Atheists’ favourite Bible verses!

Those who dispute the existence of God, and reject the character of God that is insisted upon by Bible-believers, often like to misuse various passages of Scripture to prove God to a vindictive, hate-filled, jealous monster that they are fully justified in rejecting. After all they argue, who could reasonably be expected to believe and embrace a God who authorizes (as they allege) pillage, rape, murder and innumerable other atrocities.

Inevitably some passages such as those below are dragged from their Scriptural context to justify such claims. It can be intimidating to face such claims, and many Christians who know little of the Bible can be rendered dumb in the face of such an attack.

What is the explanation for some of the passages that atheist’s use to malign the character of God? Hopefully, the commentary on the selection of verses below will help!

The suggested ‘explanations’ atheists give of these passages are seriously flawed! Very often these mistaken notions arise – not from an accurate interpretation of the passage – but from the imposition upon the passage of modern, and usually highly sexualized, notions. So, for example, many will suggest rape and sexual slavery being represented in such passages and claim God vindicates such things, when in reality it is only their imagination, which has been corrupted by modern debauchery, that is at work.

 

Allegations:

  • God permits young girls to be sold into slavery. Bible text: Exodus 21:7-11Exodus 21:7-11
    English: King James Version (1611) - KJV

    7 And if a man sell his daughter to be a maidservant, she shall not go out as the menservants do. 8 If she please not her master, who hath betrothed her to himself, then shall he let her be redeemed: to sell her unto a strange nation he shall have no power, seeing he hath dealt deceitfully with her. please...: Heb. be evil in the eyes of, etc 9 And if he have betrothed her unto his son, he shall deal with her after the manner of daughters. 10 If he take him another wife; her food, her raiment, and her duty of marriage, shall he not diminish. 11 And if he do not these three unto her, then shall she go out free without money.  

    WP-Bible plugin
  • God justifies murder of men and women and the seizure of unmarried women. Bible text: Numbers 31:7-18Numbers 31:7-18
    English: King James Version (1611) - KJV

    7 And they warred against the Midianites, as the LORD commanded Moses; and they slew all the males. 8 And they slew the kings of Midian, beside the rest of them that were slain; namely, Evi, and Rekem, and Zur, and Hur, and Reba, five kings of Midian: Balaam also the son of Beor they slew with the sword. 9 And the children of Israel took all the women of Midian captives, and their little ones, and took the spoil of all their cattle, and all their flocks, and all their goods. 10 And they burnt all their cities wherein they dwelt, and all their goodly castles, with fire. 11 And they took all the spoil, and all the prey, both of men and of beasts. 12 And they brought the captives, and the prey, and the spoil, unto Moses, and Eleazar the priest, and unto the congregation of the children of Israel, unto the camp at the plains of Moab, which are by Jordan near Jericho. 13 And Moses, and Eleazar the priest, and all the princes of the congregation, went forth to meet them without the camp. 14 And Moses was wroth with the officers of the host, with the captains over thousands, and captains over hundreds, which came from the battle. battle: Heb. host of war 15 And Moses said unto them, Have ye saved all the women alive? 16 Behold, these caused the children of Israel, through the counsel of Balaam, to commit trespass against the LORD in the matter of Peor, and there was a plague among the congregation of the LORD. 17 Now therefore kill every male among the little ones, and kill every woman that hath known man by lying with him. him: Heb. a male 18 But all the women children, that have not known a man by lying with him, keep alive for yourselves.  

    WP-Bible plugin
  • God forced men to make peace and submit to forced labour or be killed/plundered. Bible text: Deuteronomy 20:10-15Deuteronomy 20:10-15
    English: King James Version (1611) - KJV

    10 When thou comest nigh unto a city to fight against it, then proclaim peace unto it. 11 And it shall be, if it make thee answer of peace, and open unto thee, then it shall be, that all the people that is found therein shall be tributaries unto thee, and they shall serve thee. 12 And if it will make no peace with thee, but will make war against thee, then thou shalt besiege it: 13 And when the LORD thy God hath delivered it into thine hands, thou shalt smite every male thereof with the edge of the sword: 14 But the women, and the little ones, and the cattle, and all that is in the city, even all the spoil thereof, shalt thou take unto thyself; and thou shalt eat the spoil of thine enemies, which the LORD thy God hath given thee. take: Heb. spoil 15 Thus shalt thou do unto all the cities which are very far off from thee, which are not of the cities of these nations.  

    WP-Bible plugin
  • Men and women killed, virgins taken as wives. Bible text: Judges 21:10-24Judges 21:10-24
    English: King James Version (1611) - KJV

    10 And the congregation sent thither twelve thousand men of the valiantest, and commanded them, saying, Go and smite the inhabitants of Jabeshgilead with the edge of the sword, with the women and the children. 11 And this is the thing that ye shall do, Ye shall utterly destroy every male, and every woman that hath lain by man. hath lain...: Heb. knoweth the lying with man 12 And they found among the inhabitants of Jabeshgilead four hundred young virgins, that had known no man by lying with any male: and they brought them unto the camp to Shiloh, which is in the land of Canaan. young...: Heb. young women virgins 13 And the whole congregation sent some to speak to the children of Benjamin that were in the rock Rimmon, and to call peaceably unto them. to speak...: Heb. and spake and called call...: or, proclaim peace 14 And Benjamin came again at that time; and they gave them wives which they had saved alive of the women of Jabeshgilead: and yet so they sufficed them not. 15 And the people repented them for Benjamin, because that the LORD had made a breach in the tribes of Israel. 16 Then the elders of the congregation said, How shall we do for wives for them that remain, seeing the women are destroyed out of Benjamin? 17 And they said, There must be an inheritance for them that be escaped of Benjamin, that a tribe be not destroyed out of Israel. 18 Howbeit we may not give them wives of our daughters: for the children of Israel have sworn, saying, Cursed be he that giveth a wife to Benjamin. 19 Then they said, Behold, there is a feast of the LORD in Shiloh yearly in a place which is on the north side of Bethel, on the east side of the highway that goeth up from Bethel to Shechem, and on the south of Lebonah. yearly: Heb. from year to year on the east...: or, toward the sunrising of the highway: or, on the highway 20 Therefore they commanded the children of Benjamin, saying, Go and lie in wait in the vineyards; 21 And see, and, behold, if the daughters of Shiloh come out to dance in dances, then come ye out of the vineyards, and catch you every man his wife of the daughters of Shiloh, and go to the land of Benjamin. 22 And it shall be, when their fathers or their brethren come unto us to complain, that we will say unto them, Be favourable unto them for our sakes: because we reserved not to each man his wife in the war: for ye did not give unto them at this time, that ye should be guilty. Be favourable...: or, Gratify us in them 23 And the children of Benjamin did so, and took them wives, according to their number, of them that danced, whom they caught: and they went and returned unto their inheritance, and repaired the cities, and dwelt in them. 24 And the children of Israel departed thence at that time, every man to his tribe and to his family, and they went out from thence every man to his inheritance.  

    WP-Bible plugin
  • God condones rape. Bible text: Deuteronomy 22:25-29Deuteronomy 22:25-29
    English: King James Version (1611) - KJV

    25 But if a man find a betrothed damsel in the field, and the man force her, and lie with her: then the man only that lay with her shall die: force: or, take strong hold of 26 But unto the damsel thou shalt do nothing; there is in the damsel no sin worthy of death: for as when a man riseth against his neighbour, and slayeth him, even so is this matter: 27 For he found her in the field, and the betrothed damsel cried, and there was none to save her. 28 If a man find a damsel that is a virgin, which is not betrothed, and lay hold on her, and lie with her, and they be found; 29 Then the man that lay with her shall give unto the damsel's father fifty shekels of silver, and she shall be his wife; because he hath humbled her, he may not put her away all his days.  

    WP-Bible plugin

 

1. Exodus 21:7-11Exodus 21:7-11
English: King James Version (1611) - KJV

7 And if a man sell his daughter to be a maidservant, she shall not go out as the menservants do. 8 If she please not her master, who hath betrothed her to himself, then shall he let her be redeemed: to sell her unto a strange nation he shall have no power, seeing he hath dealt deceitfully with her. please...: Heb. be evil in the eyes of, etc 9 And if he have betrothed her unto his son, he shall deal with her after the manner of daughters. 10 If he take him another wife; her food, her raiment, and her duty of marriage, shall he not diminish. 11 And if he do not these three unto her, then shall she go out free without money.  

WP-Bible plugin
.

Allegation: God permits young girls to be sold into slavery.

Answer: The situation here is one where because of financial hardship in a family a young girl is put into service. Poverty was a real issue and sometimes this was the only way to address it.

Various other matters are dealt with to prevent her becoming the victim of unscrupulous masters/employers who might take advantage of her situation. The thrust of the passage is in fact the opposite of what is suggested! The purpose of this command is to protect a young woman who found herself in this situation of having to go into service.

Other aspects of Mosaic legislation prevented other possible abuses and while the service was not limited to a fixed period of time, ending in the year of release every seventh year (Exodus 21:2Exodus 21:2
English: King James Version (1611) - KJV

2 If thou buy an Hebrew servant, six years he shall serve: and in the seventh he shall go out free for nothing.  

WP-Bible plugin
) as it was for men, there was opportunity for her to be ‘redeemed’, i.e. to buy release from this arrangement. The service in view was to be as envisaged in Exodus 21:5Exodus 21:5
English: King James Version (1611) - KJV

5 And if the servant shall plainly say, I love my master, my wife, and my children; I will not go out free: shall...: Heb. saying shall say  

WP-Bible plugin
– such that the servant would not want to leave!

Return to list of allegations

2. Numbers 31:7-18Numbers 31:7-18
English: King James Version (1611) - KJV

7 And they warred against the Midianites, as the LORD commanded Moses; and they slew all the males. 8 And they slew the kings of Midian, beside the rest of them that were slain; namely, Evi, and Rekem, and Zur, and Hur, and Reba, five kings of Midian: Balaam also the son of Beor they slew with the sword. 9 And the children of Israel took all the women of Midian captives, and their little ones, and took the spoil of all their cattle, and all their flocks, and all their goods. 10 And they burnt all their cities wherein they dwelt, and all their goodly castles, with fire. 11 And they took all the spoil, and all the prey, both of men and of beasts. 12 And they brought the captives, and the prey, and the spoil, unto Moses, and Eleazar the priest, and unto the congregation of the children of Israel, unto the camp at the plains of Moab, which are by Jordan near Jericho. 13 And Moses, and Eleazar the priest, and all the princes of the congregation, went forth to meet them without the camp. 14 And Moses was wroth with the officers of the host, with the captains over thousands, and captains over hundreds, which came from the battle. battle: Heb. host of war 15 And Moses said unto them, Have ye saved all the women alive? 16 Behold, these caused the children of Israel, through the counsel of Balaam, to commit trespass against the LORD in the matter of Peor, and there was a plague among the congregation of the LORD. 17 Now therefore kill every male among the little ones, and kill every woman that hath known man by lying with him. him: Heb. a male 18 But all the women children, that have not known a man by lying with him, keep alive for yourselves.  

WP-Bible plugin
.

Allegation: God justifies murder of men and women and the seizure of unmarried women

Answer: This is just one such episode in Israel’s conquest of Canaan. There are many others passages of a similar nature that describe the annihilation of one Canaanite tribe or another by Israel at God’s command.At first glance this may seem a brutal and indefensible thing!

In the purpose of God He had put up with the vile wickedness of the Canaanite nations for centuries and the time to take vengeance on their sin had now come. Israel was His chosen means to do so. What you have here is an OT illustration of the reality of God’s wrath. We need make no apology for Divine justice! It is the order of the universe established by God that sin brings His punishment. Sometimes that vengeance is seen to be worked out on earth but always it is worked out in eternity in everlasting destruction for the wicked who refuse God, His laws and/or any offer of mercy He publishes to them at His own discretion.

The following verses indicate very clearly the vile wickedness of those wiped out by Israel. The list of crimes against God justifies His actions in vengeance against them.

  • “But in the fourth generation they shall come hither again: for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet full.” (Genesis 15:16Genesis 15:16
    English: King James Version (1611) - KJV

    16 But in the fourth generation they shall come hither again: for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet full.  

    WP-Bible plugin
    ) God is here promising Abraham and his descendents the land of Canaan.
  • “Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination. Neither shalt thou lie with any beast to defile thyself therewith: neither shall any woman stand before a beast to lie down thereto: it is confusion. Defile not ye yourselves in any of these things: for in all these the nations are defiled which I cast out before you: And the land is defiled: therefore I do visit the iniquity thereof upon it, and the land itself vomiteth out her inhabitants.” (Leviticus 18:22-25Leviticus 18:22-25
    English: King James Version (1611) - KJV

    22 Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination. 23 Neither shalt thou lie with any beast to defile thyself therewith: neither shall any woman stand before a beast to lie down thereto: it is confusion. 24 Defile not ye yourselves in any of these things: for in all these the nations are defiled which I cast out before you: 25 And the land is defiled: therefore I do visit the iniquity thereof upon it, and the land itself vomiteth out her inhabitants.  

    WP-Bible plugin
    )
  • “Which thou hast commanded by thy servants the prophets, saying, The land, unto which ye go to possess it, is an unclean land with the filthiness of the people of the lands, with their abominations, which have filled it from one end to another with their uncleanness.” (Ezra 9:11Ezra 9:11
    English: King James Version (1611) - KJV

    11 Which thou hast commanded by thy servants the prophets, saying, The land, unto which ye go to possess it, is an unclean land with the filthiness of the people of the lands, with their abominations, which have filled it from one end to another with their uncleanness. by: Heb. by the hand of from...: Heb. from mouth to mouth  

    WP-Bible plugin
    AV)

As God spoke to Abraham, all around him were the tribes of Canaan who had sunk in this vile debauchery and wickedness. YET, God in patience put up with this defiance and wickedness for another five centuries before bringing Israel into the land to cut off these wicked tribes. God will punish sin!

The devastation caused by Israel’s armies at the command of God was the vengeance of God upon their sin. It simply illustrates what lies ahead for every sinner who will not repent and seek God as is clear from the following. “God judgeth the righteous, and God is angry with the wicked every day. If he turn not, he will whet his sword; he hath bent his bow, and made it ready. He hath also prepared for him the instruments of death; he ordaineth his arrows against the persecutors.” (Psalm 7:11-13Psalm 7:11-13
English: King James Version (1611) - KJV

11 God judgeth the righteous, and God is angry with the wicked every day. judgeth...: or, is a righteous judge 12 If he turn not, he will whet his sword; he hath bent his bow, and made it ready. 13 He hath also prepared for him the instruments of death; he ordaineth his arrows against the persecutors.  

WP-Bible plugin
AV) Whether sinners like it or not, this is the God they will have to deal with.

Return to list of allegations

3. Deuteronomy 20: 10-1Deuteronomy 20: 10-1
English: King James Version (1611) - KJV

 

WP-Bible plugin
.

Allegation: God forced men to make peace and submit to forced labour or be killed/plundered.

Answer: This passage is essentially explained by the comments above. There was an offer of mercy extended by Israel to cities of their enemies that were not within the immediate territory that God had purposed to give Israel. All these heathen deserved to perish and yet God gave an option for escape! Serve the interests of my people, submit to my Laws etc. and live! Their defiance of God had brought them to the place were they were now threatened with destruction – but God offers mercy! That is always the way of escape from the consequences of sin! However, sinners stubbornly hold out in defiance against God, will not bow to the gospel yoke, and yet rail against God’s alleged unfairness and injustice when they face eternal ruin He warned of and offered escape from. The sinner’s issue is that he simply does not like the terms that God offers mercy upon, but it is not the sinner’s place to dispute these terms. The gospel is – and always has been – a take it or leave it proposition.

Return to list of allegations

4. Judges 21:10-24Judges 21:10-24
English: King James Version (1611) - KJV

10 And the congregation sent thither twelve thousand men of the valiantest, and commanded them, saying, Go and smite the inhabitants of Jabeshgilead with the edge of the sword, with the women and the children. 11 And this is the thing that ye shall do, Ye shall utterly destroy every male, and every woman that hath lain by man. hath lain...: Heb. knoweth the lying with man 12 And they found among the inhabitants of Jabeshgilead four hundred young virgins, that had known no man by lying with any male: and they brought them unto the camp to Shiloh, which is in the land of Canaan. young...: Heb. young women virgins 13 And the whole congregation sent some to speak to the children of Benjamin that were in the rock Rimmon, and to call peaceably unto them. to speak...: Heb. and spake and called call...: or, proclaim peace 14 And Benjamin came again at that time; and they gave them wives which they had saved alive of the women of Jabeshgilead: and yet so they sufficed them not. 15 And the people repented them for Benjamin, because that the LORD had made a breach in the tribes of Israel. 16 Then the elders of the congregation said, How shall we do for wives for them that remain, seeing the women are destroyed out of Benjamin? 17 And they said, There must be an inheritance for them that be escaped of Benjamin, that a tribe be not destroyed out of Israel. 18 Howbeit we may not give them wives of our daughters: for the children of Israel have sworn, saying, Cursed be he that giveth a wife to Benjamin. 19 Then they said, Behold, there is a feast of the LORD in Shiloh yearly in a place which is on the north side of Bethel, on the east side of the highway that goeth up from Bethel to Shechem, and on the south of Lebonah. yearly: Heb. from year to year on the east...: or, toward the sunrising of the highway: or, on the highway 20 Therefore they commanded the children of Benjamin, saying, Go and lie in wait in the vineyards; 21 And see, and, behold, if the daughters of Shiloh come out to dance in dances, then come ye out of the vineyards, and catch you every man his wife of the daughters of Shiloh, and go to the land of Benjamin. 22 And it shall be, when their fathers or their brethren come unto us to complain, that we will say unto them, Be favourable unto them for our sakes: because we reserved not to each man his wife in the war: for ye did not give unto them at this time, that ye should be guilty. Be favourable...: or, Gratify us in them 23 And the children of Benjamin did so, and took them wives, according to their number, of them that danced, whom they caught: and they went and returned unto their inheritance, and repaired the cities, and dwelt in them. 24 And the children of Israel departed thence at that time, every man to his tribe and to his family, and they went out from thence every man to his inheritance.  

WP-Bible plugin
.

Allegation: Men and women killed, virgins taken as wives.

Answer: The entire passage here must be read – Chapters 19-21. However, again this is an instance – this time within Israel – where justice is being done because of events detailed in Chapters 19 & 20. The sin did involve the crimes of sodomy and rape/murder and now those crimes are being avenged by the rest of the nation at the command of God. The deaths that occur in the passage cited are of those who deliberately sympathized with the perpetrators of the original crimes and so became an accessory to them.

The unmarried women were given the opportunity to live as wives of those men who had survived the original action of vengeance. This was actually an act of mercy! They were spared from death – fully deserved because of their being accessories to the outrages earlier referred to. They are now given an opportunity to live as productive members of their society. This is in fact mercy and rehabilitation! Very different to the scenario than the allegation presents.

Here is an illustration of what God does for sinners all the time! Every one of us deserves to perish because of our sin and yet He spares many from death even as others perish; brings them into a wonderful relation to Christ and gives them a useful role among His people.

Return to list of allegations

5. Deuteronomy 22: 25-29Deuteronomy 22: 25-29
English: King James Version (1611) - KJV

25 But if a man find a betrothed damsel in the field, and the man force her, and lie with her: then the man only that lay with her shall die: force: or, take strong hold of 26 But unto the damsel thou shalt do nothing; there is in the damsel no sin worthy of death: for as when a man riseth against his neighbour, and slayeth him, even so is this matter: 27 For he found her in the field, and the betrothed damsel cried, and there was none to save her. 28 If a man find a damsel that is a virgin, which is not betrothed, and lay hold on her, and lie with her, and they be found; 29 Then the man that lay with her shall give unto the damsel's father fifty shekels of silver, and she shall be his wife; because he hath humbled her, he may not put her away all his days.  

WP-Bible plugin
.

Allegation: God punishes one form of rape but condones another.

Answer: The obvious rape of the woman in the first case referred to here is followed by a Divinely pronounced death sentence. This is Divine justice. Every sin – not just the ones we think are sufficiently serious – deserves death. He will administer that sentence even in cases where civil authorities can not. This is the reason why we all must die physically – a death sentence is the God-appointed consequence of sin.

The second instance in this passage also indicates a heavy sentence upon an act of immorality but it is not clear that this is in fact rape at all. In fact, the context I think argues against the idea that this was forcible and without consent. The verb translated ‘lay hold on’ does not necessarily imply violence or force. See its use in Genesis 4:21Genesis 4:21
English: King James Version (1611) - KJV

21 And his brother's name was Jubal: he was the father of all such as handle the harp and organ.  

WP-Bible plugin
, translated here ‘handle’ in the context of using musical instruments. There was a financial price for the offender to pay to her father who was a legal representative/guardian figure for having acting in a shameful way with his daughter. This statute is built upon the concept – so utterly foreign to today’s promiscuous society – that such sexual activity is only permissible within the bounds of marriage. Having engaged in this sexual act they were obliged to be married. A leading purpose of this command would have been to prevent such casual sexual relations apart from a consideration of marriage.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

 

Browse articles by category