The Round Table (Rational Pagans Forum)

Science & The Supernatural: A Discussion of the World Around us - Based on Science with an Interest in the Supernatural ...
It is currently 26 Jun 2017, 05:21

All times are UTC - 5 hours

Forum rules

Please note: Discussion here should be relatively civil. Attack the post, not the poster. Thanks!

Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 1 post ] 
Author Message
 Post subject: Why I am Not a Christian
PostPosted: 18 Oct 2010, 20:48 
Grand Poobah
User avatar

Joined: 18 Sep 2007, 11:26
Posts: 5793
Location: Buffalo, NY
old post. Very. From net.religion. Yet still good. ... d2c9a20cbd

I am not a Christian. In my discussions of this fact with Christians, I
have repeatedly run into one major misunderstanding. The Christians assume
that if I believed the Bible were true, I would become a Christian; that is,
they believe that my reason for not being a Christian is that I don't
believe in their god. This is not the case.
One disclaimer: The thesis of this essay is that even if a God as described
in the Bible does exist, he is not fit for worship due to his low moral
standards. Consequently, I speak sometimes as if I did believe the Bible,
when in fact I do not.
If I had undeniable proof of the existence of Yahweh, aka Jehovah, aka
Adonai, aka El Shaddai, aka Yahweh Elohim, the father of Jesus and the
ancient leader of the Semitic peoples, I still would not worship the
bastard. If an angel appeared to me and removed my appendectomy scar so I
could never deny the reality of divine power, I still would not be a
Christian. My primary reason for not being a Christian or Jew has nothing
to do with my lack of belief in their god. My primary reason is that the
Bible is a disgusting book describing the behavior of a god without the
morality of an average high school student.
That God does what he wants, when he wants, without even an attempt at
self-justification, and all for what reason? According to Paul, all for his
own greater glory. Oh, how charming. For his own glory he condemns
billions to eternal torment, drowns millions of innocent beasts and
thousands of children, orders the slaughter of entire cities down to the
last man, woman, and child, creates a race that he knows is flawed and will
hurt itself (so that in their pain they can worship him better), refuses to
deal with any other god on a friendly basis, restricts the normal expression
of the sexual function, rains doom on those who dare to try to be as
knowledgable as he is, and so on.
Jesus preaching love in no way atones for these many hideous crimes; lest we
forget, it was at the time of Jesus that he created Hell. This cruellest of
all concentration camps (certainly far worse than the ones created by the
Nazis) was at no time mentioned in the Old Testament, and the wrathful and
threatening god of the Old Testament would hardly have omitted any chance to
terrify his worshippers.
I have heard some Christians who believe that there is no everburning Hell
in their religion, that the "lake of fire" is purely destructive, that
sinners will be annihilated rather than tortured after the Last Judgment.
Sometimes, they claim that medieval Catholics created that "myth", and that
they would revile any god who made this concentration camp.
Well, get ready to start reviling then. The myth of Hell was not created in
the Middle Ages. It is explicitly stated in a set of books called the
Synoptic Gospels, you know, the ones by Matthew, Mark, and Luke. Since some
people don't seem to be very familiar with these books, usually considered
the cornerstone of Christianity, I'll fill them in.
Matthew 18:8-9 has Jesus saying, "If your hand or your foot should cause you
to sin, cut it off and throw it away: it is better for you to enter into
life crippled or lame, than to have two hands or two feet and be thrown into
eternal fire." A little while later, in 18:34-35 to be exact, Jesus
finishes up a parable about an unforgiving debtor with: "And in his anger
the master handed him over to the torturers till he should pay all his debt.
And that is how my heavenly Father will deal with you unless you each
forgive your brother from your heart." Not clean killing -- you will be
handed over to the torturers. In the parable of the wedding feast, Matthew
22:1-14, Jesus concludes with "Then the king said to the attendants, 'Bind
him hand and foot and throw him out into the dark, where there will be
weeping and grinding of teeth.'" The king didn't say, "Execute him", but
bind him and throw him into a painful place. This is echoed in Mat. 24:51,
in almost the same words, and again in Mat. 25:30, again with similar words.
Finally (for Matthew), we have Mat. 25:41-46, on the Last Judgment. "Next
he will say to those on his left hand, 'Go away from me, with your curse
upon you, to the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels... And
they will go away to eternal punishment, and the virtuous to eternal life.'"
My point is proven, so I won't bore you with the quotes from Mark and Luke;
however, check out Mark 9:43, Mark 9:48-49, Luke 13:27-28, and Luke
16:23-26 if you still doubt.
You hear a lot from Christians about Yahweh's "infinite compassion and
mercy". Tell it to the Midianites. Numbers 31 is a classic example of
wholesale slaughter and rape under the direction of Yahweh. A sample of
this delightful tale: "They waged the campaign against Midian, as Yahweh had
ordered Moses, and they put every male to death.... The sons of Israel took
the Midianite women captive with their young children, and plundered all
their cattle, all their flocks and all their goods. They set fire to the
towns where they lived and all their encampments.... Moses was enraged with
the commanders of the army ... who had come back from this military
expedition. He said, 'Why have you spared the life of all the women? ...
So kill all the male children. Kill also all the women who have slept with
a man. Spare the lives only of the young girls who have not slept with a
man, and take them for yourselves.'" Yes, friends, this is infinite mercy
and compassion for you. I particularly like the way that Moses got upset
with them for sparing women and male children, but allowed the young girls
to be kept for later raping. If only humans could keep to such lofty
standards without the necessity of divine revelation.
I could go on for quite a while in this vein. I don't think the firstborn
in Egypt during the captivity would have agreed with the verdict of
compassion and mercy (Ex. 11:5,12:29), particularly since it was due to
Yahweh's hardening of Pharoah's heart in the first place that made this
neccessary. Also, with omnipotence, Yahweh could have teleported the Jews
out of captivity without bloodshed, or put the Egyptians to sleep while they
left, but no. That wouldn't be gory and exciting enough for him.
Then there are the charming instructions about women taken in war, from
Deut. 21:10-14. And there is Deuteronomy 28:20-46, a long stream of
invectives and curses straight from the prophet's mouth, all about the nasty
things Yahweh will do if you upset him a tad. The entire book of Joshua is
a long sequence of atrocities. I have not given all these quotes for space
reasons -- I urge you to look them up for yourself. If you are not shocked,
then your moral standards must be low indeed.
Of course, you will sometimes hear rationalizations of this slaughter.
There are two major forms: the corruption argument and the mercy argument.
The former says that those slaughtered were evil and deserving of their
fate; the latter says that since they were religiously incorrect, it was a
mercy to terminate their existence.
The corruption argument simply does not hold up. The people slaughtered in
the Old Testament were almost uniformly blameless (with a few exceptions, of
course -- for instance, the Sodomites violated the conventions of
hospitality.) Usually, no justification is offered beyond the fact that
since they were of another tribe, it was OK to kill them.
As to the mercy argument: They shoot horses, don't they? However, people
are not animals to be destroyed against their will in the name of mercy. If
I don't claim to be suffering, and don't ask to die, neither you nor any god
has the right to decide that you know better. If you tried to do this to
me, I would shoot you; if a god tried, well, the only weapon I would have
would be withholding my worship.
Most of us, given omnipotence, would be able to do a far better job than
Yahweh. What would you do if given omnipotence? If your answer is anything
other than "abolish world hunger", there's something more than a little
skewed in your perception of mankind. There is no question that this is the
greatest evil in the world today. The second thing would be to abolish
disease, right? This doesn't take "infinite mercy", just normal compassion
and a bit of common sense. God's supposedly infinite mercy is apparently
the same thing as no mercy at all.
What makes this particularly unforgivable is that even Jesus's own standards
demand feeding of the poor. See Matthew 26:35, in which it is stated that
the blessed feed the hungry, and that the damned do not. Does the old saw
about "practicing what you preach" not apply to Yahweh? Is his hypocrisy
not a sin?
One popular rationalization of this is that for Yahweh to feed all the
hungry would somehow (and it is never explained how) make it more difficult
for people to get into Heaven. Sure, and another reason is that it would
make the quality of newspapers worse, right? You can't just say that two
things are connected when there is no apparent or explained link between them!
The charge against Yahweh of infecting us with disease is particularly
strong. God made these micro-organisms, and made us subject to them. If I
made a bunch of plague germs and set them loose, you would rightly hold me
accountable. Since (according to Genesis) all disease comes from Yahweh, I
hold him similarly accountable.
Suppose you were a god and there were other gods. What would you do? What
I would try to do is the same thing I do as a person among other people --
try to make friends or at least truce with as many of them as possible. The
jealous Judeo-Christian god does the opposite.
Some people feel that Yahweh is the only god, and therefore cannot be
faulted for not having friendly relations with other gods. This idea is a
fairly modern invention: that not only is he the best god, but the only one.
Yahweh is repeatedly referred to as "our God" in the Pentateuch, and there
is no implication that he is the only real one. Also, try Deut. 5:7-9. It
is psychotic to be jealous of nonexistent beings. The statement "You shall
have no gods except me" clearly implies that the contrary is possible.
Suppose you were an omnipotent god and there were no other gods. What would
you do? Perform a continual sequence of verifiable miracles; after all,
this doesn't require any effort, and keeps people from delusion. No such
luck in the case of Jehovah. He demands absolute fidelity without any
demonstration of his existence, beyond some visionary manifestations of the
sort that you can get from any religion.
Christians commonly rationalize this in one of two ways. First, they claim
that there is a virtue in believing something without proof; that is, faith
in itself is held to be a virtue, and Yahweh doesn't want to remove our
opportunity to indulge in it. All I can say to this is that I do not
consider faith to be a virtue -- I consider it to be a sign of intellectual
weakness, and a significant barrier to scientific and other intellectual
progress. (I consider scientific progress desirable because it is so
efficacious in improving the quality of people's lives.) I see no virtue in
accepting a thing on faith, since it may well be false, and it is clearly
not a virtue to believe the false. Given the willingness to have faith, how
does one decide whether to put it in Christianity instead of Hinduism?
There is no way; you just have to cross your fingers and take the plunge.
Whichever choice you take, you will hear voices in your head, see divine
manifestations, and so on, so even once the plunge is taken there is no way
to know you are correct.
Second, there is the rationalization that scientific discovery would become
impossible if a continual stream of verifiable miracles were performed.
This argument denies the omnipotence of Yahweh. If he can do anything, he
can perform a sequence of miracles in such a way as to convince everyone of
his existence and not interfere with scientific discovery at all. The only
things he can't do are logical absurdities such as making 2+2=5.
The point to remember here is that if we don't believe in him, we go to
Hell, and this is a greater evil than a lack of the "virtue" of faith or a
stunting of science, or anything else conceivable. If Yahweh is concerned
about the good, he will do what he can to keep us from Hell, and keeping
vital information from us is the exact opposite of this.
I have heard the claim that Yahweh does not restrict us from learning, that
he encourages us to learn all we can. Tell it to the workers at the Tower
of Babel. In case your memory fails you here, Gen. 11:6-7 says, "'So they
are all a single people with a single language!' said Yahweh. 'This is but
the start of their undertakings! There will be nothing too hard for them to
do. [ Horrors! -- tim ] Come, let us go down and confuse their language on
the spot so that they can no longer understand one another.'" Yahweh
deliberately acts to restrict man's capability for understanding.
One thing in particular would keep me from worshipping this god. That is
the fact that he desires worship. The only reason why this would be is that
he gets something out of worship, perhaps power, perhaps just pleasure. In
the former case, it would be totally unjustifiable for me to increase the
power of this hugely arrogant and malefic being. In the latter, well, I
don't LIKE this deity, and I don't think it deserves such a reward for its
heinous career.
Some of the responses I have heard to this sort of argument in the past are
shown below, with my answers.
"You can't judge God by the same standards as man." In that case, why is it
that I keep getting told that God is good? Are there two meanings of the
word "good", one of which forbids murder, deliberate starvation, infecting
people with disease, and so on, and another which allows these things? I
suggest that there is already a word for the second meaning. That word is
"evil". If you think that it's OK to worship an evil god, that's your
business, but you can't expect me to do the same.
One particularly curious rationalization here is that "starvation and
disease and all the other evils of the world come from breaking God's laws."
Starvation comes from not having enough food. Disease comes from exposure
to various nasty micro-organisms, and from genetic infirmities. If you can
show me how these two things come from breaking god's laws, I will be
greatly surprised. Perhaps at the root they are caused by Adam and Eve
falling from grace, but you can't hold some starving infant in Namibia
responsible for the actions of two long-dead people, any more than you can
hold me responsible for the acts of Jack the Ripper. There just isn't
sufficient connection to establish guilt.
"Everything God does is really good, even though we can't always see that it
is." There is no possible amount of good that can counterbalance the
deliberate, perpetual starvation of the human race. Maybe we Americans have
it so good that we can't see this, but most of the people in the world are
starving. Children are dying by the truckload, not for any sin, but just
because there isn't enough food for them. If you could see these children,
and you had food, you would give food to them. (Either that, or you are an
unfeeling monster.) Not so with the omniscient god you worship. He sees
their bellies bloat, sees them run out of nutrients and rot alive, sees
their brains dying, and doesn't do a damn thing, despite the fact that he
has an unlimited supply of food to give. Another example of his mercy.
Christians have been claiming that there will be wonderful events, that will
more than make up for the abominable pain and suffering on Earth, for about
two thousand years now. It is clear from the gospels that Jesus thought
that it was about to happen shortly after his death. Before the Christians,
the Zoroastrians were saying it. Yet the world still turns as it has, and
there is still no reason to think of these claims as other than pipe-dreams
to mollify the masses.
"Don't ask such questions." People who say this are cowering slaves,
beneath my notice. They would as soon serve the devil as god in their
blindness and faith. No amount of evidence could convince them that the
devil was bad once they had decided to worship him; their basic assumption
is that they are correct, so they are untouchable by any rationality.
In closing, let's see how Yahweh/Jesus stands up to his own standards. In
Matthew 26:41-46, we hear the King, "Next he will say to those on his left
hand, 'Go away from me, with your curse upon you, to the eternal fire
prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you never gave
me food; I was thirsty and you never gave me anything to drink; I was a
stranger and you never made me welcome, naked and you never clothed me, sick
and in prison and you never visited me.' ... And they will go away to
eternal punishment, and the virtuous to eternal life."
In the light of this, your god himself is the worst of sinners; if there is
no double standard, he will be at the head of that line into eternal
punishment. He is guilty of every crime of which he accuses the damned.
I do not believe in the reality of Jehovah, except as a psychological
phenomenon, but if I did believe I would not worship that horror. It could
send me to the Hell it's made for those it dislikes, and I would walk in
proudly, knowing that I was no slave to be broken down by force.
Tim Maroney, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
duke!unc!tim (USENET), tim.unc@csnet-relay (ARPA)

Chloride and Sodium: Two terribly dangerous substances that taste great together!

Display posts from previous:  Sort by  
Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 1 post ] 

All times are UTC - 5 hours

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 2 guests

You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum

Search for:
Jump to:  
Powered by phpBB® Forum Software © phpBB Group