Why am I so smug?

According to Christian religious texts (the Bible), the one unforgivable sin is to blaspheme against the Holy Spirit. In other words, to deny Jesus’s power.

Before we get any further, let me say the following right here and now: if Jesus ever even existed at all (historical texts from the alleged Jesus’s era suggest a religious leader of a similar name may have existed) and if he actually did those things Christians typically chalk up as miracles, like killing a fig tree by pouting at it or curing a man of leprosy or raising Lazarus from the dead (no historical texts from the alleged Jesus’s era support any of his so-called miracles), then I firmly believe his feats were nothing more than magic tricks which could each be explained in turn using modern science and simple logic.

In other words, if Jesus existed and did those things the Bible says he did, it’s not because he’s the son of any god or because he possesses special powers the rest of us don’t. No, Jesus was a trickster – a master illusionist. I don’t know how David Copperfield or Penn and Teller or even modern day televangelists do what they do, and what they do is certainly fascinating (except the part where gullible people are knowingly scammed out of large amounts of money), but I don’t think these people are actually capable of bending natural laws at their will or literally accomplishing the impossible.

Jesus may have mastered sleight of hand, but he wasn’t anything special.

Oh, and here’s the cherry on the top if that wasn’t enough for you. If there’s one “good guy” in the Christian Bible, it’s the guy who freed humans from their blissful ignorance and granted them the greatest gift of all: knowledge. It’s not the guy who has literally killed millions of people or had millions of people killed in his name. That’s right, friends. I just inferred that in the great contest of who’s done more good versus bad for humanity, Satan beats God.

There. It took me a while, but in the end I’m pretty sure I just committed the one unforgivable sin and thus solidified for myself a future of eternal pain and suffering. Phew.

Now that’s one (or two, I guess) simple little opinion of mine that doesn’t really come up very often in everyday conversation. It’s a personal opinion that I can’t expect many people around me to share, especially in Texas. Despite my opinion regarding Christianity’s Jesus, God, and Satan (none of whom I believe exist simply due to a lack of evidence), which I typically keep to myself outside Internet World, I like to think of myself as a somewhat decent person.

I’m pretty nice to people, even those I don’t know or don’t like (despite my being a nice guy, there are plenty of people I just don’t like). I try to avoid confrontation or conflict, not because I’m afraid of either but because I like people to be happy, sometimes even at the expense of my own happiness. I love to make people laugh. I’m a pretty charitable guy. I’ve made some mistakes in my life, but who hasn’t? Fortunately I can say I’ve learned from my mistakes and if I haven’t yet, I aim to make up for them. I enjoy reading books and I like to learn as much as I can, sometimes about random things “just because.” I’m educated, for the most part. No, I don’t have a college degree but I’ve still got plenty of time and I’m working on getting my first degree. I love my wife and she loves me. I think the most severe law I’ve ever broken is driving too fast on the highway, and now I’m very careful about driving at a reasonable speed. I don’t judge people for something they can’t control, whether it’s their gender, race, age, or sexual orientation. I abide by the golden rule: don’t do to others what you wouldn’t have done to yourself. I’m a utilitarian: the outcome which is best for the most people is the most ideal outcome. Do the most good while causing the least harm.

I do all this not because I believe I’ll be rewarded in the afterlife, or even out of fear of being punished in the afterlife, but because the evolution of society and ethos tells me the best society is a cohesive one, in which people are happy and can work together to achieve a common goal, whatever that goal may be. Sometimes the goal is just more happiness.

Despite this; despite my contributions, a Christian will tell me it’s what I generally keep to myself which matters. The Christian Bible basically says that because I’m humble enough to admit that sometimes “I don’t know” really is the most rational answer, a child rapist can repent on his deathbed and will have a greater chance at getting into Heaven (if Heaven exists at all) than I do. And part of being Christian means believing what the Bible says to be true.

And I think anybody who sincerely believes that is a horrible person, and I’m better than you.

That’s why I’m so smug.

Advertisements

God “chose” Adam Hubbs… why?

This Thanksgiving between football games, a touching piece was aired about a young boy named Adam Hubbs who suffered a stroke and is having to learn to cope with his disabilities. The boy was given the privilege of spending an entire day with the Denver Broncos’ Tim Tebow, one of those annoying Christians who feels the need to publicly thank god for everything that happens to him on the football field while ignoring what this insinuates about god’s feelings toward the other team and players.

But that’s a separate rant which I think I’ve gone through already somewhere in the last ninety-nine posts on this blog. By the way, this is post number one hundred! Huzzah, and all that.

Anyway, during the story Adam said at one point, “God chose me because I’m strong enough to get through it.”

That’s what I’m interested in learning a little more about. That belief, that god specifically chose Adam for the stroke because he knew Adam could get through it, raises a couple questions.

The first question is why did god have to choose anybody at all? “He’s god,” you might say, “he doesn’t have to do anything.” That doesn’t make a heck of a lot of sense but okay, I’ll bite. If he doesn’t have to do anything, why was there a decision to be made at all? Perhaps god could have simply not made a decision. Would nobody have then received a stroke? Why is there an unassigned stroke lying around god’s house, anyway? Does god just have extra strokes laying around, along with lists of young children who may be strong enough to handle them? Why would god even have these extra strokes strewn about? He’s god – he made them. Why? Can he un-make a stroke? Or once a stroke is made does it have to be administered? Could god have chosen somebody even stronger than Adam Hubbs? Why didn’t he? Was Adam strong, but not too strong? Just the right amount of strong, I suppose. Maybe each stroke requires a particular amount of strength; no more, no less, and Adam’s stroke was perfectly suited for him.

The second question is why does god give strokes to people who don’t survive them, or who remain comatose and unresponsive afterward, or who find they can barely function and consider themselves to be a bane on society? Did god assume they, like Adam, would be strong enough to pull through? That would raise concerns about god’s precognition. Or did god have other reasons for giving those people strokes? Did those people do something terrible so that they deserved the strokes they didn’t survive? Whereas on the other hand there’s Adam, who’s so strong he deserves a stroke just to prove it.

I guess the moral dilemma is if god causes bad things to happen to bad people and also bad things to happen to good people then why, for god’s sake, be good at all?

I thought the story as a whole was incredibly touching. I’m glad, for Adam’s sake and for the sake of his family and friends, that he survived his stroke. There’s no doubt that for a young child to go through something like that and still find joy in life takes plenty of strength and courage. Heck, as much as I dislike Tim Tebow for his vanity on the field I’ll give him credit for being a super-great, charitable guy off the field. In fact, it was only the one line, that Adam was chosen to be the recipient of a life-threatening stroke by an allegedly all-powerful god who could have prevented the stroke from happening in the first place, that irritates me.

You would suppose an infinitely powerful being gave you a stroke simply because he figures you’re tough enough to handle it, and you would continue to worship that being? It seems like a lot of religious folks have a pretty sado-masochistic relationship with their god.

Happy one hundredth, loyal followers. I wanted to do something special for you but I couldn’t think of anything, so I hope you enjoyed this opinion piece instead.

Morality and the Bible

This was originally meant to be a brief little blurb, but then I just kept typing. Anyway, here it is. Today’s episode of Atheist Dave, titled Morality and the Bible:

Do you subscribe to the “moral code” laid forth in the Bible?

Do you acknowledge the fact that the Bible not only condones slavery in multiple passages, but even encourages it at times?

Do you acknowledge the fact that several parts of the Bible show the Judeo-Christian god committing or endorsing mass genocide?

Do you agree that slavery, murder, and especially genocide are morally wrong? Do you sometimes find yourself saying things like “Yes, but that’s not how the world is anymore. Things were different back then“? This is called grasping for straws. That’s fine, though – you’re right – the world isn’t like that anymore. Yes, there’s still genocide and slavery going on in some parts of the world, but on a much smaller scale, and we both agree that they shouldn’t be – that humanity is better than that. Right?

Okay.

What you’ve just proven is that your morality exists outside of your religious beliefs. Your morality is not dependent upon your religion, or upon a book that was written thousands of years ago. You can still say “Okay, so the Bible teaches some pretty good lessons sometimes, but these other things in it are bad.”

Your next step is to discover that if everything in the Bible really is true – if it really is the word of some sky god – then regardless of your set of moral beliefs, this god still endorses slavery and genocide and lets rapists get off easy, unless you agree that a rapist’s punishment should simply be that he marry the woman he raped. Your next step is to realize that even if the god of the Bible exists (whom we’ll give male properties to, to make it easier), then he’s not such a great guy. He flooded the world, killing countless children, infants, and animals, to punish the fact that there were a lot of bad people. Would you burn down an entire forest just to kill the murderer hiding in it?

“Oh, but he regretted it,” you might say. That raises another question: how does a so-called “perfect” god do things he’ll regret later? Anyway, it doesn’t matter. If he exists and what the Bible says is true, then he killed everything. That’s not the sort of thing you look at and say, “Well, as long as you’re sorry…”

Let’s use the story of Lot. Lot lived in Sodom and was saved because he was the only “good” person in the entire city. Apparently god still saw evil in the rest of the city (including the children) and figured they deserved to die. Not to mention, when a bunch of men were about to rape a couple angels Lot sent out his daughters for them to rape instead. And yet the entire family was saved. Except Lot’s wife – as the city was burning, she turned around to look and god killed her. Afterward, Lot’s daughters got him drunk and then essentially raped him, became impregnated by their own father, and each bore a son.

It that how god judges good character? To me, and to most rational people who look at the story of Lot without the context of it being in the Bible, the story is nothing more than obscene. Please tell me this is not where you gather your moral standards. This book has a few good messages, sure, but so do most books – Aesop’s Fables teach wonderful moral lessons but you don’t believe animals can talk like people, do you?

Oh wait, there was that snake in the garden at the beginning of the story.

Long story short, morality is just another product of evolution and even you (not you, you – over there – the religious one) didn’t get yours from a book.