Friday, July 4, 2008

Long answer to a short question

Here is a response to Jonathan (comment 2) on my God's green thumb post.

He has chosen to misunderstand my assertion that god is evil and respond by arguing that god loves me. Well, love and evil are not mutually exclusive. Although god (as always, the god of the Bible, which I understand to be a fictional character) may be a violent bully and behave like an abusive parent, there is no doubt that he appears to have the best interests of the Jewish people (at first) and the world at large (later) in mind when he cracks his whip.

My assertion was not that god did not love his people, but that he was immoral. None of which really matters, except that the Bible is held up as the positively definitive moral code for humanity. My point was that the Bible endorses and celebrates actions that are, by today's standards, considered evil, criminal and immoral. And god is the perpetrator of many of these things.

And Jonathan is mistaken about my motives here. He seems to think that it is a keystone point that god is evil. Perhaps if he could demonstrate a different scenario where god was actually behaving properly, I might come around and believe. While god's morality is important to my argument, it is only important in a secondary sense. God's immorality was not a key element in my descent into a life without hope.

What was key was the assertion that god is there at all. Not just the Biblical god, but any god at all. See, without a god, the Bible falls apart immediately, as do all the stories in it. So I like to point out the bad stuff in the Bible to Christians - if they want to rationalize the stories away, then so be it - but proving something in the Bible is not going to change my mind.

That does not mean that I am close-minded either. Despite what every Christian seems to think, I am open to the idea of god. But by that I do not mean that I can grant the existence of god and the non-existence of god equal chances of validity. They are simply not two sides to the same coin; they are more like one side of a million-sided die against nine-hundred ninety-nine thousand, nine-hundred ninety-nine sides. There is so little evidence for the existence of god that he - should he exist - has a lot of ground to make up. But I have faith that god, if he exists, should have little problem convincing me.

As I have said before, theology is a red herring. I can go round and round with Christians about theology, but in the end, they will have the upper hand because they - like the rabbit outrunning the fox - are running for their lives. What I require is scientific proof. Either physical or logical proof that god must exist. Then I have to be convinced that this deity is the god of the Bible, and not Allah or Shiva or Ra or Zeus or Baal. So there you go. That is the key to my mind. And it is not a closed mind or a hard heart. This is just the form of my mind - it is the path that must be taken to convince me. Even if you can convince that the Bible is without flaw and contradiction, even if you can show that the morality it is exhibiting is reasonable and good, I will still have my doubts based on the lack of evidence outside the Bible. Unless god itself decides to intervene, as I have heard he is supposed to do on an hourly basis, in which case he can go straight for the jugular.

On one final note: Jonathan questions my former Christianity and I have to take offense to that.
He says: "You can’t change your mind about God any more than I can. I would hesitate to call that open minded. But I guess I can let that pass. You only changed your mind about God because you were finally letting go of something you never loved in the first place. You believed (i.e. that is you mentally assented to it), but you were not open hearted about it." The red letters were added by me for emphasis.

How on Earth could he possibly know all of that? While it is true that I did not have a lightning-strike deconversion, I would never have clung to Christianity for so long if I did not believe it to be true. And towards the end of my religious life I was hanging on more out of fear than love (ironic, then, that Andrew seems to try to woo me back with nothing but fear) but there was a time - a very long time that I loved god. To turn Jonathan's worn out analogy of a spouse's love, it is like living with a lover for twenty years and then finding out that they had a second life as a Nazi prison guard. Love can start to fade when you finally put the pieces together and figure out that the person you thought you loved was not who you thought they were. Several years after that process began, I started to doubt god's existence.

So yes, Jonathan, I can change my mind. And I can change it again, but not before I see more evidence than I saw the first time.

You can’t change your mind about God any more than I can. I would hesitate to call that open minded. But I guess I can let that pass. You only changed your mind about God because you were finally letting go of something you never loved in the first place. You believed (i.e. that is you mentally assented to it), but you were not open hearted about it.

1 comment:

jljarvis said...

Alright, so I aimed, shot and was way off. Not only did I miss the heart of you argument, I presumed to know you better than I do. Although I’m sorry to offend you, I think this proves one of my points better than my spouse analogy. The point being that although we believe every person has thoughts, feelings, desires, intent…unseen characteristics and actions, we cannot prove or presume to know them. We barely know/understand our own. And to say God is immoral, you must assume (though not believe) that the bible is true even when it says God is good. To say that if God exists then He is immoral is illogical. You presume to know all that God knows including the future results of His actions or inactions. You seem to agree that His intentions are good and loving, but you presume that He doesn’t know how to (or chooses not to) do the most good for the most people (assuming that is a satisfactory definition of morality). You only have two logic choices: either the Bible is true and God is good, loving, AND moral, or the Bible is a complete hoax. You can’t say that IF He exists, then He is immoral. Nor can you say that IF He exists, then you couldn’t love Him. You are obviously someone who seems to search for good, loving, moral actions. At least you act like it when you like to be kind to people and animals. So if He exists, then He is what you’re looking for.