Feel The Love, Dude!
Do you know the anthem down at the leper colony? “I feel it in my fingers. I feel it in my toes…”. A lot like love – as Christians describe it, all-pervading godly love as encapsulated in the word “omnibenevolent”. Yes, this is another of those wonderfully warm and fuzzy attributes given to Yahweh by believers who haven’t thought through the simple logic of their ideas.
To a christian, godly love can manifest in many forms, the primary one being that in order for God to be able to accept sinful humankind into heaven it was necessary for him to send his son to earth to suffer and die in our place. This is taught as the ultimate act of love by not only Jesus (the sacrificial victim), but by Yahweh himself, who reportedly sacrificed his son in our favour. On a simple reading, most christian people find this a reasonable idea. However, most simply don’t think through the implications of this very strange notion. For instance, it raises the question of Yahweh’s omnipotence because he seems unable to avoid being subject to the legalistic imperative to punish for sin, it’s as if he is bound by a law or celestial policy of some kind – which, if he were omnipotent, he could avoid.
Secondly - and this is a favourite of atheists – the sacrifice made by Jesus was death for two days, after which he was resurrected anyway, and then shortly afterwards returned to his original place in Heaven. As they say, this wasn’t a sacrifice, it was a rough weekend; death isn’t death unless it’s permanent. And if, as believers claim, Jesus was fulfilling prophecy, then he would have known that it would be temporary – a bit like having a traffic accident and going into a coma for two days (like that never happens).
But it goes further than that. John 3: 16 is the most fundamental statement of the christian faith: “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life”. Sounds wonderful, right? However, we all too often focus on the sacrifice made by Jesus, whereas John says that the sacrifice was actually made by Yahweh – he planned and allowed the crucifixion of his son because of his own love for humanity, as a father losing his only child. But think about it – he didn’t actually give his son to anyone for anything! Jesus was in heaven since the beginning of time (he is often described as “the Word”), he went to earth for thirty-three years (during which time Yahweh still knew Jesus was his son), and then he returned to his heavenly father where he will live for all eternity. How is this a praiseworthy act of Yahweh’s? He GAVE nothing – he may have lent his son out as a favour, but there was no sacrifice involved in this act at all. Yet christians tout John 3:16 as a measure of Yahweh’s “infinite” love – this is no more an act of Yahweh’s sacrifice than me putting my dry arm into a cold fishtank to re-arrange the shells for the guppies to explore. It is an extreme rejection of rational perspective that is assumed to be virtuous. What nonsense!
Now nobody kills others out of love. Period. Or at least not unless there is some element of suffering already involved for the victim such as unbearable pain. Yet Yahweh regularly smote those who stood in the way of his divine plan. Christians, of course, defend this by saying that they had tried his “infinite” patience and mercy to such an extent that he had no choice – which of course contradicts the notions of infinite patience, mercy and omnipotence. But it firmly “smites” the idea of Yahweh being omnibenevolent. Unless, of course, that omnibenevolence is only available for some… which is a contradiction.
True love shows no favouritism. We’ve all heard this idea at one time or another, maybe in relation to parents of large families. So what’s with the chosen people? The idea of a god whose love is infinite falls right there. Not only does he promise them a land of their own, but he also commands them to kill anyone standing in their way – men, women, children and infants, in the most vicious way. How is this an act of infinite love for the victims? It plainly isn’t. Even if his divine plan had to succeed, this omnipotent god could easily have arranged more fertile lands far away for the victims to inhabit – or better still, for the Israelites themselves. Contradiction upon contradiction, nonsense piled upon nonsense.
So where does this leave us? What does it say about christians, that they should continually assert the infinite love of their god despite an absence of credible evidence and indeed the presence of evidence to the contrary? Well, we’ve been here before – it’s called Stockholm Syndrome, which is a deep trauma-induced neurosis. From Wiki (referenced): “Stockholm syndrome, or capture-bonding, is a psychological phenomenon in which hostages express empathy and sympathy and have positive feelings toward their captors, sometimes to the point of defending them. [They] mistake a lack of abuse from their captors for an act of kindness”. So the relationship that believers have with their imagined god exhibits the same characteristics as seen between terrorists and their hostages - “strong emotional ties that develop between two persons where one person intermittently harasses, beats, threatens, abuses, or intimidates the other”. I don’t think we need to discuss this any further.
What is plain, though, is that there is a level of selective representation going on in evangelism, that christians close their minds to the negative aspects of their god-figure and defend him in a desperate act driven by psychological neurosis, and do not wonder at the most basic level at how events allegedly occurred and were orchestrated by their omni-everything god.
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