No doubt you've heard that the Christian god is a perfectly ethical chap; benevolent and absolutely powerful to boot. God will save your soul, help you when you're in danger and talk to you any time you like. He created the universe and even sacrificed his son to save you from... Something. He also prevents minor car accidents from causing too much damage to your new paint job.
Actions speak louder than words, however, and God leaves a lot to be desired.
When responding to criticism of God's actions, most religious people say that we can't hold a god to our standard of ethics, and I agree. Ethical standards should be proportional to one's intelligence and power in some way. In God's case, that means the highest possible standards.
God isn't big on ethical standards though. He's more like an abusive spouse; one moment he's all about forgiveness, the next he's turning you into a column of sodium chloride because you caught a glimpse of him destroying a city.
The Bible. Let's start from the beginning here. God says he created us, the Earth and the rest of the universe in just under a week, then rested for a day afterwards. If you're wondering why he did all of that, well, he never bothers talking about that unimportant subject.
God has a fairly impractical way of creating things that warrants some elaboration. First, he creates heaven and Earth, the latter remaining "without form, and void." Next he creates light and "separates the light from the dark." Note that at this point, there are no actual light sources in the entire universe.
Carrying on with the creation regardless, God creates the "firmament," whose function is to divide the upper waters from the lower waters. He calls it "Heaven," presumably replacing the one he already created in the previous paragraph.
Next up is dry land, followed by plants. Assumedly a lot of them died; owing to the fact there was no Sun the climate must've been rather unforgiving.
God, ever with the right priorities in mind, now decides to create every star except the Sun. Purportedly their function is to provide the date, seasons and "signs." For the record, seasons are a product of the Earth's axial tilt relative to its orbital plane and have nothing to do with distant stars. On top of this, he's apparently never heard of a watch; a much safer thing to have tell the time than a few trillion multi-million kilometre balls of white-hot radioactive plasma. Which, by the way, explode. They explode big.
With those and a few other celestial deathtraps in place, God finally realises it's probably a good idea to create the Sun and Moon, or the "Two great lights," as he refers to them. With this relatively trivial task complete, he then claims to make the stars for the second time in as many days. A senior moment, perhaps.
Then come the animals, presumably including viruses and bacteria. God sees that it's good, and it seems that everything's going great. Until...
What's an Ethic?
God makes a nice little garden and a single pair of humans from dust and a rib. What could go wrong here?
These are weird humans, created fully grown. Every aspect of their personalities, every facet of their intellect, ethics and attitude is God's doing. Everything they can think and do is a result of God's programmed behaviour patterns and environmental responses. He knows everything they can or will do.
Strangely, God doesn't include the knowledge of good and evil in their intellect. (Who cares about that, right?) Clearly God lacks a security consultant, because instead he decides to encode this information into a nearby tree in the middle of the garden; the Tree of Knowledge. He tells the humans not to eat its fruit or else they'll die that very day.
The lunacy begins. Since the humans have no concept of ethics and death does not yet exist, it's impossible for them to comprehend this request. They have no idea that it's the right thing to do to listen to him. They don't have a clue what death is. God, being a conniving sort, knows this perfectly well.
He knows that they won't comply by coincidence either, because he also created a talking snake with no other purpose but convincing humans to eat the fruit. The snake is more intellectually advanced than the humans and easily convinces them to eat it; it says they won't die upon eating the fruit, that they'll learn of good and evil.
They eat the fruit. Boom, ethics!
The Supremely Benevolent handles this little transgression with all the delicacy and gentle care you might expect - he curses the entirety of humanity with suffering and death, forever. This stroke of genius is followed by giving plants natural defences so that animals suffer with them. Finally he kicks the humans out of the garden, allegedly as a precaution against them eating from the Tree of Life and becoming immortal. Why this became an issue only after they acquired the ability to think ethically, I'd love to hear.
The snake wasn't lying, by the way; God was. Adam dies 930 years later.
That wasn't such a good idea. Defective angels with god-like powers aren't a good thing to have around.
Why doesn't God get rid of him? He could just render him non-existent, inert or even good any time. Since good old Satan has billions of people suffering under his reign of infinite torture, I don't think anyone would be too bothered were his free will countermanded. Hell, why not kill him altogether? The old saying about the needs of the many and the few applies here. In fact, it's even more simple than usual. The few is Satan.
At the very least, he could destroy Hell and free everyone there. That also raises the question: why does God allow souls to enter Hell at all? Bad signposting?
The more irritating Christians never tire of harping on about the mighty sacrifice of Christ and its great importance. I have to wonder though, how much of a sacrifice is it to die when you're God's son, you always go to Heaven and you can come back to life any time you like? Yeah, not much.
Then there's this barbaric mentality of fundamentally changing the world by dying. Dying doesn't do anything; martyrdom is in the mind. Even if it did change anything, it wouldn't have been something God couldn't do himself to begin with. An omnipotent god can never gain new abilities since it can already do everything; he could've done the same thing effortlessly without the dramatics.
At one point, God got quite angry that the world was filled with violence and corruption. He came up with a final solution to this problem, though: kill everything by flooding the entire planet. After all, genocide is the first thing on anyone's list of wise, benevolent things to do in a crisis.
That's right; in his own book, the God that two billion people think is the ultimate good details one of the most blatant, malevolent displays of mass murder in the history of our planet. Nice going.
It's all okay though; God realised he made a mistake and felt sorry about it in the end. He promised not to do it again in that particular way and made a pretty rainbow. I feel so much better about the whole thing now that it won't ever happen again in that way, and a rainbow really does brighten the mood after trudging through hundreds of thousands of rotting corpses on a desolated, soaking wet planet of death.
The Bible is supposed to be God's word and he's the most intelligent being there is, by definition, so you might expect it to be quite insightful and rather amazingly intelligent in all regards. But it's not. Let's run through a little checklist: Scientific information? Zero. Helpful designs for us to work from? Nothing. Not even medical information.
The latter is particularly problematic, since God's precious viruses and bacteria kill millions of us every year.
We invented or discovered everything that makes our lives better, easier or longer. God cursed us and gave us a shitty book. To add insult to injury, the book contains fairly explicit details regarding how we should worship him and ask him for forgiveness. You know, for that stuff we did...?
Me neither. I guess we didn't drown well enough for his liking.
Multiplying pieces of bread. Making wine from water. Who cares. How about doing something useful? How about removing the millions of potentially life-exterminating asteroids floating around in space, or stopping earthquakes, tsunamis, mudflows and volcanoes forever? You know, something that actually matters to more than five of us. Something we can't do ourselves for fun.
You'll often hear people wax poetic about how God was watching over them when they survive catastrophes like those, completely oblivious of the sheer carelessness he's shown by letting it happen at all. Big deal; God saved a few and left 99% to die once more. Do you know what happens to doctors with that kind of record?
Just what do you say to someone who curses an entire planet's worth of species, bitches about their immoral behaviour, kills damn near every one of them and then tells the survivors' descendents to ask forgiveness for their transgressions?
Hard to say, but I'm sure it'd start with "Go fuck yourself."
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