God Is a Monster
by Don R. Camp
This may be the number one complaint I hear on skeptic and
anti-theist websites. And of course, it is the center-piece
in Richard Dawkins’s argument against God 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.
That’s quite an indictment.
As evidence for the prosecution a variety of biblical stories are
presented: Noah’s flood (Genesis 6,7), the destruction of Sodom
and Gomorrah (Genesis 19), the order to destroy the
Amalekites (1 Samuel 15) and Midianites (Numbers 31), and some
The point in each is that all are destroyed: men, women, and
children. And that seems, brutal and immoral and monstrous
especially to our modern sensibilities. We like to see ourselves
as morally advanced, superior.
In the process of painting ourselves as superior, we forget. We
forget, in particular, World War ll. So let me remind the reader
Hitler rose to power as chancellor of Germany in 1932. His new
position allowed Hitler to
the plan he had articulated in his book Mein Kampf
six years earlier. His thesis was that the Jews and Communism were
a scourge. They were the cause of the evils that Germany had
endured. And he argued "the nationalization of our masses will
succeed only when, aside from all the positive struggle for the
soul of our people, their international poisoners are
The international poisoners were the Jews.
Over the next 13 years Hitler and Germany murdered 12 million of
those international poisoners, 6 million Jews and 6 million
others. The monstrous means – I use that term intentionally – were
gas chambers, death camps, firing squads, hangings and
experimentation in which men, women,
and children were disposed of as if they were rabid dogs. And
Germans for the most part joined without protest, though the few
protesters, of course, were exterminated along with the poisoners
they hoped to save.
Europe, of course, rose in defense against the world threat of the
Third Reich. Britain and France declared war in 1939.
Britain sent a force known as the British Expeditionary Force
(BEF) into Europe in 1939. By June the next year the BEF and the
French army found themselves backed up against the coast along the
British Channel at Dunkirk and in danger of annihilation.
It looked like Hitler would realize his dream for a master race in
control of Europe and perhaps the world.
With the survival of England at stake Foreign Secretary Lord
Halifax called for a national day of prayer. Thousands of people
across England and the United States, knowing the peril and
something of the horrors Hitler was inflicting upon Europe,
prayed. And in a miracle 338,000 British and French troops were
rescued from Dunkirk by a flotilla of boats small and great that
brought the troops off the beaches undercover of a fog that
prevented the Germans from attacking. God, or so those who prayed
believed, saved an army and a nation that would return to Europe
and defeat Hitler.
A year and a half later the United States entered the war after
being attacked by Japan at Pearl Harbor. We brought to bear our
weapons and men, among them one who is my friend, old now but
still able to remember his part as a pilot of a B-17 that bombed
factories, the rail yards .... and the
cities of Germany. He and hundreds like him bombed the
cities of Germany to rubble, including in February of 1945 the
city of Dresden.
Dresden was fire-bombed in a mission that extended over several
days and resulted in the total destruction of Dresden including
23,000 men women and children. A witness to the aftermath
describes searching the shelters for survivors and finding nothing
but jellified bodies and ash. It was horrific. As were the
bombings of Tokyo and Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
From the vantage point of 70 years we are conflicted about what we
did. I asked a young man not long ago if he would have joined the
attacks. He said he would not. But the people of Britain and
America in 1945 had fewer reservations. They, by this point in the
war, knew of the death camps. They knew of Hitler’s orders to
exterminate the Jews. They knew of the death marches in the
Pacific theater of the war. They knew that it must end and this
evil must be punished. As unspeakable as the death and destruction
of our attacks on Dresden and Nagasaki had been, they understood
that it was necessary and just.
And that is what we see in the Bible. At the flood we see a
civilization that has sunk so far into immorality that there was
no hope, whose every imagination was evil. At Sodom we see a city
that joined in gang rape and murder for the sake of a night of gay
sex, and there is every indication this was not an isolated crime.
Regarding the Amalekites we see a people group who had repeatedly
and without provocation brutally attacked God’s people, destroying
whole cities men, women and children and over a period of 300
years. The Midianites had mounted a concerted and prolonged attack
on Israel that included an attempt to tempt Israel to sin and
abandon God. Their crimes were great.
As with Germany, their crimes had to end and their brutality had
to be be punished. It was horrific. But God had to not only end
the threat to the world of that day but make them an example of
justice for all who might choose to follow their example.
Today, we are separated from these events by many thousands of
years. And we are, as we are after being separated from the events
of World War ll, conflicted. Even Christians who are convinced
that God does right are conflicted. It is no wonder that the
skeptic and anti-theist are outraged. In their minds God is to
blame. God is immoral. God is the monster.
They need to go to YouTube and watch the films of German
atrocities, films done by the Germans themselves. They need to see
the pictures of the piled dead bodies in the death camps and watch
as German soldiers line up women and children in front of hastily
excavated trenches and coldly shoot them in the head along with
children in their mothers’ arms. They need to remember. And then
they need to ask was it just that we leveled cities in our mission
to end those crimes.
And they need to ask if God was not just in bringing that to pass.
Most Christians of the 1940s who understood the times would say it
was right, though they would have said it through their tears.
But there is more to the story of World War ll than destruction.
There is salvation. And if we step back a bit to look at the big
picture, salvation is the point. Obviously Europe was saved from
Nazi Germany and the oppression of the Third Reich. The United
States was saved. But more significantly the Jews were saved.
The Jews are God's chosen people. The Bible tells us that God has
a plan for them that stretches from Abraham to the end of human
history. He promised them his eternal protection, even if there
were episodes of Jewish unbelief, even if they rejected their
Messiah, even if they too were disciplined by God.
And in World War ll God did save them.
By the end of the war the Jews in Europe had suffered terribly,
perhaps they had endured more suffering than any other group. Yet
their pain was not over. The Jewish refugees from the war and its
aftermath were not welcomed in many of the European states,
Britain in particular. In consequence the Jews pressed their claim
to a homeland in Palestine. And "on November 29, 1947, after much
debate and discussion, the UN recommended the partition of
Palestine into two states one Jewish and one Arab."
The Jewish people had their long sought permission to return to
their land. The return was epic. It was even made into a epic
And it was absolutely as God had predicted
2000 years ago. God had once again saved his people.
If we look at the Bible events that are often pointed to as ugly,
inhumane, unjust, and immoral and look to the reasons for judgment
and the outcome, we see not so much destruction as we see
At the flood God is saving a people who will establish a new
civilization in which righteousness was the goal. At Sodom God
saved Lot and his family. In the exodus when Egypt was judged God
saved a people who become his nation. With the destruction of the
Amalekite city, God saved his people from their depredations. With
the destruction of the Midianites God saved Israel from national
When Israel herself suffered God's judgment under the Babylonians,
God saved a remnant and eventually brought them back to their
land. He did it again when Israel rejected the Messiah. Jerusalem
was totally destroyed along with millions who had fled to other
cities. But those who survived returned. Then again the Jews
rebelled against Rome and were finally driven from their homeland
in 135 A.D. to live as men without a nation among the nations. But
again they were saved and returned to Palestine in 1948.
God is about salvation not destruction.
Regardless whether you understand or agree, that was God’s purpose
at the flood, at Sodom and in his command to Saul to destroy the
Amalekites. It was to save. I am as grieved as anyone at the
horrible scene. But I am glad there is a God who pursues justice.
I would not want to live in a world dominated by the monster of