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Is God Humble or Arrogant?

06 Sep
from Google Images

from Google Images

The new atheism[1] tries to categorize the God of the Bible as an arrogant control-freak, who often seems to seek attention and crave praise. Daniel Dennett writes that what makes the God of the Bible “such a fascinating participant in the stories of the Old Testament is his kinglike jealousy and pride, and his great appetite for praise and sacrifice.”[2] Is this an accurate estimate of the Judeo-Christian God, or do the new atheists misrepresent him in their works?

Does God seek attention or does he offer us a good example of what we ought to be? Does he crave praise or is he pointing out what is praiseworthy? Does mankind know, naturally, what good behavior (morality) actually is or what sort of behavior or characteristics should be praised? Admittedly, at least sometimes we know what good behavior is; and at least sometimes we know what is worthy of honor. However, if such things are known naturally, **all** such things should be obvious to all of us. So, why is it so difficult to establish a universal system of morals for all people of all nations? Why can’t we agree on a simple definition of good behavior that would be acceptable for all? Why would some people praise the participants of the 9/11 Tragedy and remember them as heroes, while many others would condemn the whole affair? What is praiseworthy, and what is a good example that all could follow without question?

If “kinglike pride” is to be rejected, certainly some works and characteristics are worthy enough to take pride in. Otherwise, such celebrated events like the Academy Awards, Pulitzer Prize and the military’s Congressional Medal of Honor would be nothing more than celebrating a charade, a cosmetic exercise to make something ordinary into what it is not! If such a point of view is valid, then we need to ask ourselves what makes one act or attitude arrogant and another worthy of praise and honor.

Certainly it wouldn’t be wrong to praise our children when they do well, whether in academics, sports or even merely taking those first few steps one-after-the-other to go from a chair in the living room to the open arms of mom or dad; nor would it be wrong to take pride in one’s own accomplishments whether they are the first steps of a babe or winning the Nobel Prize for peace, literature, medicine etc.

The difference, perhaps, lay in what is true or real as opposed to what is false or cosmetic. Since I am writing a series of blogs inspired by Paul Copan’s book, Is God a Moral Monster, it would be wrong of me to pen my thoughts about what Paul writes and not mention his book as the object of my inspiration. Such a thing would be plagiarism. It would also be arrogant of me to try to appear as though all these ideas meant to defend my faith in the wake of today’s modern critics are mine alone. They are not. To act like someone I am not would be pretending I am better than I am. It would also be arrogance, no matter how well I might be able to express and defend my worldview. Such a thing would not be a proper example to follow. Rather it would be an expression of wrongful pride succinctly pointed out by the new atheists as seeking attention and craving praise.

One of the shortcomings of the new atheists of our day is their failure to recognize the Bible’s manner of describing real heroes. They are displayed on a canvas of both bright and dark colors. There is nothing covered up, and there are no P-R men running around to glorify the good moments of the heroes or to harmonize their failures with hoop-jumping commentary to explain their not-so-good moments. Of course, with such a true-to-life canvas folks like David, who had his close friend killed in order to hide his own rape of his friend’s wife, are exposed and ready targets for today’s modern critics. Nevertheless, David’s story is written without apology, and he remains the apple of God’s eye.

Arguably, the depth of God’s humility couldn’t be more clearly expressed in the Bible than in the act of his becoming man. What more could God do to express a lack of arrogance than to number himself with sinners by taking on flesh and becoming one of us? There is no greater apology or greater statement that shows he is not what the new atheists accuse him of being than to say: “God became man.” This act alone would imply that there must be a better explanation of the acts of God in the Old Testament than the simple explanations offered by the new atheists. If God is who he claims to be, then he is unimaginably complex, and to try to define him or explain what he does with a burst of rat-a-tat-tat one-liners would in itself be unimaginably arrogant, but this is merely my opinion.

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[1] As I said HERE, this current theme about “making sense of the Old Testament God” is based upon the book: Is God a Moral Monster by Paul Copan. These are my thoughts about his book. He may or may not agree with the impression his book has made upon me, but I thoroughly enjoyed reading what Paul wrote and recommend his book to anyone who is looking for a good read concerning defending our faith.

[2] Daniel Dennett, Breaking the Spell: Religion As a Natural Phenomenon; (New York: Viking, 2006) page 265.

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Posted by on September 6, 2015 in apologetics

 

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