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Maybe we are too hard on Christians?

29 April 2014, 07:12
On this forum we have had some ferocious debates and downright insulting remarks on both sides of the Atheist/religionist divide. I think it may be time to reach out and try to understand the other's point of view.

I can certainly understand that millions of people may find comfort in a supreme being that will love you and has a place for you somewhere (in the sky?).Throughout history people were prepared to die for their beliefs, which seems a bit silly and a wasted life to me.What I fail to understand is how you can reconcile a loving God with the jealous God who will cheerfully send you to Hell, (wherever that is), if you commit the heinous crime of not believing in him. And all of this because Eve, that naughty girl, ate an apple when God expressly forbade her to do so!

Richard Dawkins:"The sin of Adam and Eve is thought to have passed down the male line - transmitted in the semen according to Augustine. What kind of ethical philosophy is it that condemns every child, even before it is born, to inherit the sin of a remote ancestor?"

I can also understand that it must be a very comforting thought to Christians that somebody cared enough for you to die for your sins. I respect that belief. What I cannot for the life of me understand is what sin on earth could have been so bad that we all deserve to live in perpetual hell fire. In addition, if we don't accept the son of God (who
confusingly is also God) as our personal saviour we are also condemned. What I cannot understand is why trillions of people who have lived before Christ, all Muslims, all
Catholics, all Bhuddists, all Shintoists, anybody with a different belief to yours must of necessity also go to Hell. I sincerely would like an answer to that. When I asked the
question, some Christians infuriatingly answered that some things we cannot at this time understand, but that all will be revealed to us one day. Why the Hell not now?

Amazingly, there are still 40% of Americans (and probably more South Africans) who believe that the earth is a mere 6000 years old and that all the millions of species of dinosaurs, marsupials, mammals, birds, insects and presumably bacteria, fungi and viruses all lived happily in one ark for a period of longer than 40 days and forty nights. If you have a modicum of common sense, you must see that this is totally rediculous. So if you don't believe the story of Noah's ark, which of the rest of the unlikely stories like Adam and Eve, talking snake etc don't you believe? This is the problem I see for intelligent and
thinking Christians: you have to cherry pick the bits in the bible that you can believe. I've been there... After awhile you start discarding more and more until you have nothing
left to believe...

To quote Richard Dawkins: "And the Bible story of Joshua's destruction of Jericho, and the invasion of the Promised Land in general, is morally indistinguishable from Hitler's invasion of Poland, or Saddam Hussein's massacres of the Kurds and the Marsh Arabs. The Bible may be an arresting and poetic work of fiction, but it is not the sort of book you should give your children to form their morals."

George Carlin said: "Religion has actually convinced people that there's an invisible man - living in the sky - who watches everything you do, every minute of every day. And the invisible man has a special list of ten things he does not want you to do. And if you do any of these ten things, he has a special place, full of fire and smoke and burning and torture and anguish, where he will send you to live and suffer and burn and choke and scream and cry forever and ever 'til the end of time . . . But He loves you!

I would dearly love a religionist to prove to me that what George Carlin said is not true.

But let's return to my more conciliatory tone above: I think atheists may be in danger of  throwing the baby out with the bath water if they continually harp on the inconsistencies in the bible and fail to look at the bible as poetic literature. I believe with Richard Dawkins that a decent education SHOULD include the bible. This does not mean that I believe any of the stories, but Richard Dawkins has quoted about 140 words and phrases which derive their origin from the bible. Phrases like:
 "Be fruitful and multiply; East of Eden; Adam's Rib;
Am I my brother's keeper? The mark of Cain; As old as
Methuselah; A mess of potage; Sold his birthright;
Jacob's ladder; Coat of many colours; Eyeless in Gaza; The fat of the land; The fatted calf; Stranger in a strange land; A land flowing with milk and honey; Let my people go; Flesh pots; An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth..." And so forth.

Nobody can read The Song of Songs without appreciating the beautiful poetry.

My gripe is not with the adults believing what they want to believe. You can believe in the tooth fairy or Father Christmas if you like, but leave your children to make up their own minds! Here's what RD has to say on the subject:

"I thank my own parents for taking the view that children
should be taught not so much what to think as how to think. If, having been fairly and properly exposed to all the
scientific evidence, they grow up and decide that the Bible
is literally true or that the movements of the planets rule their lives, that is their privilege. The important point is that it is their privilege to decide what they shall think, and not their parents' privilege to impose it by force majeure. And this, of course, is especially important when we reflect that children become the parents of the next generation, in a position to pass on whatever indoctrination may have moulded them."
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