God is a Merciless Child Killer?

“The God of the Bible is a killer of children.” This line used to come from militant atheists, but it has now made its way into islamic polemics – since Muslims seem to be bereft of arguments to use against the Bible. The Bible texts they often cite are:

a) Psalm 137:9 “Happy shall he be, that taketh and dasheth thy little ones against the stones.”

Verses 1-5 say: “By the rivers of Babylon we sat and wept when we remembered Zion. There on the poplars we hung our harps, for there our captors asked us for songs, our tormentors demanded songs of joy; they said, “Sing us one of the songs of Zion!” How can we sing the songs of the Lord while in a foreign land? If I forget you, Jerusalem, may my right hand forget its skill.

From this passage, it’s clear that these were the Jews captured by the Babylonians. They were in the land of their captors.

Verse 8 says “O daughter of Babylon, doomed to destruction, Happy is he who repays you for what you have done to us.”

These foreign armies had dashed infants on rocks when they invaded the Jews, and the Jews were now asking God for retribution. The Lion Handbook to the Bible explains:

“[T]he psalmists knew God as One ‘whose eyes are too pure to look upon evil’, who cannot countenance wrongdoing. And this is what motivates their call for vengeance on the wicked. God’s own character – his good name- demands it … There is no question of him [the writer] taking the law into his own hands; no Inquisition. Vengeance is always seen as God’s province, and his alone” (p. 339)

In other words, the passage is a call to God to avenge His people, not for them to go on a killing spree.

Conversely, Muhammad commanded Muslims: “And one who attacketh you, attack them in the like manner as he attacked you” (Sura 2:194)

“Allah will punish them by your hands and give you victory…” (Sura 9:14).

b) Isaiah 13:16 “Their children also shall be dashed to pieces before their eyes; their houses spoiled, and their wives ravished.”

The previous explanation applies here too. This chapter was a prophecy against Babylon for enslaving the Israelites.

God says “See, I will stir up against them the Medes, who do not care for silver and have no delight in gold. Their bows will strike down the young men; they will have no mercy on infants, nor will they look with compassion on children” (vs. 17-18).

In other words, just as the wicked Babylonians had killed others’ infants, plundered their homes and raped their women, God was to bring the same on them. Historically, this was fulfilled centuries later when the Medes-Persians invaded and captured Babylon.

This law of retribution is in harmony with the Law of Moses which says: “life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot” (Deut. 19:21).

Interestingly, the Quran also quotes this part with Allah saying:

“And We prescribe for them therein [in the Bible] life for the life, and the eye for the eye and the nose for the nose and the ear for the ear and the tooth for the tooth, and for wounds retaliation” (Sura 5:44-45).

Christians, however, are under the law of Christ (Mt. 5:44). Muhammad, who came 6 centuries after Jesus instead of continuing in the grace and forgiveness Christ laid down, brought the people back under the bondage of the Law which Christians were no longer under. This is a terrible backwater.

c) Ezekiel 23:47 “they shall slay their sons and their daughters

This text is seldom fully quoted because it doesn’t fit the critics’ agenda. It says in full (vs. 46-48):

This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Bring a mob against them and give them over to terror and plunder. The mob will stone them and cut them down with their swords; they will kill their sons and daughters and burn down their houses. So I will put an end to lewdness in the land, that all women may take warning and not imitate you.”

This refers to God’s judgement on apostate Jews when He brought in foreign armies to invade and plunder them.

They had committed “adultery by worship of idols and murder by burning as sacrifices the children they bore to me” (verse 37). God thus repaid them for their wickedness as  a lesson to other rebellious nations.

It is profoundly arrogant and silly for Muslims (or atheists) to try to tell God how to carry out His judgement.

It was a common practice among ancient nations for invading armies to kill children or rip open pregnant women (2 Kgs. 8:12; Nah. 3:10; Hos. 13:16).

These were historical records of events, not prescriptions for Christians (or even Jews) today.

This is why when Muslims take these verses and say “the Bible’s God is a child killer,” frankly, it makes me wonder what has gone wrong with their minds. A similar scenario is actually in the Quran.

“So they journeyed on till when they met a young boy; he slew him Moses said, ‘What hast thou slain an innocent person without his having slain anyone! … And as for the youth, his parents were believers, and we feared lest on growing up he should involve them into trouble through rebellion and disbelief” (Sura 18:74, 80).

Notice the stupid excuse given here to justify the murder of a child. In Suras 7:59, 11:25-95, 69:3-12, Allah is said to have totally destroyed the people of Aad, Madyan and Thamud, without any evidence that he spared children or women.

Islamic biographer, Al-Tabari, recorded that a Muslim “prophet” Saleh commanded children to be killed in order to spare a she-camel:

“When Salih told the eight evildoers that a boy would be born at whose hands they would be destroyed, they said ‘What do you command us?’ He said I command you to kill them’ (that is their male children). So they killed them except one…” (The History of Al-Tabari vol. 2, p. 43).

These instances show that the Muslim tirade against the God of the Bible is more or less a cheap display of hypocrisy. If an argument refutes your theological position, then it’s dishonest to utilize it.

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