Refuting "Our God is a Petty God"
18 October 2013, 11:40 (This is the date of the original article by Hanjo)
Note: The bold emphasis is made by me to differentiate Hanjo’s article and my response. Hanjo’s original article is in Bold Type while mine is in italics.
I know that many believers have distanced themselves from the concept of ‘thought crime’, mainly because thought crime makes god seem quite petty. For those unfamiliar with this concept, thought crime is a doctrine associated with Christianity (among other religions), it suggests that a god can convict you of, and punish you for, crimes of thought. (i.e. thinking about sinful things)
I must admit that if it ended here (GOD is waiting to punish you of thought crimes) then your assessment of GOD would be true. I would go further and not only call HIM petty but also unreasonable. Why do I say this? Well, firstly let’s understand the GOD we are making reference to. By definition, HE is the ultimate standard of good/ morality. You cannot get better than that. Well, I know that atheists will bring out examples to challenge this but I know that they know that there has been rational explanations offered for these examples. Let me put it this way – there is no new challenges made against the goodness/ morality of GOD that has not been explained. The interesting thing about this is that many would recognise the logic of the explanations but will still not accept it. It’s like a person who will internally know that 1 + 1 = 2 but when someone presents that to them, they go, “I just can’t believe it.” What they mean is that they won’t believe it. Below I have responded to the definition of the word “belief’. You see, I have come to realise that truth will still be truth if you stepped outside a worldview. Anyway, I digress but let’s get back to the issue at hand.
Now if it all ended at the first paragraph, then I accept that your assertion is true and I will actually strengthen your argument by including the unreasonableness of GOD. How can HE expect us to conform to a standard that is impossible for us to achieve? Right?
Well, I am glad that it does not end there. GOD is a GOD of justice and every immoral act/ sin must have a consequence. There must be a payment for it. In society we pay fines or we pay through imprisonment or other forms of penalties. There is no escaping the principle of “Justice must be done”. Hey, I am sure you would also know this. In society, people are given harsher sentences if it can be shown that the committed crime is pre-meditated (if it was thought out). Why is this so? Is the law petty? Would you make that accusation of the law? On the contrary, I know quite a few people who will scream out for the death penalty. I wonder what your position on this issue is.
Now back to the issue at hand. Crimes are basically committed in two ways:-
I am not sure what’s the statistics regarding the above options. It would be quite interesting to establish though. Now if GOD starts to provide us with a conscience that helps to judge our thoughts against HIS moral standards, then we can know at that stage whether it is right or wrong and it will be at that stage we can come to the GOD of justice who is also a GOD of love and repent. Guess what the Christian is certain about – GOD is faithful and just to forgive all our sins. This is the very reason why the fine was paid. SO GOD’s standard of morality is not to convict and punish but to draw man closer to HIM as man draws closer to GOD, the easier it will be for man to conform to GOD’s moral standards. Like I said in my comment – if only you had more information about the worldview you are criticizing, you would have known that Paul, the apostle stated that he is striving to the mark of perfection. So if GOD was just a GOD of justice, then we are all doomed to destruction. Then we all might as well go on an immoral binge. The good news is that GOD is also a GOD of love and while HE expects payment for a crime/ sin, He offers the fine to those that will accept. I think this point explains why you can’t make such a statement as HE is petty. What happened on the cross 2000 years ago is not petty. No it never was, it never is and never will be.
Most believers do however still feel that beliefs are fair and reasonable enough criteria to earn potential eternal damnation.
It always puzzles me why the focus is on eternal damnation and not eternal life. I wonder what would have happened if we focused on prison rather than freedom every-day we awake. Does this not demonstrate that the issue of morality cannot be correctly defined in your worldview, whatever that may be? The other scary thing is that the negative enjoys greater attention than the positive. I know some will say that life has no meaning and purpose but it gets a whole lot worrisome when some would imply that life can be defined only as a negative experience. I hope that everyone that reads this will be able to observe this paradigm.
But what is belief other than a strongly held opinion? Belief is actually defined as ‘a firmly held opinion.’
And what is an opinion other than your thoughts? Opinions are partially defined as ‘a way of thinking about things.’
God’s judgment based on your beliefs, is nothing more than an elaborate case of being convicted of thought crime.
Again, I hope that everyone can see what just happened in the above three paragraphs. The writer offers a definition for something and accepting that definition to be right uses it to justify a presupposition.
Granted that this definition is an acceptable definition but I think that the writer must be fair to the reader and show that this is not the only definition and therefore should also offer the other definitions as well. Belief can also be established based on experience (empirical). Here is a quick example, if I am the only one that experienced a specific sting from a specific insect, does this mean that if I believe this to hurt, it is an opinion or do I believe this based on an experience. I think the rational reader will see this point clearly.
There’s an internet meme that’s derived from an old joke, it contains the following dialogue:
Eskimo: “If I did not know about God and sin, would I go to hell?”
Priest: “No, not if you did not know”
Eskimo: “Then why did you tell me?”
This is a brilliant example to show that man is sinful by nature and therefore he needs GOD to help him.
The idea is that if you knew about any specific theistic god, it would be perfectly reasonable for that god to grant you an eternity of punishment, purely on the basis of non-belief.
Again, the author has for some reason not seen the other side of the coin. Sin is destructive and yet the grace of GOD saves us from that destructions. We must be careful and not just tell half stories.
This is simply another reason why religion makes no sense, why would any divine being care which version of certain partially mythological tales you happen to think comes closest to representing the truth? Even to a mere mortal like me, this seems ridiculously petty, and without a doubt inadequate criteria to determine which souls receive potential eternal torture or reward.
An earnest appeal to the thinking reader – please see if you can spot the lack of knowledge or the biasness in which the knowledge is presented. I must admit I have a bias too but I am not shooting down the reader with my bias only. I am criticizing his article with explanations that makes sense. They are not just statements hanging in the air. I also invite the reader to seek further explanations from me if my explanation is inadequate. SO if the author wants to argue on Mythology versus Truth that will be another argument but to assert that something is mythology already and raise it as a truth claim, then we are left with a debate that is fragmented into incoherence.
Surely you’ve all heard of deathbed conversions, believers usually tell stories of how some famous non-believer denounced his/her Atheism and adopted a certain religion shortly before dying. I find this idea amazing, could a last minute conversion get you into heaven? If so, god ignores the potentially immoral life of the Atheist and rewards his/her last minute belief OR had he/she not converted, god would have ignored his/her potentially moral life and punished his/her non-belief. Some religions and sects even claim that one can baptize or pray a soul into ‘heaven’ after death has occurred.
Dear Author – you just made a good case for theism. Based on your article, it does not demonstrate that you believe/ disbelieve the stories. I would like to assume that you believe that these stories occurred because if you did not believe that they did, then criticizing the act is meaningless. So what does this tell you? GOD loves you so much that HE is prepared to give as many chances as possible as long as you live. I am reminded of the robber that was crucified next to JESUS – he was promised paradise with JESUS that very night. Now you really confuse me by first asserting that GOD is petty by punishing “thought crimes” and then you criticize GOD for forgiving people on their deathbed. Do you want GOD to destroy the immoral or do you want GOD to forgive them if they come into repentance. Even our judicial system offers the criminal leniency. I do not hear the author criticizing that act.
If a personal god exists, I would expect it to know how much evidence would convince me of its existence, or at least get me suspicious. I take part in religious debate almost daily, I was a believer for about 18 years, I have watched religious debates, I have read pro-religious literature, I have read scripture, I have attended numerous churches, I have attended numerous Christian youth gatherings, I have engaged in prayer, I have been on religious camps, I have probably been prayed for by numerous believers, I partook in many praise and worship sessions, etc. Yet I have not found a reason to believe in the existence of any gods, I was mainly previously a believer due to being indoctrinated into the Christian religion by my parents and the schools and churches I attended, Christianity was also very much the norm in the Afrikaner culture and for the biggest part of the first 20 years of my life, I accepted it without question.
You will accuse me of evangelising here but I make no apology for it. However, before I do so, let me ask you one question. How much evidence would you require from your mom for you to believe that she loves you? Please do not tell me that you know because of the kindness she shows. I know that you know that some people can show kindness for selfish reasons.
Now how do I know that the GOD I serve is personal and HE loves me. History cannot be ignored and I know that something happened about 2000 years ago and immediately after that happened, the belief in JESUS spread like wildfire. The question we need to ask is whether JESUS (HIS existence is confirmed) is a liar, a lunatic or LORD i.e. If HE was a lunatic or liar, I guess people won’t give up their lives to proclaim HIM LORD. The other thing was that if HE was a fraud, then history will be screaming this at the top of its powerful voice. Now if HE is who HE says HE is, then I must respond seriously to that. Now I feel sad to note that you went through the programme of a Christian life without a personal experience. This happens all the time. People will outwardly embrace a culture but inwardly detest it. I can show many examples that you will agree but we will leave this for another time.
I have come to know JESUS as my personal SAVIOUR to such a point that on the 21st November 2013, I underwent a double heart bypass surgery. I was so scared that I thought that my fear will kill me. I sought the face of GOD and then I began to experience a sense of peace that transcends all understanding. I was ready to die and I was at peace with that thought.
I urge you to seek HIM with all your heart, all your mind and all your soul and you will be surprised at who will find.
My active search for gods (and I believe an objective search requires that you remove pre-existing bias toward any specific god) steered me away from religion, I didn’t become an atheist overnight, it was a systematic process that took a good year or two (and one could argue that it’s still an ongoing process)
An omniscient god would know very well that man has dreamt up thousands of gods, that parents indoctrinate their young offspring, that young offspring are very susceptible to indoctrination and that it would be near impossible for people, who find themselves in a society where belief in the wrong god(s) is the norm, where friends and family subscribe to belief in the wrong god(s) and where there might even be of persecution or government legislation related to belief in the ‘right’ god(s), to change their current beliefs, especially if existence of the right and wrong gods are all to be taken on faith.
If a just god (and its afterlife) existed, beliefs could not qualify as the criteria used to determine where you end up after you die, thus making belief in god completely and utterly pointless.
Firstly we can agree that we can systematically go through a course of actions and yet know that the course is based on a decision. It does not matter how systematic the course of actions are but whether the choice to choose the course is the right one. The reason why I say is to illustrate that being systematic does not make it right. The author would know that in the age of information, we can get people to justify anything on the internet. We are inundated with conspiracy theories, websites that indoctrinate people (you mentioned parents doing this). We know that that is the objective of the “Out Campaign” as well. So your arrival at a destination is probably based on the actual reason for the search.
Having said that, I do not want to judge the mindset in which you embarked on this search but I must tell you this. The Christian faith has a very strong explanation for the universe, it has a very strong explanation for the purpose of life, it has a very strong explanation for morality, it has a very strong explanation for mercy, love and grace which allows for redemption and it has the very strong explanation for the afterlife. Now if you compare this with the explanation where this life is all there is and it has no meaning and no purpose but to manufacture DNA, then you will see that your worldview has to borrow from ours for morality. I do not doubt that there are good atheists but I ask how do they define what is good and what is evil.
In summary, we must agree that this argument is extremely inadequate in demonstrating the pettiness of GOD. However, I am glad that the author offered this article in that it offers us an option to show the contrary. GOD is the direct opposite to petty. HIS significance has reverberated the universe from the moment HE created it.
Now to the reader who is of the same worldview as the author – it does not matter what you say in response and neither does it matter whether you respond or not – what matters is that you within your very conscience (beware what you think, GOD will punish you – Just joking) establish how impoverished Hanjo’s article was in finding GOD to be petty. I urge you to at least tell yourself the truth. You woe that much to yourself.
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