Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Is God a Moral Monster?

Scot McKnight recently posted about a new book by Paul Copan entitled,
Is God a Moral Monster? Making Sense of the Old Testament God

In it, Copan tries to respond to the New Atheists' accusations:

God is arrogant and jealous
God punishes people too harshly
God is guilty of ethnic cleansing
God oppresses women
God endorses slavery
Christianity causes violence

I haven't read it, but I did attend a conference on the same topics held at the University of Notre Dame in September, 2009:

THe Notre Dame Center for Philosophy of Religion has made the conference available free on video

You can also listen to the conference on MP3

Admittedly, the Notre Dame conference takes a more philosophical approach to the problem, and brings together world-class atheists, Jews, Eastern Orthodox, Catholic and Protestant thinkers. While it is wonderful to be able to freely access the conference on video and audio, I prefer text for matters which require careful thought. Fortunately, the conference papers have been published,"Divine Evil? The Moral Character of the God of Abraham" Unfortunately, it costs nearly $85 on Amazon! : O

As Common Sense Atheism explains, "Each session goes like this: the main speaker presents an argument attacking or defending the morality of the the Old Testament God in about 40 minutes. Another philosopher presents an opposite view for 15 minutes. The first speaker gives a 10-minute reply, and then there is a Q&A period."

One of the things that intrigued me was the way different hermeneutical approaches could be helpful. Thirty+ years ago, when we were at Trinity Evangelical Theological Seminary, students were taught that the premodern four senses of scripture were "unbiblical" and wrong. However, that hermeneutic severely limits how one can deal with these issues. Richard Swinburne's use of the premodern hermeneutic was enlightening.

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