11/16/2014 | Share this article: View CommentsBy Ben Love ~
Right from the get-go I'm in hot water. You can't write an article with a title like this an not have certain people among your readers be pissed off at you. So, before we begin, let us observe 3 caveats, shall we?
1. I share these thoughts not as definitive pronouncements for the absolute final word on truth but merely as ruminations that arose out of my own personal experience, my heart on the matter, the conclusions I have reached as an individual human, and a desire to simply share my point of view. Read this if you want, or don't read it if you don't want. No one is forcing you.
2. My motivation for doing this has more to do with my love for people rather than a desire to blast my enemies. (Christians will say that there is nothing loving about this article, but that is only because they take issue with it's conclusions---they themselves would be just as emphatic about their conclusions in their own articles, and they would call that loving. Tit for tat, I say.) If you genuinely believed that your fellow human beings were living under a dreadfully harmful lie and you didn't at least open your mouth once and while and voice it, who could possibly call you loving? Am I here to change you? No. Of course not. That would be presumptuous and rude. I'm merely here to lend a voice that could perhaps challenge you, not change you. You can ignore it anytime you want to.
3. It is hard for me to write this article. Even as I write it, the old indoctrinated voices, the ones that take so much unlearning to get rid of (guilt, fear, threats of damnation), whisper to me that I'm being evil. But what is evil? "Good" has been defined as that which adds to life, "evil" has been defined as that which subtracts from life. If I truly believe in my heart of hearts that my aim is to add to life and to actually subtract from the collective harm, how could I possibly be evil? No, the truth is that some lies take so long to unlearn---and this is one of them. In many ways, unlearning the lies of Christianity will be a lifelong process of recovery for me. I only want to share my heart with you on this matter.
(Besides, in all honesty, part of me is writing this more for my own benefit than for yours. I would explain what I mean by that but it would get too Freudian and this article is going to be messy enough as it is.)
(Also, one more thing, this is a much more toned-down version of the original article I wrote, but that one was deemed to be too harsh for publication---so keep that in mind.)
So, with all that out the way (and hopefully you will absolve me, just a little bit, regarding the title of this article), let us proceed...
When the "Christian Gospel" was first shared with me, the gist of what was communicated went something like this (now, this is not what was actually said---it was packaged in a nicer way---but this is nevertheless the meaning that was imparted):
You are inherently bad. You deserve judgment. You deserve death. You screwed up big time by being born, because anyone who gets himself born has incurred the wrath of God. Speaking of God, he's inherently good. He is love. His is so good and so loving, in fact, that he sent his son (who was really just another version of himself) to Earth. Why? Well, God needs blood. Someone's blood has to pay for God's mistake of having created sinful beings ---and God, being so good (and perhaps knowing that this was all really his fault to begin with), decided to use his son's blood (which was actually his own blood, in some way), to pay for the sin that he knew ahead of time his creations would commit. So, if you just believe this little (big) thing about his son dying for you---and oh yeah, there was a resurrection, too---all of your deeds are cancelled out and you're then welcome in paradise. The life you are living now becomes of little importance (cheapened) and you are therefore supposed to put all your hope in the next life, which is eternity. Now, if you do not believe this little (big) thing, well, then God has something really special in mind for you: eternal suffering. Oh, and by the way, verifying this little (big) fact should not be done in a rational way, using your mind to reach conclusions---oh no, no, we cannot have that. No, you must believe this without any real evidence for it. Yes, you must go out on a limb and exercise faith. Because faith, well, see, God only cares about faith. You cannot please God without faith. Just you being you does not please him. He only cares about what you believe. He's not interested in who is using reason to determine truths. He is not interested in who is using their minds (even though he apparently created these minds in his image)---no, it must be faith. So yeah, there it is. What do you say?
That's it. That's the Christian Message. A Christian would be aghast at my proclaiming this, but if you take it point by point, this is exactly what the Christians preach, I've just removed all the nice language and sugarcoating.
Now then, let us take a look at this message. We will cover 6 basic points.
1. THE CHRISTIAN MESSAGE IS MENTALLY DESTRUCTIVE
Christians are taught from very early on that they have no self-worth. Their "selves," in fact, are by their very nature abhorrent to God. Only after they are covered with the blood of Jesus (through faith) are they then deemed worthy. Christians therefore have no self-worth, they have faith-worth. Imagine telling your child this: "You were born bad. Yeah, I know you didn't ask to be born. But you were born. And that makes you bad. You're going to have to do [fill in the blank] before you can ever experience my love or be worthy in my eyes."
See? Mentally destructive. Christians are therefore usually plagued with ongoing guilt (even after they've apparently been saved and justified), no real identity apart from their belief in their own sinfulness (and God's answer for it), and a continual need to for approval (which they get from their God rather than from themselves). Take away their God, then, and who are they? What do they have? This is why many of them get absolutely insanely combative when you challenge their beliefs. It's because they know that if you are even partially right in your atheism (and maybe a small part of them even suspects that you are), their whole identities and the mainstays of their lives unravel, leaving them with...nothing.
2. THE CHRISTIAN MESSAGE IS BASED ON BLATANT BARBARISM
We all know how large the Universe is. It's massive. There is all kinds of crazy-big stuff going on out there. There are a billion stars to a galaxy, and a billion galaxies in the observable Cosmos. Now, imagine that the God of the Old Testament is the creator of all this. Imagine that he's capable of all that! Wow! He must therefore be huge and massive and a tremendous force to be reckoned with. But...well, he is also so petty that requires the blood of goats (from one of the tiniest planets in this vast Cosmos) to satisfy himself when we, his creations, do wrong. He created us, apparently. And he therefore created the goats, too. This means he is willing to sacrifice one lifeform to satisfy his anger at another lifeform. This works adequately enough until God can longer stand it and he instead decides that, no, he must have human blood. But because he is so good (even though he needs blood to be happy---how good can he be?), he decides to kill his own son instead. (Imagine being willing to kill your only daughter just to bail some rapist out of prison---would you be called good and loving?)
So, what we have here is the God of the Universe, who, if he is actually responsible for the breadth and width of the unfathomable Cosmos, must also be a pretty blood-thirsty, petty, barbaric guy. His ego is so huge that only death satisfies him. Thus, we have this conclusion, according to Christianity: God created life knowing that this lifeform would sin, and his answer for the sin of this lifeform was to demand its death. Barbarism, man. Barbarism.
3. THE CHRISTIAN MESSAGE PROMOTES PSYCHOLOGICAL FEAR
I have a very good Christian friend who is, by far, the supreme model of love. But she is not the only loving person I know. She is, however, the only loving Christian I know. I know plenty of loving people, many of whom have a passionate love to match hers, but their love is not rooted in the same message as hers. So what can we conclude from this? Some humans are loving, some aren't. Some Christians are loving. Some aren't. But no one has the monopoly on it. And certainly not Christians.
I say all of that to say this: In my many dialogues with various Christians, a common theme that they love to pull out of their pocket is the "love card." They will say, "the Christian message is about love. That's what Jesus preached." Well, you know what? In the New Testament, Jesus preached a lot of things. Not all of it was loving. And love certainly wasn't the only thing Paul was concerned with. He had plenty to say about judgment and lifestyles and relationships and theology and doctrinal implications regarding the basic goodness or basic badness of humanity. The Christian Message therefore has much more going on in it besides love.
And anyway, exactly how loving is this message? The basic gist of it is this: without God, you suck. Very few Christians would actually word it in this way (some would---I've actually heard it said), but no matter how much they want to dress it up, this is what they're preaching. They are, in a sense, saying: you are no good, you are not good enough, you were born bad, you need help, you need to be forgiven of the iniquitous crime of being born into the species, you need to be saved, you have no worth on your own. Yeah, this sounds quite loving.
And so what do they use to get you to see their way of things? Is it really love? Maybe. Maybe on the surface it is love. Maybe they use love to You were born bad. Yeah, I know you didn't ask to be born. But you were born. And that makes you bad. You're going to have to do [fill in the blank] before you can ever experience my love or be worthy in my eyes."gain your trust, to get you to open up, to make you feel comfortable before they drop the bomb... but in the end, underneath is the sick, ugly nest of fear. In the end, whether it is spoken or not spoken, you ultimately have to decide to accept this message out of fear. Fear of what? Why, Hell, of course! Damnation. Eternal judgment! A flaming lake of fire that somehow burns entities who no longer have bodies. This actually is such great marketing. "Do what we do and think like we think or be tortured for ETERNITY!"
Let us categorically state this now: fear is a terrible motivator. Fear leads to darkness, depression, anger, unfocus, irrationality, anxiety, consternation, unrest, and ultimately, destruction. Fear is a weapon, not a productive tool. Fear is a means of control. Fear should never be the basis for why anyone does anything regarding the health of the mind, body, and spirit. "To believe in something just because you're afraid of what will happen to you if you don't believe in that something is no reason to believe in something." I think I heard that on South Park.
4. THE CHRISTIAN MESSAGE CHEAPENS HUMANITY
The Christian Message reduces all the good things you've done and all the bad things you've done to, well, nothing. All the good you've done won't matter if you don't have Jesus. All the bad you've done won't matter if you do have Jesus. In either case, what we do doesn't matter. The entire scope of our lives (how we lived, who we loved, the dreams we had, the decisions we made, the places we lived, the trips we took, the friends we met, the lessons we learned, the hauntingly beautiful, endless stream of ongoing personal discoveries and introspective epiphanies) is stripped down to what we did with one basic choice: did we believe, or didn't we? Let's not discuss the fact that they are plenty of reasons for people to choice either one. The people who do believe love to point to their evidence. The people who don't believe do the same. Why is the entire eternal course of our very existences determined by this one response we have to this very odd question that is put to us: "will you believe in what you don't see?" If you get the answer wrong, its everlasting death.
In this scenario, the best thing for a human being would be to never be born at all, because human life means very little to anyone or anything in the grand scheme of things.
5. THE CHRISTIAN MESSAGE UNDERMINES HUMANITY’S EVOLUTION
Throughout the last 2,000 years, if you were to look at the scope of history and ask yourself if there was one particular group who was constantly, endlessly, relentlessly and even violently holding back the progress of humanity, you'd have to conclude that, yes, there was. And, bingo, you guessed it. Christians have been working to stifle progress almost since the beginning. They burned the Library at Alexandria in the 300s AD. They burned books en masse all throughout the Dark Ages and Middle Ages. They burned freethinkers at the stake. The fought to keep a Flat Earth model. They fought to keep a Geocentric model. They destroyed telescopes and imprisoned the men who developed them. They fought the Big Bang theory. They fought evolution (and many still are). They fought social equality among divergent lifestyle groups (and still are). They fought contraception, safe sex, equality for women, social justice for varying races, stem cell research....and on and on and on...
And one must ask himself why? Why do they do this? The answer is simple. The Christian Message itself provides no room for progressive thinking. Because belief in the unknown trumps knowledge of the known in Christianity, the adherents have a blank check to dig their heels in and fight against anything that threatens their cultural comforts, their social statuses, their cozy worldview, or just anyone or anything that they do not understand. Because authority and dogma provide the basis for belief, rather than reason and science, then whoever is "in authority" at any given time can bend the message at will. Faith is therefore counterproductive to progression. Faith brings advancement to a standstill. Perhaps people are advancing as personal individuals through faith, but the collective group is suffering for it.
Then there is the implication that this life doesn't mean much. It's only the next life, whatever that may be, that matters. Because the Christians believe this, they do not add to the collective evolution in any positive way because, well, why bother? The here and now doesn't matter! Who cares if the Earth goes to hell in a tithe-basket, all of those who believe have the New Earth to look forward (whatever that is), and all those who don't have Hell to anticipate. It may not sound like much, but over the long haul, collectively, this is undermining to progression (but then that's never been something Christians have seemed to care much about anyway).
6. THE CHRISTIAN MESSAGE IS HYPOCRITICAL
One of the favored axioms Christians like to tout is that their salvation is not based on works or deeds, it is based on faith. This is, in actuality, quite a huge hypocrisy. One could make the argument that saying "yes" to a message that makes no sense, has no evidence, promotes negatives in the world, and entices you through fear of punishment is, by far, the greatest "work" or "deed" you could ever ask of anyone. The love of God is given freely to all, we are told, but first you have to...what? DO something! You must believe. You must accept. You must say yes to something you know could not possibly be correct. You have to accept with your heart what your mind rejects. If this is not the most difficult task (the completion of a task is a deed, by the way) the human could ever face, what is? So let us hear no more about how the salvation of Christianity is based on faith and not deeds. Faith might be the most difficult deed you'll ever be asked to perform. And I wouldn't blame if you said, "No thanks."
The bottom line is that this is not a very healthy message. The negatives within it far outweigh the positives. I'm not contending that there aren't positives in this message. But on the whole, a true pilgrim would be best to steer clear of this and seek other options, ones that are much healthier and less barbaric. Anytime a messages asks you to lay down your thought process and embrace something that violates common sense, the observable world, and the regularity of history, the best answer is to respectfully pass. Besides, there's too much amazing, awesome stuff out there for you to explore. Don't waste your time with this.