Monday, May 30, 2005

An Unbelievable God

I recently became involved in an online discussion about the biblical God. Here is one of my posts there:

Catholic and other Christian fundamentalists say that we humans are faced with a simple choice. We can either love, worship, and obey God as the Bible literally portrays “him,” or we can suffer everlasting torment in hell. But I say there is nothing simple about believing in the unbelievable, much less loving, worshipping, and obeying a God in which one cannot believe. I cannot believe in God as the Bible literally portrays him. I have many reasons for this, but some of the most pressing ones concern the Bible’s numerous accounts of God inflicting undeserved suffering and death on countless human beings either through direct acts of deliberate murder and destruction or by designing a world in which rampant natural calamities harm and destroy lives, and God’s consigning people to everlasting torture in hell. I cannot reconcile any of this with the Bible’s insistence that God is all-powerful, all-knowing, and supremely loving, just, and merciful.

Catholic and other Christian fundamentalists tell me that a loving, just, and merciful God drowned all the little babies and children of the world in Noah’s time except those on the Ark, and that a loving, just, and merciful God made hell and sends people there for not loving him and following his rules. Yet, how could anyone believe that such acts are just, much less merciful, acts of a loving God? If we would not call a human parent loving, just, and merciful who says, “Love and obey me and I will reward you beyond your wildest dreams, but don’t love me and don’t obey me and I will throw you into a fiery furnace,” why would we regard the biblical God as being any better? Indeed, isn’t the biblical God infinitely worse than this because not only does he threaten a fiery furnace that burns and burns forever or some everlastingly torturous equivalent, but he also forces us to choose between him and never-ending reward on the one hand and never-ending punishment on the other without even proving to us that he and these realms exist as anything more than myths in an ancient religious document? How could anyone believe that this is a “simple” choice, and that those who “choose” neither God and heaven nor hell because they have perfectly good grounds for doubting both, deserve to go to hell and end up going there?

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