Monday, January 16, 2006

Dave's Top Ten List #1: Christianity

The following are my top ten reasons why I will never again call myself a Christian.

They are presented in no particular order, and are entered as individual entries. A book could be written about each one (and may be!), but I have kept them as short as I could. Comments welcome.

#10: Pascal's Wager

Pascal’s Wager is thus: “If there is a God, He is infinitely incomprehensible, since, having, neither parts nor limits, He has no affinity to us. We are then incapable of knowing either what He is or if He is ... you must wager. It is not optional. You are embarked. Which will you choose then? Let us weigh the gain and the loss in wagering that God is. Let us estimate these two chances. If you gain, you gain all; if you lose, you lose nothing. Wager then without hesitation that he is.”

Many Christians will state an equivalent argument. If you are a Christian and you are wrong, you have lost nothing. If Christians are right, and you choose otherwise, you could be condemned to hell. Therefore, take the path of least risk. Have you ever thought this way or used this as an argument for Christianity? I know I have heard it many times.

I had a strong set of thoughts about this wager the other day. A vision if you will. Suppose, for a moment, that there is indeed a judgmental god that will indeed separate the lambs from the goats, sending people to either Heaven or Hell after they die based not on their deeds, but on their beliefs. An imaginary conversation follows between you and God upon your death, at the Pearly Gates if that’s where you think you’ll be:

You say “Dear God, I accepted Jesus as my savior, saving me from Hell and giving me eternal life with Him. I accepted Jesus as my only path to you. I accepted the Bible as your inerrant holy word, and spread it’s message to others.”

God says, “For God’s sake, how could you possibly believe that I would create such an evil place as Hell? How could you accept that I would send even one of the people I created in love and perfection there? How could you think this for even one second?”.

You respond “But, but it says in the Bible that Jesus is the only path to you! And the Bible is The Truth!”.

“The bible is absurd!” booms God. “It was created by Satan as a test! As we did with Job, Satan wagered that man could actually come to believe that I could actually and physically create a place where humans would suffer! And Satan was so confident that he claimed these people would even believe it was for eternity! To know that you can believe this breaks my heart.” Tears flow down God's face.

“But why then did you send Jesus, if not to save us?” you ask.

“Jesus was my son, just as you are my daughter. Jesus was an example of what man could be. His message was distorted and twisted by those in the church under the influence of evil. The Bible has nothing to do with Who I Am.”

“But my dear Father,” you plead, “just because I believed in Hell, are you going to send me there?”.

At this point, the story could go in any direction you think God is willing to go. If you are a Christian, you believe God is perfectly capable of sending you to Hell. I am not. So, in my version, God continues thus:

“My sweet daughter, I could never do that to any of my creations. I have created every human being with love. You will have eternal life in Heaven, as will all of my beloved. Please enter with my blessing. Your brother Dave is there, eagerly waiting for you with open arms.”

Pascal’s Wager only makes sense if your choices are limited to precisely two. In the case of Christianity, there are far more choices. Pascal's Wager is a case against Christianity, not for it.

#9: Heaven

Do I want to live forever? I'm not sure, but I do NOT want to live forever in a biblical Heaven. An eternity bathed in bright light with a large part of my soul removed and a smile plastered on a face does not sound appealing.

The Bible explains that we will not have any evil in us in heaven. I don’t know about you, but I am in large part "evil". I am filled with “evil” human emotions, lust, greed, anger, you name it. But you know what? I love my self just the way I am. These faults make me who I am. Without them, I'm not me.

In thinking about those I love, I do not love them despite their faults, I love them because of their faults. With those faults removed, who will they be? Certainly not who they were before. As Friedrich Nietzsche said "In heaven all the interesting people are missing."

In Heaven, what kind of life would it be without choices between good and evil? Will it be between good and gooder? Does that mean everything but the goodest will become evil? But there is no evil! No choices then? What will we do?

Will children be born there? If so, think of the population expolsion! We're talking infinity here. If no new children, parenting, the best part of my life on earth, will not be possible. And those children that do end up in Heaven... will the grow? Will we be frozen at our entrance age?

Assuming I don't have to go to Heaven, and instead chosing mortality, coming to grips with the finality of my life has been energizing. I now realize my life on earth must be the best I can make it. If there is no second chance, I better make the best of it! No goofing off waiting for salvation, I better get busy!

But I will live forever, in a very real sense, through my daughters. And them through their children. What a natural thing. That makes me want to be the best father possible!

And for some reason, even if I were to be saved and go to Heaven, billions will be in Hell. How could we celebrate in Heaven knowing even one of our brethren is in Hell? Will we be ignorant of this? I don’t want to be ignorant! How could that be good?

#8: The Passion

“Jesus Had a Bad Weekend for Your Sins!”. This is a parody bumper sticker that is very close to the Christian truth. Assuming biblical accuracy, I have never understood the huge sacrifice that Jesus apparently paid for our sins. On one hand Christians proclaim “Jesus died for your sins!” and then on the other proclaim “Jesus lives!”. Okay then, where is the huge sacrifice? Did he sacrifice, then, his life on earth as a man? But Christians are just waiting for the day when they can rise to heaven and be with God! So it seems Jesus death wasn’t a sacrifice, but rather a favor! Not only that, according to Christianity, Jesus IS God, so how can God kill himself to appease himself?

#7: Atonement

Jesus “paid” for our sins? Even assuming we are unworthy of God’s love, can anyone other than ourselves accept moral responsible for what we are have done? It is a foundation of Christianity, yet morally corrupt. Even our legal system does not allow the substitution of guilt. We can pay the monetary debt for someone else, but never the criminal guilt. Why not? Because it doesn’t make moral sense.

#6: Guilt

We should not be guilty for Adam and Eve’s sin. The Bible itself says that children should not pay the price for their parents sins, yet condemns us for something that Eve did 5000 years ago. Not only that, but at the time Eve committed this ultimate sin, she didn’t even know the difference between right and wrong! Yet if you are a bible believing woman, the very reason that you have child-bearing pain is because of what an innocent Eve did in the Garden of Eden. And because Adam and Eve were tricked by a talking snake, we are all pieces of crap unworthy of God’s love. Absurd.

#5: Salvation

The concept of salvation is nonsensical. Salvation from what? The hideous Hell that the god of the bible himself created? The life that the Bible tells you will end unless you are saved? The Bible saves us from fates of its own creation!

#4: Science

The bible is totally absurd from a scientific point of view. Genesis is a contradictory mess for a reasonable explanation of how the universe was formed. It reflects precisely what was believed by man at the time and shows not even a hint of divine guidance in this area. The earth is flat and held up by 4 pillars. Earth and heaven are separated by a “firmament” with water stored above, and little points of light that are so small they can fall to earth. This is what man believed, not what God knew. God's Word? Hardly.

#3: History

Throughout history, religions have done horrible things to good people, and Christianity is as guilty as any of them. Christian intolerance and the hideous examples in the bible of what god has done to the Un-chosen, has been the fuel for killing millions throughout history, and it continues to this very day. Even our own country, under the guidance of a “Christian” president has invaded a non-threatening nation and killed thousands of innocent people under the proclaimed guidance of God.

#2: Intolerance

Christianity’s intolerance of other beliefs makes it unworthy of my adherence to it. Often quoted to me: "I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but through me". To a Christian, this is a loving thing to say, but to an non or ex-Christian it is a nearly unforgivable insult. You might as well say “Unless you believe what I do, God does not want you in his presence”. It is hard for me to imagine a greater damnation. Two thirds of the World’s population will never accept Jesus as their savior (with very good reason I might add), and per Christian beliefs they will be spending eternity roasting in Hell. On this reason alone, I can never again call myself a Christian.

#1: Hell

Hell is the most inhumane, cruel, and immoral place ever imagined by anyone. Ever. Stalin, Hitler, Saddam, you name it, were saints compared to any creator of such a place. A loving god would be totally incapable of thinking of such a place, let alone creating it or sending even one of the creatures he created there. It’s existence, and the Christian belief that god will send the majority of humanity there, is irrefutably a major part of the Bible’s message. On this reason alone, I toss the bible out. Doesn’t mean I toss out Jesus or God, but the bible becomes nothing more than something written by man and does not reflect God’s true nature.