Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Sabbath School 9/04/11 - P.C. Jesus

Heard someone try to give a defense of Original Sin last Sabbath. It went something like:
Imagine you catch a thief in the act of breaking into a car. The thief runs away and you remain guarding the car. When the police arrive, would they not be justified in holding you under suspicion? It would be up to you to prove your innocence.
That won't work for one reason in particular: God is meant to be omnipotent, no? The two characters being equated here, the police and the supposedly all-knowing, all seeing, ever just deity, do not possess the same qualities. Given this, we are still left with the image of a vengeful, malicious, short-sighted god.

Original sin is, without a doubt, one of the most repulsive doctrines of Xianity. I have heard it argued by very ordinary, average Christians, that a child born to sinful parents who died at birth or young age would be judged according to its parents' sins and burn, with justification given by the numerous passages in the Old Testament that state that the sins of the fathers are visited upon down to the third and fourth generations. To top it off, I remember once a little debate I had with a lady friend over the morality of God wiping out the entire population of Sodom and Gomorrah. I said that even ascribing to the bigoted view you have ascribed to God that homosexuality is the worst sin imaginable and that the women of Sodom were equally as evil as the men, you simply cannot justify punishing the children as well. Know what she said? The children were evil as well.

And this was a normal, fun loving, otherwise caring and empathetic young woman! She couldn't see beyond the narrow-minded view she had been fed her entire life and see the utter objectionability of what she had just said. This is the same kind of reasoning that causes much emotional suffering and, I believe, permanent scarring to young children who are told that they are essentially evil, and that justifies the abuse and murder of children in Nigeria because they are "witches". This is one of the reasons I am so vehemently against religion and indoctrination.


  1. Let’s face it, we don’t know everything. Of all that there is to know in the universe, our ration of knowledge is a tiny speck. Even if you are proficient in 7 languages and know little facts about Mars, and ancient Egypt, you’ve hardly explored 1% of all there is to know. So it’s not smart to deny the existence of God and be absolutely certain about it, because you hardly know all there is to know. That being said, is it possible that God could be in the other 99% realm of the knowledge you have not yet known?
    I attribute the argument I am presenting to Blaise Pascal, a French philosopher, mathematician and physicist. Pascal argued that it is in our interest to believe in God, and that mathematically, it is the most rational thing to do. Pascal put forth his argument in the context of a wager/gambling scenario, where the outcome is uncertain but mathematical probabilities help determine what is and what isn’t a smart move. Pascal’s reasoning went like this:
    1. If we believe in God, and then in the end God does exist, we benefit both in this life and in eternity. In this life the quality of our life is enhanced. In eternity those who believe in God have been promised infinite, unimaginable benefit in the life to come.
    2. If we believe in God, and then in the end He doesn’t exist we have benefitted in this life, or if we perceive a loss, we have lost little.
    3. If we don’t believe in God, and in the end realize He doesn’t exist, in this life we have lost the benefits that come with believing. In the future life, since there won’t be heaven or a future life, we have neither gained nor lost anything.
    4. If we don’t believe in God, and in the end He does exist, we have lost both in this life but more so, we lose infinitely in the life to come.

    So whichever way you look at it, using Pascal’s way of thought, the possible outcomes of believing in God are better than the possible outcomes of not believing in God. Because it’s better to either receive an infinitely great reward in heaven or loose little or nothing than it is to receive an infinitely great loss in hell or gain little or nothing. This why Pascal thought believing was the rational thing to do. If God does not exist then it is of little importance whether we believe or disbelieve in him. If God does exist then it is of great importance that we do believe in him. In order to cover ourselves in all circumstances, therefore, it only makes sense to believe that the Christian God exists.

  2. @tinmuv (howzit Tino...) I'm rather pressed for time, so I can't give a thorough analysis of what you've written. I have heard Pascal's Wager aka The Case For Fire Insurance before. The thing about it is, it ignores every other god, deity, spirit or whatever various cultures have come up with throughout history. Why the Christian god? Why not Allah(technically the same god)? Or Buddha? Or the ancestral spirits our own ancestors used to praise? There is no logical, evidence based reason I have found to throw my life savings in with any of these or other gods, hence the reason I believe in none of them.

    And your argument about how much we know or don't know is flawed - it's the God of the Gaps, and what happens when those gaps are filled? The progress of science over the last 4 centuries has steadily pushed back the territory gods can occupy. Remember that not too long ago, the Judeo-Christian god was a mover of mountains who controlled the winds and rain and resided way up in the "heavens". Today we know that earthquakes are caused by tectonic movements of the Earth's crust, the winds by heating of the atmosphere and the structure of the universe is pretty well known - there is no place a god could occupy.

    The attitude that arises from ascribing to god that which we do not know also hinders discovery. If you know all the answers, what need to go out looking for them? Thus, dogmatic religious belief has hindered progress or millennia. It's about time we shook it off and embraced the path of discovery, wherever it may lead us.