Category Archives: God is Immoral

Blood Libel

Mano Paul claims that allegations of anti-Semitism were unfounded when The Passion of the Christ was released. Since he blocks comments from dissenters and won’t reply directly to any disagreements, we can only guess at what he means by this statement.

Does he mean that the people who are responsible for the movie are not anti-Semitic or did not intend such a message? If this is the case, the best we can hope for his mistake is willful ignorance. While it may not have been widely known at the time, since then Mel Gibson has shown his true colors. Even if his movie is only a subconscious reflection of his hate, it’s clear that there are plenty of reasonable grounds to interpret the production as hateful toward Jews.

Does he mean that the actual events of the Bible aren’t anti-Semitic? Here I would actually agree – the Jews aren’t the villain in the story. According to the narrative, the ultimate cause for Jesus’ torture is God. It is God’s plan to create a son on earth in order to torture him and kill him in redemption for the sins of his creations. The men in the story, who are naively portrayed as villains, are simply God’s actors for dramatizing his macabre snuff film. Judas, Pontius, and indeed the cabal of Jewish betrayers are all integral to the larger plot. 30 pieces of silver are merely a distraction to trump up a puppet’s role and obscure the evil of the puppetmaster.

Whatever Mano means when he dismisses claims of anti-Semitism, he should first consider the centuries of blood libel tradition that have cursed the Jewish people by the same wicked hands as Jesus – those that kill and torture in the name of religion. If only those people had instead blamed their misfortune on the true perpetrator (God) instead of the innocent pawns, perhaps the world would not still be shackled with bigotry and ignorance in His name.

Points to Ponder

Mano asks our response to this God who willingly gave his life for us, who supposedly did it of his own free will. He then asks what we will choose to do with our free will. There are so many things wrong with the premises of these questions that a reasonable answer is not even possible until we understand what these even mean.

Presumably, Mano is not just preaching to the choir. If he honestly intends to win converts, he must not assume that nonbelievers have any understanding of the Trinity. (While we’re on the subject, we should hope he realizes that nobody has any reasonable understanding of the Trinity, and indeed most claims are that it is beyond human understanding.) To a nonbeliever, there does not appear to be any justification for believing that God gave his life for us. Perhaps there is a case for God giving his son’s life for us (though a few hours of torture and a few days of “death” followed by heaven forever hardly seems a terrible sacrifice). However, if this was always God’s plan, then it hardly seems like Jesus had any choice in the matter.

Most apologetics for theodicy include some requirement for free will (e.g. if we weren’t allowed to do evil, then we wouldn’t have free will). Saving that argument for later, we must at best assume Mano allows for human free will if he asks us what we will choose with the knowledge of the Jesus story.

So how does a non-Christian respond to a God who kills his son and then makes the only requirement of his inherently sinful creations for avoiding eternal suffering NOT behaving ethically and good, but simply believing that this torture story is the best plan an infinitely loving God could come up with? We think it sounds more like a story that some dimwitted clerics came up with, and we don’t understand why you believe it, either.

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Justification

Humans have an evolved sense of social justice. This is not only an advantageous, but probably also necessary trait for a social species whose members rely on each other for survival. Humans are also generally bad at logic. There is no better simultaneous example of both of these than the single test: Wason’s selection criteria.

Naturally, we would expect a belief system which includes concepts about eternal reward and punishment to be particularly appealing to the human brain. It is easy for us to imagine scenarios, especially in a modern world of diminished accountability relative to our small-scale ancestral tribes, where a person could literally get away with murder and not be punished for it in this life. So we see in every major religion this fulfillment of the human desire for justice, whether we call it karma, or heaven, or hell.

Mano Paul notices that maybe Jesus actually didn’t get such a good deal. After all, it doesn’t seem that fair that Jesus would have to take the punishment for everyone else’s sins! I imagine most of his fellow humans would agree. Well apparently Jesus does get his justice when he gets to come back to earth and judge all of us sinners; believers call this the second coming. He will have his revenge! Forget about all that stuff he said about turning the other cheek.

Is this logical? Christians proclaim the greatness of Jesus is that he died for us and absolved of our sins. It sort of detracts from all that greatness if he gets to Lord it over us and punish us if we don’t obey and serve him. Mano claims in this post that all that is necessary to be saved from Jesus’ vengeful return is to just believe in him. “He will accept [us] just as [we] are.” Yet in his series of 7 steps, he claims that a Christian has to do much more than just believe. What does Mano actually think is required to avoid being punished for being born as we are?

What kind of justice is it to create a world that looks like it is the product of natural processes with no reproducible evidence of a supernatural being like the one that will supposedly torture us forever, and then torture us forever for not believing in that being? That kind of thinking is neither logical nor merciful.

Christmas Perspectives Perspectives

Mano Paul writes a series of posts leading up to Christmas titled “Christmas Perspectives”. Analysis and deconstruction follows.

No Fear, Only Faith

Mano repeats the dangerous notion that belief in God means that one can have no fear of anything, because God makes anything possible. We evolved a fear response for good reason – to ensure we pay extra attention to dangerous situations. If we are actually the product of design, we would expect that the side effects of that response (irrationality, sweating, paralysis) would not be so counterproductive. However flawed the mechanism, though, it is evidence of a survival advantage to have fear.

No matter how often they repeat it, it’s clear that most Christians DON’T actually believe that God gives them invincibility. Though there are the occasional exceptions, there aren’t millions of stories of deaths after Christians try to fly, or stop bullets, or breathe underwater, or do any other dangerous impossible thing that God should supposedly make possible.

Fear is a terrible thing to endure, especially chronic existential fear. That is why religion is so successful: it takes advantage of the fearful in their weak moments and gives them a “cure” – a fantasy world in which they don’t need to be afraid. Ironically, Christianity is perpetuated by the imaginary concept of hell, which is supposed to inspire mortal fear. Christians give themselves and each other this hypochondriac’s disease, which makes them even MORE in need of a cure for their fears.

If only Christians spent the energy they pour into their devotion instead of changing the world to be a less scary place and actually understanding the things they fear. They plaster on layer after layer of God bandages and ignore the disease for the symptoms.

God With(in) Us

Mano asks each of us if God is with us, as well as within us. It is not entirely clear what he believes the difference is, but clearly Mano believes it is superior for God to be within us and not just with us.

Christians believe the birth of Jesus fulfilled an OT prophesy (Matthew 1:23). Apparently Joseph wasn’t interested in literally fulfilling the prophecy by naming his son Immanuel (Hebrew for “God with Us”), but we’ll get to poor Joseph in a minute. Without further explanation than this reference, Mano offers no other clue whether he means that God was with us in body for a short time in the form of the Son, or that God is creepily watching us do whatever it is we do, or something else including a combination of all these things.

To support his definition of “within”, Mano quotes Philippians 2:13, which outlines a more active participation of God in our lives, not unlike the puppeteer with his puppets. He says we need God within us and not just with us, which implies that we have some kind of choice in the matter. I suppose this is a more palatable theology than a God who enters us at will whether we want Him to or not (not unlike a rapist would).

A rough summary of Mano’s position might be: “I believe God is hanging around waiting for us to let him in, and we should do that by thinking that we want him and by doing the things we think he’d want us to do.” Why is this added step necessary? Shouldn’t it be enough to decide we want to do whatever this supposedly perfect being wants and then let Him take it from there? After all, Christians acknowledge almost nothing more than the fact that we are wretched sinners who don’t know our own way.

If only God could communicate better, once He is inside of us, what we are supposed to do instead of leaving it up to us to decide what is His will. Maybe we wouldn’t have ended up with “Gott mit Uns“. As an exercise for the reader, did Nazis believe God was “with” or “within” them?

God’s Will Towards All Men

There are many secular traditions at Christmastime. Whether Christians borrowed them from others or we borrowed them from Christians and made them our own, some of these traditions seem like things we should practice the whole year, instead of for a few weeks in December. “Peace on earth and good will toward men” is one of those sayings which secularists might even believe even without knowing where it came from (Luke 2:14). Imagine if the Christians in the US military actually applied their biblical principles and committed to peace by laying down arms and coming home?

The Wise Seek to Worship

Mano claims it is wise to seek to worship. We should give people the respect they are due, naturally, but this borders on tautology. It is wise to seek to dismantle ideas. Those that are true will survive the attempt. Those that are false will crumble like so many idols through history.

The Gift of Our Life

Mano claims that we owe our lives to God. It is hardly a gift then, is it? This is probably the worst example of Christian Doublespeak – that Jesus gave us a gift when he died on the cross. If he did so with no strings attached, sure. But if we are obligated with our very lives for this gift, well, that’s not a Christmas tradition any reasonable moral person would celebrate. To give him our lives isn’t then a gift, it’s payment of our mafia protection money. Even Santa only asks us to be nice instead of naughty.

Condescension for Ascension

Mano admits that it was condescending of Jesus to live among us. Wow, thanks, Jesus! Now we love you even more! In yet another example of Christian Doublespeak, this condescending act (which in the overwhelming number of cases is negatively connoted) is a loving act. The story so far: God creates man, fucks up by making us weak to temptation, kicks us out of paradise, tries to give us a go of it on earth, fucks up, drowns us all to start over, fucks up, then condescends to come live among us to show us how we’re supposed to behave if we want to come back to live with him. If that is supposed to be some sort of role model behavior, perhaps we’re better off trying to find our own way.

Promised Son for the Prodigal

Mano mixes up the parable of the prodigal son with the Jesus myth. Well if the prodigal can waste his temporary gifts and still be received back into his father’s arms, what incentive does that give us not to live it up while we can? In this light, Christians who truly believe in redemption have more moral justification than anyone for killing, raping, and stealing on this world if they can simply repent and enjoy heaven in the next. It is a common accusation of atheists and humanists who don’t hold themselves accountable to a nonexistent God that we will simply behave immorally without divine accountability. But what accountability exists in the Christian worldview? God continues to fuck up, but he keeps trying to find ways to get us into heaven anyway. Shouldn’t we just enjoy ourselves until he figures out the rules for this game?

The Real Christmas Story

Imagine the Christmas story took place today. What would we really think is going on? Is there any reason to believe it actually happened differently 2000 years ago?

The Christian Dictionary

Mano Paul loves alliteration. If only he spent as much time saying useful things as he did trying to say them cleverly. When Mano says “Possession, Profession, Practice”, he says little more than the clichéd “Practice what you preach.” And apparently without irony.

Mano continues another fine Christian tradition of taking words that already have specific definitions and trying to make them mean something different in a Christian context. Aren’t there enough syllables for Christians to make new words if the ones we have don’t mean what they want them to mean?

Granted, love is one of those words that probably lost any hope of having a well-defined meaning. At least the Greeks tried to separate romantic love from sexual love from familial love. But let us hope it never has to mean “obedience” and “fear” the way it does for Mano, if battered wives and other abused spouses/lovers are to have any hope of learning to escape their torture. Austin Cline details all the similarities between God and an abusive partner. Now those are some points for Christians to ponder.

Without With one further comment, Mano likens the touch of God to evidence at a crime scene. Christians certainly are victims of their God belief.

A Terrible Story That You Should Tell No One

The story, retold by Dan Barker:

Imagine you are strolling down the sidewalk and a man excitedly calls you over to his front porch to share some “great news.” The man’s got a gruesome torture chamber in his basement, but you don’t have to go down there. Instead, you can come over, hug the man’s son, say you love him and you can all move in together in the attic and tell them how great they are forever.

“Isn’t that great news?”

Oh, and by the way, in this story the man has killed the son whom you’re hugging and brought him back to life, just so you can feel like all the bad things YOU have done are forgiven.

If you have any sense at all, you will run screaming from that house and never look back.

Mano Paul asks his fellow Christians if they are proselytizing enough. If they want this awful mythology to last, probably the best strategy actually is to just shut up about it.

Ready, Set, Darwin Award!

Mano Paul asks if we are ready and steady to go. Here are some biblical tests for readiness:

Snake Handling (Mark 16:18) – results in death (the sins of the father, indeed)

Poison Drinking (Mark 16:18) – results in death (strychnine poisoning is particularly nasty)

Faith Healing (Mark 16:18) – results in death for the patient, possible fame and fortune for the “healer

Street Living (Matthew 19:21) – lifespan reduced by 1/3 in LA, probably more in other parts of the world

Baby Killing (1 Samuel 15:3, Psalms 137:9, Deuteronomy 21:18-21, Genesis 22:9-10) – results in death for the babies, probably life imprisonment or death penalty for the parents

Baby Eating (Leviticus 26:29) – results in death for the babies, almost certainly death penalty preferred to the torture one would receive in prison by inmates and guards

It seems that if more Christians really believed in the letter of Biblical Law, then we’d see a lot more candidates for the Darwin Award. Fortunately, most people’s common sense and adoption of modern secular values trumps most of the patently wrong information in the Bible. We should be glad that even if Christians are ready and steady to prosecute their beliefs, they’re at least not ready to hear or say “Go”.

Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is a time when Christians take away the credit for the good things that other people in their lives do and give it to their nonexistent god. Thanksgiving is a time when US Christians must thank God for giving them so much when He is starving the children of Africa and developing nations elsewhere in the world, even in parts of America. Thanksgiving is a time when atheists can give sincere thanks to the people in their lives and honestly appreciate the coincidences that have favored them without having to ignore the injustice of the purposeless universe.

Fortunately, Mano Paul’s son’s natural human tendencies have not yet been fully corrupted by Christianity’s evil teachings. He is thankful for his brother, the world we live in, and his parents’ love before he gets around to tossing Jesus a bone. Unfortunately, if he continues his religious indoctrination, it won’t be long before his first priority will be to bow before God, and to denigrate others who thank their fellow man without giving away their credit. We humans are social creatures and rely on each other for help and support. We are dishonored when credit for our work is given to someone else who did nothing. So much the worse when that someone isn’t even there.

Theodicy is particularly salient during a time of thanks. Christians must either willfully ignore the suffering distributed by God’s hands when thanking Him for the benefits they have received, or must somehow twist their morality in such a way that they can view this suffering and unfairness in a positive light. On the one hand, they are at best callous or ignorant. On the other, they must really be thankful that God has chosen for them such a comparatively easy path through this life. They must actually thank God for bone cancer in children.

Our world looks just like we would expect it to look if it wasn’t the creation of some intelligent, moral mind, but the result of deterministic but unthinking natural laws. We don’t have to thank the universe for our blessings or be forced to accept the unfairness alongside those blessings. Neither are the result of an intentional mind. So we are free to give credit where credit is due: to the people who make life living and who are working to make life better for everyone. We can recognize the circumstances where we are more fortunate than others without the moral conflict of having to believe that someone intended for it to be that way.