Posts tagged ‘christianity’
Folks tend to think of the Bible as the go-to source for family values. Seems the Bible is a bit confounding on this topic though.
The Bible says Lot was a righteous man.
II Peter 2:7, “he [God] rescued Lot, a righteous man,”
The Bible also says that Lot got drunk, had sex with his own daughters, and got them both pregnant.
Genesis 19:33-36, “That night they got their father to drink wine, and the older daughter went in and lay with him. He was not aware of it when she lay down or when she got up. The next day the older daughter said to the younger, “Last night I lay with my father. Let’s get him to drink wine again tonight, and you go in and lie with him so we can preserve our family line through our father.” So they got their father to drink wine that night also, and the younger daughter went and lay with him. Again he was not aware of it when she lay down or when she got up. So both of Lot’s daughters became pregnant by their father.”
Now some friends of mine from the South of the U.S. like to make jokes along these lines, but honestly, if any man did this with his daughters, would anyone call him a righteous man?
Enough incest. How about looking instead at attainder?
Exodus 20:5 says that God will punish a child for his father’s sin, “for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me,”.
Ezekiel 18:20 says he won’t, “The soul who sins is the one who will die. The son will not share the guilt of the father, nor will the father share the guilt of the son…”
There seems to be some confusion among the divinely inspired authors of the Bible. Maybe God can’t remember exactly who he met face to face, and who he didn’t, and who he killed. I know I have trouble keeping those things sorted out sometimes.
Has anyone seen God face to face?
Genesis 32:30 — “Jacob said, ‘I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved.'”
Exodus 33:11 –“The LORD would speak to Moses face to face, as a man speaks with his friend.”
Exodus 33:20 — “You cannot see my face, for no one may see me and live.”
John 1:18 — “No one has ever seen God, but God the One and Only, who is at the Father’s side, has made him known.”
I John 4:12 — “No man hath seen God at any time.”
Another element of divine confusion seems to be the classic “I love them all”, “I love them all not” dilemma. Perhaps one can imagine the deity plucking petals off one of heaven’s daisies.
I want them all saved
1 Timothy 2:3-4 — “God our Saviour; who will have all men to be saved.”
2 Peter 3:9 — “The Lord is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.
I want them damned
2 Thessalonians 2:11-12 — “God shall send them a strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: That they all might be damned…
We have spent a considerable time on this blog, addressing Biblical myths. HeIsSailing wrote on several myths of the Bible including the Leviathan, the creation story, the tower of Babel, the origins of languages, and the Crucifixion story. I compiled an entry on the Exodus and wrote a short blog on the myth of the devil. Richard most recently wrote on the Apocalypse.
An interesting myth that is widely embraced by the Christian church today is the story of the impregnation of a young Jewish woman by YHWH 2000 years ago. The Apostles Creed includes the lines:
Who was conceived by the Holy Ghost,
born of the virgin Mary
There are several issues with the story of the virgin birth. The first, of course, is the parallel of this story with many other such conceptions of “gods” over the course of history. I read one Christian’s rebuttal this argument which stated that this is in fact more of a declaration of its truth since the devil always tries to counterfeit truth. Well, he had quite a head start on this one.
The second is the genesis of the virgin birth story itself. The first person to write about an individual named Jesus was Paul, the Apostle. In his letters, there is no mention of the virgin birth of Jesus. One would think if this was such an important doctrine to be embraced as a core belief of Christianity, it would be trumpeted by Christianity’s greatest evangelist…
Theism begins with a commitment to absurdity. It revels in mysteries, embraces paradoxes, and wallows in warm credulity while reason is buried in a mudslide of illogical affirmations. It sees no need to apologize for belief where the evidence is not only absent, but also contrary to claims.
Theism trains the credulous in the art of illogicality by unabashedly positing incoherent notions of god that require the complete surrender of rational faculties. Some such common theistic notions among Christians are listed below.
- The notion that we were created with an actual choice not to sin in the face of the biblical assertions that we have all sinned.
- The notion that the wrath a “loving” god over a single sin results in condemnation to eternal torment.
- The notion that a “loving” god must see blood to forgive, and cannot simply forgive as he has asked humans to.
- The notion that the 3 days of temporary death by Jesus is the exchange rate for the deserved eternal damnation of billions…
I hope I have adequately described our inherent weaknesses in cognition (Part I), emotions (Part II) and dogmatism (Part III). Perhaps I can now continue with some of the reasons why I dismiss the notion of a personal god.
First, much of the ontology of Christianity is dependent on the Bible. The veracity of the Bible must be established before notions such as Heaven, Hell and sin can even be submitted for evaluation. Do not quote the Bible to “prove” to me the existence of these entities. I reject the Bible as “god’s word” for several reasons. As I list these reasons, Christians will contend that I am taking things out of context, yet I have spend years begging to see some objective, consistent and reliable standard of hermeneutics being practiced among Christians. None has emerged. This is the beauty of the “scriptures” of all successful religions; they are all ambiguous enough to provide deniabilty when backed into a exegetical corner. This lack of unity in exegesis I’ll introduce later as a failure of the Holy Spirit.
1) Moral ambiguity.
Polygamy, incest, rape and slavery are just a few of the practices condoned or encouraged in the Bible. Extravagant and elaborate apologetic arguments are employed, and usually track back to the incoherent notion that “God’s ways are not our ways”.
2) Philosophical dilemma
Persons who have not heard of Jesus are, nonetheless, eternally condemned for what the Bible claims is a clear manifestation of his eternal power and godhead in nature. In addition, a finite number of sins committed by a soul who had no choice but to be born sinful are given infinite punishment…
In Part I, I discussed the fragility of human cognition, and the myth of the virtue of faith. In Part II, I discussed the enormous deficiency in human cognition coupled with a propensity to rely on emotions to construct our belief system. Now let me move on to the issue of dogmatism.
Consider the proper way for a person to choose a presidential candidate. Voting along party lines is not considered to be very intelligent, and claiming faith in the party would rightfully make you the object of scorn. A proper evaluation involves exploring all the sources you have to your disposal to assess the knowledge, experience, convictions, competency and character of each candidate. The accumulation of this information is linear; it generally accumulates in a steady manner until you reach a point where you are able to make a decision. It should make sense then that the degree of certainty should also be linear. Instead of suddenly stating that one candidate is wonderful while the other is evil, one should be making statements such as “based on the evidence so far, X appears 20% more competent than Y. But few of us seldom do this due to our propensity for dogmatism.
While facilitating action, this dogmatism is a detriment when attempting to find objective truth. The polar ends of the god question are over-weighted with atheists and theists in my opinion. I am an agnostic. While I can state that there is a very low probability of a personal god for reasons I’ll discuss later, I am less certain when considering an Einsteinian god. And I do not feel compelled to choose a side without sufficient evidence. However, this probabilistic attitude towards questions is not natural to me. It had to be learned. I started out quite dogmatic as some of you may recall.
Christianity encourages dogmatism. Certainty is a goal in most religions…
In Part I, I discussed the fragility of human cognition, and the myth of the virtue of faith. There remains one more important question. Why do so many people believe in a personal god?
Nearly all religions posit a “god-size” hole of the psyche that only their respective god can feel. However, a careful examination of this hole reveals it to be merely a natural human disposition to have certain emotions that scream for attention and resolution. I’ll try to address the most important.
An aversion to not knowing.
We have an intense drive to explain our world. This emotional intensity causes many to assume that there are answers and that they deserve access to those answers. These conclusions do not follow. Simply having the ability to ask a question does not in any way require that there is an answer and that you have the ability to discover and comprehend the answer. However, religionists assume that they must have access to any question that appears meaningful to them. This does not follow. It may be that we may never have answers to questions that disturb us. This is anathema to many religionists.
Need for significance.
We are all born with the need for significance. This is, however, an emotion, and it does not follow that personal significance exists simply because we feel it must. Successful religions offer significance by typically positioning the believer in a privileged relationship with a god. This emotion, however, does not in anyway validate the existence of a god that bestows significance. The truth may be that we have no significance. We must start our inquiry into truth without the assumption of an objective personal significance. As an added note, this sense of a grand cosmological significance is exhibited as arrogance equally among faiths. If you suppose you are in constant communion with god, it is not at all difficult to become condescending to infidels whom you know must be in rebellion against god…