JR'S Free Thought Pages
Why would anyone Worship a Mean-spirited Asshole?
Spoiler: It’s not Donald Trump
By JR, June, 2019
We grew up in America believing that sex is dirty, nasty and awful and that you should save it for marriage with the one you love – Butch Hancock
Whenever we read the obscene stories, the voluptuous debaucheries, the cruel and torturous executions, the unrelenting vindictiveness, with which more than half the Bible is filled, it would be more consistent that we called it the word of a demon, than the word of God. It is a history of wickedness, that has served to corrupt and brutalize mankind; and, for my part, I sincerely detest it, as I detest everything that is cruel. - Thomas Paine
The fruits of Christianity were religious wars, butcheries, crusades, inquisitions, extermination of the natives of America, and the introduction of African slaves in their place. – Arthur Schopenhauer
God's only excuse is that he does not exist - Stendhal
Ignorance is surely not bliss. But the greatest enemy of reality, truth and genuine knowledge is not ignorance, but rather the illusion of knowledge. People will hang on to faith, superstition and other forms of false belief, especially if they have a long-standing emotional investment in them. They will defer to authorities that are not only illegitimate, but often charlatans and con artists, engaging in all manner of credulous cognitive malfunction such as rationalization, confirmation bias, the fundamental attribution error and cognitive dissonance. Thinking logically and critically seems unnatural to the human mind; add to this the inability of so many people to detect fallacious arguments or understand scientific thinking and mathematics, especially probability and statistics. Scepticism and the intellectual toil of thinking are difficult; but is laziness ever an excuse? The reader may want to consider my “Sceptics Manifesto” here.
What has always irked me is why people would “worship” anything or anyone; that is, to honour with extravagant reverence, love and extreme submission? Equally repugnant to the intellect is the notion of “faith”, believing without evidence or argument. People in positions of power expect their slaves and subordinates to revere and have faith in them. I admire - even love – people such as my dear wife and mother. And although I have great admiration for the integrity and intellect, of people such as Bertrand Russell, Noam Chomsky, Howard Zinn, Nelson Mandela, Michael Parenti, Emma Goldman and Tommy Douglas who, among others of their ilk, have influenced me immensely. But do I worship them - or have faith in them? I certainly hope not. Perfection and utopian thinking are myths and as humans we all have intellectual and moral shortcomings. But billions of people throughout the world seem to have a preference for authoritarianism and “worship” invisible metaphysical entities called gods, the existence for which there is not a shred of evidence, the topic of this paper. Churches, for example, are often called “places of worship”. To me the idea of worship or idolatry is repellent and one of the root causes of why we’ve never had real freedom or any veneer of real democracy. All political and socio-economic systems have been authoritarian and hierarchical - and the current tyranny of neo-liberal corporate capitalism is no exception. Breakouts of ersatz democracy have occurred such as the three decades following the Second World War, but those eras have been as brief and they are rare. It’s important to realize that these rare “breakouts” occurred as the result of resistance, dissent, civil disobedience and outright revolution from below - and the subsequent fear by wealthy elites, the so-called “masters of mankind” as Adam Smith aptly called them. That’s when our oligarchic “masters” decided to throw a few crumbs at the hoi polloi.
In a post graduate dissertation in philosophy titled Skepticism, Critical Thinking and the Ethics of Belief I argued, among other things, for an ethical component to belief acquisition. The ethics of belief idea was motivated primarily by an essay written by the 19th century English mathematician William K Clifford (1845-79) who persuasively held that truth is a sacrosanct moral principle, arguing that “it is wrong always, everywhere and for anyone to believe anything upon insufficient evidence.” It seems to me in our postmodern post-truth world of propaganda, indoctrination, dogmatism and the conflation of fact and opinion, that Clifford’s adage of intellectual integrity is as relevant and important as it has ever been.  His essay is especially germane to religious belief and the notion of faith in general. With Clifford, one might say our beliefs are a sacred trust and human responsibility. Consequently, it is the obligation of every person, no matter how humble, to develop the proper intellectual habits, dispositions and virtue to safely guard the sanctity of his or her beliefs. If someone claimed he had no time to investigate the evidence for his beliefs, then Clifford would reply that he also had no time to believe. Many beliefs are of course benign but others such as authoritarianism, racism, misogyny, elitism and homophobia, when leading to acts, can be lethal .
Throughout history people have invented, feared, revered and worshipped hundreds, if not thousands, of angry despotic cosmic jerks called gods. In pre-scientific/ pre-Enlightenment societies one can reasonably offer a plausible explanation for such bizarre superstitious practises. In the past century and a half there have been attempted psychological and philosophical explanations for the persistence of religion, but how, in the face of scientific fact and evidence to the contrary, can religious belief and its acceptance of metaphysical dualism and the supernatural (i.e., un-testable non-falsifiable magic) be justified today?
I will focus on the Christian god since, having read the bible, which is understood by believers to be the word of their god filtered through privileged members of the Christian hierarchy. Christianity is merely a tradition of which I have knowledge and a predominantly unpleasant experience. Arguments against the existence of any Christian supernatural entity can be applied to other religions as well. I did write a piece along a similar thread several years ago with the title “The Underachieving Christian God”; one can read it here.
Since writing that paper and many others on the perplexing topic of religion, I’ve never ceased attempting to understand what it is about Christianity and religion in general that compels people to suspend their intellectual and moral sensibilities and defer to the most revolting rendering of despotic tyrannical authoritarianism ever devised by the human species. If one can stretch credulity and the imagination sufficiently to actually believe in an omnipotent, omniscient metaphysical entity such as an invisible god, in this case the Christian brand that is depicted in the bible as a sadistic, cruel psychopathic murderous control freak, then the only conclusion that can be reasonably reached, based on the Book of Job alone, is this: The Christian God is a despicable sadistic asshole. It has been remarkable that Christianity has been able to survive its countless atrocities and, I submit, is true of all monotheisms in general. [2a] But it must be obvious to any serious observer that the Islamic and Christian traditions are intimately bonded, as everything in their theologies are causally connected to the will of god. All that happens in the universe, including the creation of the cosmos itself, is the outcome of god’s work. It’s difficult to reject the notion that the god of the Jews, Christians and Muslims is the same biblical god. To unbelievers and sceptics like myself, the phantom Christian god is vengeful and cruel, but to true believers, beneficent and just. How a just god is reconciled with the state of the world and the evidence from scripture is mystifying which I’ve tried to reveal in footnote 2a.Fortunately this is a purely hypothetical, even meaningless, point since there is no more evidence for the existence of gods than there is for ghosts and goblins. [2b]
As Jonathan Swift wrote in 1721, “Reasoning will never make a man correct an ill opinion, which by reasoning he never acquired” or to paraphrase Swift’s adage ; “a person who has not been reasoned into his beliefs will rarely, if ever, be reasoned out of them.” So cogent arguments from evil, even those based on the evidence from the Bible which most Christians have not read by the way, will never convince the true believer. People of faith, whether they are Christians, Muslims, Jews, Sikhs or Hindus are rarely swayed by evidence, logic or reasoned argument.
Fortunately the probability of any God’s existence is no more likely than the existence of an afterlife, heaven and hell, virgin births, ghosts, goblins, the tooth fairy, Bigfoot, an invisible flying pink unicorn or seeing an Elvis manned flying saucer collide with the Loch Ness Monster while being struck by lightning. But people believe in all manner of intellectual rubbish, preferring fantasy, superstitious nonsense, paranormal phenomena and comfortable delusion to truth. For the sake of argumentation, permit me the epistemic latitude to temporarily consider the existence of the Christian God as axiomatic.
With this assumption as a starting point, why for example, did the all powerful Christian God not create his favourite invention - namely humans - to be more ethically inclined, cooperative, kind, caring, compassionate, and most importantly, more intelligent? Moreover, why do we humans live such painfully short lives whereas some sea creatures can live for 200 -400 years? That life span is premised on an ocean free of contaminants that humans use as a trash bin. Jellyfish are said to be “biologically immortal” which means that if, like all living things, their body starts to deteriorate through age or damage then it is able to regenerate itself. God must have favoured creatures such as jellyfish and the Quahog clam which can apparently live up to 500 years. What does the Xian Sky Wizard have against homo saps? After all, the bible informs us that we humans ought to “go forth and multiply” since our abundant planet has been created for rapacious hordes of humans to exploit and plunder as we see fit. And that we have done with reckless abandon. We, and our obsession with dogs and cats, are now the only living thing on earth that is not in a state of population decline.
But it would take a book perhaps as long as the bible to merely list the many contradictions, conundrums and absurdities of Christian doctrine. Not only does God provide us with abbreviated lives of illness, pain and suffering, he informs us that unless we worship and have faith in him, we will end up in a place called “Hell” where we will be tortured and ultimately barbecued for eternity. Eternity seems a bit excessive don’t you think? To what moral purpose is served by this ceaseless gruesome punishment is never revealed to the non-believer. Candidates for hell are most atheist scientists and philosophers such as Benedict de Spinoza Friedrich Nietzsche, Albert Einstein, Richard Feynman and Richard Dawkins.
I’ve been told God works in mysterious ways but couldn’t he have found a more civil way of making a point than torturing and executing his son. And why is it that only those who believe in demons and devils are plagued by demonic possession? Wouldn’t a simple solution to this ridiculous affliction be to simply “stop believing in them” to avoid exorcism and a one way ticket to Dante’s inferno? But I suppose belief in the devil can be advantageous in offloading moral responsibility. Does anyone remember Flip Wilson of the 1960s comedy show “Laugh In” who explained the bad behaviour of one of his characters by claiming, “The devil made me do it”?
The mean spirited control freak Christian god is surely not worthy of respect, let alone reverence.  The great mathematician, philosopher and atheist Bertrand Russell (1872-1970), in considering a less arrogant and ruthless deity than the tyrant depicted in the bible, said “if there was such a god, I think it very unlikely that he would have such an easy vanity as to be offended by those who doubt his existence.” I agree with Isaac Asimov, in his book Guide to the Bible claiming that if Christians actually read their sacred book cover to cover that they would find it the most compelling and powerful arguments for atheism ever conceived. But throughout human history there have been countless ill-defined gods worshiped and feared by humans. Why does no one any longer believe in Baal, Ra, Thor, Odin, Zeus or Aphrodite? H. L Mencken (1880-1956) was one of the most caustic critics of American Christianity. One of his many vitriolic essays was called “Memorial Service”, dedicated to all the dead gods no longer believed in, therefore no longer with us. You can read this piece and a few other brief critiques here:
Christian rituals such as praying to God  for special favours, pointing to the sky after a touchdown or home run and saying “grace” preceding a meal are not only ridiculous, but embarrassing. Coming from a secular family, a rarity in the 1950s, I can recall as a youngster being invited to dinner by a neighbourhood friend and having to endure the ritual of grace and being dumbfounded by it, not really knowing how to respond as everyone hung their heads as I stared at the ceiling. Bart Simpson had a response for this inane dishonest ritual: “Dear God. We paid for this food ourselves; so thanks for nothing.” Of the many protest songs of the 1960s (we need these badly today) was Barry McGuire’s Eve of Destruction, especially the line “Hate your next door neighbour, but don’t forget to say grace.”
 The Christian apologist will typically argue that it is just this appeal to empirical probabilities that are a key issue, because many of the claims made by the writers of two millennia ago in the New Testament are admittedly highly improbable. They are, in the nature of the case, unique, often appeals to the miraculous and interventions of the deity and consequently, require faith. Clifford held to the standard that if you cannot be honest with yourself, how can you be honest with others? He also held that civilization itself depends upon the habit of only forming justified true beliefs and a responsibility not to be influenced by the transcendental temptation and desire for closure and inexorable certainty - and that intellectuals have a special duty to the health of civilized society. One might concur with Albert Camus in The Myth of Sisyphus that honesty demands that we realize the absurdity of life consists in our delusional irrational desire for absolutes where there are none. Camus did not believe in God for many reasons, least of all which was his inability to reconcile an omnipotent benevolent Christian God with gratuitous evil and particularly for him, the obscene suffering of children and innocents. God it would appear is permanently asleep at the wheel. Camus’ approach is not unlike that of Dostoevsky in The Brothers Karamazov in the scene in which Ivan queries his priestly pious brother about why God’s creation had to entail even the suffering of one innocent child. Camus addresses these issues in his powerful novel The Plague and the tortured dialogue between the two main characters of Dr. Rieux and Father Paneloux, which may have been his allegorical avowal regarding the Nazi occupation of France.
The critical historian, for example, could perhaps reasonably surrender the mathematics of empirical probability if it seems overly restrictive, but what the critical historian cannot surrender is the notion that the inquiries of historians, although they relate to events remote in time, have the same logical structure as all inquiries regarding the not currently revealed; which is to say they resemble the same sort of inquiries that take place in scientific research, in our law courts, media dedicated to uncovering the truth, and all manner of investigative panels. We think historically when as parents we try to ascertain who scribbled all over the bedroom walls, or when as journalists we try to ascertain the origins of the decision to attack Vietnam Iraq or Libya or when police detectives attempt to solve a crime. Surely historical thinking, as it would be on a used car lot, is an important component in all of our thinking. To acknowledge this, however, is to acknowledge that the judgments we make and the arguments we deploy to support them solicit the assent of minds like our own that share our same general empiricist understanding of reality.
To quote al length from an exceptional 2008 essay in Free Inquiry by Van A. Harvey, George Edwin Burnell Professor of Religious Studies at Stanford University, on the significance of the scientific outlook. Harvey clearly holds to the Socratic principle to not claim to know more than one can reasonably be capable of knowing:
The sciences are a part, but not the only part, of this cultural heritage and background. We presuppose the physics of ballistics when we engage in arguments about the velocity and range of rifles used in the Battle of Gettysburg. We presuppose biology when, as jurors in a rape trial, we decide that the DNA of the defendant is incompatible with the evidence brought forward by the prosecution. We presuppose astronomy when we evaluate a passage in the Hebrew Bible reporting that the sun stood still. And we presuppose physiology when we assess a medieval narrative about a saint who picked up his head after his execution and marched into a cathedral singing the Te Deum. It is against this background of present knowledge that we reject stories of snakes talking, the claim that the world is only six thousand years old, and the notion that Muhammad’s camel leapt from Jerusalem to Mecca in four giant steps.
What seems to be ignored by the religious apologists who use the presuppositions gambit, especially those in the scholarly world, is that these apologists employ ordinary reasoning grounded in present knowledge when they are serving on juries, reading newspapers, writing histories, and, especially, assessing the scriptures of other religions as the critical historian does. The reasons for this are clear—in all these areas, they are soliciting the assent of minds like their own that share the same general understanding of reality. It is only when interpreting their own scriptures that they suspend those criteria that they use in their ordinary thinking and reasoning. But, we must ask, on what grounds is this suspension consistent and justified?
It is this same present knowledge that justifies our methodological doubt in relation to both witnesses and narratives. As the great historian Marc Bloch once pointed out in The Historian’s Craft, it was not long ago that three-fourths of all reports by alleged eyewitness were accepted as fact. If someone said that an animal spoke or that blood rained from heaven, the only question was not whether it happened but what significance it had. Not even the steadiest minds of our predecessors, Bloch argues, escaped this credulity.
If Montaigne reads in his beloved ancients this or that nonsense about a land whose people were born without heads or about the miraculous strength of the little fish known as the remora, he set them down among his serious arguments without raising an eyebrow. For all his ingenuity in dismantling the machinery of a false rumour, he was far more suspicious of prevailing ideas than of so-called attested facts. In this way . . . old man Hearsay ruled over the physical as well as the human world. Perhaps he was even more over the physical world than the human.
In short, methodological doubt is not some a priori presupposition but, as Bloch puts it, a practice that has been arrived at “by the patient labour of an experiment performed upon man [with] himself as a witness. . . . We have acquired the right of disbelief, because we understand, better than in the past, when and why we ought to disbelieve.”
Indeed, it is just this right to disbelieve that R.G. Collingwood marks as the Copernican revolution in historiography. Previously, it was assumed that the historian had the responsibility to compile and synthesize the testimony of witnesses. The historian was regarded as a believer and the person believed was the authority or witness. But this was “scissors and paste,” not critical history. “In so far as an historian accepts the testimony of an authority and treats it as historical truth,” Collingwood wrote in The Idea of History (1946), “he obviously forfeits the name of historian; but we have no other name by which to call him.”
It is just because the critical historian makes his judgments against the background of present knowledge that the concept of miracle has all but vanished from the work of professional historians. The reason does not lie in some philosophical presupposition that miracles are impossible; rather, it lies in the nature of historical argument and the grounding of most of our warrants in present knowledge. Critical historians confronted with an alleged miracle as an explanation for an event or even as a description of an event have, first of all, no way of deciding whether the event is a miracle or not. They have no way of judging whether some alleged supernatural reality—a jinni, angel, demon or deity—is the cause of the event. They have no way of judging what would constitute evidence for attributing an event to this or that supernatural cause, and evidence is crucial for the critical historian. It is evidence that bears on whether such an event can be said to have occurred, and it is evidence that bears on what causes, if any, explain that event. At best, all historians can say is that such an event was anomalous. Reflective historians say this not because they are unbelievers, but because they are critical historians. They would hold with Collingwood that “History has this in common with every other science: that the historian is not allowed to claim any single piece of knowledge, except where he can justify his claim by exhibiting to himself in the first place, and secondly to anyone else who is both able and willing to follow his demonstration, the grounds upon which it is based.”
Critical historical thinking in general and its application to religious scriptures in particular, is one of the great intellectual achievements of Western civilization. It has its heroes stretching from Benedict de Spinoza through Julius Wellhausen and Albert Schweitzer to Rudolf Bultmann and Gerd Lüdemann. It is not a hermeneutics of suspicion rooted in hostility to religion. Indeed, it takes as its motto that scriptural injunction that “ye shall know the truth and it will make you free.” But coming to know the truth is no easy matter, especially when the objects of one’s inquiry are treasured religious beliefs. As Friedrich Nietzsche, the anti-Christian thinker who nevertheless acknowledged his debt to Christianity, observed in The Antichrist: “At every step one has to wrestle for truth; one has to surrender for it almost everything to which the heart, to which our love, our trust in life, cling otherwise. That requires greatness of soul: the service of truth is the hardest service. What does it mean, after all, to have integrity in matters of the spirit? That one is severe against one’s heart . . . that one makes of every Yes and No a matter of conscience.”
 At the heart of Christianity is a profound deprecation of morality as mindless and unquestioning obedience to authority that inspires revolt. Moreover, God’s prohibition of curiosity, scepticism and the pursuit of knowledge suggest an alliance between ethical behaviour and ignorance. One conundrum that immediately arises is why God would create beings with curiosity and intelligence and prohibit them from pursuing enlightenment and knowledge and then criminalize knowledge and promote ignorance? Christians have been responsible for condemning and persecuting Gnostics and other heretics, torturing scientists and burning books, most notable the massive libraries at Alexandria. Freud observed that the masses long for great men (the proverbial alpha male strongman) as a substitute for the heavenly father. And they typically find what they need in psychopathic autocrats who tyrannize and abuse them - men such as Hitler, Mussolini, Franco and most recently, the spectre of Donald Trump.
Consider the neo-conservative “born again” evangelical George W Bush’s contention that he was ordered by God to invade Afghanistan and Iraq, even obtusely referring to his Middle East wars as “crusades”. This admission ought to surprise no one since as soon as Christianity emerged from radical marginal cult to state religion of the Roman Empire, its pacifist salutary pretensions gave way to militancy and obsession with political power. This bellicose stance has been patently obvious, especially in the United States in which the Christian hierarchy and most of its faithful adherents have been cheerleaders for every American imperialist escapade. Sadly, for the so-called Western democracies, the political problems of the modern world remain painstakingly Manichean and biblical. When the enemies of the corporate capitalist state are presented as the incarnation of evil, diplomacy, dialogue, concession and compromise and cooperation are deemed superfluous and there is nothing there is no limit to what we can do to them. No amount of pain and suffering that we inflict on them is illegitimate, including torture and genocide. In this sense the language of people like George W Bush and the message of biblical passages such as Luke 11:23 differ little from Osama bin Laden. Nuance and complexity are lost to a dualistic bifurcation of us v them, civilization v barbarism and good v evil. In a war against evil paired with the Christian metaphysics of terror, anything goes. And fear of the other has been the handmaiden of tyranny throughout modern history. Sadly, the genesis of the worst atrocities throughout our history have been the zealous pursuit of some sublime, ideal that is deemed so noble, majestic, grand and magnificent, that it justifies every hardship, sacrifice, cruelty, torture and unimaginable abomination. During the past two millennia, Christianity has been directly or indirectly involved in most of these horrible atrocities, including wars of mass slaughter, burning of books, heretics and witches and genocide of indigenous people throughout the world.
Contrary to the claims of endless Christian apologists that can be traced back to Paul, Augustine and Aquinas and continuing to the present day, there is nothing democratic, tolerant, pluralistic or moderate about Christianity or its sacrificial founder. It cannot be separated from its barbarous history of tyranny, vindictiveness, persecution, torture and mass murder. Certainly no one can deny the sordid role that Christianity played in the long history of land theft, slavery and genocide in the history of European colonialism. Moreover, Christianity preaches that salvation and justice can only be won through faith and adherence to its doctrines whereby those who do not accept it will suffer eternal torment in a fictitious location called Hell. Christianity has always held to a position of resignation, aligning itself with status quo reactionary conservative power with minimalist expectation for political change from below which is why it has, with rare anomalous individual exception, despised bottom-up political liberation movements such as socialism, communism and anarchism. Christian doctrine holds to the cynical Machiavellian notion that humans are too wicked and selfish to be free, ironically inherently evil sordid creatures created by their omnipotent omniscient supremely-benevolent Christian deity. Every far right wing authoritarian ideology, including fascism, has been embraced by the Christian churches to block any attempt at progressive attempts at secularization and social justice for the masses. For Christians there is only one path to salvation and justice - which will be realized following our death.
Imitation and reverence of a blood lust God who punishes all non-human life and innocent children for their inherent sins or who demands brutal sacrifice as a means of expiation is destined to transform people into monsters. Radicals such as Albert Camus rebelled against these ludicrous ideas, asserting that our only recourse is to eternally challenge the absurdities of an irrational, tyrannical and violent world. Camus declared, as did every defiant revolutionary against the despotic status quo throughout human history by declaring, “We rebel; therefore we exist”. Christianity is touted as a religion of liberation, yet we are informed we are born to depravity and as St. Augustine claimed held in “bondage to sin”. Both Luther and Calvin held to the same principle of enslavement, referring to “bondage of the will”.
[2a] I don’t claim to be a biblical scholar but I did read the Bible (KJV) cover to cover many years ago which from my personal experience is something most Christians I have known have never done. There were two features about the bible I found strange: there was not a single word in praise of the intellect or any humour throughout – endless passages about submission to a vindictive arrogant deity and the infliction of torture, violence and death for non-believers (believe or burn). Consider a few passages, certainly not any cherry picked by Christian preachers and proselytizers that support my contention that the Christian God is a psychopathic misogynist, moral degenerate and blood lust tyrant. To confirm, simply dust off and pull out that moth balled bible you’ve never read and refer to passages such as these:
Some of the most cruel and sordid will be found be found in the sad story of Lot - Genesis 19:15-23, Genesis 19:6-8, Genesis 19:26, Genesis 19:34. If that story unsettles you, there’s much more – and worse. Consider ths short list: Numbers 31:17-18, Deuteronomy 20:13-14, Deuteronomy 21:12-13, Deuteronomy 22:23-24, 2 Samuel 12:11-12, Zechariah 14, Leviticus 21:9, Deuteronomy 25:11-12), Leviticus 12:5, 1 Timothy 2:11-14, 1 Corinthians 11:8-9.
Consider these equally vile excerpts from the Good Book:
Exodus 32:27 - After seeing the golden calf, God commanded the Levites, “Each man strap a sword to his side. Go back and forth through the camp from one end to the other, each killing his brother and friend and neighbour.” Three thousand were slaughtered, and God was pleased.
Numbers 15:32-36 - A man gathered sticks for a fire on the Sabbath. By God’s command, he was stoned to death.
Numbers 16:27-33 – The men were rebellious, so God caused the earth to open and swallow up the men, wives and children.
Numbers 25:9 - A plague from God killed 24,000. Judges 7:19-25 – Under God’s direction, Gideon’s army defeated the Midianites. They killed and decapitated their princes and delivered the heads to Gideon.
Judges 11:29-39 - Jephthah cooked his beloved daughter on an altar as a sacrifice to God for giving him victory in battle.
1 Samuel 6:19 – Some of the men of Beth Shemesh looked into the Ark of the Covenant. God killed all seventy of them.
1 Samuel 15:7-8 – God commanded Saul to attack the Amalekites and “totally destroy everything that belongs to them. Do not spare them; put to death men and women, children and infants, cattle and sheep, camels and donkeys.”
2 Samuel 6:6-7 – The oxen carrying the Ark of God stumbled, and Uzzah reached out to steady it. God punished his “irreverent act” by killing him where he stood.
1 Kings 13:15-24 – A prophet lied to a man, telling him it was fine to eat bread and drink water in a place the Lord had previously told him not to. The deceived man ate and drank there. God sent a lion to kill him, “and his body was thrown down on the road.”
2 Chronicles 13:17 – God delivered the Israelites to Abijah and Judah--500,000 enemy dead.
Ezekiel 20:26 – Israel rebelled, and God’s punishment was sobering. “I let them become defiled through their gifts- the sacrifice of every firstborn- that I might fill them with horror so they would know that I am the Lord.”
Anyone remember “Joshua at the Battle of Jericho” and the song lyrics from their Sunday school classes? I can’t remember these being mentioned:
Joshua 7:19-26: Ai conquered. Achan’s sons, daughters, cattle, donkeys, sheep and possessions were taken to the Valley of Achor where they were stoned and burned.
Joshua 8:22-25: 12,000 men and women were slaughtered
Joshua 10:10-27: all of the Gibeonites killed
Joshua 10:28: all in Makkedah killed
Joshua 10:30: all of the city of Libnah was “put to the sword”
Joshua 10:32-33: all in Lachish killed
Joshua 10:34-35: all in Eglon killed
Joshua 10:36-37: killed the king of Hebron, its villages and every citizen. “They left no survivors”
Joshua 10:38-39: all of Debir killed
Joshua 11:6: God commanded Joshua to defeat the enemy at the Waters of Merom. “You are to hamstring their horses” (a horrific act of animal cruelty) “and burn their chariots”
Some are not only extremely violent, but very strange indeed; consider:
1 Samuel 18:25-27 explained how David gave King Saul a dowry of 200 Philistine foreskins to earn the hand of Saul’s daughter, Michal, in marriage. Deuteronomy 23:1 instructed that “No one whose testicles are crushed or whose male organ is cut off shall enter the assembly of the Lord.” Genesis 38:8-10 had God telling a guy named Onan to have sex with his brother’s wife in order to produce a child, and when Onan instead pulled out and ejaculated on the ground, God killed him. Deuteronomy 25:11-12 dictated that, if a man was in a fight with another man and his wife intervened by seizing the opponent by his genitals, the woman’s hand was to be hacked off at the wrist. Foreskins? Testicals? Semen? Genitals? For an ostensibly omnipotent, omniscient and a perfectly moral creator and master of the universe, the Xian God seemed to have a rather unhealthy obsession with the male genitals.
There’s much more; but I think you get my drift.
[2b]From the point of view of the Islamic fundamentalist, the United States is the incarnation of the Great Satan, but perhaps even more evil and seductive than the devil. America, with much justification, is more like the Whore of Babylon, having slaughtered an estimated 20 million people since 1945 with their insidious forms of neo-colonialism and imperialism. America is not satisfied with amassing great wealth and power but insists on conquering the hearts and minds of Muslims throughout the world, settling for nothing less than total material and spiritual global domination by way of neo-liberal predatory corporate capitalism. Corporate finance capitalism, facilitated by its military power, is the instrument of the US imperialist system of “divide and conquer”. No less than the British Empire that preceded it, the new American colonialism, with its more than military bases throughout the world is committed to total control. Fortunately for the rest of the world, their evil empire that worships not the Christian deity, but rather Mammon and Dionysus, is in a state of economic and moral decline and may not survive another decade. The new global capitalism wallows in narcissism, opulence, legalized theft, rampant corruption and every vice known to human kind. Profit now takes precedence over all else, including all life forms and the ecosystems of a planet that is circling the drain. Even Christians have sold out to the gospel of prosperity as their god now has apparently informed them that a state of grace is synonymous with the pursuit of the almighty dollar. Sadly, even moderate Muslims and many Asians who were once strong adherents of Confucianism and Buddhism have succumbed to the American capitalist ideology. Anywhere you travel throughout the world one experiences tedium, banality and uniformity with a MacDonald’s and Starbucks on every street corner. The result is an atomized self-serving America that suffers from a profound sense of self loathing, perfectly personified in the election of the monstrous pathology of Donald Trump. Unfortunately the American affliction has become a psychological malaise that is spreading throughout the planet like a deadly mind virus.
 I contend that it’s reasonable to assert that when logic is applied to god or gods (assuming some agreement can be reached as to a meaningful coherent concept), there are only be two possible conclusions - and I doubt very many religious folks would accept either possibility. The first, of course, is that god simply does not exist and that he is an anachronistic residue of futile pre-scientific attempts to understand the world as it is. The other is to assume some god as depicted in the Bible, for example, actually does exist. Then the only conclusion that one can reach is that the Xian god is a twisted narcissistic mean-spirited alpha male deadbeat asshole - like Donald Trump. Thank god such a despicable depraved life form doesn’t exist!
 Psychologist Thomas Szasz has commented on the bizarre ritual of prayer. “If you talk to god, you are praying; if god talks to you, you are suffering from schizophrenia.” The theocracy of the United States of America apparently has a “National Day of Prayer”; of course implying communication with the Christian god. Why is there not a “National Day of Reason and Logic”? The growing numbers of non-believers, especially with the younger generation of Americans surely must be offended by this, a ritual violating the US Constitution but yet practised relentlessly within the government political hierarchy. But I wonder what American Muslims and Hindus think about it? A national day celebrating Allah or Vishnu would be surely followed by protests, and perhaps riots, by Christians throughout the country. When will an American president comes out with “freedom (from religion) is a gift from Odin”?
God surely must prefer atheists because they never pester him (especially on his day off) about endless requests for wealth, fame and relief from obesity or haemorrhoids.
US politicians have a difficult time getting through a speech without at least one pious proclamation of “God bless America” and many Evangelical Republicans such as Marco Rubio have claimed that “All answers are in the Bible”. This is an odd assertion for someone claiming to believe in “democracy” in light of the fact that there is not a single word in the bible about democracy, but many about the divine right of kings, murderous persecutions and pogroms against freethinkers and heretics, women as inferior to men, punishment for heresy and blasphemy, the embrace of slavery and countless historical errors and scientific falsities that would be understood by any junior high school student today. The bible is claimed by Christian clerics to be the inerrant words of an omniscient omnipotent deity. This is a strange assertion given that the bible, for the most part, is a book of fables and fairy tales plagued by a plethora of absurdities, contradictions, inaccuracies and ethical atrocities such as their god ordering the Israelites to kill everything that moves in Canaan.
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On The Preference for Ignorance
By JR, June 2018
Sorry folks, but contrary to Thomas Gray, ignorance is not bliss. What you don’t know can hurt you.
Like many aspects of life, thinking is hard work and given the ambivalence and laziness of many people, it’s often avoided. It’s a disturbing thought that so many people prefer ignorance to knowledge, preferring comforting myths and outright falsehoods that fly in the face of an elementary junior high school scientific understanding. Many have attempted to argue for an ethical component to belief in the sense that truth to others and particularly to oneself is a moral issue. I attempted to do this in part of a graduate thesis in philosophy I called Scepticism, Critical Thinking and the Ethics of Belief.
People are regularly mistaken and misled about very many things. But why should it especially disturb those of us with a scientific humanist outlook that some people are wrong about the paranormal and the existence of deities and other supernatural entities such as demons, angels, fairies, ghosts and goblins?
Arguably, it’s perhaps more important to motivate people to employ their critical faculties, critical thinking skills (assuming they think at all) and adhere to evidence-based reasoning in general; then, over time, they may relinquish their mistaken beliefs, including their belief in deities. Indoctrination, the propensity to self-deception and delusion are key factors of course and they need to be confronted in our education systems that still have problems implementing sceptical and critical thinking programs into the curriculum. They invariably face powerful conservative forces within the community, especially the churches.
But why, in the public schools, one ought to ask, do we not teach children that there is no God, soul or afterlife? Children eventually figure out for themselves that their parents lied to us; that Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy and the Easter Bunny are mere fictions. The Christian and Islamic gods do not exist in the same sense that people no longer believe in Zeus, Baal, Ra, Odin and Aphrodite. It’s patently obvious that gods are pre-scientific human constructs. So, why does the belief in supernatural sky wizards continue to persist when the arguments in their favour have been long ago refuted and when the evidence for their existence is zero?
Many Evangelical Christians such as Stephen Harper and George W Bush respectively have unfortunately become powerful political influences and been instrumental in diminishing what paltry democracy that has existed in Canada and the United States. The separation of church and state has always been a propagandized fable in both countries and time has not mitigated religions influence in the political realm. Ironically (or not) many of the most zealous proponents of corporate capitalism (aka neo-liberalism) and its handmaiden endless imperialistic war have been devout Christians with political power.
Many Christians who now tout the profligate “prosperity gospel” are shepherding herds of camels laden with saddlebags full of gold through the eye of the needle without the slightest moral impediment. They would have us believe that their deity cares little for his alleged ethical dictums or the teachings of his god-man son than about abortion, gay rights, saving the world’s threatened ecosystems and the hero of many, Donald Trump, who seems to have replaced JC as their moral exemplar.
On the topic of willed ignorance, listen to Aron Ra....