Book of Job Exposes Danger of Moderate Religion

child with bible

How many subjects can you think of that require apologetics, an entire discipline devoted to the mental gymnastics of convincing people that a book does not really mean what it says, that obvious contradictions really aren't contradictions, or that believing what one wants to be true is better than believing what is true? Yeah, I can only think of one as well.

In the book of Job, one of the many books contained in the bible some Christians regard as "holy" in spite of its contents, we find a nice little story about some sort of "god" and Satan (who may or may not be another god) torturing Job as part of a bet to test his faith. The god character, who is supposed to be the good one here, lets the devil kill Job's family and do all sorts of other terrible things to him. Is this really the god we are supposed to worship?

We are told repeatedly that this god can do anything, so it clearly has the power to stop Satan from committing such vile acts against Job. We are told at least as often that this god loves us. Assuming that this love extends to Job too, we must wonder why love does not seem to be associated with kind treatment. Is this is the "kind" and "loving" god we are expected to embrace? No thanks.

A god like this goes a long way toward explaining why some Christian extremists seem so bloodthirsty, but it might teach an even more important lesson. Put whatever spin on the story you like; to my mind, it exposes "moderate" Christianity for the danger it is. Regardless of how you interpret it, the inescapable conclusion is that even those who call themselves moderate or liberal Christians claim to believe in this evil god. And yes, manipulating others by deliberately causing them tragedy just to see how they will respond is evil. This is your god? You can have it.

An early version of this post appeared on Atheist Revolution in 2005. It was revised in 2021.