Apologeet.nlThe God Delusion #4
#4 God Must be Horrible: Pestilential & Megalomaniacal
I believe it was 2006 that Mr Dawkins published his book, the God Delusion. I have never paid to much attention to his writings simply because I thought the hype would die a fast and silent death. His book isn’t, what you would call, a very sophisticated philosophical book. It is smoothly written, but it lacks a lot, philosophical speaking. Anyway, I was wrong about the dying stuff. Many still love his audacious mantra with which Dawkins starts the second chapter:i
The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all of 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.
I have always wondered what one could answer this foolish but immensely popular statement given by Mr. Dawkins in his equally foolish book, the God Delusion. Sceptics, Atheists, and many un-believers love these kins of rhetoric. It sounds so challenging! It sounds tough. But, in reality it gives away a total misunderstanding of the Biblical God. Minster Dawkins might know a thing or two about biology, but theologically speaking, he fails big time.
So, let’s discuss a few of these titles he so boastfully assigned to the God of the Bible. Let’s see what we can say about it without going into endless debates.
Let’s start with clarifying again, shall we? The Oxford Dictionary says that someone who is pestilential is extremely annoying.ii While the Merriam-Webster adds that a pestilential is something or someone who is causing or tending to cause pestilence (any epidemic disease that is highly contagious, infectious, virulent and devastating), and that a pestilential can also be morally harmful.iii
So, which of these two would Dawkins have had in mind? I assume both, but you may correct me if I am wrong.
Is God extremely annoying?
I’ll start with the first one. Is God extremely annoying? Or like the Merriam-Webster dictionary states, is God ‘giving rise to vexation or annoyance?’iv Yes, I think He can be very annoying for someone who doesn’t want to follow or obey Him. This is the biggest problem for atheists, they are vexed by a God, they proclaim does not exist. Paul says the following about this behaviour in Romans 1:18b-19
[…] who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them.
However, I think people can only say that God is annoying when they actually believe He exists. I came across a post on a forum in which the author said that God really annoyed him. Why was that you ask? I’ll cite a part of the post for you.v
I couldn’t be a Christian because it drove me insane… it was a cancer of the mind for me. I remember praying to be a good Christian, to overcome my irrational fears and to basically be the man I know I am deep down. I get glimpses of the person I feel I should be. He’s there for maybe a minute and then he’ll disappear, and I’ll feel so far away from being… me.
[…] When I left Christianity it was a huge relief. I relied on my reason and logic to get me through tough times and I did it without as much apprehension as I had with All Mighty God breathing down my neck.
And there you go! I think this might be a huge problem for many people. They have the feeling that God is breathing down their necks all the time. I guess, many have this distorted view of God. For them, He is not a Father, but more like an uncompassionate judge. Well, He is a judge… He is the judge of the world! However, He is not uncompassionate. He want to be like a Father.
Like as a father pitieth his children, So the LORD pitieth them that fear him.
The person I just quoted didn’t end his post there, he also wrotevi
I’m now beginning to re-evaluate Christianity. I realise and have always known to an extent, that my understanding of Christianity was completely flawed. I don’t intend to jump right back into it, that would be dishonest. I still have these nagging questions and I’ll never get a good answer to them.
So, God wasn’t breathing down his neck. No, God the Father wanted to see him flourish and for that He wants to educate and correct him.
My son, despise not the chastening of the LORD; Neither be weary of his correction: For whom the LORD loveth he correcteth; Even as a father the son in whom he delighteth.
Does God cause pestilence?
In Scripture, God is often represented as causing that which He does not prevent. We do see that God is using the plague to punish wicked nations. Now, the questions is of course, whether He is actively causing pestilence or whether He just allows it to happen. If the latter is true, then we can turn the question around and say that He is also a preventer of pestilence.
But how would God prevent pestilence, you ask? May I suggest reading the food and sanitation laws and the laws on sex in Leviticus? Just try and study them. You’ll see that many of these laws, maybe even all, just prevent people from getting certain illnesses.
I am not going to sum up all these texts, but I’ll help you a bit with naming some diseases.
God’s rule against sexual perversion is His way of preventing the spread of gonorrhea, candidiasis, syphilis, and other scary sicknesses. For example, scientists believe that AIDS came from baboons… How did that spread among humans you might ask?
The animals which God banned from being touched or eaten, are animals found by science to be the cause of modern plagues among humans. Bats seem to be a unique source of zoonotic viruses (viruses transmissible from animals to people) – from SARS and Ebola to Nipah and rabies – just to name a few.vii Camels are one of the causes of MERS.viii And do I need to start about pigsix and certain unscaled fish and shellfish?x
So, why do I mention these examples? Whenever we see pestilence come to a nation, we can be sure these nations were breaking God’s laws. It is up to God whether He allows these pestilence to happen. If He does, we could call Him pestilential. But how do we call Him when He prevents these outbreaks? I think we don’t even realise how often He has prevented it from happening. But oh boy! When it happens, the atheists are the first in line to blaspheme His name. They do not heed His warnings, they don’t regard His word, and they don’t even believe in Him. But still they blame Him.
I smote you with blasting and with mildew and with hail in all the labours of your hands; yet ye turned not to me, saith the LORD.
People like Richard Dawkins have cast away all logic when they accuse a being, who they don’t believe exist, as being pestilential!
A megalomaniac is someone with a mental illness in which that person has a much greater belief in his own importance or power than is reasonable. In another way, a megalomaniac has a strong feeling that he wants to have more and more power.xi The last explanation also means that people who suffer from these strong feelings will try to hurt others in order to gain more power.
It is interesting to see that both explanations have two key elements embedded in it’s meaning, namely that of imprecision and abusive. Both these attributes cannot be said about God.
To help Dawkins a little, megalomania involves delusion. This at least can be traced back to the title of Dawkin’s book. But this is as far as the help goes. God is not delusional. One cannot be a megalomaniac when the things he says are true.
It does not make someone a megalomaniac when he wins the world title MMA-fighting and then afterwards says he is the best MMA-fighter in the world. The champion just makes a truth-claim, whether we like it or not.
When God says He is omnipotent and omniscient, He’s not showing megalomania—He just talks about His true attributes. To say that the biblical God suffers from megalomania is just a contradiction in term. He is the only being of which we cannot exaggerate His power and influence.
But how about this second component of megalomania, being abusive or having the urge to harm others to gain more power?
Let’s quickly look at Idi Amin Dada Oumee, who ruled as a military dictator from 1971 to 1979 and is considered one of the most brutal despots in modern world history. Now! Here we have a real megalomaniac! Amin ordered people to be killed or tortured for just one disagreeing word. Amin claimed all sorts of titles for himself. His title ultimately became:xii
“His Excellency, President for Life, Field Marshal Al Hadji Doctor Idi Amin Dada, VC, DSO, MC, CBE, Lord of All the Beasts of the Earth and Fishes of the Seas and Conqueror of the British Empire in Africa in General and Uganda in Particular,”
Also he said he was the uncrowned king of Scotland.
This is nothing like God. God is not cruel. Whatever God’s actions toward humanity are, they are clearly intended for our own good. It was God who gave Himself to humiliation and death in order to save us from our sin. You cannot just say that His acts are harmful or even abusive towards us. That God expects us to, at least, appreciate and answer to this sacrifice is not megalomaniacal, no it is just common sense.
God shows Himself precisely as He is. He has so much love and concern for us.
But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
Being honest and loving can hardly be seen as the characteristics of someone who is a megalomaniac. God is always giving, always honest. He has only good qualities.
Psalm 107:1; 119:68
O give thanks unto the LORD, for he is good: For his mercy endureth for ever.
Thou art good, and doest good; Teach me thy statutes.
None of these things are in line with megalomaniac characteristics.
Ah Lord GOD! behold, thou hast made the heaven and the earth by thy great power and stretched out arm, and there is nothing too hard for thee
This was fourth part of this quote. Let’s see whether we can round this up in the next part. I hope, and it is my prayer, that people who are troubled by these dumb atheistic ad hominem fallacies, will open their hearts and minds to the word of God.
For the Christians who watch this video, I would like to challenge you not to shy away from these attacks. Maybe your colleague, your sports mate, or maybe a family member has heard these kinds of attacks about God’s character, and is wondering how much of it is true. It is good to find out that there are actually good answers.
In any case! Do let me know your ideas in the comments of the video or article below. Remember! I am mostly active on my Odysee channel. You’ll find a link to that channel in the description of this video.
I very much appreciate your prayers and support! Please take a look in the description of this video to find out how you can help me. Also, I’ll place a link there to both the Dutch and English transcripts of this video. And finally, you’ll find the links to the other videos I’ve made about this topic… All, in the same description.
God bless you, thank you for watching, and let’s see how we approach the rest of Dawkin’s quote in the next video!
i Dawkins, R., The God Delusion, Bantam Press, London, 2006, p.31.
ii Oxford University Press, Pestilential, <https://www.oxfordlearnersdictionaries.com/definition/english/pestilential> [internet] 2022, accessed 08-10-2022.
iii Merriam-Webster, Pestilential, <https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/pestilential> [internet] 2022, accessed 08-10-2022.
v Mr Invisible, [Phasmid]. (29 July 2008). God is really annoying me… [Forum]. Religiousforums. Available: <https://www.religiousforums.com/threads/god-is-really-annoying-me.68558/> accessed 09-10-2022.
vii Osofsky, S., Cable News Network, How to keep viruses in the wild from finding humans, [internet] 09-10-2014, <https://edition.cnn.com/2014/10/09/opinion/osofsky-ebola-wildlife/> accessed 14-10-2022.
viii Roos, R., CIDRAP, As MERS persists, WHO cites hospital-linked clusters, <http://www.cidrap.umn.edu/news-perspective/2015/02/mers-persists-who-cites-hospital-linked-clusters>, [internet] 09-02-2015, accessed 14-10-2022.
ix Food Safety Authority of Ireland, Hepatitis E Virus and Food, <https://www.fsai.ie/faq/hepatitis_e.html>, [internet] 11-07-2017, accessed 14-10-2022.
x Peloquin, P., 12 Reasons Shellfish is Unhealthy, <http://www.theluxuryspot.com/reasons-shellfish-is-unhealthy/>, [internet] 2013, accessed 14-10-2022.
xi Oxford University Press, Megalomania, <https://www.oxfordlearnersdictionaries.com/definition/english/megalomania> [internet] 2022, accessed 14-10-2022.
xii Wikipedia, Idi Amin, <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Idi_Amin>, [internet] 2022, accessed 14-10-2022.