In The Hands of a Trickster God
I love George Carlin. What a great comic!
“In the Bullshit Department, a businessman can’t hold a candle to a clergyman. ‘Cause I gotta tell you the truth, folks. When it comes to bullshit, big-time, major league bullshit, you have to stand in awe of the all-time champion of false promises and exaggerated claims: religion. No contest. No contest. Religion. Religion easily has the greatest bullshit story ever told.
Think about it. Religion has actually convinced people that there’s an invisible man — living in the sky — who watches everything you do, every minute of every day. And the invisible man has a special list of ten things he does not want you to do. And if you do any of these ten things, he has a special place, full of fire and smoke and burning and torture and anguish, where he will send you to live and suffer and burn and choke and scream and cry forever and ever ’til the end of time!
But He loves you.
He loves you, and He needs money! He always needs money! He’s all-powerful, all-perfect, all-knowing, and all-wise, somehow just can’t handle money! Religion takes in billions of dollars, they pay no taxes, and they always need a little more. Now, you talk about a good bullshit story. Holy Shit!”
— George Carlin Politically Incorrect, May 29, 1997
The “but He loves you…” is the unforgettable punchline. I find it extremely difficult to entertain the idea that a loving being would torture anyone for anything, let alone send someone to a fiery, torturous, eternal hell. The usual response I get to this is that God’s love is not man’s love or God’s justice isn’t man’s justice. Some will also say that the the punishment is infinite because God must exact infinite justice because sin is an offense to an infinite being or some variant. One website I went to compares this to someone killing their co-worker verses someone killing the leader of a country. The latter gets the worse sentence.
Starting with the last objection first. God had a choice to create or not create the universe. If God is so easily offended, don’t create a universe full of people who will offend you. Don’t complain about people’s freewill, if by definition, freewill is allowing people the ability to do both good and bad. Either we truly have freewill and are “allowed” to use it or not. This is no different than you leaving your kid with a fork right next to an outlet. You can tell the child not to do it, but some children will stick the fork in the outlet. Do you then punish the child for disobedience? It would be negligent at best and horrific at worst if a parent did that. This doesn’t even approach the level of responsibility God would have. The analogy would be better if humans created a robot with freewill. If the robot has the ability to do whatever it wants, then it is well within its programming parameters. Who’s really responsible here? Granted the robot has some blame for choosing badly even if we were able to program agency into the machine, but the designer would have the lions share of responsibility. Most importantly does the designer attempt to provide a remedy or just simply put the robot into an eternal trash compacter, that constantly crushes and shreds it?
Taking an actual example of disproportionate status. John Hinckley Jr. tried to kill Reagan, but we didn’t sentence the man to death as Yahweh would have. The man is clearly delusional and found “not guilty” by reason of insanity and resides in a hospital for the mentally ill. So mitigating circumstances do mean something in our legal system. Not so for Yahweh.
If God’s justice is not like ours, than why use that word to begin with. If we don’t agree with what justice or love means then we are not talking about the same thing. We have dictionaries that help us in determining how the word is used and what it is supposed to mean. This quickly turns into a semantic word game that I personally hate especially when dealing with “Divine Command” theorists.
With that out of the way, I want to ask a more sociological question. Why is it good for God to exhibit immmoral/amoral behavior if the equivalent human would be deemed immoral? If Joe A-hole decided to kill 70,000 people because David took a census. What would you conclude about Joe? Joe clearly punishing arbitrarily would be the mildest complaint. How can that possibly ever be effective? Why didn’t God just punish Satan for “causing David” to take the census. This is obscene…..and to attempt to even label this act or the being who did it as loving, is insane. What exactly is loving about this?
When I was a Christian, this cognitive dissonance had me believing in a loving God, but didn’t understand how God could do such a thing. At some point the realization became inescapable, I was in the hands of a trickster God. I had become convinced that I was going to hell. No amount of praying was bringing God’s grace back to me (since salvation was a belief but also a quasi feeling). I even had proof (at least in my mind), since my panic attacks were constant and I believed that God was, in fact, inflicting them on me. I didn’t know what panic attacks were so that was particularly frightening. As I crept closer and closer to the precipice between faith and disbelief, I had dreams that Jesus was the devil. On an emotional level, I had realized that the devil and God had too much in common to be a coincidence. I didn’t feel God had my back, as it were. This crack in my belief eventually shattered my world view. God was an untrustworthy being. The promises in the Bible became empty of meaning and no interpretation could erase my experience. I had prayed with the most devout (of many denominations) and my panic attacks would not stop. I could understand why God wasn’t listening to me, but why didn’t he listen to others’ prayers. What did god have against me? Had this continued I would have committed suicide as the pain was unbearable and getting worse. I figured since I was already damned might as well accept my fate and I wouldn’t have to deal with the anticipation of the pain I was going to get in hell.
Links on Atheism
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