Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Why Pick the God of the Bible? pt. 3

Wordle: Angie the Anti-Theist
That is a Wordle, ranking word usage on my home page by font size. Cool! Click on it to open a new window and randomize the word placement, font style and colors, or make your own.

Now, gentle readers, the time has come to conclude our series "Why Pick the God of the Bible?" The reasons haven't been compelling thus far, and my atheism has remained intact through the first and second posts on this question.

Previously seen on Angie the Anti-Theist (in cool Hulu announcer voice)
  1. A God Who is Greater than We Are
  2. A God Who Can Be Known Personally
  3. A God Who Can Relate to the Human Experience
  4. A God Who Really Cares About Us
  5. A God Who Has Things Completely Under Control
Continuing and concluding our 3 part series "Why Pick the God of the Bible", today we'll begin with
  • The nature of God - A God Who Gives Meaning and Purpose to Life
If you think about an important task or project you completed, you probably recall the sense of purpose you had when it was all over. Is that what you want your overall life to be like? To amount to something? Could there be a God who created your life with purpose, and can lead you to experience that purpose?
Wait a second, accomplishment and purpose are not the same. I felt very accomplished for my work achievements as middle management for an internet education company, but it wasn't my purpose in life, and it wasn't what gave my life meaning. So, let's remove this false equivalency in a moment, but first I want to look at this closely. I do want my overall life to include accomplishment, pride, and jobs well done. Since I don't believe in any supernatural beings of any kind (ghosts, Martians*, and angels included) I think humans are entirely responsible for our actions, and should get the praise for our achievements. So, a god that created my life with a purpose is actually one that interferes with my ability to feel that pride and accomplishment. (How ridiculous is it to see a professional athlete, who spends hundreds of hours practicing and getting into proper physical condition, drop to his knees to thank GOD for his game-changer move?)**
Yes. The God of the Bible can. He promises that he can make our lives meaningful and purposeful. Through a relationship with him, we can "do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do." We can make a positive difference in the lives of others. We can become part of his master plan.
Try this little experiment with me, if you please. Think of the most cyborg/zombified/"yes master" voice you can. Now re-read the above paragraph, with Scientology terms.

Yes. L. Ron Hubbard of Dianetics can. He promises that he can make our lives meaningful and purposeful. Through a relationship with him and the Church of Scientology, we can clear the planet of Lord Xenu's thetans. We can make a positive difference in the lives of others. We can become part of his master plan.

Ah, cults - Giving rudderless people a sense of purpose since 6,000 BCE TM
The God of the Bible also says that, in a moment-by-moment relationship with him, he can direct our steps so that we can do what pleases him, and what's in our own best interest at all times. "In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight." This is not to say that life becomes perfectly wonderful. There is still illness, problems in life, and personal failures. Life does not become perfect, but it becomes more enriching. The benefits of knowing God, he says, are "love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.
Anyone else find this proposition threatening to their autonomy? What can I say? After a totalitarian cult childhood, I'm commitment-phobic when it comes to omnipotent, jealous deities. (Besides, Yahweh would be the worst boyfriend ever. And if Mary was still able to claim virginity, even after he knocked her up, I'm guessing he wasn't making up for his asshole ways in the bedroom.)

I've written about the Fruits of the Spirit before (and how they're completely within the scope of non-theists and non-Christian theists to acquire). Even supposing a relationship with JC/YHW really did provide those things, would it be worth the cost of autonomy and adult responsibility? The idea of anyone "moment by moment" telling me how I can direct my steps to please him makes me want a get a restraining order, a second billy club, and about twenty hot showers. Skeezy! Talk about your controlling jealous type.

Obviously I'm not in the market for a god who "gives meaning and purpose", especially if said god wants to do this by directing my steps moment by moment in a Stalinesque dictatorial psycho stalker boyfriend kind of way. Let's move on to the next plug for Biblegod.

Oh, and the sentence should be "There are still illnesses, problems, etc." (Sticklers unite!)
  • The nature of God - A God Who Offers True Fulfillment
Like love and acceptance, most of us want to find fulfillment in life. There seems to be something akin to a thirst within us that yearns to be quenched. But that thirst -- even though we try -- does not get satisfied by things such as money, possessions, romance, or even fun. Therefore, wouldn't it be great if there was a God who satisfies that "thirst," a God whose presence brings a constant level of satisfaction to life?
Most of us want fulfillment. Some are just slackers, right? Or born in poverty. I mean, it's not like Bible God gives them true fulfillment, or at least not this straw man fulfillment of constant satisfaction. Personally, I don't ever want to stop learning, thinking, and improving myself. I don't have a thirst for god, though. (More of a gagging sensation.) And for (I sincerely hope) the last freaking time, "wouldn't it be great" is not an argument. It's wishful thinking, and it shouldn't get to call itself an apologetic.
The God of the Bible offers the most fulfilling life possible. Jesus said, "I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full." He also said, "I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty." So, the God of the Bible promises to quench that inner longing that nothing else seems to satisfy. (And he has probably made us in such a way that that is exactly the case!)
Hang on a minute. Let's analyze what this actually says about God's supposed actions. He is all-knowing, all-loving, and all-powerful. He sets up a trap whereby Adam and Eve will only learn what is right and what is wrong after committing a sin that God punishes all future humanity for, with full knowledge of the outcome. He then cursed all future generations of humankind to be born with an inherent sinful nature (except his Son, who then somehow still gets lots of credit for resisting temptation). He made sin incompatible with his nature, and a sinful nature unable to reside in heaven with him. (He made hell as the only other alternative.) Then, in addition to this sinful nature he requires us to have and then rid ourselves of or overcome, he also gives each of us an "inner longing that nothing else seems to satisfy" so that we'll be unhappy unless we're doing what he says?

And you think you have free-will????

That's dictatorship. Celestial is no better than earthly. Might doesn't make right, and this is the worst plan for salvation EVER! Pile the sins on a goat or a god-man and kill it and then everything's okay? Christians like to pretend Jesus ended animal sacrifice, but Christianity just glorifies human sacrifice so much it's disgusting. (Check out these passionate Christians.)

That is not life to the fullest. That is glorification of death. (So is the after-life obsession.)
  • The Ideal God
According to the Bible, there is only one true God, only one Creator of all things. But that God is an ideal God. We cannot wish another God into existence, but even if we could, why would we want to? The true God is already the best possible God.
*spit take* Huh? Okay, let me deal with this. "According to the Bible" is worth no more than the paper it's printed on, and possibly it's worth less. EveryStudent, you've given me no reason at all to suppose that the Bible is accurate, so its claims to exclusivity aren't persuasive arguments. The assertion that the Bible God is "an ideal" is problematic. First, an ideal god hasn't been defined. If I was to compile a list of characteristics and traits that I think would best describe an ideal god, jealousy and vengeance wouldn't be on my list. Nor would cystic fibrosis or polio.

I'm glad you've conceded, EveryStudent, that you "cannot wish [a] god into existence". Which is sort of the point I was making each time I objected to "Wouldn't it be nice" style "reasons" in my prior posts. And why would you want the Bible god? As Richard Dawkins aptly said,
The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction.
Bah. The immorality of god is a real problem that Christians need to answer for. (Or you can deconvert. I'm cool with that, too. Might I recommend as a place to hang out while you get used to the truth?)
If you are sincere, and if the God of the Bible is real, wouldn't it make sense that he would reveal himself to you? He says, "I love those who love me, and those who seek me find me."34 "Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you."
You would think so, wouldn't you? And yet I and many other atheists were sincere, and no god revealed itself to any of us. He did not say he loved us, and when we sought, he was nowhere to be found. I knocked, but no door opened. Wouldn't it make sense that this is an indication that this god doesn't exist?
Are you wondering how you can know this ideal God? Basically, beginning a relationship with God is a lot like beginning a marriage. There is a decision to willfully enter into this relationship. Similarly, with God, it's a matter of you saying to him, and sincerely meaning, "I do."
Well I don't plan on bowing before any gods before I die, and I don't plan on having another marriage, either. Both experiences sucked. And again, the EveryStudent definition of same or "a lot like" is much broader than mine. (He may have been a jackass, but at least I knew my ex-husband was real.)
God is no respecter of persons. All people have been created in his image. Thus, his eternal family is described as "a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language."37 And no sin in your life can bar you from beginning a relationship with him. He took care of the sin issue on the cross, where Jesus was crucified. Now it's a matter of you putting your faith in Jesus' death on your behalf, no matter what you've done in the past.
Um, I agree that the Bible God character is extremely disrespectful of persons. (I might even go with mass-murdering fuck head.) And again, I must clarify for the Christian ignorant of their own Bible - there is one sin that can "bar you from beginning a relationship with him" and that sin is apostasy. (Ahem, I deny the Holy Spirit y'all.) And is anyone else slightly skeeved out by the phrase "put your faith in [his] death"? The glorification of death in Christianity, and the obsession with blood, is actually really weird if you step back and look at it. The Christian faith is full of double-speak about serving to be free, and dying to live forever. It's crazy talk, and it's bothersome that more people don't think about this.

The rest of the article is just the sinner's prayer and more on how Jesus saves (all others pay retail). Like I did with The Story, I'm going to be emailing the authors of this article to let them know about my response, and provide them links to my blasphemous blog. Good times :)

* A sufficiently advanced technology is essentially "magic" or supernatural. Also, I didn't say extraterrestrials. I said Martians, as in little green men from Mars, where we have the Mars Rover and zero little green men thus far.

** Sometimes I write posts a few days before I publish them. I wrote this sentence before someone sent me this Raiders story. Which just sort of shows what I mean about the whole "pathetic" thing.