Thursday, November 22, 2012

Richard Dawkins vs Howard Conder on morality

I wonder how many Christians even realize what a disgusting philosophy their religion is all about. I suspect that most just don't think about it.

But supposedly, Adam sinned, so all of his ancestors are considered guilty, too, automatically. This is blaming people for something they had absolutely no part of - indeed, couldn't have affected one way or another, since they hadn't even been born yet.

Because of this "original sin," human beings needed a scapegoat, literally (or nearly so), because God wouldn't forgive them without it - even though they hadn't done anything wrong, and even though he's omnipotent, so he could have forgiven them if he wanted to.

But as guilt magically descended on them, because of something a distant ancestor did, they would likewise magically transfer the guilt to something else, then kill it. Yes, this is all about magic, because that's how people thought in those days. And scapegoats were a common practice then.

Unfortunately, an ordinary, run-of-the-mill scapegoat wouldn't work, because Adam's guilt from eating that apple was too great. To forgive that would require a much bigger death. Even killing another human being wouldn't be enough magic. It required the death of a god to get enough magical power to convince 'God' to forgive human beings for something someone else did.

Weird, huh? But this is the whole point of Christianity. I'm not making this up, I'm really not. But I do wonder how many Christians actually understand this (just as I wonder how many Catholics understand that their communion wafer is literally supposed to turn into the actual flesh of Jesus, and that the wine is actually supposed to turn into his blood - not metaphorically, but really).

As Richard Dawkins noted, any omnipotent god could have just forgiven people (assuming that there was something to forgive, which there wasn't, since none of us are Adam and Eve). It was entirely his own choice to torture his son to death.

And note this comment from Howard Conder: "The ransom price had to be a perfect life." Yes, according to Christian doctrine, that's the whole point of Jesus dying on the cross. But it was God who was requiring the ransom, and it was entirely up to him. No one was holding a gun to his head.

Of course, this is magical-thinking, which was very, very common two thousand years ago. And it was also common to blame people for the actions of their parents, or even for the actions of their distant ancestors. Scapegoats - literal scapegoats - were also common.

But we don't do any of that these days. These days, we find that stuff primitive, immoral, and abhorrent. But it's the whole basis of Christianity, it really is.

And it always strikes me as funny when liberal believers - indeed, the vast majority of Christians these days - don't believe that Adam and Eve really existed. I mean, it's just a metaphor, right?

Well, that's wise of them,... but don't they realize that it also means there was absolutely no reason for Jesus Christ to die on the cross? Without "original sin," there was no need for Jesus to be killed as a scapegoat. Quite literally, he could not "die for our sins" if Adam and Even didn't actually exist to create that "original sin."

I mean, yes, it's absolutely crazy to believe, in the 21st Century, that they did exist, that all that Genesis stuff is literally true. But if you don't believe it, you have no basis for your Christian faith. If you don't believe it, Christ dying on the cross - God "sending his only son to die for us" - has no meaning at all.

Honestly, there's just nothing about this that makes any sense. I'm just astonished that people can still believe this stuff. Given all this, I'm astonished that they can still think their god is good. I'm astonished that the whole idea behind it - magical-thinking, scapegoating, guilt inherited from your parents, all of it - can get any adherence in the 21st Century.

But I suspect that Christians just don't think about it - and don't want to think about it. They want to believe pleasant things, so it doesn't pay to look at any of this too closely.

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