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?

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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.


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?