Is the God of the Bible a just God? Christians say he is. But what does it mean to be just? Well, let's look at one story from the Old Testament. This is not the kind of story they teach to kids at Sunday school, or make Hollywood movies about, so you may not be familiar with it. But you can read it yourself in Numbers 31. God commanded Moses and the Israelites to destroy the people of Midian, a tribe of tens of thousands or more. So Moses sent 12000 of the soldiers armed with swords to destroy them. They killed all the Midianite men, and returned with the women and children as captives. But Moses chastized the soldiers for not obeying God's command fully, and he ordered them to "Now therefore kill every male among the little ones, and kill every woman that hath known man by lying with him. But all the women children, that have not known a man by lying with him, keep alive for yourselves." It is hard to imagine that every last man and woman in this entire tribe was so evil that they deserved to be destroyed, in what can only be called genocide. Surely, a creator could punish behavior of the individual, not the group. When you paint evil with a broad brushstroke like this, you invaribly cause collateral damage. There must've been some innocent adults in a society this size, and all of the children were surely blameless. But the Bible makes no apologies for this. By the way, what were the Midianites guilty of? The Bible says "And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, Vex the Midianites, and smite them: For they vex you with their wiles, wherewith they have beguiled you in the matter of Peor." Which means they tempted the Israelites to engage in idolatry. That's right, genocide for idolatry, and the tempting of idolatry. If you think that that is just, you need to rethink what justice is. While no justice system is perfect, today, a good justice system demands one thing, that the punishment should fit the crime. This is not the case in this story, and the Bible is full of stories like this, with God getting fed up, and destroying whole populations, including the entire world except for eight people in the case of Noah, without regard for the innocent. I know Christians that say "God is the ultimate authority, so if you go against him, no punishment, even the eternal kind, is too harsh." But that is absurd, the level of punishment should fit the severity of the crime, not the level of authoirty of the lawgiver. If I steal 1000 dollars, I should go to jail. If I steal 1000 dollars from the President of the United States, should I get the electric chair? Apply the Biblical principles to present day civilized society, and you will see how ridiculous they are. Clearly, we have learned how to be more civilized and fair since these Draconian stories were written by primitive people. And even more important, how can the merciless slaughter of innocent children be justified in any way by a just and loving God? Surely, the children could be spared, but Christian apolgists speaking on this very issue say that "God knew the children would grow up to be as evil as their parents." By this logic, should we kill all teenagers before they get a driver's liscense, because we know that some of them will commit vehicular manslaughter? If God knew their future, then he could have prevented them from being born, or prevented their future sins in a multitude of other ways. And yet, he chose to have them stabbed and slashed to death. And what of the young virgin girls, all 32000 of them? Moses said "They should be kept alive for yourselves." You can figure out what that means. They were treated as property. As the spoils of war, along with the gold, livestock, and all the other possessions that were taken unapologetically by God's people. Women in the Bible, are nearly always treated as property. Something else the Bible teaches and never admonishes, but we know it's not right today. Whether this story is true or not, what is the point of the story? Why did the writers include this story in the Bible in the first place? One Christian apologist, Matthew Henry, describes the moral of the story this way, quote, "The whole history shows the hatefulness of sin, and the guilt of tempting others. It teaches us to avoid all occasions of evil, and to give no quarters to inward lusts." On quote. So, God slaughtered a whole society, including innocent children, to make a point that sin is bad and that we should avoid it. Wow. This is an ends justify the means of argument. It's ok to slaughter children, as long as you can show how powerful you are, and how much we should fear, and obey you. This is not justice. Children, suffering for the sins of their parents, or for their ancestors, is a horrible idea, that we see condoned, even commanded, many times in the Bible, which leads me to the very gospel of Jesus, the central theme of Christianity itself. The New Testament teaches, that since the first man and woman sinned against God, we are all sinners. "For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus." Even good people are doomed at birth to an eternity of torment, regardless of what we do in life. Why should anyone be doomed to burn, for the sins of Adam and Eve? We don't punish the children of murderers. So why should a just God punish us for an inherited sinful nature, rather than our actual actions? Guilt by inheritance is absurd and unfair, but God offers us a chance at redemption, a loophole. He took our sins, and put them on Jesus on the cross as a scapegoat. Apparently, he can magically assign guilt however he wants, so that Jesus could pay the price for our sins. This makes no sense whatsoever. First of all, the two main reasons to have a justice system, are to punish those who do bad things and to deter bad behavior in the future. This doctrine accomplishes neither. If I can do anything I want, and then invoke the loophole, I've avoided justice, and I don't have to fear punishment in the future, even if I continue to do bad things. On the other hand, if I'm a good person, who just doesn't believe in this nonsense, I get to burn for eternity. Remember that punishment should fit the crime. This violates that in the extreme, and once I'm in Hell, I can never do bad things again, so what is the point of continued torment? Why not just destroy me? Does God get pleasure out of seeing me suffer, ad infinitum, if he knew so many would not choose to believe without evidence, or would believe in other Gods instead, why create us in the first place? Is God a kind of kid pointing a magnifying glass at ants to burn them for fun, and how does one human sacrifice solve anything anyway? Jesus didn't go to Hell for eternity, so he didn't actually pay the price we supposedly owed, not even the price of a single person, let alone that of every believer that was ever saved. I've never seen a problem with mankind that a human sacrifice could fix. I'm reminded of late night infomercials, in which psuedo-scientific huxters try to convince me I have a problem that I don't, and then try to sell me the solution, the Bible tells me I'm doomed to Hell, and then tries to sell me redemption, for the low price of surrendering my critical thinking skills. It is clear to me that the Bible was not written or inspired by a God, but by superstitious, fearful, tribal, ignorant, misogynistic, men, with a very poor sense of how to deal with bad behavior. A God surely would know that a fair and effective justice system strives to punish only the guilty, for their actions, not their thoughts or beliefs, punishes only in proportion to the severity of the crime, and never allows scapegoating or loopholes. Our modern society works this way. We treat our children this way. Why should we expect anything less from a God who created us? And a God who created us would know that.