How Can a Good God Allow Slavery?

September 5, 2023

Over the last two weeks I have shared scientific facts that make the possibility of Darwinian Evolution seem impossible. I will continue to share tidbits of scientific facts that reinforce what a growing minority of scientists are realizing, but that is not my main point of this series. My main point is to answer the question, “Could God have made the world differently than He did?”

For example, one of the main claims by modern atheists is that the Bible allows for slavery. On the way to the Promised Land, Moses tells the Israelites how they should acquire and keep slaves (Lev 25:44-46). Similarly, in the New Testament, Paul admonishes, “Slaves, obey your earthly masters with fear and trembling” (Eph 6:5-6). In our country, interpreters commonly invoked these and other passages to argue that slavery is a divinely sanctioned practice before the civil war.

Such Biblical passages moved atheist Christopher Hitchens (1949-2011) to proclaim, “The Bible may, indeed does, contain a warrant for trafficking in humans, for ethnic cleansing, for slavery, for bride-price, and for indiscriminate massacre, but we are not bound by any of it because it was put together by crude, uncultured human mammals.” This is an interesting claim from a devout Darwinian evolutionist, especially since Darwin was a devout white supremacist. For example, the full title of his ground-breaking book is On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life (© 1859). Who are the favored races? You need only look at the picture of the evolution of man, that has become so famous, to see that the top of the evolutionary drawing is the white man, with the African man clearly below the white man. If I were a person of color, I would be suspicious of the implications of Darwinian evolution. I personally reject evolution for scientific reasons, but Darwin’s reason for writing the book is deeply concerning as well.

Back to Hitchens claim that the Bible was not from God, but rather from “crude, uncultured human mammals.” His argument is basically, “If God wrote the Bible then He would have abolished slavery because a good God would have never allowed slavery. Therefore, God does not exist and didn’t write the Bible.” I contend that God knew that humans would treat other humans in utterly evil ways. For example, in today’s world, 167 countries still have some form of modern slavery, which affects an estimated 46 million people worldwide. Ninety-three countries have no laws banning slavery. Therefore, in God’s infinite wisdom, rather than pronounce laws against slavery, God gave laws for humane slavery. For example, Exodus 21:2, “If you buy a Hebrew servant, he is to serve you for six years. But in the seventh year, he shall go free, without paying anything.” Further, God made the Jewish slaves His chosen people, and then set them free from their Egyptian task masters as recorded in the book of Exodus.

I love this statement by Professor Herbert Marbury, “Confronted with endless exhortations from Ephesians and the commonly held notion that they were enslaved because they were despised by God, interpreters such as Absalom Jones, Maria Stewart, David Walker, Harriet Tubman, Nat Turner, Frances Ellen Watkins Harper, and Sojourner Truth, among others, nonetheless took up the Bible, particularly the book of Exodus, and summoned courage, vision, and hermeneutical creativity to arrive at a different truth: because they were enslaved, God would rescue them. Their interpretations were driven by a belief in God’s ultimate advocacy of liberation. So, while the Bible could not speak unequivocally about slavery, they did—because their faith resided in a God who unequivocally affirmed their humanity.”

Almost all the great abolitionists in history were Christian. In the pulpits of pre-Revolutionary War America, preachers declared radical concepts like “All men are created equal” and “We have no king but Jesus.” No other book has inspired more liberation throughout world history than the Bible, with Christians being at the forefront of the battles to see people set free.

Last week I stated that free will is God’s greatest gift to us. It is this gift that causes us to reject God’s plan for the way we treat each other and turn to slavery. Is the gift worth it? Would we rather live without free will so that we wouldn’t be tempted to enslave one another? I know what I think the answer is, but I encourage you to raise the question with others. Next week, I will look at an equally horrible sin that God unequivocally commanded us not to do, and yet we do it now more than ever in history. (To find out more about Al Earley or read previous articles see,