The term ‘biblegod’ is a pejorative and slippery title employed with increasing frequency by some atheists.
‘biblegod’ atheists cherry-pick Old Testament texts that are assumed to present God in a poor light. For example, the flood, genocides, wars, and so forth.
Notably, this process involves a simplistic and literalistic reading of the Scriptures, entirely out of context, and without nuance or balance. The accusation is then levelled against Christians of the absurdity of believing in such a heartless, vindictive, manipulative God.
Whilst musing on this, it struck me that these particular atheists are in fact attacking a caricature of our faith, that most of us don’t subscribe to.
A serious problem exists however, in the fact that some Christians do subscribe to this caricature. They operate in exactly the same manner as the ‘Biblegod’ atheist, namely, adopting a simplistic, literalistic reading of cherry-picked Scriptures, entirely out of context, and without nuance or balance.
As a result, these same Christians do indeed derive a heartless, vindictive, manipulative God.
This gives rise to a situation in which ‘biblegod’ atheists and Biblical literalistic fundamentalists war with each other from antipodal positions, that are paradoxically entangled in an intimate symbiotic relationship.
The irony is that these extremist positions actually serve to strengthen one another, providing fuel for the validation of further polarisation, with each provoking the other.
In short, who can blame the ‘Biblegod’ atheist if there exists Christians who hold to such a caricature?
It’s with all of this in mind that I came across the following quote by Sister Wendy Beckett, from her book entitled: Sister Wendy on Prayer, which succinctly sums up and crystallises some of my recent thoughts around this.
Sometimes I blush for those who think themselves Christian and yet the God they worship is cruel, suspicious, punitive and watchful. Who could love such a God? If that is you idea of God, you are obliged by all the rules of morality and common sense to become an atheist.
I have the greatest admiration for atheists, because by definition they have rejected a false ‘God’. The true God, if you have the privilege of knowing Him, you cannot reject. Anybody who truly understands what God is cannot but believe and love. There are no lapsed Catholics, no lapsed Christians, but there are very many, far too many, who thought they were Catholics, Christians, but did not have the good fortune to be taught the truth about God. They looked at this hideous image and said that if that were true, they refused to believe. Too few move on the next stage and wonder if, in fact, their image of God is not true, or to the stage beyond when they realise that, in actuality, it is not true. If they could accept that the picture they have of God is wrong from the start, it would bring them to search for the truth.