Here’s an excellent post by Valerie Tarico. It’s really not surprising that many Christians condone torture, considering that the religion is built around a divine threat of torture. How could one categorically condemn something that god does?
When conservative Christians claim that the Bible God condones torture, they’re not making it up. A close look at the good book reveals why so many Christians past and present have adopted an Iron Age attitude toward brutality.
The first half of December 2014 was painful to many moderate American Christians who see their God as a God of love: A Senate inquiry revealed that the CIA tortured men, some innocent, to the point of unconsciousness and even death; evidence suggested that this torture extracted no lifesaving information. A majority of Americans responded by giving torture the thumbs up, with the strongest approval coming from Christians, both Catholic and Protestant. Faced with moral outrage, including from within their own ranks, Christian torture apologists took to the airwaves and internet, weaving righteous justifications for the practice of inflicting pain on incapacitated enemies.
“I cannot understand why we idle discussing religion. If we are honest—and scientists have to be—we must admit that religion is a jumble of false assertions, with no basis in reality. The very idea of God is a product of the human imagination. It is quite understandable why primitive people, who were so much more exposed to the overpowering forces of nature than we are today, should have personified these forces in fear and trembling. Continue reading →
Many people talk about the importance of spirituality. Daniel C. Dennett, a philosopher, says that we tend not to have a clear conception of just what spirituality is, and that the concept tends to resist definition. But even though he doesn’t believe in the supernatural, he feels there’s something important lurking in all that vague talk about the spiritual: Continue reading →
Several days ago The Great Antagonizer posted a critique of the “God works in mysterious ways” meme, explaining how it functions as religion’s rhetorical “get out of jail free card” when bad things happen to good people. It reminded me of how the Bible’s Book of Job answers the question: a terrible answer, but kind of a funny story (in a perverse way), and one that sheds light on some of the inner workings of religious faith.
A Christian blog recently featured a post titled “There Is No God, And I Hate Him,” and it got me to thinking about one of the things that believers often throw at us infidels. I commented there but want to develop it a little more here. The blogger complained about “evangelistic” atheists, writing (in part):
I mean really, what’s the point? If there is no God, then eventually the sun will burn up, our world will be gone, everyone will die and that’s it…
And we know what rhetorical brickbat is coming next, don’t we?
Detail of the “Pale Blue Dot” photo, showing Earth as seen from Voyager 1. NASA, via Wikimedia Commons
You’ve heard the claim from Christians—that atheism strips life of its meaning. No divine plan, no eternity, only the finality of death. How could you find joy in such a pointless existence? Why even get out of bed in the morning? This is a subjective question, but let me explain how I look at it. An analogy came to me while I was looking down from an upper-story window onto a snow-covered lawn.
Someone had trampled a message into the snow, “I [heart] U,” and I realized that while you probably couldn’t read the words from the sidewalk, you could see them perfectly from a fifth floor window. In fact, I realized the whole lawn could best be read from here. I saw neat lines of crisscrossing footprints and could tell where each walker was heading, and with what stride. I saw clumps of ornamental grass bent down under the weight of the snow… a feral cat disappearing leisurely into the bushes… a squirrel racing up a tree… a young woman talking animatedly on her phone, holding it with one hand and gesturing with the other, smiling, and then hanging up and walking on quietly, hands stilled… another squirrel racing up that same tree. Continue reading →
God the Father, by Ludovico Mazzolino, via Wikimedia Commons
In a previous post I wrote about the story of Noah and the Curse of Ham (which has nothing to do with the Old Testament prohibition against eating pork!). That a curse could determine a people’s fate for generations is part of the biblical notion that God shapes history. In fact, history shaped God to reflect the fears and political realities of ancient Israel. The result is the Bible’s “jealous” God… an idea that influences history to this day.
Noah’s curse fell on Ham’s son, Canaan, whose descendants had the misfortune of occupying the Promised Land without being God’s Chosen People, and were therefore slaughtered. It doesn’t change anything that this is mostly nationalistic fiction written centuries later. Simply read as a story, the tales of the conquest of Canaan are part of a sensibility that shapes the entire Old Testament and its portrayal of God. A few highlights show what I mean: Continue reading →
This is heartbreaking stuff. If you haven’t been following Nate’s deconversion story at Finding Truth, I highly recommend it. Read the whole series. Nate seems like a decent, humble, caring person, but because of his family’s and former church’s strict beliefs, they have “withdrawn” from him. Yesterday, at the conclusion of Nate’s series of posts, his father commented, in part:
I know this has been a painful journey, but even more so for your family who loves you more than life itself. It is obvious from many of the comments that quite a few people who have a belief in God think God requires nothing of them. However, if one believes that God is, and that Jesus is His son, and the Bible is the Word of God, the guide for our lives, then withdrawal is not a choice, but a duty. Submitting our will to God’s is sometimes difficult, but we must do it if we are to be pleasing to God… I would rather forgo this short time on earth with someone I love and cause them to rethink their position and circumstance and hopefully return to God, thereby spending all eternity in Heaven with them…. Continue reading →
The Ladder of Divine Ascent or The Ladder of Paradise. (Wikimedia Commons; US public domain)
Will you be happy in heaven?
Do you belong to the True Faith? Do your holy scriptures promise eternal reward for the faithful, and eternal punishment for the unfaithful?
When you enter those gates, and are ushered into the presence of your God, will you rejoice knowing that (if you are a Christian), all of the world’s dead Muslims, Jews, Hindus, Buddhists, and followers of every other religion, along with the nonreligious, are at that moment suffering in torment?
Will you be grateful to know that you are part of a small elect, from which the vast majority of human race—all those who don’t share your religion—are forever excluded? Continue reading →