woman reading the bible

Did God Command Horrific Genocides in the Bible?

Peter Guirguis Apologetics 26 Comments

Every few weeks, I get an email from a new reader of the blog, and he or she will ask me something like this:

“How can you believe in the Christian God when He is a murderer?

“He’s ordered the innocent slaughter of women and children multiple times in the Bible.

“Anybody who believes in such a God is morally bankrupt.”

While I have a lot to say about the subject, I’m going to let Dr. William Lane Craig do the speaking instead.

If you’re not familiar with Dr. Craig, he is a Christian philosopher, theologian, and debater.

He’s debated many atheists and agnostics around the world.

Dr. Craig’s YouTube videos have garnered millions of YouTube views over the years.

Here’s what you’re going to discover when you watch this video:

  • How could a God who is all-loving issue the command to kill women and children
  • What are some of the terrible things that the ancient tribes did that will leave you scratching your head
  • What is the one characteristic of God that skeptics ignore when presenting the “genocide argument”
  • How the ancient tribes could have avoided being killed by the Israelites if they had done this one critical thing that would have saved their lives




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Comments 26

  1. Peter –

    I’m shocked and horrified. Not only is this a disgustingly gross and disturbing apologetic, it is also filled with unsubstantiated historical references. I’m baffled at the dishonest tactics used here to justify genocide and therefore maintain a warped image of the Jewish God. Truly unbelievable.

    I’m turning off notifications on this post. Anyone who would agree with WLC’s stance on this subject is beyond morally bankrupt and I have no desire to see their comments.


    1. That Guy obviously does not know his Bible, and did not listen or try to understand. I feel sorry he has closed his mind and pray he will one day understand the Glory of God .

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        Hey This Guy, it looks like you might be new to the blog comments so let me explain a little bit. Thatguy, also known as R, is an atheist who is a very kind and respectful person. He likes to comment on articles although he has a different point of view. The Not Ashamed of the Gospel community has grown to love and respect thatguy, and all of us welcome his freedom to express his non-Christian views.

      2. If I understand what is being said in the video, the Canaanites were wiped out by Israel because they were wicked. So God used a “less” wicked people to kill a group of people that were “more” wicked. The children were killed by the Israelites so that they would not be offered by fire to false gods. So how did the Israelites kill them? By the sword? By beating them to death? And this is better than the Canaanites offering them as a sacrifice to their god? That makes no sense to me at all.

        1. I’ll give this a shot…

          In Genesis 15, God tells Abraham that the sins of the Amorites are not full… He is waiting for them to be fully evil before he judges them.

          I think the speaker should have discussed a bit more of the Canaanite culture… not simply bestiality and human sacrifice. Any time a house was built, a child was sacrificed w/ bones buried in the foundation of the home to scare evil spirits away. If you had a house (everyone) you were guilty of child sacrifice. They worshipped (among many idols), the God Molech. He is not an idol in the sense of worshipping a stone and calling it a god. Molech was a demon… so very self destructive culture.

          So, God dealt with it. When the Israelites become like the people they were told to drive out, God sends the Babylonians to wipe out the Israelites… God doesn’t play favorites. They were doing the same things and worshipping the same demons.

          I disagree with the speaker when he says that there is no narrative of Jews killing women and children. It is in Joshua 6 when they take Jericho. It says they killed the “young.”

          So, I am of the view that they followed through with killing children. The point you are making is that it’s inhumane to kill a child whether it’s by sword or child sacrifice. With a materialistic world view, this makes sense. So, try to see things from a Christian world view.

          God wanted Israel to possess the land. However this was a different issue. God being sovereign, had Israel take the land at the same time Canaan needed to be judged.

          The Israelites killed children on God’s command, because they would carry on the self-destructive culture… not to save them from child sacrifice.

          Israel did not fully drive the Canaanites out of the land. Every time they didn’t do this, the Canaanites rose up and put Israel in servitude and corrupted the Israelite culture that God had instructed (book of Judges).

          Again – kids go to heaven (Romans 7:9), so the children live on to experience a loving God who explains to them the destructive nature and ramifications of man’s evil decisions. The child then lives in eternity, fully aware of man’s evil passions and God’s sparing love.

          Most of the children killed by Israelites where not the ones that were going to be sacrificed. They were the ones that would go in instituting a self-destructive culture of misery, then spend eternity in hell. The kids that were sacrificed went to be with God, as well as the ones killed by Israelites. The kids that grew up to be accountable for their decisions would not.

          Does this make sense? If you believe in heaven and hell… this is not an issue, because the eternity of the children is preserved.


          1. Thank you very much for sharing your comment, Joe. I didn’t know that the Canaanites would bury the bones of a child underneath their homes to scare the evil spirits away. This was new information to me. So thank you very much for sharing that valuable insight.

  2. Gracious reply, Peter. I’ll have to check out the video soon…now I’m intrigued. I actually just referred a Twitter contact to your blog an hour ago, since he offered to answer my questions…just an hour after a gal I’d met a few months ago texted asking what questions I needed answered!

  3. Wow. Once again I’m in full agreement with ThatGuy, and aghast that folks like ThisGuy don’t get it. Craig starts off insisting that he in no way said that God demanded genocide, then spends the rest of the lecture defending the death and destruction God demanded–if those Canaanites had only left the land when the Israelites rose up to conquer it, they would have merely had their kingdoms destroyed and been scattered! But NNOOO, they were terrible, horrible people who deserved judgment, and the judgment was being evicted from the land they’d held for centuries, so it was the adults’ fault they fought back and the kids were better off because they were killed and didn’t have to endure being raised by reprobates.

    Did I miss something?

    Can we go back a bit further, like to the beginning, where God blames Adam for the death, disease, decay, and destruction that will affect every one of the subsequent billions of people and every creature on the entire planet? If Adam hadn’t eaten that damned fruit that God had put there for him, all of humanity wouldn’t have been damned for all of eternity!

    Shall we talk about God’s genocide in wiping out thousands, hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions of people and animals in a global flood, or call it God’s grace that he saved Noah and 7 others and a few representatives of animal “kinds” to repopulate the planet once he’d “cleansed” it? Sure makes a better Sunday school theme to say “God cares for his creation and he cares for obedient people” than to say “God wipes out wickedness so you’d better watch yourself!”

    As always, I’m interested in others’ views, and appreciate the opportunity to share mine. If your faith is ever shaken, and you’re not sure the god you’ve got is the God who’s just what you’ve always wanted, remember this powerful quotation from John Wooden:

    “Things work out best for those who make the best of the way things work out!”

    1. Without GOD one cannot have the idea that killing children is immoral. In genesis these were the times in which were before the laws that mose’s wrote on GOD’s command. In the animal kingdom we see that adult animals choose to seek out the weak, young and vulnerable to kill for self preservation. In ancient times this is what people did. The reason why everyone feels it is wrong is because of GOD’s morality that we all have instilled into us when he created us in his image. My interpretation is that GOD is our father and he is very much like man or man is VERY much like him, very capable of having very real emotional reactions. However, different to man, his decisions are always for the greater good of his creation. If this means some must be sacrificed then that is what is right because they will be redeemed later. If GOD didn’t exist why bother saying he is a murderer? Because we may as well all be murderer’s like the animals we are.

  4. That’s a pretty cool quote that you mentioned in your comment, Sandra, by John wooden. Who by the way, was a devout Christian and hailed as the best coach of all time 👍.

    So I get where you’re coming from. And I’m intrigued myself by your response. So let me ask you this, what does it take for an act to be called “genocide”? And is your criteria something that’s subjective or objective?

    1. What I fail to understand, Peter, is the reason many folks simple don’t realize exactly WHO GOD IS!!! Our Father God is the CREATOR of the universe, of life itself!
      I mean no disrespect towards those who sincerely believe God committed genocide, yet their words do get my goat up! Obviously, any person thinking that ‘blasphemy’ is totally ignorant of God’s Word, the Bible. (My humble opinion.) Why one must be born-again in God’s Spirit…Jesus’ Holy Spirit will guide one through God’s Word, which is a DAILY, ongoing process. Being a Christian is a ‘work in progress’ ’til our last earthly breath.
      “I’m just traveling through this world. My real home is in Heaven.” ~ Anonymous

      1. I do understand where you’re coming from, Patricia. Almost always, those people who believe that God committed genocide are unbelievers so they don’t have the interpretation of Scripture that you and I have.

    1. Patricia, to get your picture up on the site, go to the below link, sign up with the same email address to use for commenting, and then upload a profile picture. It’s free, by the way.


      This will show your picture not only on my site, but on all WordPress websites and any websites that use Gravatar.

  5. Am wondering how one begins to question the parameters of what a genocide is. the whole issue is did God command for mass wiping of people on earth? and a simple answer is yes. So how does that reflect his love and kindness honestly?

    1. That is a good point that you bring up, Jonathan. We know that exterminating a group of people is definitely considered genocide. But somebody just gave me an analogy recently that is something to think about.

      If you took money that belonged to you and you burned it, can anybody question you? At the end of the day, the money belongs to you, right?

      Since God is the author of life, then it’s up to Him what He does with that life. In the video, Dr. Craig lists the reason why God chose to take back those lives away from those people after he had given them hundreds of chances to repent from committing the atrocities that they were committing.

      Also, Dr. Craig mentions that all of the children that weren’t able to make a decision to repent all went to heaven which is the much more loving and merciful thing than having them be burned through fire by their parents. (sacrificing to the god of Molech)

  6. Yes, Jonathan–wiping out all of humanity and all the planet’s critters but a boatful definitely counts as genocide, no need to quibble about semantics.

    Condemning every person “to hell”–and allowing them to make up their own definitions, all the way up to conscious, burning torment for billions of years–who doesn’t accept the savior in right way at the right time does not reflect love and kindness, either, nor should “holy” be an adequate adjective.

    1. Hi Sandra, you bring up two interesting points. So here is my opinion:

      1. Did God commit genocide?

      Imagine that Mary gives Jennifer a car. She tells her that she can use her car but she will be taking it back from her at a later time. After a few years, Mary takes car back from Jennifer. Would you agree that Mary taking back the car from Jennifer would not be considered stealing?

      I hope you said yes.

      Likewise, God is the owner of life. He gives all of us life and it is a rental. He can take it back from us at any time.

      In the video, Dr. Craig explains that God had given the Canaanites multiple chances and warnings to stop burning their children through the fire to the God of Molech. And this is just one of the many atrocities that these people were committing.

      Finally, God said enough is enough and He gave those people what they deserve. If there was any chance that they would repent in the future, then as Dr. Craig pointed out, then God would not have brought on the destruction.

      Also, Dr. Craig mentions that all of the children that weren’t capable of making a decision for themselves all went to heaven. That is a much more loving and merciful thing than having them be sacrificed by their parents to the god they were worshiping at the time.

      2. Does God condemn every person to hell for billions of years?

      Imagine that you get infected with the plague. You are going to die within days. However, a doctor comes and asks you if you would like to get a shot that is the vaccine for the plague. If you take it, then the plague will become dormant in your body and you can continue living. If you don’t take the vaccine, then you’re going to die.

      It’s up to you whether you want to take the vaccine or not, right?

      Likewise, we are all born into sin. We all have the plague. God is telling us that He has the vaccine and that vaccine is Jesus. It’s up to us whether we want the vaccine or not.

      So when people go to hell, it’s not because God condemns them there and they had no choice. It’s because they chose to not take the vaccine that would heal them of their plague.

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  7. I watch the video (after reading comments). My heart is bleeding from profound sadness to see how primitive men and women are in spirit despite all the progress they made. The only reason is they have been brain damaged since their youngest childhood by their parents in ”believing” in these incredibly stupid stories. Have you ever asked yourself this simple question: why am I a Christian, and how come almost all people like me, born in a Christian family or environment become Christian, and how come almost all people born in a Muslim community/family grow up as Muslim believing in whatever is written in the Quran, and how come people born in India (land of Hindus) become Hindu, etc… ? Is that hard to find the answer? Did you know that even today Christian and Muslim and Jew fundamentalists ”Justifiy” killings exactly the same way the guy in the video was justifying ”god”s genocides and killings?
    Can you wake up, can you shake up your mind into human love and peace, and forget about this ”god stories”? Or do you need a psychologist or psychiatrist?
    Sorry, no offence. Just simple, very simple, truth.

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      I can’t answer for everybody else in this comment thread but I can answer for myself. Yes, I have thought about those questions that you proposed in your comments. As a former atheist, those were some of the things that I studied.

      I think that everybody needs to make up their own mind about beliefs and values. I believe it’s everyone’s responsibility to study all of the beliefs and non-beliefs that are out there and then they should make up their own mind.

      Finally, I also believe that irrespective of one’s own belief, one should always remain in an attitude of love and kindness to those who have different beliefs than their own.

  8. Pingback: 3 Tips to Help Explain Contradictions in the Bible

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