Ellul’s The Subversion of Christianity, in which he argues that Christians ought to always dialogue with their opponents, not try to destroy them. To use words from Heb 5:14, kakos is not destroyed, but transformed (redeemed?) into kalos.
        7. Rumors than Augustine and crew ‘metaphorized’ or ‘spiritualized’ what many see as atrocities in the OT.
        8. Our culture of tolerance, in which the only thing not tolerated is intolerance (Russell’s Paradox, anyone?).
        9. “Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me.” is an evil, blasphemous saying straight from Satan himself. God created the world with just words; we think they cannot hurt? Lies! Thoughts become reality via speech.
        10. Yoram Hazony’s discussion of davar and emet in his The Philosophy of Hebrew Scripture: a davar can be a word or a thing, which seemed deliberately ambiguous, and emet connotes trustworthiness over truth.
        11. Walter J. Ong’s Orality and Literacy, in which he says that in primary oral cultures (never exposed to writing), words and things aren’t separated.
        12. My friend Kenneth Pearce’s Language and the Structure of Berkeley’s World, in which he questions Locke’s theory of language, where words merely point to already-extant phenomena.

        Wow, I didn’t know how many items were in the list until I wrote it out! This greatly increases the background plausibility for Glenn’s “culture destruction” idea!

    • d'Preacher Verily Says:

      To answer your question, “Where is the best response/analysis of Thom Stark”, from my fb ‘NOTES’: re – STARK WARS
      •- “Stark Wars” June 23rd, 2011 blog article by Madeleine FLANNAGAN. Short page with 15 LINKS to related articles + 29 comments (lots from Stark) all in June 2011. (Begins: “Thom Stark has written a lengthy response (304 pages!) to Paul Copan’s book Is God a Moral Monster? which he has published on his blog, Religion at the Margins; it is entitled Is God a Moral. Compromiser? A Critical Review of Paul Copan’s. “Is God a Moral Monster?” In it, alongside his criticisms of Copan, Stark makes several criticisms of the work of Richard Hess and Matt Flannagan.” (Includes 29 followup comments, to be fair, including from Stark, all in June 2011.
      Links here include: Is God a Moral Monster Revisited: Preliminary Replies to Thom Stark
      Richard Hess’s Response to Thom Stark
      Matthew Flannagan’s Interactions with Thom Stark
      Thom Stark’s Sweeping Claims by Christopher Copan Scott (must register with blog to read)
      Reflections on the Thom Stark-Paul Copan debate by Randal Rauser
      •- Thom Stark on Wolterstorff and Hagiographic Hyperbole, 2011 by Matt FLANNAGAN –

      •PS: A good refutation is that Stark was almost universally recognized as being a jerk in his personal attacks and general approach, which he himself has admitted and for which he has apologized!

      • labreuer Says:

        Thanks for the links! One issue:

        •PS: A good refutation is that Stark was almost universally recognized as being a jerk in his personal attacks and general approach, which he himself has admitted and for which he has apologized!

        On what biblical basis do you say this? What you say here seems dangerously close to bits about “itchy ears”. It strikes me that truth or falsity is not determined by style or personal attacks.

  2. d'Preacher Verily Says:

    Color me very slooow and or frustrated trying to access your Deeper Waters podcast right now 12noon Saturday 7-19, with Paul Copan. I subscribed to your iTunes, but i don’t see todays show, just last wk’s old show re Plutarch. I went to Nick Peters fb page and found the post with Copan’s picture and clicked the link which brought me to THIS page. I’m searching this page til tired and can’t find a link to the show itself. I’m sure it’s my fault i can’t do the simplest thing. So I guess I’ll have to give up and wait for it to appear later on iTunes. 😦

  3. d'Preacher Verily Says:

    As for the great GLENN MILLER’s, absolutely the best on so many issues, including the so-called ‘genocide’. I have a list of suggested readings and resources on this subject on my facebook page under ‘NOTES’. I should be revising and updating it when i have a chance.

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