Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Why Atheists would Disobey God

As one wanders through internet conversations, it is common to see an exchange like:

Christian: What would you do if you were convinced there was a God?
Non-Theist: If it turned out to be the Tanakh God, I wouldn’t worship it, because I find such a God to be a monster.
Christian: Oh, you just don’t want a God; that is why you claim to be a non-theist.

The problem with this exchange is that the participants are talking about different perceptions of God. Two different Gods, in fact.

Richard Dawkins is quoted as saying:
The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully

And Christians find this offensive, because they view this same God as an all-loving, all-merciful, all-grace creature that would never, NEVER perform an immoral act.

Let me try and put this in perspective. Think about the nicest, kindest person you know. The person who you would nominate as “Most Moral Person Alive.” The type of person who wouldn’t hurt a fly. Got that person in mind?

Imagine this person rushed up to you with a kitten and said, “Quick, bash this kitten on the ground, killing it!”

You would probably pause and a few questions would cross your mind. Sure, this is atypical and so out-of-character, you would think they MUST have a good reason for such a request. This is so unlike anything they have ever done, and this is the nicest person you know. To kill a kitten? Something doesn’t add up.

Secondly, you might ponder why they don’t do this deed themselves? Why do they need to involve you, as they seem perfectly capable of killing this kitten if it is so necessary?

Thirdly, you might question the rush. Why must this kitten die right now? Is there some disease? Is it rapid? Is it carrying the plague that will end the world?

Despite your past dealings, you are going to hesitate. You are going to question why this person wants this kitten to die right now.

See, you have your own moral barometer. Your own moral determinator causing you to question the morals of another. Even a person—up until that very minute—who you thought had the same moral barometer as you did. A person who would never want to kill a kitten.

This is why atheists would question God. A Christian envisions a God who would only ask his followers to do a moral act. A Christian envisions a God who, if asking the followers to kill a kitten, must be asking the Christian to be doing a moral act. A God who, if asking its followers to kill another human, must have a moral reason and justification for that human’s death.

We do not share that same vision! We have our own moral determinations that would question such an action. Now, it is possible some God could provide extremely convincing proof another human would die, but we would still be left with the question as to why God doesn’t do it in the first place? If God has the ability, justification and moral reasoning to kill a human—why involve me in the first place?

Personally, with my understanding of morality, I would seriously question anyone who blindly followed such an authority simply because it was an authority. Think of this scenario:

King: Subject, kill your son as proof of your loyalty to me.
Subject: O.K.
[kills son]

Do we read that and nod our heads, thinking, “What a great moral act?” Of Course not! Every fiber in our being says, “Wait a minute, something is wrong, here!” Yet this is the God the Christian is surprised we would dare question (Gen. 22:1-2):

God: Abraham, kill your son as proof of your loyalty to me.
Abraham: O.K.
God: Good job!

If this was Allah, Christians would use this scene to point out the atrocities of Islam. Instead, they smile and pat Abraham on the back for being such an obedient doppelganger to whatever God orders. I would have more expected:

God: Abraham, kill your son as proof of your loyalty to me.
Abraham: O.K.
God: You ignorant dolt! That was a test to see if you had any sense of morality at all and you failed miserably. Don’t you question even child-sacrifice? What is going to happen, a dozen years from now, when some priest says I want a child-sacrificed? Are you going to so easily and readily give up your child, simply because you think I ordered it? Can’t you even crawl, morally, on your own?

See Christians, when they hear we non-believers have the audacity to question the morality of their God are aghast. Non-theists, when we see how believers are willing to do anything if they think their God ordered it, are terrified.

While I do not live in fear of Christians thinking God has ordered to genocide me…well…at least not yet…Christians do feel justified to deny homosexuals the right to marry, to ostracize non-believers, to treat women as second-class citizens, to support the battiest of candidates—all because they think their God ordered it.

I wish they could see why we question the morality of such decisions.

Friday, July 17, 2009

What would the Police composite sketch look like?

God can kill you.

My discussion with Stan reminded me there are a vast number of Christians who believe this simple fact. God has the inherent, moral, absolute right, privilege and honor of killing you. Wherever. Whenever. However. They derive this belief from two concepts:

1) Since God made everything (including you)—he can destroy everything (including you.) This comes from Romans 9:18-24; verses where Paul writes humans have no ability to question what God does. He is the potter—we are the clay. If he wants to smash us, we are in no position to complain.

2) Because we are human, we have all sinned. Sinning is a capital offense. Just by existing, we live perpetually under Execution Orders for Capital Punishment. Orders that can be administered at any moment. Again, we only need to look at Romans 3:23—“all have sinned” in combination with Romans 6:23—“the wages of sin is death” to come up with this idea.

The concept—God can do what he wants, including killing humans—may be a nice philosophical defense, but when practically applied, Christians shy away from it.

There are instances, both in the Tanakh and New Testament, where God kills directly, or where God uses other humans to get the job done. Now, if God can do anything to humans, and God can use other humans—Can God rape?

Can God send a human to rape another human and it is perfectly acceptable? How can a Christian who believes this say differently? Remember—God is the potter. He can punch holes in the clay, destroy the clay or do whatever he wants.

God can kill humans; why get squeamish over whether he can rape ‘em?

See, “rape” is a loaded word. A word designed to raise heightened responses. If I say, “He took money from my account” this comes across much different than “He raped my account of my funds.” “Rape” is meant to draw response from those hearing the word.

And Christians don’t like the idea of their God raping. Sounds bad. Sounds undignified. But they can’t have their cake and eat it too—if a philosophical defense is that God can do what he wants by killing ‘em—why can’t he rape ‘em too? We don’t even have to look too far for examples. 2 Sam. 12:11 God tells David he will punish David by sending an adversary to rape his wives. (Not fair to the wives—being punished for David’s sin—but remember God can do what he wants with humans.)

Numbers 31:18: God gives virgin females of a captured nation to the conquering Israelite soldiers. No thought as to the forced sex about to occur. (Unless you are SO naïve to assume the Midianite females all wanted to be Israelite wives.)

A Christian with this belief, to be consistent, should concede God can rape you and that is just fine.

Another interesting facet of God destroying anything he creates is that, to these Christians, he doesn’t. Oh sure, he floods ‘em, (Gen. 6:17) burns ‘em, (Gen. 19:24), slashes them with a sword, (Numbers 31), and gives them the plague. (1 Chro. 21:14)…but he doesn’t destroy the soul.

That thing he keeps alive for all eternity to torture. Think about it—at some point, in this belief, a human physical body becomes attached to a soul. While God can cause massive damage to the physical part, he never destroys the soul part.

Why not? Why does this God restrain itself from destroying the whole thing?

Another interesting facet is that God never seems to use the excuse, “Hey, I can kill you because I made you. Get over it.” In the stories of God killing (or having other humans killing) there always seems to be reason beyond “humans can die.”

In Gen. 6:5-7, God doesn’t like how evil humans have become and decides to send the Flood. He doesn’t say, “Hey, I can kill ‘em, ‘cause I made ‘em.” No, the authors create a moral reason to do so.

In Numbers 31:2, God justifies killing the Midianites as revenge. 1 Sam. 15:2 God justifies killing the Amalekites as revenge. 2 Sam. 12:14 God justifies killing a baby as punishment for David’s sin. Ananias and Sapphira are killed for lying. Acts. 5:3.

If God can kill when he wants—why does he have to provide justification for doing so? The Bible would be a great deal shorter. “God killed the Amalekites, because he can. God killed the Midianites, because he can. God sent fire and brimstone, then flooded the village, then a stampede, an earthquake, volcano AND a disease. Because he can.”

Further, I wonder about why Christians pray for victims of natural tragedies. Tsunamis, Earthquakes and Hurricanes. If God wants those people dead—can’t he kill them? Who is the Christian to pit themselves against their God. I would think, to be consistent, preachers of this belief should be thrilled to bits about God doing what God does best—whacking away needless, excess humanity.

And why complain about a rape—maybe God is just doing his God-thing? Or a disease? Or a strife?

A great philosophical defense. Practically, it breaks down as no Christian that I have met thinks God can rape.

If your God can kill humans because he is God—he can rape them too. He can do whatever he wants. He is unbound by any moral obligation whatsoever in our interaction.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Bugger. I hate moderated blogs.

If you have been following the conversation on Stan’s Blog, the following comment by me was moderated out due to being “unfriendly.”

You figure.


Ah…culture of victimization. An interesting tactic to take; Sarah Palin has perfected the style.

Stan, I do not recall EVER calling you delusional. I certainly haven’t in this discussion. I don’t think you are. Instead you keep complaining about what I think of you, without my ever saying it! If you keep saying it long enough, loud enough and often enough, people will presume it is true. “Skeptics think I am delusional. Skeptics think I am delusional. Skeptics think I am delusional.”

Curiously, the only argument you have made in support of this claim is that YOU think skeptics are delusional and therefore presume they think the same about you. In other words, you are the only person making the accusation of delusion; yet at the same time claim the accusations are being made at you.

Clever.

This tactic does two things:

1) It generates empathy in those similarly situated. Other Christians can think, “Poor Stan, being picked on by the mean atheists. We are all such martyrs; to be pitied for the oppression.”

2) It avoids the topic at hand. No further arguments need to be presented by you, as those who you want to convince—the already convinced—are convinced by virtue of the fact you are being victimized!

Stan, I haven’t called you delusional. I don’t think you are. Stop playing the victim.

Secondly—how about answering my questions? I have stayed decidedly on-topic here. I have asked the same questions over and over and over. I have answered your questions to clarify. Stop beating around the bush. If this “God’s justice system” makes “perfect sense” to you--start explaining it!

Any lurker can see how many times I have asked these questions. How many times you have avoided them? I’ll ask them again (and again and again):

When can God order the killing of humans?
When can God order the raping of humans?
Can God punish one person for the crimes of another (even if that is only one of the reasons)?
What sins can God pardon? What sins can he not?

Like my four scenarios—is this guesswork on your part? Or is there a way we can verify what God’s system is?

I have to tell you, I have had this discussion with numerous Christians. None have even come close to attempting to be able to come up with a Justice system explaining the events surrounding David’s baby. I picked this example for that very reason; it is a sticky wicket. First God pardons David, then God punishes the Baby. God indicates he would use Rape as a punishment (and others point to Absalom, the problem being—was that a punishment? Did God impose that punishment after saying he wouldn’t? This only creates MORE problems!) God takes 7 days to kill the baby, rather than immediately. All these are difficulties; not easily dismissed.

I don’t ever recall someone saying “this makes perfect sense to me.” Thus the reason I asked the questions regarding this justice system. Most Christians struggle and say they don’t know and it doesn’tmake sense to them—they have to rely on God knowing what he was doing.

But you didn’t say that. You said it makes “perfect sense.” I figured you could then explain it.

Stan: Is there actually an answer you're thinking would be satisfactory?

Sigh. (And yes, it was a judgmental one.) Are you ever going to answer my questions, or are you hoping by a combination of victimization and asking your own, you can avoid them? I will answer your question (again) and then hope for an answer from you on mine (again).

The satisfactory answer would be…..(drum roll, please)….the truth. Wow. Wasn’t that terribly surprising? If you claim this system, where God orders rape as a punishment, where God orders a capital offense pardoned, where God orders the death of a child as punishment for the crime of the child’s parent, where God takes seven days to kill the baby, makes “perfect sense” then all I asking for is how to verify this system. How to know what this system claims.

If you claimed the speed limit was 25 mph on Brown street, we can come up with a number of ways to verify your claim. You could propose some for us to look at.

I am asking for the same thing here. How do I verify this system you claim makes “perfect sense” to you? What are the laws within this system? And so…I will ask again (and again):

When can God order the killing of humans?
When can God order the raping of humans?
Can God punish one person for the crimes of another (even if that is only one of the reasons)?
What sins can God pardon? What sins can he not?