Tag Archives: morality

Vicarious Redemption of Sin

A lot of times I talk about the immorality of Christianity. Most of the time, Christians and even a few atheists jump to defend Christianity by talking about various good deeds particular Christians have done and continue to do. But I wasn’t talking about Christians being immoral; I was talking about Christianity being immoral. What can be more immoral then the vicarious redemption of sin?

The whole idea that I can go and murder someone or work on Saturday and have my sins forgiven vicariously by someone else is a license for crime. Christians often use the analogy of some small offense like a drunk driving charge (which for the record isn’t really a small offense) and they talk about how Judge God lets the offender off the hook because Jesus paid his or her fine. But that isn’t how the world works.

If someone went and murdered someone else and was found guilty, no one would be able to pay the fine of prison time except that person who was found guilty. There is an old expression, “If you do the crime, you will do the time.”

But that isn’t the worst part of the Christian redemption system. The way Jesus allegedly pays for your sins is through blood sacrifice. It is funny that when most Americans hear about some cult sacrificing an animal to the Gods they laugh and think such a ritual is absurd and yet 80% or more believe the same thing.

The whole Christian belief system centers around the idea of blood sacrifice. Back before Jesus allegedly came, the Abrahamic God wanted people to sacrifice goats to him so that he could forgive them for their sins. This is where the term scapegoat comes from. Everyone in the village puts all their sins on to the goat and kills the goat as a sacrifice to God. But God wanted more than just a goat.

Lambs were more desirable to God apparently, because he wanted the people to sacrifice an innocent lamb to show how much they care instead. Let me repeat that last part. God wanted people to sacrifice an Innocent Lamb.

Now of course there is no need to sacrifice an Innocent Lamb or any other lamb for that matter because Jesus is the “Lamb of God.” In other words, he is the innocent blood sacrifice that God needs for the redemption of sin.

Some people will say that not all Christians believe this and that I am generalizing. But the fact is that this whole blood sacrifice thing is a pretty central point the Christian belief system. I really don’t think one could seriously be considered a Christian if they don’t buy into the idea that the death of Jesus was a necessary sacrifice to God for their sins. That is pretty much the whole grounding of the religion. God forgives those who have accepted the sacrifice of Jesus for payment of their sins.

In reality, there is no vicarious redemption for sin. God can’t forgive you for your wrongs. Only those who you have wronged can forgive you. Next time you lie to a friend or family member about something, instead of asking Jesus for forgiveness, try slaughtering an innocent lamb instead. Let me know if that works out for ya.

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Worthy of the Worship

Christians are always telling me that I need to worship their deity of choice. When I ask why, they warn me of eternal punishment and damnation in the fires of Hell. Sometimes, they will entice me into worshipping their deity with promises of eternal bliss in Heaven. But all threats and bribes aside, they still haven’t really answered my question. Why should I worship their god?

Then Christians will often inform me that God created me. That’s great and all, but how does that answer my question? Am I expected to worship my creator or something? My parents created me and while I respect them most of the time, I certainly don’t worship them. Many people have parents who are not even worthy of respect let alone worship. If I someone creates a robot, should he or she demand that the robot worship him or her? That seems awfully vain. In my mind, such a trait would make the person less praiseworthy, not more praiseworthy. Clearly a creation should not be the slave of the created. So even if I were to accept the premise that God existed and created me (which I don’t) that still wouldn’t compel me to worship such a being. We are still left with the question, why should I worship the Christian God?

Next, many Christians I talk to appeal to power. They tell me that their God is all powerful and that is why he should be worshipped. This to me goes back to the threat of Hell and the bribe of Heaven. “God can do anything and is all powerful, you better get in line.” I don’t accept the appeal to power as a reason to worship. Taking this argument to the extreme, if Hitler were all powerful, would that make him praise worthy and more worship worthy? I really don’t think it does and I doubt that anyone would if they really thought about it. This appeal to power is quite honestly insulting.

In fact, the only reason to worship anyone that I could even remotely understand would be based on morality. At this point my Christian friends tend to smile and tell me that their god has that too. He is the very definition of moral goodness they claim. But as someone who has read the Bible, I just don’t see it. One cannot just claim to be moral, one must demonstrate that morality. If God wrote or spiritually inspired the writing of the Bible and if that book is an accurate picture of who God is, than I can’t see myself worshipping that being at all. This is where the excuses and justifications come in. “God doesn’t need to explain his morality to a mere human like me,” “God’s ways are mysterious,” “God is good because he says he is good,” “Without God there is no moral grounding,” etc.

The truth is that I really don’t believe in worshipping anyone, God or otherwise. I worship ideas not personalities. While I might say that I would follow an Aristotelian “person of practical wisdom.” I would stop following such a person the moment they proposed something which I considered to be immoral. I might start following them again when they proposed something more reasonable. Take our current President Barack Obama for example. I respect him and admire him. I think he is a smart person who is trying to do what he can to help people. I’ll follow him on most things, but I will also be critical of him when he refuses to stand up for the rights of gays and lesbians. I am critical of him for reaching out to religious fanatics and hoping that they will support hi even when he doesn’t need their support and will not get their support. So while I admire the President and will follow his lead on many things, I most certainly don’t worship him or follow him blindly.

I can’t think o a single reason why I would possibly worship any god let alone the Christian God. I certainly am not a coward who is afraid of eternal torture in Hell, nor am I a greedy person who would accept the bribe of Heaven. I don’t think the Christian God created me and even if I did, I still don’t see that as any reason to worship such a deity. The awesome all-powerfulness of God doesn’t really concern me since I don’t consider power to be a reason for worship. And the Christian God of the Bible doesn’t seem very moral to me either. So my question still stands, why should I worship the Christian God?

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Moral Grounding

Almost every time I get into a prolonged conversation with a fundamentalist Christian the issue of morality come up. The claim of the Christians is almost always the same, “without God there can be no moral grounding.” Personally, I find that to be a pretty arrogant and inaccurate statement. The way I see it, with God there is no moral grounding. The shear number of differing sects of Jews, Christians, and Muslims who have completely opposite opinions on so many moral issues certainly suggests that God hasn’t grounded morality at all. If he had, all believers in the Bible who have the same set of morals and quite obviously they don’t.

It seems that God was so clear about his moral grounding after all since so many Christians disagree about God’s moral grounding. We really need to ask, how do we know what God commands? That is the real problem with believing is deities, you never really know what they want. From what I can tell by talking to so many Christians, God seems to communicate by one of two ways, either by divine revelations or through divine texts.

When it comes to divine revelation things get pretty problematic pretty quickly. This was a big problem early on for the Mormons when Joseph Smith declared that any Mormon could have a divine revelation. Very quickly people were getting some pretty opposite commands from God. It seemed to be impossible to know what a real divine revelation was and what thoughts were just people’s imagination, desires, or random thoughts or beliefs. And then of course mental illness is an issue with divine revelations too. You will find that there are often stories in the news of someone murdering their child because they had a divine revelation. How can you tell if someone had a divine revelation or is just crazy?

Divine texts like the Bible have a whole new set of problems. The Bible was written a long time ago and we don’t even have the original verses of the text. Over the years, the texts have been recopied complete with people’s deliberate and accidental changes. People seem to have revised the texts to fit their own personal philosophies, beliefs, or situations as well as miscopies words or mistranslated words as the text moved from language to language. People’s religious framework has become entirely dependent on their interpretation of inaccurate “Holy Scriptures.” With so many changes and translations and interpretations of the divine holy book, it is impossible to really know what God truly desire.

Even if we could deal with those issues, the problem doesn’t get any better. According to Christianity, God defines morality and this causes a host of other problems. What if God changed his mind? Some Christians will argue that God wouldn’t change his mind because God is perfect or God is his character or something. But the Bible claims in numerous places that God does change his mind and the real issue isn’t whether he will change his mind, but rather whether he could change his mind if he so desired? If God did change his mind, then morality would change with God. This doesn’t seem like moral grounding to me. If God declared tomorrow that rape was now morally good, I really don’t think it would be so.

Many Christians will then typically argue that, “either all morality is absolute or all morality is subjective.” This line of thinking is a very problematic one which deals with a limiting of options and an absolutism all its own. When we look at the philosophy of ethics and morality, we see that some of the greatest minds in human history have been working on this problem and have come up with some very complicated solutions which still don’t fully make morality clear to us. Some of the greatest of moral thinkers include, Plato, Aristotle, Immanuel Kant, Jeremy Bentham, John Stewart Mill, and John Rawls. There are of course many more, but these thinkers in particular have helped to shape modern concepts of morality.
Morality just isn’t as simply as a rulebook of do’s and don’ts. Morality isn’t all absolute nor is it all subjective. Morality is part principle based and part situational based. Personally, I think Kant and Aristotle have helped me better understand morality in that morality is more about the means than the ends as Kant viewed it and it is more about following moral role models or “men of practical wisdom” as Aristotle had suggested.

Currently, work is being done in the field of neuroscience to explain mirroring synapses and how that relates to compassion and empathy, which may help to teach us more about human morality from a biological level. But until more study is done, we are left in the philosophical realm. And from what we can gather, morality is in no small part linked those two aspects of human life, empathy and compassion.

So what is our moral grounding? Right now, there isn’t any. Not for Christians and not for atheists or anyone else. Morality is not completely absolute nor is it completely subjective. There is a delicate balance and we are all trying our best to navigate these often-difficult moral paths. As human society has progressed, we have learned more and more about how best to treat each other in a moral way but our moral journey is far from over.

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