There is really no denying that the Old Testament of the Christian bible is a vile book filled with more wrath and punishment of a god then good deeds or morals. A few quick examples: Genesis 38, Leviticus 10, 2 Samuel 12:11-12.
Now I know many Christians will come and tell you that they don't accept the teachings of the OT, or rather that they just follow the NT. This is inherently backwards. The New Testament gets pretty much all of its validity from the OT. It is by the OT prophecy's that the NT is viewed to take its credibility. Others still, will tell you that the NT does away with OT teachings because Christ died for our sins and thus nullified OT teachings. That is fine (and good enough for most to completely disregard the OT completely), however that is not how Holy text's are viewed. Instead, they are to be viewed as the infallible word of a god, some call it the "perfect word of god." At the very least these words serve to fuel the fundamentalists cause. He can (and will) use them whenever an atrocity needs justification.
I see no reason to believe that an omni-benevolent being would (or heck, even could) say and do some of the things he's praised for in the bible. Let us examine some actions of this "benevolent" god in his OT.
King David Slaughters Many:
In I Chronicles 20:3 ,"And he brought out the people that [were] in it, and cut [them] with saws, and with harrows of iron, and with axes. Even so dealt David with all the cities of the children of Ammon. And David and all the people returned to Jerusalem." Here we see the great king David enter a besieged city after the battle had stopped and he had clearly won, and ruthlessly murder the survivors. In the previous verse we see David remove the king's crown and takes a liking to it, being that it was heavy with gold and precious gems, so he takes it, " and he brought also exceeding much spoil out of the city." (Note this is chronicled twice in the bible as 2 Samuel 12:30,31 say pretty much the same things. Clearly this was a favored story.)
How noble. A quick trip to the preceding chapters shows us that this was one among many such atrocities. In I Chronicles 18-19 he kills in the neighborhood of 40,000 people in much the same manner. Now sure, these people had done wrong in the lords eyes (surely they had it coming right?), but to what cost? So much so that the lord orders him to ruthlessly murder so many, and in such a brutish manner?
You have two choices here as a Christian, either the great King David wasn't so great and lied about what god was telling him for his own benefit (see the crown above), or perhaps your god isn't all loving like what was thought. Perhaps they meant god is all malevolent, not benevolent. We condemn Hitler for his actions (and rightfully so), why are David and god spared the same judgement here? Hitler used many biblical verses to his own advantage in claiming what he did was looked upon favorably by god, not unlike David.
The Lord Orders the Murder of Women, Children, and Oxen:
In I Samuel 15 Samuel explains to Saul that he was picked by god to be the king of Israel and promptly tells him that god wants him (Saul) to destroy Amalek for," I remember [that] which Amalek did to Israel, how he laid [wait] for him in the way, when he came up from Egypt." God tells Saul," Now go and smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and spare them not; but slay both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass." That's right, not only does god order Saul to commit mass genocide, he also demands that he kill the oxen, sheep, camels, and asses. Is there really any way to justify murdering babies (interestingly enough, the bible never speaks clearly on abortion but god does allow mass infanticide)? This is nothing short of an ethnic cleansing not only endorsed by an all loving god, but actually mandated by this all loving god.
Now, the plot thickens. During the conquest Saul doesn't do exactly as god told him. Instead of killing everything and everyone, in verse 9 we see that Saul spares the king and the best of the sheep, oxen, lambs and pretty much everything else that was in good order," but every thing [that was] vile and refuse, that they destroyed utterly." Now this pisses god off (naturally, it seems pretty much everything does) so he tells Samuel,"it repenteth me that I have set up Saul [to be] king: for he is turned back from following me, and hath not performed my commandments." Let that sink in. Did god just admit he made a mistake? If he was omniscient, would he have already known what would happen?
Upon Saul's return Samuel confronts him and Saul, like a child who's been caught with his hand in the cookie jar, explains that he only spared the best to bring home to sacrifice for god! Whether or not you believe that is subjective and irrelevant because god(or Samuel perhaps, who is conveniently the only one god is talking to) goes on to say," thou hast rejected the word of the LORD, he hath also rejected thee from [being] king." So Saul loses his title, but is spared his life. Verse 35 states ,"And Samuel came no more to see Saul until the day of his death: nevertheless Samuel mourned for Saul: and the LORD repented that he had made Saul king over Israel." Again we see god repent, but to who and why? Another hole in his perceived omniscience and omnipotence.
Moral of the story? If god tells you to kill everything, then anything short of everything and you will lose favor with god. That's it. Pretty benevolent.
Kill the Infidels, I mean, Nonbelievers:
I hear a lot of Christians talk about how vile and angry the Koran is. They always seem to turn to the Koran saying to kill the infidels. This becomes more interesting with a look at the bibles Old Testament. Let's look at Deuteronomy 13.
Verse 6 begins,"If thy brother, the son of thy mother, or thy son, or thy daughter, or the wife of thy bosom, or thy friend, which [is] as thine own soul, entice thee secretly, saying, Let us go and serve other gods," and continues is verses 8 and 9,"Thou shalt not consent unto him, nor hearken unto him; neither shall thine eye pity him, neither shalt thou spare, neither shalt thou conceal him: But thou shalt surely kill him; thine hand shall be first upon him to put him to death, and afterwards the hand of all the people" and finishes nicely in verses 10 and 11 with," And thou shalt stone him with stones, that he die; because he hath sought to thrust thee away from the LORD thy God, which brought thee out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage. And all Israel shall hear, and fear, and shall do no more any such wickedness as this is among you."
Here I find it ironic that they say god brought them out of Egypt the house of bondage only to make them into fearful slaves to himself. This verse is as explicit as any in the Koran as to how to deal with nonbelievers and serves as great fuel for fundamentalists and sheep alike. How it was aloud to remain in a book meant to teach morality is beyond me and not something I would wish to perpetuate at all. I wonder how many Christians have actually read these verses and I'm curious to those that have what, if any, justification you have come up with. I cannot reconcile this chapter to fit alongside an all benevolent, all loving god.
No matter how loving Jesus may be in the New Testament, you can't have him without the Old Testament. It's really no wonder that missionaries give out the mini bible that only has the New Testament. The Old Testament is a gruesome story of a barbaric god that wants nothing more than subservient slaves to praise him at all times. Now this isn't to say that the New Testament is free of these transgressions, as there is plenty of moral depravity to be found within it as well (for those who care to see it for what it is).
Upon further thought, perhaps Satan is the true good guy of the bible (allow me to explain). A closer look at the OT reveals Satan's death toll is a whopping 10. That's right, the prince of darkness himself only manages a measly 10 kills in the OT and all 10 where actually allowed by god during a bet (yes a bet, god bets with your lives apparently). I'm talking, of course, of Job's family, who were killed by Satan to "test" Job's faith. What is god's death toll you ask? Only counting instances where specific numbers are given (meaning this does not include the deaths of the great flood, or plagues, etc) the number is 2,476,633. Let that sink in a moment.(Here is a link to an article on this that includes estimates if you take into account the un numbered instances.)
So, benevolent god or malevolent god? I think the distinction makes itself.