Why it’s impossible to argue that God is immoral

God’s morality can be evaluated in two ways that I see: either one can assume that God exists and judge God according to the Book one accepts and what they believe It created, else God can be assumed to be nothing more than the work of fiction whose role changes depending on which story one accepts as cannon. This has nothing to do with existence of God, unless one refuses to let go of the “moral” or “loving” dimension of their definition of God.

One may refuse to let go of these dimensions. After all, Anselm’s and Platinga’s Ontological Arguments for the existence of God necessitate that God is maximal; that God is the greatest conceivable being. Apologists often assume that maximal or great morality necessarily gets included in this definition. However if we remove God from the theistic worldview, morality, justice and lovingness are all subjective qualities. The same is not true of knowledge or power. God cannot maximally meet the criteria of morality, justice and lovingness because they are subjective criteria and so maximally meeting them is a meaningless assertion. Apologists want to get around this by asserting that God defines morality, but that is circular (and we all know it).

That’s issue #1: it’s circular but apologists stick unrelentingly to the assertion.

Issue #2 is that we have some concept of what we mean by morality, justice and lovingness. These may be woolly concepts, but these and the nature of a healthy relationship are not ideas completely devoid of direction. We know which way to point even if we cannot absolutely define each of these things. The reason this is an issue is that God is stated to be moral, just and loving and Its actions are also described and the actions completely undermine even the vaguest concept of morality, justice and lovingness.

Faced with this conflict–morality, justice and lovingness being necessary defining part of God, but it’s actions clearly not conforming to such descriptions–the intellectually honest thing to do is cut out one of the horns completely: reject either the moral, just and loving nature of God or the inerrancy of the Book in question. But apologists can’t do this; either step ruins the foundations of their apologetics.

Across the world we are aware of certain places that have disproportionate punishments for crimes. 10 countries have the death penalty for being gay and I could find 8 countries that have the death penalty for apostasy. These facts tend to outrage us, especially as they are actually utilised. These things outrage us even though they are common knowledge and anyone found guilty of these actions knew well in advance what the state would do. It outrages us because the punishment is disproportionate to the “crime” (and in these cases, they shouldn’t even be crimes). There are other examples of flogging and bodily harm for comparatively minor transgressions.

God drowned everyone in Genesis and burned everyone in Sodom and Gomorrah (and presumably then sent them to Hell, but that is just my assumption). Stuart Gray, a blogger I have recently been in dialogue with, believes that because God warned people that their sin was to lead to their death that the punishment is immediately justified. But we do not accept that for laws banning homosexuality or apostasy. We bend and even break the definition of the word “justice” to sustain that description of God.

It can be, and I have heard it argued that God’s justice cannot be compared to our justice. But our justice is the definition of justice. If God is running from some other system we should not be so foolish as to call it justice or morality, because we have some vague idea of what justice and morality look like and God demonstrably fails at that. God runs another system, as regular readers may know that I have tried to put into Earthly words what God does: narcissistic sociopathy.

In the Bible one might refer to the Fall and the crucifixion to circumvent the criticisms here. (I find many people think merely replying counts as a rebuttal and so don’t pay attention to actually being relevant.) Firstly, you must be a creationist to accept the Fall; without Creationism there was no Adam and Eve to fall. But the Fall, like the killing of the first born sons in Exodus, makes the assumption that guilt and punishment can be passed down the bloodline. This is another idea we find unjust in all our dealings, so if God utilises this mechanism we must acknowledge that “justice” is an inapt word to describe it. It looks more that thuggery and petty tribalism. The crucifixion is more morally abhorrent still. Vicarious redemption is the idea that by punishing one person we can assume that the debts of other people have been paid. I have paid another person’s parking fine before, but I have never been allowed to become a defendant on behalf of another person because it is unjust to intentionally sentence the wrong person. I would like to share a comment (that never got a reply) that I shared with Caroline earlier in the week (it originally mirrored her use of language so has been adapted for more general use):

My dog is free to sit or not sit when I give the command. It sits if it respects me, and sincere respect cannot be coerced. I would be remiss if I didn’t take a colt .45 and blow out the brains of a disrespectful dog. But I love dogs, so I killed my dog–who would always show respect and sit on command–yesterday to allow me to forgive other dogs that lick my face (but only those dogs), regardless of whether they show respect. But I can only forgive them if they thank me for killing my dog for them.

I don’t want that salvation. I don’t want the blood of an innocent person to be the price of my salvation. We know it isn’t just.

But we cannot argue that against religious apologists because they use God’s asserted authority to demand the corruption of the meaning of the words morality, justice and love so completely shelter God from criticism. Some apologists scorn critics for even positing we might have the right to judge how well God meets Its own self-image. And that’s issue #3.

People arguing for their religion are steeped in a culture of dismissing critics and dissenters. Critics are told they don’t understand, and no one understands, so they just have to be comfortable with the happy explanation. Even though the happy explanation comes from people who admit they don’t understand. Critics are told they are inferior to God and that their judgements are the feeble and mutable opinions of an ant. Justice should transcend hierarchy, which is why we can impeach politicians and spark investigations into police officers and sergeants.

God’s actions contradict Its own (published) self-image, so the apologists engage in sophistry and smear campaigns to make the obvious falsehood an inherited wisdom. And as they’ve only just stopped killing dissenters (and not entirely) they’ve afforded themselves a considerable head start.

66 thoughts on “Why it’s impossible to argue that God is immoral”

  1. The first sentence is a false claim, as usual.

    God is logical conclusion.

    Otherwise, one is left with the absurdity of atheism whose fundamental dogma must be that everything just happened by itself.

    Following the logic then, to have created everything God must be all-power and all-knowing and infinite.

    Since God is infinite and man is finite, God must be the objective source of morality.

    In the Declaration of Independence, the Founding Fathers referred to “the Laws of Nature and Nature’s God” as the source of human rights.

    1. Seriously? You said “Following the logic then, to have created everything God must be all-power and all-knowing and infinite.” and you cannot know that anything was created or that all things were created or even what all things are. You assume far too much here. Why must a creator of the known universe be all powerful, all knowing, and infinite? Those assumptions are completely meaningless.

      Then you assert that god is infinite so must be objective. Two baseless assertions in one sentence. You must be slowing down, I’m used to you making three or four in one sentence.

      Then jumping to the Declaration of Independence as if this is some authoritative source on matters of theology. That deserves a double face palm. It would be humorous to watch you try to provide evidence for any of these assertions.

    2. SOM, how many times do I have ask you this same question until you finally answer?

      How did your god come from nothing?

      And, if you’re willing to grant an exemption to the rules of causality to your god then do please explain why you won’t grant the exact same exemption to the universe itself…

      1. John,
        I have answered your question many times.

        The problem is that you continually assign finite attributes to God who is infinite.

        The result is absurdity.

        God is absurd to you because you have created him in your own finite image.

      2. The problem is that you continually assign finite attributes to God who is infinite.

        Great! I think we’re finally moving forward. So, explain to me how your god can be infinite, but the universe cannot be.

        You see, you’re giving your god an exemption from the rules of causality, which is fine, you’re certainly free to do so as a thought exercise, but for that exemption to be meaningful then you’ll have to thoroughly explain why you won’t grant the exact same exemption to the universe itself. Why one and not the other?

      3. John,

        God gets an exemption to the rules of causality because causality is a finite attribute.

        God, being infinite, has no cause.

        God is uncaused.

        In the language of violetwisp, that’s what makes god God.

      4. I’m sorry SOM, but you haven’t explained anything. You’re simply making a statement without justifying that statement. You say “god is uncaused,” which is fine, but then I can of course say the “universe is uncaused.” Both statements have equal standing, although the second is far more probable because we “know” the universe exists because we experience the consequences of it existing.

        So, the question remains dangling awkwardly out there: How can your god come from nothing?

      5. John,

        No, you cannot say the universe is uncaused be science knows different.

        To say the God is uncaused is simply stating the definition of God aka First Cause or Creator.

      6. Sorry SOM, but you’re still not actually saying anything meaningful. No one knows if this universe had a beginning. No one. The BB has never been proven, but even if it is all math breaks down at inflation (which also hasn’t been proven), so no one knows what was happening before.

        You are assuming “beginnings,” which is fine, but it leaves you having to answer this question which you still have even scratched: how can your god come from nothing?

      7. John,

        Discoveries in modern cosmology have proven that the universe had a beginning, therefore it had cause.

        This has you and your atheist brethren cleaning cake out of your undies, I know, because now it is clear that if you wish to be atheist, you must first reject modern science.

        That means atheism is retrograde, not progressive.

      8. Alla,

        You need to find the papers yourself. I’ve long since given up on atheist, Wizard of Oz goose chases.

        Just take a freshman class in cosmology at your university if you are really interested in getting an education.

        That’s what I did.

        Be sure you’ve had the high school physics and algebra pre-requisites.

      9. Alla,

        You being ignorant is not me making stuff up.

        Check out Professor Mark Whittle, Ph. D, of the University of Virginia.

        I took his course called, “Cosmology – The History and Nature of Our Universe.”

      10. No, SOM. You were happy to defer to science when it have you an absolute beginning (which it doesn’t; research the big bang singularity and the big bang phase. The singularity is speculative; you should have learned that on your course).
        But, the point is you don’t get from there to God through science. You get there by making stuff up. Which you are. If you weren’t making it up you’d have cited a source by now.

      11. Alla,

        If you don’t accept the scholarship presented to the public by specialists in the field from renown universities, then you are just one more atheist proving that atheism is retrograde.

      12. Alla,

        The source I gave you was material taught at the university level.

        Again, don’t blame me for your ignorance and lack of education.

        And please, don’t make me for you being too lazy to do your own homework.

      13. John,

        No I did not say that. You must have hallucinated it first, assigned it me and now you expect me it.

        That is how all atheist arguments begin and end.

      14. Well, I do actually recall us talking at some length about it. Now, don’t get me wrong, at your age trying to get a little new info into your head is a great thing, I applaud you, but don’t try and conflate it with real university work. That’s like your American bible schools calling themselves “universities.”

      15. Some community college courses are not university level; some are. I took chemistry, physics, math and a few other courses at a community college, and they transferred directly towards my university engineering degree.

      16. cat,

        Dr. Whittle teaches at the University of Virginia.

        And the adult education in science instruction provided by the American community college system is second to none.

        The atheist trying to disparage community college science education is simple elitism.

      17. I’m not disparaging anything SOM. Such short umbrellas courses are great resources for the curious with a little time on their hands. They are not, however, to be conflated with actual university courses, which is what you are trying to imply. In fact, you even said “university,” which is a lie, is it not? 😉

      18. John,

        Again with the hallucinations. You hallucinate something truly stupid, assign it to your opposition and then demand that your opposition explain it.

        You and Alla are peddling stupidity like all atheists do.

        I know that you two are not stupid so than means you two think your opposition is stupid.

        Such is not the basis for rational discussion.

      19. I do love your rambles, SOM, you know i do, but i fear you’re not getting any closer to actually answering the question presented to you.

        How can your god come from nothing?

      20. SOM, does your concept of God include loving all others, including your enemies? If so, it might be more in line with that concept to treat even people who disagree with you with calmness and politeness. I don’t think it is scriptural, but it appears to be a truism that you catch more flies with honey than vinegar.

      21. As I said, some CC are university level, because they meet the standards of the university. Some CC classes are meant for vocational training or personal improvement or even “fun”, and these do not meet university standards, by design. Good quality CC catalogs will indicate which classes can be transferred to university.

      22. Alla,

        Of course there is no God there!

        Nobody said there was.

        I said that modern cosmology teaches that the universe had a beginning.

        That being the case, it is obvious that the universe was caused.

        That means the fundamental dogma of atheism, that everything just happened all by itself, has been disproved by science.

      23. Alla,

        Nothing, not science, not evidence, not reason, not common sense, not the obvious, is ever good enough for the atheist.

        The fundamental dogma of atheism, everything just happened all by itself, is beyond question.

      24. And what “discoveries” are you referring to, SOM? If you’re aware of someone proving the BB, and knowing what was happening before inflation, I suggest you immediately alert the scientific world, because they should really know about this 🙂

        Now, back to reality. Tell me SOM, how can your god come from nothing?

        It’s an honest question, and I’m quite keen to hear your answer…

      25. John,

        If someone asked you, “What is 2 + 2?”

        And immediately after answering them, “4” they replied,

        “You didn’t answer the question. Where’s your study? Who published the paper?”

        You’d rightfully think you were conversing with an idiot.

      26. Thanks for that SOM, but you still haven’t answered the question: How can your god come from nothing?

        I look forward to hearing your answer

      27. And what points that, SOM? 😉

        Now, please, i’m all ears… Please explain in a rational, coherent, adult fashion how your god can come from nothing.

        I eagerly await perusing your answer….

      28. I’m not sure i understand what that means, although I am almost certain it doesn’t answer how your god can come from nothing.

        So, SOM, how can your god come from nothing?

      29. John, here is an answer to your question.

        The theory is that God always was, because in the environment He exists in, it appears “time” does not exist. “in the beginning” implies the start of time as WE know it, yet God is claimed to already have existed, implying that He is disconnected from time. .

  2. Many people claim that God could not exist, because the description of Him violates the laws of the environment we inhabit. Thus it seems that for Him to exist, He must inhabit a differing environment than us, with different laws. Another dimension, more dimensions or some such.

    Thus, your title is absolutely correct; it is NOT possible to argue God is immoral, because we do not and can not know (or likely even comprehend) what is moral in HIS environment. All attempts to show Him to be immoral are to evaluate Him in human terms. Which is not useful, since human terms likely do not apply to Him.

    It is claimed that He defines a morality for US, and if He is as described, perhaps He has that right and that ability. And we have the option to ignore any parts of that which do not violate human law (or for that matter, even those parts too). There is nothing but our own opinion of ourselves which can insist that a morality which is claimed to be appropriate for us and our environment must apply to Him and His environment as well.

    “I don’t want that salvation. I don’t want the blood of an innocent person to be the price of my salvation. We know it isn’t just.

    Really. That is a bit odd, because a significant portion of our society reflects that concept. You say that you reject God sacrificing a part of Himself to save you? Your choice. Do you also reject the policeman risking his life (and sometimes losing it) saving you from the thug? The fireman rushing into your burning building and sometimes not comingout? The military person trying to defeat or at least contain the group who is trying to get to you to kill you or enslave you, who may well come home in a box? The innocent bystander who pulls you out of the broken ice but falls in himself? All cases where there is the potential for “the blood of an innocent person to be the price of your salvation”. All cases where you should feel gratitude, not outrage of the “unjustness” of it all.

    1. Thus, your title is absolutely correct; it is NOT possible to argue God is immoral, because we do not and can not know (or likely even comprehend) what is moral in HIS environment. All attempts to show Him to be immoral are to evaluate Him in human terms. Which is not useful, since human terms likely do not apply to Him.

      You started well mate in your comment but went off the rails completely. The only terms we know are human terms. We have no idea what god terms are and as such anyone who argues god is moral is using those terms in the way we know them. To argue otherwise is to make the discussion moot.

    2. I intentionally gave just enough information for anyone to be able to notice that it is equally impossible to argue that God is moral, just or loving.
      The real point of this post was to point out that it is the apologists who make the argument impossible, not the actual facts of the matter. It’s about the sophistry, not the data.
      It actually is possible to benchmark morality and justice to some extent and see whether a God meets the mark. It doesn’t and then apologists and sophists deny the benchmarks by obscuring any attempts to make the words moral and just mean anything.
      It’s not that the dialogue is moot, it’s that apologists stop it being a conversation.

      I think you’ll understand why I’m not going to entertain the idea that a police officer dying in the line of duty is comparable to human sacrifice.

      1. I think your point was more than evident.
        The apologist says we know nothing about god and then when she hopes no is looking says god is good. It will not wash

      2. We can certainly compare what we know of God’s morality to our own, and find it lacking. All that shows is that God is not a moral HUMAN. Since he is NOT human, this is not useful. Yes, some apologists can make arguments which “shut down” the conversation. So can some of the people they are conversing with…

        Nobody (as far as I know) has any “facts” of the matter. Just speculation.

        Sorry, I don’t understand the difference between any case where a person or entity chooses to sacrifice themself for someone else. Now if that person did not have the choice, that would be a different matter entirely.

      3. equippedcat, you are losing me. Are you using the male pronoun to refer to god because it is male or because believers commonly call god he?

      4. It’s habit. God is often referred to as “Father”, which implies male. Which is silly, since there is no useful indication that God has any gender at all. (In order for gender to make any sense, there would have to be a complete set of genders, and that would imply procreation, and both these aspects violate most commonly held Western beliefs about God.)

  3. Consider our current system of justice. If a man were to commit a crime and go to jail, would we feel that it would be moral to throw his wife and children in with him? Most would so, no it is not moral. Then as the children grow up, in jail, mature and have children of their own, would it be moral to keep them all in jail? All would say it is not. This is God’s “original sin” in action. We were all condemned to eternal torment for the actions of an ancestor over which we had no control, influence, or responsibility.

    Yahweh’s first action toward people is something no one would describe as being just or moral. End of story.

    1. You are right; in our eyes, punishing someone’s children for their crime appears to not be just or moral. But that is not what is happening between God and man.

      The story has Adam and Eve did disobeying God, and for that, we cannot say that some punishment was not deserved. But we can, with pretty good justification, claim that you and I do not deserve any punishment at all for that disobedience. We don’t deserve it, and despite appearances, we are not getting it.

      Here is the thing, there were two aspects to the “crime” of Adam and Eve. One was the crime itself, disobeying God, and the other was the CHANGE to Adam and Eve which resulted from their action and which propagated throughout all of humanity.

      To put this in more familiar terms, consider a person who is told to avoid an area plagued with a severe epidemic, but goes there anyway. Going there is the “crime” for which he and he alone deserves any punishment. Getting infected is the result, and he can come home and pass it to his wife and kids. They are not being “punished” for his actions; they are merely subject to the consequences of that action.

      1. equippedcat, are you sure, it is possible with any fairness to call the eating of the fruit by A and E an act of disobedience? And where does a merciful and forgiving god come into the picture?

      2. Huh? How is doing something which a recognized authority tells you not to do NOT disobedience? Fairness has nothing to do with the command or the ignoring the command. Now, I suppose you could question the fairness of the command, except in this case, it is obvious that the command was at least necessary (look at how disastrous failing to follow it was).

        Neither forgiveness or mercy requires or even suggests that ALL consequences of harmful action be removed/withheld.

      3. disobedience I think only make sense when one can judge between wrong/ right. Absent that, all actions in my view must be treated as innocent regardless of who gives them.
        I have no problem if you chose to discard mercy and justice out of the nature of god. Makes our discussions much easier.

      4. Don’t stick your hand into the fire, it will hurt you worse than you can possibly imagine. Obeying this has nothing to do with right or wrong or knowing the difference between right and wrong. You are told not to do something AND provided the reason for the command. You may or may not be inclined to obey because of your relationship with the person giving the order, but in any case, the key here is to evaluate the risk involved in obeying or disobeying.

  4. And with regard to the comment that God must live in a very different environment, so we cannot judge his actions … excuse me? Are we not made in God’s image and are we perfectly “designed” to exist in this environment? And, therefore is not God’s “image” of a being perfectly designed for our environment?

    How is it that people can make up such specious argument?

    1. Does a painting of you exactly represent every aspect of you? Being made in God’s image provably does not make us gods. And being designed for this environment does not make us suitable to exist, much less thrive in some other environment. Furthermore, being intimately familiar with this environment and no other, makes it likely we would completely freak out if exposed to an environment which did not follow the laws which we presume to be universal.

      How, indeed, can people (on both sides) make up specious arguments? I don’t see that mine is specious.

      I don’t claim that God exists. I do claim that in order for Him to exist, He must exist in an environment different from ours. Why? Because He is postulated as having abilities and attributes which appear to be impossible in the environment we can perceive. If all our knowledge is based on our environment (which it is), it is likely we cannot even conceive of more than a tiny fraction of this other environment, or its inhabitants. For us to insist that this environment follow our rules, or its inhabitants meet our standards, is pretty silly.

      It is a “specious” (lazy, invalid) way of trying to disprove something which seems to be neither provable or disprovable.

  5. (Hey allallt, sorry to put this here, but it’s the only way to get in contact with you. You can delete it after you read it.

    A few months ago in a discussion about evolution, you challenged me to tell you about real evolution, as opposed to the local mercantilist version. I have the first half of the lecture up, so it’s at this link here if you still remember/care.

    1. I don’t know where you’re getting your data from. That certainly is a long essay with a scientific topic without references. Here (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e91D5UAz-f4) is an hour long lecture given by Jeremy England, a physicist at MIT. He is talking about life in terms of the use of energy. This is simply the closest thing I can find in real science to the pseudoscience you are pedalling. I hope you find it interesting.
      (You’ll have to forgive his pace; he alters between very basic and very dense material very quickly.)

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