Saturday, September 25, 2010

"But You Choose Hell"

Recently on a podcast, someone made a statement that I have heard repeatedly from my Christian friends, “God doesn’t send you to Hell; you choose to go”.  To which I respond, “Bullshit”.  I can tell you right now that I do not choose Hell.  Of course, I wouldn’t choose Heaven either if the prick in the Bible is actually in charge as they claim.  Going to Hell is purely the fault of God.

First, God created Hell.  He could have just had us non-believers wink out of existence after we die, but he didn’t.  Instead, he created a place of eternal torment.  God is responsible for the existence and conditions in Hell.

Second, we are all supposedly born sinners and doomed to Hell unless we repent and accept Jesus.  But why are we born sinners?  Because God decided to not just blame Adam and Eve for disobeying him, but to spread the blame around a little and condemn us all because of their actions; another example of good old fashioned biblical justice.  So, from the moment we are conceived, we are already doomed to Hell.  We can avoid it by accepting Jesus, but the default mode for our existence after death is already predetermined: Hell.  Isn’t that good evidence of a loving god?  He creates a very nasty place that no one would want to go to and then blame everyone for something their ancestors did wrong so that from the moment of birth you are doomed to go there.  There is no true choice.  A true choice would allow you to not play the game in the first place, but you can’t opt out of this one. 

Even for Adam and Eve the game was rigged.  The only way that they could know that disobeying God was wrong was to have knowledge of good and evil; however, the only way to gain that knowledge was to disobey God and eat from the Tree of Knowledge.  They were damned from the beginning and due to God’s version of justice, so were we.  So, no, we do not choose Hell.  Hell is the default position established by God.  I use the term “God” lightly because no being worthy of the name would set up such an immoral system and the idea that Jesus suffered for us and offers us salvation is very warped, not generous.
By way of analogy, here is what the God/Jesus/Hell scenario boils down to.   Imagine a ship’s captain kidnaps several people, drugs them, takes them to the middle of the ocean and throws them overboard.  That is the situation that God set up by making Hell the default position.  Now imagine the first mate stands at the bow of the ship and offers to sell everyone a life vest and that the cost of the vest is everything the person owns.  This is Jesus offering salvation by giving up your life and your freedom of thought to him.  In the scenario with the ship’s captain, I know of no one, including my Christian friends,  that would disagree with the fact that the captain is an evil ass, but God/Jesus get a pass from the Christians and are considered loving and worthy of praise.

It is an immoral system that is supposedly in place and we most definitely do not choose Hell, we simply do not choose to believe in or follow despicable monsters from a theological version of Grimm’s Fairy Tales.  Those who do accept this story and consider it good, just, and moral are just as warped as the God their “holy book” describes.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

A Request For When I Die

As I lay dying, respect my wishes enough to say no prayers to save my non-existent soul.  You may pray as much as you wish to hasten my demise if it makes you feel better, it will do no harm to me.  Do not come to my bedside to proselytize or send a pastor or priest to do the same; allow me the decency to die in peace free from religious noise.  Do not approach my family and offer any religious sentiments; if you really care you will only offer secular words of comfort.  

When I am dead, should you care, do not pray for me or my family, but leave them to grieve without the stale odor of religious platitudes.  Do not claim I am in a better place - I am worm food - good for them, not so much for me.  Do not make false claims about my character, either good or bad, but speak the truth whatever it may be.

When I am gone and can no longer speak for myself, should you hear from someone that I have had a deathbed conversion, DO NOT believe it.  Let me assure you that there is no god that I have heard of that I believe in or would turn to in my last moments.  Reason, fairness, and compassion for all living things has been my guiding light, not some musty, Bronze Age book of fairy tales or the stories of some demented father figure.

If you are a true friend, you will honor me most by honoring my wishes.

Friday, September 17, 2010

The Omni Fallacy of God (Part I)

According to those that believe, God is the great superlative in every category.  He is all-knowing, all-loving, all-powerful, and he is everywhere and everywhen.  But based on what the Bible and your neighborhood church teach, these can’t all be true.

God created humanity, according to the Bible, but man is a completely flawed creature or so the churches would have you believe.  Did God create a flawed being on purpose or was it the best he could do, or didn’t he realize the flaws existed?  If he didn’t know, he isn’t omniscient.  If this was the best he could do, then he isn’t omnipotent.  If he did it on purpose, he isn’t omnibenevolent ; creating a flawed being doomed us to much pain and suffering . 

Some would argue that it was a loving gesture to create humanity with so many imperfections because only through suffering do we learn life’s lessons and finally come to appreciate what God has to offer.  I could possible buy that if the suffering were not so extremely different from person to person and if it eventually ended in a positive manner for everyone; however, this is not the case.  This supposedly all-loving god will banish you to an eternity of torture in a flaming Hell simply for not believing.   If even a mere mortal such as me finds that scenario totally reprehensible and insufficient in compassion, then how could this all-loving god find this an acceptable result.  Clearly he is not all-loving.

And what about being everywhere and everywhen?  Think about that for a moment.  If he is omnipresent, then he is right there with you through every moment of your life.  He is there when you are born and when you die.  He is there when you have sex or take a shower.  He is there when the drunk gets in his car and drives away.  He is there when moments later the same drunk plows through a sidewalk full of school children.  He is there for every beating by a bully, every rape of a child, every plane crash, every terrorist attack, and every murder.  He is there when every horrendous act occurs, but does nothing to stop them.  Nothing.   This is all-loving?  Of course, you will hear the argument about not interfering with our free will, but then these same people will talk of miracles – times when he clearly interferes.  You can’t have it both ways.  He either interferes or he doesn’t and an omnipotent god should be able to figure out a way to step in and help without affecting our free will; if he can’t he is not omnipotent.  If he choices not to, he is not all-loving.

If he is not all-loving, all-knowing, and omnipotent, then he is not a god.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Reality, Knowledge, Their Application, and Anger (Part I)

Image a large circle drawn on a piece of paper.  This circle and the space that it encloses is “Reality”.  Everything that we see or touch or hear is within this circle.  Everything that we have not experienced, but which actually exists, is also within the boundaries of this circle.  Outside the circle everything is imagination only, no true existence.  If God, angels, demons, unicorns, aliens, etc., actually exist, they are within the circle; if they do not exist, they lie beyond it. 

Now imagine tiny dots randomly spaced within that circle.  Those dots represent areas where we had gained some knowledge of our universe, our reality, the reality, when we first began to become aware of our surroundings.  A large portion of the circle is open and without dots, an indication of our level of ignorance at that time.  We knew nothing of what lurked in these areas, the places where people said “There be dragons there”. They were wrong, of course, and jumped to conclusions by making assumptions rather than being content to say “I don’t know what is there”.  Over time, these dots grew into circles of varying sizes as we gained more and more knowledge of the universe and how it works.  There are still large gaps, but much less than before; the size of the actual unknown grows smaller day by day as we discover its secrets.  There are fewer places for the “dragons” to hide.

People still try to speculate on what is in the “white space” of the circle, those areas of reality as yet unknown to us.  Perhaps we will eventually fill the circle as we discover all there is to know in the universe, but more likely, we will find that the rate of expansion of our knowledge will not keep pace with the simultaneous discovery of just how big the circle actually is.  The circle represents every planet, solar system, galaxy, universe, multi-verse, dimension, physical law, etc. that actually exists.  The circle isn’t actually getting any larger, and we are making progress to fill in the gaps, but our understanding of its true dimensions continually improves and artificially inflates our perception of the circle.  We have been working with false boundaries. 

Some like to speculate about a reality beyond reality as a method of embracing the supernatural, a place where God exists.  It is a fallacy.  There is only one reality – all that is, or was, or will be – and everything within in it is natural.  There is no evidence for anything else.  Nothing.  Zip.  Nada.  If reality is simply what is real, what exists, how can there be more than one?  They would both just be parts of the whole true reality.  And where would “beyond reality” be?  It would lie outside the circle, a fantasy.  There is only one reality no matter how distorted and different it may appear to different observers based on their health, emotional state, or personal biases.  Claims of another reality where supernatural beings, gods, exist are hollow.

To be supernatural is to be beyond natural – not natural, but the only things that are not natural in the universe are those things that are man-made.  The supernatural is merely an invention of man.  Gods, if they exist, must be natural and must therefore be subject to natural laws and are capable of being detected, examined, and quantified like anything else.  If Gods are natural though, there does not appear to be a way that they could be omnipotent, or omniscient, or omnipresent.  So are they still gods or do “gods” only “exist” outside the circle? 

But maybe we are approaching this from the wrong angle, from a limited perspective.  Perhaps there is a way of knowing that is “different” from what we normally experience.  Where does this knowledge come from and how do we obtain it...

Monday, September 06, 2010

The Fallacy of Absolute, Objective Morality and the Stench of Mercy

Many “persons with religious delusion” talk of an absolute, objective morality and this perfect moral compass is, of course, established by their God.   Absolute morality is an illusion and objective morality is incompatible with their description of their God.   Let’s take the second point first.  If God is the author of this perfect set of moral rules, then it is not objective; it is subjective and totally at the whim of God.  God could just as easily say that rape and murder are good as he could condemn them.   Some would argue that God would not be so arbitrary and that God can only do good, but if God can only do good, then he is not omnipotent as it is claimed.  There are then things that he cannot do.  Morality cannot be objective and God omnipotent at the same time; the two are incompatible.

If morality were absolute, then whatever applied to us, would also apply to God; if it did not, it wouldn’t be absolute.  Here is where God’s morality really starts to show its true colors.  In the “Ten Commandments”, it states: “ Thou shalt not kill” (Exodus 20:13), but there is no clarification.  Does this mean to absolutely not kill anything, ever?  No other humans, no animals, no plants, etc.?  It is not very clear, but let us assume that it only refers to other human beings.   Is this an absolute moral imperative?  Can we not defend ourselves?  Can we not kill in times of war?  Obviously, God does not hold this to be an absolute moral law because he not only commands the destruction of whole societies, he kills everyone on the planet (almost) all by himself.  He also established the laws for stoning people to death for such minor offenses as picking up sticks on his “day of rest”.  

The “Ten Commandments” also require that we “honor our mother and father” and yet Jesus would have us turn on our own parents as these two verses in Matthew demonstrate:
10:34 Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword.
10:35 For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law.
Clearly, setting a child against the parent is not honoring them.  God, or his alter-ego Jesus, clearly seems to be able to defy the very rules (the framework of absolute, objective morality) that they themselves created - so much for absolute morality.

There are various other instances throughout the Bible where it is clear that morality is not objective, for example, women are not treated equally in many cases, so the application of this morality is not absolute or objective, but subjective relative to the parties involved.

What happens if you violate these so called moral imperative laid down by this capricious God?  You will find that God’s justice is just as fluid as his morality.  God does not operate on a concept of justice, or so I was told by my Christian friends, he works through mercy.  Viewing the Bible and seeing the reprehensible character of God, it makes perfect sense.  God is all about power and mercy functions from a place of power, by definition.  Only those that wield power over you in some manner can show you mercy.   Mercy is an egotistical demonstration of power, of strength over weakness, of advantage over disadvantage.  It is ignorance that mistakes it for compassion.  It is most definitely not compassion.  Compassion works through empathy and an attempt to truly understand the plight of person to whom it is shown.  Mercy is purely selfish.  It is the granting of leniency as a demonstration of power and false sympathy.

If God truly operated on a basis of absolute, objective morality, then it would include an objective and unbiased evaluation of our “sins”, our transgressions.  Such a review would be guided by fairness, punishments that fit the crimes.  Similar acts of aggression or mistreatment of others would be viewed in an equal manner with similar requirements for rehabilitation and reconciliation.  There would be no bias based on what you believed or didn’t believe, but you would be judged solely on what you did or didn’t do.  However, according to my Christian friends, I am wrong to think this way.  I am mistaken to believe that the mass murderer that turns to God on his deathbed will be judged more harshly than the generous, compassionate atheist.  All that matters to God is belief in Him and only through that will He show mercy.  Well, I prefer justice to mercy.  Fairness is attuned to objective morality; mercy is just the false charity of thugs.

If believing in a merciful God, rather than a just God, is a requirement of Christianity then I am glad that I am not a Christian.  If, in the end, it turns out that a God truly does exist, the just God will understand me and at least I will have my day in court.  If a merciful God exists, then I will proudly march to the gates of Hell and plot his demise.

Saturday, September 04, 2010

Change Your Life - Prepare for Everything

Would you change your whole life on a possibility?  That’s what many Christians want us to do.  On the possibility that we might be wrong about the existence of a god and Jesus, in particular, they want us to embrace the nothingness of faith and believe. 

Setting aside the ridiculous idea that you can just make yourself believe something at will, they are asking for what they themselves are not doing.    Is it possible that I am wrong and that a god exists? Sure, it’s possible, but I would say not very probable.  Is it possible that the Bible is an accurate reflection of that God and that the story of Jesus is true?  Again, it’s possible, but not likely.  They argue that the risks of being wrong are just too great to ignore and that we should believe in order to save our immortal soul from Hell.  We should totally change our lives to account for this highly improbable possibility because to do otherwise would have consequences that would be unacceptable to us.
But do they follow this advice?  No, not when it comes to other highly dangerous and more probable events.  It’s possible that a meteor could come crashing through my ceiling and kill me; it’s unlikely, but possible.  Aliens could land on Earth and take over the planet.  Again, it is not likely, but possible and very deadly.    I could be hit by a bus, catch a fatal disease, or any of an almost infinite list of other unlikely and very deadly possibilities.  All of them are more probable than the existence of a god or the discovery that the Bible is true.  But do we or they totally alter our lives to ensure that none of these items will affect us or at least do what is necessary to minimize the negative results?  Do we prepare for the worst of every improbable event, “Just in case”?  No.  Instead, we make an informal analysis of the risk and take reasonable precautions based on the probability of the event and the gruesomeness of the consequences.

Given the horrific outcome of my afterlife should I be wrong about their buddy Jesus, you would think that the answer might be “yes” and that I would change.  But the probability of God/Jesus is so remote that it isn’t worth abandoning reality just to lie to myself about a happy ending.  Plus, if they are right, the consequences of believing in God/Jesus and thus spending eternity with Him are too horrific to contemplate.  To me, that is the more horrible ending; spending eternity with a being that would torture my fellow humans simply because they wouldn’t suspend reason and morality and call evil 'good' just to save their own ass.

So their pseudo-“Pascal’s Wager” is untenable to me and they apply it lopsidedly to their own lives when it comes to all the other deadly, but improbable events that could occur.  They are not altering their lives by hoarding water, food, guns, and fuel.  They are not building bomb shelters and walking around covered in motion detectors and bubble wrap to protect themselves from even moderately improbable events let alone events as improbable as God.  When I see my Christian friends collectively preparing for imminent catastrophe from asteroids and aliens, disease and disaster, or every possible random traffic accident, maybe then I will think they actually believe in Pascal’s Wager themselves.